Growing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting Swiss Chard

Updated on May 1, 2019
vwriter profile image

I am an avid self-taught gardener (I learn as problems arise), bird watcher, and nature lover.

Rainbow Swiss Chard Spacing keeps down fungus potential
Rainbow Swiss Chard Spacing keeps down fungus potential | Source

Swiss chard is a great vegetable to include in your diet because it is full of vitamins and antioxidants. If you have eaten spinach and like it, you will probably like Swiss chard as well. For those who want to add it to your garden, you will find that it is easy to grow. In my opinion, far easier than spinach. You will learn how to plant, maintain, harvest, and troubleshoot problems you may have with Swiss chard.

Swiss chard is a colorful vegetable that belongs to the Chenopod family, which includes spinach, beets, and quinoa. This leafy vegetable had its early beginnings in the Mediterranean, getting its name from a Mediterranean vegetable called cardoon. Cardoon is a celery-like plant with thick stalks.

The leafy portion of Swiss chard is a nice dark green, while the stalk can be white, yellow, or red. If you buy it at a farmers market or maybe in an organic store, you may notice that it is called "Rainbow chard". The "Rainbow" portion of the name comes from the different colors of the stalks. In other words, it is Swiss chard, but the store or farmers market prefers to give it a more attractive name to catch the buyer's eye.

You can eat both the leaf and stalk, but I have to admit, neither I or my family is fond of the stalk. You can use the younger leaves in salads and as the plant gets older. The leaves can be chopped and cooked. As to the difference in the taste between spinach and Swiss chard, I would say spinach has a mellower taste. The strong taste of Swiss chard can be tamed down with olive oil and spices when cooked.

Swiss Chard and Your Health

Swiss chard is chock full of vitamins, ranking second only to spinach. A single cup of can provide you the following:

  • Vitamin K - Helps with blood clotting, preventing osteoporosis, and helping to prevent cell damage. These greens provide an individual with over 700% of vitamin K. That is why it is advised that people who are on blood thinning medication should not eat Swiss chard.
  • Vitamin A - One cup of the leafy vegetable can provide 200% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, which helps with vision and lung health.
  • Magnesium - Helps to control nerve and muscle tone.

It also contains vitamin C, potassium, iron, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and manganese.

The leaves also provide polyphenol antioxidants. In fact, there has been one flavonoid, which is found in the leaves of the vegetable that have been getting special attention in recent research, it is called syringic acid, which has been shown to inhibit activity of an enzyme called alph-glucosidase. This enzyme inhibits fewer carbs from breaking down into simple sugars, allowing an individual's blood sugar to stay steady.

The stems of the vegetable contain betalain pigments, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support for the body.

How to Plant, Maintain, and Harvest Swiss Chard


  1. Before planting soak the seeds in warm water for 15 minutes, this helps to speed up germination.
  2. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and a few inches apart.
  3. After the seedlings have grown, thin the seedlings so that they are 4 to 5 inches apart if you are want to use the whole plant (stem and leaves). If you are only going to harvest the leaves, then thin the seedlings, so they are 8 to 10 inches apart.
  4. Plant in full sunlight; they do not do well in full shade.
  5. They can endure light frost in spring and moderate frost in the fall.


  1. To discourage weeds, mulch with compost or grass clippings.
  2. Use a natural fertilizer.
  3. Moderate watering is only needed.


Swiss chard is very easy to harvest. It is what I call a "cut and grow again" type of plant. We usually take our fill of this vegetable, then we will freeze and share the rest with our friends, family, and neighbors.

Troubleshooting Swiss Chard

Though it is an easy plant to raise, it does attract certain fungus and bugs to its tasty leaves. Here are some solutions for of the problems that may arise.

  • Cercospora Leaf Spot: Cercospora leaf spot is a fungus that will cause light brown sports with purple halos on the leaves. As it progresses, it will turn the infected leaf brown, causing it to die. This is caused when there is rainy weather and the leaves are close together. Get rid of the diseased plants and thin the leaves out so that air can circulate freely through them.
  • Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungus that leaves a powdery, gray-white mildew on the upper portion of the leaves. This is usually due to the plant getting to much moisture, be it through rain or watering. The best way to eliminate this problem is to thin out the leaves so that air can circulate around the plants, allowing them to dry out.
  • Downy Mildew: Downy mildew will look like a fine powdery coating on the lower parts of the leaves. This fungus like moist, cool conditions. Thus, get rid of the damaged leaves and then thin the leaves out so air can circulate. Catching it early is important because this fungus can spread quickly. You can use copper dust or spray. Copper dust or spray isn't an insecticide and it will not burn your plants. But it will get rid of your problem.
  • Aphids: The small, colored (they come in all colors) insects, which are usually visible to the naked eye can cause the leaves to have deformed look. Another indication that they are about is an excretion they leave behind, called honeydew. You can get rid of these with different sprays. It is also known that ladybugs helps with getting rid of this pest as well.
  • Leaf Miners: Leaf miners eat the tissue of the leaf. These are larvae of a small fly called beet/spinach leaf miner. These flies will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaf and when the larvae hatch they will begin to feed. If you have these leaf miners, you will notice it as brown patches. Remove all leaves that have brown patches. If you see clusters of white, elongated eggs, you can brush them off. That may stop some of them. You can try using Spinosad which is an insecticide that is friendly to the leaf miners natural enemies such as bees and wasps, but will still kill the pest.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • My Swiss chard seedlings are only getting about 1 to 2 in. tall and they are flopping over. What can I do to stop my Swiss Chard from flopping over?

    This question is not a one answer fits all solution. Thus, I'll give you my three ideas and let you decide which best meets your problem.

    1. You may need more light.

    2. You may need to either water your seedling more. Or, you may be giving the plant too much water.

    3. Try changing the technique in which you water your plants. Water from the roots. This can help build strong roots and slow the growth.

  • What would be eating holes in the leaves of all my chars?

    It very well could be a cabbage worm or cutworm.

  • My swiss chard is light green, like lettuce, stalks as well as leaves. What can I do?

    There are several possibilities. One, the soil could be lacking in nitrogen. The simplest solution is to get manure from a farmer. Two, you may be over watering the plants.

  • Why isn't my swiss chard growing tall?

    Make sure your plants are not crowding one another. They should be about eight inches apart.

    Another possibility is that the soil is too acidic. It should have a pH level of between 6-6.8.

  • Could I be over watering my swiss chard?The leaves are dying.

    If the leaves are turning brown and wilting you are probably over watering your plant. The plants only need 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water a week, if you are not getting rain.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)