Plant DetailShow Menu

Chards Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)

Phonetic Spelling
BAY-tuh vul-GAIR-iss
Description

The leaf beet group consists of cultivars such as Swiss chard and beet spinach that are grown for their edible leafy greens. The group includes annual and biennial vegetables in the Amaranthaceae (amaranth) family with origins in the Mediterranean region and Europe. 

These cultivars do best in full sun to partial shade, as well as moist, rich, well-drained soil. The plants require a pH level of 6.0 to 8.0. They grow fastest in the cool temperatures of spring and fall, although they continue to produce leaves through summer. They are tough plants that can tolerate some heat, humidity, and drought, although they stop growing without adequate moisture. The biennials in this group do not produce flowers until their second year and therefore have no risk of bolting from heat.

Unlike the common beet, these plants do not grow a swollen root. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, but the thick stalks are best eaten after cooking. Harvest leaves and stalks only as needed since the plants do not last long in the refrigerator. Although maturity rates vary among cultivars, baby leaves can be harvested in roughly 30 days and mature leaves in 60. Harvest the larger, outside leaves first to encourage new leaves to grow.

These leafy greens are at home in drought-tolerant or edible gardens. Directly sow seeds in the garden or start seeds indoors and transplant to the garden four weeks later. Their colorful stems make them attractive in ornamental beds, along walkways, and border fronts.  They also grow well in containers, doing best in a minimum size of 2 quarts and a depth of 8 inches.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems.

VIDEO Created by Homegrown featuring Bill Lord, former Area Specialized Agent for NC State Extension

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bright Lights'
  • 'Northern Lights'
'Bright Lights', 'Northern Lights'
Tags:
#cultivars#full sun tolerant#small spaces#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible plant#cottage garden#vegetable garden#border planting#vegetable#edible garden#edible leaves#border front#edible stems#cool season vegetable#humidity tolerant#walkway planting#partial shade tolerant#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable#pink#drought tolerant vegetable#ornamental vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#spring greens#container plants#vhfn#vhfn-v
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bright Lights'
  • 'Northern Lights'
'Bright Lights', 'Northern Lights'
Tags:
#cultivars#full sun tolerant#small spaces#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible plant#cottage garden#vegetable garden#border planting#vegetable#edible garden#edible leaves#border front#edible stems#cool season vegetable#humidity tolerant#walkway planting#partial shade tolerant#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable#pink#drought tolerant vegetable#ornamental vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#spring greens#container plants#vhfn#vhfn-v
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Beta
    Species:
    vulgaris
    Family:
    Amaranthaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mediterranean, Europe
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    drought, heat, humidity
    Edibility:
    Leaves and stalks can be harvested and eaten. Harvest only as needed as they do not keep long in the fridge.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Insignificant
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Spike
    Flower Description:
    Green, non-showy spikes of flowers appear in the plant's second year. Spikes can rise as tall as 4'.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    While clumps of leaves are green, Swiss Chard can feature midribs and petioles that are white, orange, yellow, red, or pink. Leaves are large 15"-24" long with ruffled edges and some puckering on larger leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Stem Buds:
    Smooth/Hairless
    Stem Description:
    Colorful edible stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Small groups
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity