By: Amy Grant
Swiss chard is not only delicious and nutritious, but eminently ornamental. As such, planting Swiss chard in containers does double duty; it provides a showy backdrop for other plants and flowers and since for most of us our seasonal color plantings are located near an entry to the home, makes for easy picking. Read on to find out how to grow Swiss chard in containers.
‘Bright Lights’ a cultivar awash with red, white, gold, yellow, violet, and orange hues was introduced to the market 20 years ago and since then other cultivars have been introduced. Among these is ‘Fordhook Giant’ a heat tolerant variety for those folks with warmer growing seasons. There’s also the brilliant ruby red ‘Rhubarb’ and brilliantly white types of Swiss chard. The plethora of colors available make container gardening with Swiss chard a delight.
Swiss chard container gardening can be done with just chard or in combination with other plants. Swiss chard can also be grown in a pot indoors during the colder months for a constant supply of nutritious greens.
It is very easy to grow and tolerates poor soil, negligence on your part and is frost hardy. Not only is Swiss chard beautiful, but it can be used fresh or cooked. The leaves make colorful stand-ins for spinach and the stalks can be cut up and cooked as you would asparagus.
When planting Swiss chard in containers, the pot does not need to be too deep because the root system isn’t deep but you do want to take into account the large leaves You can buy transplants or sow your own seeds. If you sow your own seeds, they can be started quite early outdoors, as they thrive in cooler temps. If you want to get a jump start, start the seedlings indoors and then transplant them outside when temperatures begin to warm.
Sow the seeds ½ to an inch apart (1-2.5 cm.). Thin the seedlings to 2-3 inches (5-8 cm.) apart. Swiss chard is ready to be picked within 4-6 weeks. Harvest at this time or if you are growing the plant as an ornamental, leave the leaves until they wilt, turn brown or are munched on by insects. At that time, remove the outer leaves. The inner leaves will continue to grow.
Swiss chard care in pots is fairly minimal since the plant is very resilient. It doesn’t mind being crowded and tolerates poor soil without any additional fertilizer. The plant also prefers a shaded location.
That said, like any plant, it will respond to additional nutrition. Swiss chard can get bitter when summer heat blazes, so be sure to give it plenty of water. Plants that are grown in pots need more watering than those in the garden, so keep an eye on it.
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These tips for growing Swiss chard will help you care for your chard plants from seed to harvest.
Swiss chard is the perfect leafy green as it is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs. It is easy to grow in your garden, or even in pots if you choose. If you are considering growing Swiss chard this season, take a look below at tips for growing Swiss chard in your garden. This leafy vegetable is perfect for starting in the cooler months of spring and enjoying all summer long. Here is how you can get started!
Intro: Chard plant varieties can have red, pink, yellow or orange stems, but white stems generally do the best when it comes to food crops in the kitchen garden. If you want to grow chard for ornamental purposes, choose a color that compliments your container garden. Swiss chard is a great source of vitamins A, C and K, minerals, fiber and protein, and it is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables.
Scientific Name: Beta vulgaris var. cicla
Plant Type: Biennial vegetable
Light: Full sun
Water: When it comes to watering Swiss chard, keep the potting soil consistently moist but never soggy.
Zone: Chard plants cannot survive below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If your area gets colder than this, overwinter your chard indoors.
Fertilizer: Fertilize Swiss chard only once when it is first planted.
Pests and Diseases: Leaf spot, slugs and viruses can affect Swiss chard.
Propagation: Propagate Swiss chard by seeds. Chard produces flowers and seeds in the spring of its second year of growth. Shake up dry flower heads in a paper bag to collect the seeds. Sow the seeds outdoors in the kitchen garden two weeks before the last frost or in the fall about two months before the first frost. Seeds should be planted a half inch deep in their plant containers. Soak Swiss chard seeds overnight before planting.
Misc. Info: Young chard is best for raw salads, while mature leaves are best cooked.
Like lettuce, Swiss chard is a cold season crop and that means it needs a cooler environment in order to grow. Those living in tropical climates may have a harder time growing Swiss chard, but it can still be done as long as the Swiss chard is planted in a colder month.
Learning how to grow Swiss chard in pots is great because the pots can be brought indoors during colder days, then brought back outdoors once the weather grows.