How do you Grow Swiss Chard from Seed?
This can be a difficult question to answer for beginner gardeners because of complex factors like weather, soil, and pests.
This article will help solve this problem and give ALL experience levels of gardeners Easy-to-Follow Tips on growing swiss chard from seed.
And I recommend scrolling to the bottom of this page to find answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions most gardeners have when growing swiss chard.
Tip #1: Choose THESE 3 Swiss Chard Types
While there are hundreds of varieties of swiss chard you can grow, I am recommending 3 kinds to choose from.
These are the easiest types when trying to learn how to grow swiss chard from seed.
Bright Light Swiss Chard is considered the most popular type of chard in North America and range in colors of the rainbow.
The reason this type of lettuce is called bright lights is that the colors of this chard’s stem is bright and almost looks like a rainbow.
It takes approximately 60 days for this type of swiss chard to mature, but you should begin thinning and harvest in as little as 3 weeks in order to promote future plant growth.
The swiss chard grows to 21 inches tall. Swiss Chard grows a tender stalk and has a mild flavor compared to other types. If harvested early the dark green leaves are great in salads or even sauteed.
And if you don’t want to eat swiss chard, this is the perfect ornamental vegetable for your garden or yard.
Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard is another incredibly popular type of chard because it produces the most harvest, even in warm weather.
This type of chard has a thick, white stalk and is known for its dark green leaves that are tender and hearty.
If you harvested this plant when it is young you can use the leaves in a salad or if you wait the leaves are perfect for to add to any type of dish that needs sweeten.
As long you plant this chard in full-sun or partial-shade you can expect it to mature in 60 days and grow to a height of 28 – 30 inches.
Large White Ribbed Swiss Chard is one of the most unique types of chard that can be grown by gardeners.
This chard has wide, flat, and smooth white-stem leaves.
Large White Ribbed Chard is perfect for salads, steamed, or stir-fried.
This type of swiss chard grows to 20 inches tall and grows to 20 inches tall!
Tip #2 Starting Seeds Indoors
Because of its ability to withstand low temperatures, growing swiss chard from seed can happen indoors and outdoors. Please read below for instructions on how to grow swiss chard from seed both indoors and outdoors.
Step 1 – Begin Planting Seed 6 weeks Before the Last Frost
You will want to start your seeds inside approximately 6 weeks before you plan on moving your swiss chard into your garden or moving your planter outside.
- You will first want to start by buying your seed. I recommend buying from Amazon because it is quick and inexpensive.
- You will then want to take 3-inch GrowKo Peat Pots and fill them up to approximately 80% full with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
- Next, spray your soil 5 to 8 times with a spray bottle. You will want the soil to be moist, not damp. Damp soil can cause unwanted fungus.
*Find Your Last Frost Date HERE*
Step 2 – Lightly sprinkle 4-5 Seeds Per Pot
- Because of how small swiss chard seeds are it is sometimes to grab the1 or 2 seeds and plant them. Instead, sprinkle 4-5 seeds per pot about 1/8 inch deep and then gently brush the soil over the seeds. *Note, it is ok if more than 5 seeds fill a hole.
- Then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times until it turns a dark color.
The video below also gives a great tutorial on how to plant seeds.
Step 3 – Provide Your Seeds with At Least 8 Hours of Sunlight
- After planting your seeds, provide at least 8 hours of sunlight by placing the pots by a window or a Grow Light if your windows do not receive enough sunlight.
*If you put your seeds closer than 4 inches they will burn and die. If you put them further away than 4 inches there is a chance they won’t get enough sun to germinate.*
You will also want to keep the room temperature between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. With that being said, you can even grow swiss chard seeds in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This is the temperature needed so that your seeds can turn into plants.
If you don’t have an area that will stay consistently around 50-65 degrees, I would recommend investing in a Plant Heating Mat.
- A Plant Heating Mat is the perfect way to keep your pots and seeds at a consistent temperature that we may not otherwise be able to.
Step 4 – Spray, Spray, Spray
After your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day for approximately 10 days.
It will take approximately 10 days for your seeds to germinate or “pop” through the soil.
Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted through the soil, you will want to continue to spray them twice a day for 4 more months until they are ready to transplant outside.
Step 5- Prune & Transplant your Swiss Chard Plant into a Larger Pot
Once your swiss chard grows for about 3-4 weeks you can either begin to thin it to allow only one plant to grow or keep all plants in the pots. If you keep all plants there is a chance that they will not grow as full as just one swiss chard.
You can do this by taking scissors and snipping the smaller of the plants right at the soil line. This will allow the healthier swiss chard plant to grow to its full potential.
Next, you can transplant your swiss chard plant to a 5 Gallon Nursery Pot.
Again, you will want to fill these pots about 80% full with your potting mix.
Next, you will want to make a hole approximately 3 inches deep (about the size of your swiss chard plant at this point).
Then turn your existing small pot upside down, pinch the bottom of it, and then gently pull the soil and your plant out.
You will then place it in your 5-gallon pot and fill it with soil.
Immediately after you do this, spray the soil about 5 to 10 times.
You will then want to leave your swiss chard in this pot until it is ready to transplant outside.
Step 6 – Introduce your Swiss Chard to Outside Weather
This next step is what most beginner gardeners miss, but is critical to your success.
For about two weeks, you will want to slowly introduce your Swiss Chard to outside.
On the first day, you will want to place your Swiss Chard (still in its pot) outside in direct sunlight for approximately 2 hours.
Each day thereafter, place the Swiss Chard outside for an additional hour until you build up to 6 straight hours.
Tip #3: Transplant Swiss Chard Outside
Once the last frost of the year has happened you can transplant your Swiss Chard outside. If you transplant your swiss chard before the last frost it may die. To help prevent this I recommend planting it in a raised garden bed.
- Related: Best Raised Garden Beds
Below, is a 2 step process for transplanting your Swiss Chard outside into your garden.
Step 1 – Do THIS if you will be keeping your Swiss Chard in its container all summer!
If you decide to keep your Swiss Chard in the pots then there is no need to transplant. You will only need to apply compost or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- Apply approximately 1/4 inch of potting mix to your planter
- As soon as you apply your fertilizer make sure to water the Swiss Chard for approximately 15 to 30 seconds
- Every week until harvest water your Swiss Chard twice a day and keep it in full sun to promote fruit growth.
If you want to learn more about growing Swiss Chard in containers, I recommend watching the below video:
Step 2 – Do THIS to Transplant your Swiss Chard into your Garden!
- About 1 month before you plan on transplanting your swiss chard into a garden dig holes about 8 inches deep and filling it with compost. Space holes 12-18 inches apart.
- Dig your holes in an area that will receive partial shade.
- Then after the last frost transplant your swiss chard into the garden exactly the same way you transplanted it into the larger pots.
- Immediately after you transplant your swiss chard outside add
Miracle-Gro Plant Food and water the soil for about 30 seconds.
- Finally, water your swiss chard once a day for about 30 seconds. Continue doing this until you harvest your swiss chard mid-summer.
- Related To: Best Garden Hoses
Tip #4: Starting Swiss Chard Seeds in a Garden
Swiss Chard is one of the easiest vegetables to grow outside, no matter where you live.
Whether you do not have the ability to start your seeds indoors or just want to start your seeds directly in a garden then I recommend following the below directions:
Step 1: Start Your Seeds After the Last Frost
You should always start your swiss chard seeds after the last frost. Swiss Chard seeds will germinate best at temperatures between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
With that being said, they can even grow in weather as low as 40 degrees!
If you want to know your last frost date then I recommend Clicking HERE.
Step 2: Plant Your Seeds This Way!
Once you decide to start seeds outside you will want to do the following simple steps:
- Find a location that is partial shade and cooler and has a pH level between 6.0-7.0.
- Dig 1/8 inch holes with the tip of your finger or a pencil.
- Keep holes approximately 2 feet apart to allow for the most swiss chard grow.
- Lightly sprinkle 4-5 swiss chard seeds in each spot. It should be noted that not all seeds will germinate and you can always thin your plants out after they grow.
- Lightly cover your seeds and spray 8-10 times until the soil turns a dark brown color.
Step 3: Continue Watering your Seeds
After you initially plant your swiss chard seeds you will want to water them 2-3 times a day until the soil is dark brown.
You will do this until the seeds germinate and then continue doing this until they become at least 3 inches tall.
*If the weather is hotter than usual for your garden then you may need to water several more times a day then described above.
Tip #5: Effectively Care for your Swiss Chard THIS Way!
Below are caring tips for your Swiss Chard throughout the summer:
- Keep Your Soil Healthy – Quickly inspect your soil for fungus, harmful insects, and weeds before you plant and throughout the summer. Remove and replace it with new soil as needed.
- Water the soil, not the plants. By watering leaves, you increase the risk of spreading fungus and other diseases. Do not overwater as it will increase the likelihood of disease.
- Remove diseased and dead plants. This is the easiest way to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. If you notice yellow spots on leaves it means you may have blight fungus and will want to remove the leaves.
- Plant your swiss chard at a new spot yearly. This is key to preventing seasonal diseases and insects from attacking the same plants year in and year out.
- Prevent Insects. The best way to prevent them is through an insecticide. If you don’t want aphids, slugs, or cabbage worms ruining all your hard work I recommend purchasing Garden Safe Pesticide
Tip #6: Effectively Harvest Swiss Chard THIS Way!
Below are several tips to remember when harvesting swiss chard:
- Harvest your swiss chard 3 to 10 weeks after planting.
- Harvest your swiss chard frequently. This will help thin it out, ensure the best flavor possible, and helps to prevent seeding.
- Always pick your swiss chard where it meets the stalk.
- Pick your swiss chard from the outside to the inside.
Frequently Asked Questions (5 Questions)
1. What are the best ways to store swiss chard
Below, will give you several guidelines to store swiss chard longer:
- Once you harvest your swiss chard it will store at room temperature for only 1-day maximum.
- If you wash your swiss chard and place it in a zip-lock bag your swiss chard can last 2-3 days.
- If you wash your swiss chard and place it in a zip lock bag with several layers of damp paper towels your swiss card can store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
2. What are the Best Uses for Swiss Chard?
There are numerous uses for swiss chard in food. Below, are some of the best ways to use swiss chard:
- Salad Wraps
- Related: 13 Creative Chard Recipes
3. What type of Swiss Chard Seeds should I Use?
There are four types of seeds that can be used to grow swiss chard; heirloom, organic, hybrid, and GMO.
I recommend using Heirloom or Hybrid seeds. Gardeners do not have access to GMO seeds and organic seeds is a marketing term and not truly a type of seed.
- These seeds contain all the swiss chard original traits and produce some of the most beautiful and best-tasting swiss chard out there.
- The downside of this seed is that it is the costliest (due to its rarity).
- In addition, expect the least amount of yield from this type of seed due to susception of disease and other elements.
- Hybrid seeds were made from combining the genes of the same group of plants. This is not a bad thing.
- This type of seed is what most gardeners use when learning how to grow swiss chard from seed.
- The goal with hybrids is to produce a plant that contains the best features of both parent plants.
- This seed is critical if you want the most resistant plant against mother nature’s elements, insects, and diseases or want the most yield!
4. What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use for My Swiss Chard?
The best type of fertilizer for swiss chard is compost.
- Related: Ultimate Composting Guide: What to Compost
- Related: Yimby Tumbler Composter: 5 Reasons to Buy Today
And if you don’t have the time or ability to create compost then I recommend buying Miracle-Gro Plant Food for your swiss chard.
5. What Type of Soil Should I Use for My Swiss Chard Plants?
If you will be keeping your swiss chard plants in containers all year then you will want a well-draining potting mix that provides the correct amount of nutrients like Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
If you will be planting your swiss chard into a garden then you will want to add a nutritious garden soil mix into the ground, such as Miracle-Gro Expand N Gro