How to grow Swiss Chard

How to grow Swiss Chard

Swiss chard, Silver beet, cicla is another super food from the Mediterranean region, thought to have originated in Sicily. Swiss chard is descendent of the Sea beet and has been cultivated and consumed since the 3rd century BC. This leafy green has been consumed by ancient cultures and possibly earlier then that. The word Swiss as added as a sales tactic to separate the French leafy greens that dominated the market around 1806 in the US market. Thought to have been introduced to the new world in the 1500s. By 1800s it was commercially grown in many parts of the world. Chard is a versatile hardy veggie grown all over the world. This awesome plant is part of the Chenopodiaceae family, or Chenopod or Goosefoot family because some plants leaves look like a goose foot. This plant is also related to beets, spinach. It’s a type of that does not produce a edible root, but the rest of the plant is edible. It’s a biennial plant that produces leaves, then seeds in its second year, cold weather hardy.  Sometimes chard is categorized with kale and mustard greens but that is more for sales purposes. 

Plant and Go

Botanical Name. Beta vulgaris L. Var Cicla

 Depth: ½''  Space: 8-12" Row: 18-30"  Temp: 70-80F
Germ: 7-10 Sun: Full/Partial. pH: 6.0- 6.8 Harvest: 50-60 soil
Soil: Well drained Container: 8x15" Fertilizer: 5-10-10 Fert Freq. 2-3 wks
mature dimen. 18-24 sow. Spring /early fall


Companion plant: Onions 


Usually cultivated as an annual in gardens. Plant Swiss chard seeds in the spring, 2–4 weeks before the last frost date. For earlier harvests, you can start Swiss chard indoors 3–4 weeks before the last frost date.

How to plant

Sow seeds in sterile seed-starting mix, with two seeds per cell. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and 4–6 inches apart. Swiss chard grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade. Space Swiss chard 12–18 inches apart in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.


Swiss chard seeds germinate best at 55–75°F and require 7–14 days to emerge. Temperatures above 80°F reduce seed germination.


To flower, Swiss chard plants must be subjected to temperatures below 40°F for at least 10 weeks. In hot weather, plants may "bolt" (start to flower). Cut off any flower stems that form, and plants should continue to produce leaves for a while longer. Once flowering gets under way, the plants should be removed and composted.




  1. Sow seeds indoors: Start 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Use individual pots or a seed tray with well-drained potting mix. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, cover lightly, and water gently. Place in a sunny location with temperatures around 70°F. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Seedlings should emerge in 7-10 days.
  2. Direct sowing: In warmer climates, sow seeds directly in the garden after the last frost. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and enriching it with compost. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, cover lightly, and water well. Thin seedlings to 6-8 inches apart once they have true leaves.

Growing and flowering:

  1. Sunlight and temperature: Swiss chard thrives in full sun for at least 6-8 hours daily. It can tolerate some shade but may produce fewer flowers. Aim for temperatures between 60-75°F for optimal growth.
  2. Watering and feeding: Water regularly, especially during hot and dry periods. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Feed with a balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to encourage healthy growth and flowering.
  3. Bolting and flowering: Swiss chard naturally bolts (produces flowers) when temperatures rise or day length increases. To encourage flowering, plant seeds in late summer or early fall. Alternatively, pinch off new growth and flower buds throughout the season to delay bolting. Once flower stalks appear, let them grow tall and enjoy their vibrant pink or yellow blooms.


  • Choose Swiss chard varieties known for their bolting tendencies, like "Rainbow" or "Lucullus."
  • Deadhead spent flower stalks to encourage more blooms.
  • Harvest leaves as usual throughout the season, even after flowering.
  • Swiss chard is relatively pest-resistant, but keep an eye out for aphids or caterpillars and treat organically if necessary.

With proper care and a bit of patience, you can enjoy a stunning display of Swiss chard flowers in your garden. Remember, the key is to provide adequate sunlight, consistent moisture, and the right timing for bolting and blooming. Happy gardening!


Fun Fact

There are 1,500 species in the goosefoot family.

Swiss chard was once grown in southern France exclusively for Christmas meals.

Forget just green! Swiss chard comes in a kaleidoscope of colors, from vibrant pink and gold to deep crimson and even white. Each variety offers a unique flavor profile, adding visual and culinary joy to your dishes.

The colorful stems are edible too! Don't discard them. Chopped and cooked, they'll add a delightful crunch and sweetness to your meals.

A superfood in disguise, Swiss chard is packed with vitamins A, K, and C, essential for boosting your immune system and keeping your vision sharp. It's also high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

Chard was even recognized by NASA as a potential crop for growing vegetables in space on future missions! Its nutritional density and adaptability make it ideal for astronauts' dietary needs.

Swiss chard was once used as a natural dye for fabric and clothing. The vibrant colors, especially from the stems, create beautiful and organic hues.

The scientific name for Swiss chard is "Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla." Don't worry, you don't need to memorize it, but it's another fun fact to impress your friends!



Companion Planting: Interplant Swiss chard with tomatoes, potatoes, or peppers to deter pests and attract beneficial insects.

Colorful Stalks: Don't discard the vibrant stems! They're edible and add a delightful crunch and sweetness to your dishes.

Winter Wonders: Some Swiss chard varieties can survive mild winters with a good layer of mulch. Others may need to be overwintered indoors in a sunny spot.



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.