Swiss chard, or silverbeet, are leafy greens related to spinach and a member of the beet family, with bright-colored stems and dark green leaves. It is a cool-season crop that tolerates heat, making it a perfect addition to the vegetable garden. However, there are many types of Swiss chard, and some of them are better suited for home growing than others.
Some Swiss chard varieties have white stems, while others, like rhubarb chard, have bright red stalks, which is a striking contrast to their green leaves. Their tender leaves are slightly sweeter than spinach and less bitter than collards and kale, and they are highly nutritious, packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Swiss chard plants (Beta vulgaris subsp. Vulgaris) vary in height and color. Some have thin and delicate stems, while others are thick and robust. Their leaves range from crumpled to smooth; some tender, others with a leathery texture, and some cultivars are pest-resistant.
Growing Different Types of Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a wonderful plant to add to the veggie patch, and there are wide varieties to pick from at planting time. Learn about popular types and explore tips for growing them at home.
How Many Swiss Chard Varieties Are There?
Swiss chard varieties range in size, color, texture, and flavor. Discover some facts about these leafy greens and the differences between varieties to help narrow your search for the perfect vegetable.
There are several varieties of Swiss chard, and these cool-season crops are a good source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamins. All parts of the leafy greens are edible; eat them raw or cooked. Raw Swiss chard tastes slightly bitter, and cooking the chard turns the leaves mildly sweet.
Swiss chard cultivars have varying stalk colors, ranging from bright yellow, green, and orange to red. In addition, some types have green leaves, and others have bronze or purple leaves, varying in size.
For example, Barese chard is a white stemmed heirloom that only grows nine inches tall, while the Fordhook Giant grows 20 to 28 inches tall.
The Most Common Swiss Chard Types
While there are wide varieties of Swiss chard, some are easier to grow than others. Four common Swiss chard types grow well in a backyard garden.
While there are many common types of Swiss chard, Bright Lights, Lucullus, Peppermint, and Magenta Sunset are four favorites and excellent choices for growing in a vegetable patch. They are great leafy greens to plant in spring about a month before the last typical frost date.
Bright lights, or rainbow chard, is a colorful Swiss chard that produces orange, yellow, gold, pink, white, and red stems. It looks stunning in the yard with its color display and matures in 55 to 60 days, reaching about 20 inches tall.
Lucullus chard is an heirloom type with thick white stalks and large dark green heavy savoy leaves. It grows 20 inches tall, matures in 55 days, and has a sweet, mild flavor.
The reddish-pink striped stalks and dark green leaves with bright white veins are what give Peppermint chard its name. This type matures in 53 to 63 days, grows up to 24 inches tall, and has an earthy taste that is perfect in a stir fry.
Magenta Sunset is a show stopper with stunningly pink stems and pink-veined leaves. It reaches 24 inches tall at maturity, takes 65 days to grow, and the baby leaves are tasty in salads. However, bolting is a problem for this plant when it experiences cold temperatures.
Tips for Growing All Types of Swiss Chard
After picking the perfect leafy green for your tastes and region, it’s time to start planting. Here are a few awesome tips to help you grow different types of Swiss chard at home. While there is a rhubarb chard, you will find numerous differences between rhubarb or Swiss chard in looks, growing, taste, and cultivation.
All Swiss chard varieties require full sun to flourish, whether you plant rainbow chard, rhubarb chard, or Ruby Red Chard. However, they do tolerate light shade during the summer.
Plant chard seeds two to four weeks before the last frost and space them twelve to eighteen inches apart in a raised bed, container, or garden. For fall planting, sow the seeds anytime during late summer. Water the seeds gently after planting and keep the soil moist to encourage germination.
Swiss chard enjoys nutrient-rich dirt with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 – adding organic matter and slow-release fertilizer before planting enriches the soil. Give your plants an inch to an inch and a half of water weekly, and spread mulch over the bed after the seedlings emerge to retain moisture through the growing season.
Keep an eye out for leaf miners, aphids, and other pests, and remove them by hand as soon as you spot them. Harvest the chard when the leaves are big enough to eat since older leaves are not as tender as young leaves. Pick Swiss chard so it keeps growing by harvesting the outer leaves first.
Using Fresh Swiss Chard to Make a Garlicky Recipe
To get your daily dose of vegetables, this garlic sauteed Swiss chard dish hits the spot. It’s healthy and flavorful, easy to make with any Swiss chard type, and you can personalize it by adding other veggies and spices.
Remove the stems and midribs from the Swiss chard and slice the leaves into quarter-inch strips. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the garlic and a large pinch of red pepper flakes, and saute for half a minute. Stir in the chard leaves to coat them in oil, cover the pan, and cook for two minutes until the leaves wilt. Uncover the pan and cook for two more minutes; season with salt to taste.
Swiss chard is healthy and tasty, and the bright colored stems and dark leaves of the different varieties make growing this leafy green even more fun. To top it off, the whole plant is edible, so nothing goes to waste.
Now that you know which types of Swiss chard to grow in your garden, why not share our Swiss chard types and growing tips with your family and friends on Pinterest and Facebook?