How to grow Swiss Chard

To grow Swiss chard at home, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil, plant seeds 1″ deep and 3″ apart, water regularly, and harvest when leaves are 6-8″ long.

How to grow swiss chard

Are you looking for an easy-to-grow leafy green vegetable that is delicious and packed with nutrients? If so, then Swiss chard might be just the plant for you! Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, growing Swiss chard is a great way to add variety to your garden and plate.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to grow your Swiss chard successfully, from choosing the right location and soil to planting, caring for, and harvesting your crop. So, let’s get started and discover the joy of growing this versatile and tasty vegetable!

What is Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the beet family (Amaranthaceae). It is also known as silverbeet, perpetual spinach, or simply chard. Swiss chard has large, fleshy, dark green leaves that appear similar to spinach but with thicker stems that can range from white to yellow to bright red.

Swiss chard is a popular Mediterranean vegetable and is widely cultivated in Europe and North America. It is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked and can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews, and sautés.

In addition, Swiss chard is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, potassium, and dietary fiber.

Botanical nameBeta vulgaris subsp. cicla.
Name (Common)Chard, Swiss Chard
Native toBelieved to have originated in the Mediterranean region, specifically in Sicily and other parts of the Mediterranean basin. However, it has been widely cultivated and naturalized in many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Asia.
Sun levels4-6 hours of sun
USDA zones3-10
SoilWell-drained. A soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0
Plant sizeGenerally, chard plants can grow to be between 12-24 inches tall and have a spread of 12-18 inches.


Both seeds and transplants can propagate Swiss chard. Here are some methods for propagation:

  1. Seeds: Swiss chard seeds can be sown directly into the soil in early spring or late summer. They should be planted about 1/2 inch deep and spaced about 6 inches apart in 12 to 18 inches apart rows. The seeds will germinate in 7 to 14 days.
  2. Transplants: Swiss chard can also be started indoors in seed trays or pots about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Once the seedlings have developed 2 to 3 true leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden. Transplants should be spaced about 6 inches apart in 12 to 18 inches apart rows.

No matter which method you choose, keeping the soil consistently moist is essential until the plants are established. Swiss chard is a fast-growing plant that can be harvested in as little as 30 days after planting, depending on the variety.

Types of chard

Chard is a leafy green vegetable that is often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries. There are several types of chard, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Swiss chard: This is the most common type of chard characterized by its large, dark green leaves and white stalks. It has a slightly bitter taste and can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Rainbow chard: This type of chard has brightly colored stalks that range from yellow to red to purple. The leaves are also green with a slightly milder taste than Swiss chard.
  • Fordhook Giant chard: This type of chard has broad, thick, and crinkly leaves that are perfect for cooking. It has a milder taste than Swiss chard and is a popular choice in soups and stews.
  • Rhubarb chard: This type of chard has reddish-pink stalks and a distinct tart flavor. It is often used in desserts and baked goods.
  • Green chard: This is a variety of Swiss chard with green stalks and leaves. It has a slightly milder taste than the other varieties and is an excellent choice for those who prefer a less bitter flavor.

How to grow Swiss Chard

Here are the general steps to grow chard at home:

  • Choose a location: Chard needs at least six hours of sunlight daily, so choose a place in your garden or balcony that receives plenty of sun. It also needs well-draining soil.
  • Prepare the soil: Add compost or organic matter to the soil to help retain moisture and nutrients. Chard prefers a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • Plant the seeds: Plant chard seeds in early spring or late summer. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Thin the seedlings: When they have grown to 2-3 inches, thin them out to about 6 inches apart to give them room to grow.
  • Water regularly: Water the chard plants about 1 inch per week. Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow deep.
  • Fertilize: Fertilize the chard plants with a balanced fertilizer once a month to keep them healthy and growing.
  • Harvest: Chard can be harvested when the leaves are 6-8 inches long. Cut the leaves off at the base of the stem, leaving the stem intact so that new leaves can grow. You can continue harvesting chard throughout the growing season.


Swiss chard grows best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day, but it can also tolerate some shade. In hotter climates, Swiss chard may benefit from afternoon shade to protect it from the sun’s intense heat.

In cooler regions, it may do better in full sun. Swiss chard may produce smaller leaves when grown in partial shade and have a slightly slower growth rate than when grown in full sun.

Providing Swiss chard with consistent sunlight and shade throughout the day can help promote healthy growth and development.


Chard can be grown in various temperatures, but it prefers cooler weather. Chard seeds will germinate at soil temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), but it will grow best when the soil temperature is between 60°F (15°C) and 70°F (21°C).

Chard can tolerate temperatures as low as 25°F (-4°C) and as high as 80°F (27°C). However, if temperatures exceed 80°F (27°C) for extended periods, the plant may become stressed and stop producing new leaves.

In general, chard grows best in temperatures between 50°F (10°C) and 75°F (24°C). If you live in a region with very hot summers, you may want to plant chard in the year’s cooler months. Living in an area with mild winters, you can grow chard throughout the year.


Swiss chard in garden: Source: Rykuehn

Chard prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH for chard is between 6.0 and 7.0. You can improve the soil quality by adding compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter to the soil before planting.

If your soil is heavy and retains moisture, add sand or perlite to improve drainage. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, you can adjust the pH by adding lime or sulfur.

It’s a good idea to test your soil before planting to determine its pH and nutrient levels. You can purchase a soil testing kit at a garden center or have your soil tested by a local university extension service.


Chard needs consistent moisture to grow and produce healthy leaves. Therefore, it is essential to water chard regularly, especially during hot and dry weather, to prevent the soil from drying out.

Water the chard plants deeply once a week, providing about 1 inch of water.

Watering deeply encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil. Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.
If you grow chard in containers, water them more frequently, as containers tend to dry out more quickly than garden beds.

Also, check the soil regularly and water whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

In summary, water chard plants deeply and regularly, providing about 1 inch of water per week, and be sure to check the soil moisture regularly to prevent it from drying out.


Fertilizing chard can help ensure the plants have the nutrients they need to grow healthy and produce abundant leaves. Here are some tips for fertilizing chard:

  • Apply a balanced fertilizer: Use a fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (10-10-10) to provide a balanced nutrient mix.
  • Apply fertilizer at planting: Mix a slow-release fertilizer into the soil before planting to provide nutrients throughout the growing season.
  • Side-dress with fertilizer: About a month after planting, side-dress the chard plants with a small amount of fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of the plants and water well.
  • Repeat as needed: Depending on your soil quality and the growth of your chard plants, you may need to fertilize again later in the growing season. Check the plants regularly and apply fertilizer as needed.

It’s important not to over-fertilize chard, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of the roots and can also cause damage to the plants. 

Grow time

Chard typically takes about 50 to 60 days from planting to harvest. However, the exact growth time can vary depending on temperature, soil quality, and amount of sunlight.

Chard can be harvested as soon as the leaves are large enough to eat, usually when they are 6-8 inches long. Harvesting the outer leaves first will encourage the plant to produce more leaves.

Then, you can continue harvesting the leaves as they grow until the plant bolts (has a tall stalk and goes to seed), usually in hot weather.

Chard is a biennial plant that can grow for two years. However, it is typically grown annually and harvested within the first year. With proper care and attention, chard can provide a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.


Swiss chard cleaning

To harvest chard, wait until the leaves are at least 6-8 inches long and the plant has enough foliage to sustain growth.

Then, use a pair of scissors or garden shears to cut off the outer leaves about an inch above the soil level, being careful not to damage the remaining leaves or the growing point at the center of the plant.

Harvest only the leaves that you need and leave the smaller, inner leaves to continue growing. By harvesting only the outer leaves, you can encourage the plant to produce more leaves for extended periods.

If you see the plant starting to bolt (produce a tall stalk and go to seed), it’s best to harvest the entire plant before the leaves become tough and bitter.


After harvesting chard, it’s essential to store it properly to maintain its freshness and quality. Here are some tips for keeping chard:

  1. Rinse and dry the leaves: Rinse the chard leaves in cold water and dry them thoroughly with a clean towel or salad spinner.
  2. Store in the refrigerator: Wrap the dry chard leaves in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag or container with a lid. Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to a week.
  3. Freeze for extended storage: Chard can be blanched and frozen for longer storage. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then plunge them into ice water to cool. Drain well, then pack the leaves into freezer-safe containers or bags and freeze for up to 6 months.
  4. Use the stems: Chard stems can also be used in cooking. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or chop them and freeze them along with the leaves.


Like any plant, Swiss chard can be susceptible to certain diseases. Here are some common diseases that affect Swiss chard and how to prevent and treat them:

  • Downy mildew: This fungal disease causes yellowing and wilting of the leaves. Prevent it by avoiding overhead watering and allowing good air circulation around the plants. If you notice downy mildew on your chard, remove and destroy the affected leaves and treat the plant with a copper-based fungicide.
  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease causes a white, powdery coating on the leaves. Prevent it by avoiding overhead watering and providing good air circulation. If you notice powdery mildew on your chard, remove and destroy the affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.
  • Leaf spot: This bacterial disease causes brown spots on the leaves. Prevent it by avoiding overhead watering and watering at the base of the plant. Remove and destroy infected leaves and treat the plant with a copper-based fungicide.
  • Root rot: This fungal disease can cause the plant to wilt and die. Prevent it by avoiding overwatering and improving soil drainage. If you notice root rot on your chard, remove and discard the affected plants and do not replant the chard in the same area for at least two years.

Questions and answers

When is the best time to plant chard?  Chard is a cool-weather crop best planted in the spring or fall when temperatures are mild. It can also be grown in the summer in cooler climates or partially shaded areas. 

Can chard be grown in containers?  Yes, chard can be grown in containers as long as the container is at least 6 inches deep and has good drainage. Use a quality potting mix and fertilize regularly for best results.

How often should I water my chard plants?  Chard needs regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil conditions.

How do I know when my chard is ready to harvest?  Chard can be harvested as soon as the leaves are large enough to eat, usually when they are 6-8 inches long. Harvesting the outer leaves first will encourage the plant to produce more leaves.

Can chard be grown from seeds?  Yes, chard can be grown from seeds. Sow seeds directly into the garden or start them indoors and transplant them when the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall.

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