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Silverbeet growing in a garden
This cut-and-come-again leafy vegetable should be a staple in every garden. It’s easy to grow and has a long harvest window, so you can enjoy the delicious leaves for months on end. Silverbeet is available in a range of leaf colours and textures, often with contrasting stem colours.

What you need to know about silverbeet

Name: silverbeet, Swiss chard, chard, rainbow chard, Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris.

Height: up to 75cm.

Plant type: annual leafy vegetable. 

Climate: in cool and warm temperate climates, plant from spring to autumn; in sub-tropical and tropical zones, grow all year round.

Soil: deep, well-drained, slightly acidic (pH 6–6.8).

Position: full sun to part shade.

Foliage: large dark-green, crinkled leaves with a fleshy white or coloured stem. 

Flowering and fruiting: long spikes of small white-yellow flowers followed by knobbly cluster seeds, with 2–6 seeds encased inside each. 

Feeding: liquid feed regularly throughout the growing season.

Watering: can tolerate periods without water but will perform better with regular watering to keep the soil moist. 

Appearance and characteristics of silverbeet

Silverbeet is an attractive leafy vegetable that grows into a loose fountain of foliage. The stems emerge from a thick, edible root bulb and can be white, red, pink, yellow or orange. The coloured varieties are often referred to as rainbow chard, while those with the classic white stems are traditionally known as silverbeet or Swiss chard. 

The leaves are large and fleshy with a crinkled appearance. The silverbeet stems and veins are prominent and contrast beautifully with the dark-green foliage, so it makes a great decorative plant in the vegie patch. It can grow up to 75cm tall and 45cm wide but is more compact when grown in pots. In garden beds, silverbeet tends to make the most of the space and grow to full size, although it can take several months.

Silverbeet leaves on a wooden table

Uses for silverbeet

Many use silverbeet as a substitute for spinach, but it’s perfect for soups, pasta or sautéed side dishes that require wilted leafy greens.

How to grow and care for silverbeet

Choose a spot in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil. Enrich the soil with plenty of compost and organic matter. Roots can grow 90–120cm deep in garden beds, so dig deep to work the organic matter through. If growing in pots, use a quality potting mix with added compost. Sow seeds or transplant seedlings and gently water. Once seeds germinate, thin out to the required spacing, using the excess seedlings as salad greens. Water, feed and harvest regularly to keep plants healthy and productive.  

How to care for silverbeet

Silverbeet is an easy-care vegie. Water and feed regularly throughout the growing season and mulch around the base of the plant with sugar cane or pea straw mulch.

How often should you water and feed silverbeet?

Silverbeet needs regular watering for good growth. Water every 2–3 days, or more often during hot weather. Its leaves are made up of mostly water, so it will wilt if left unwatered in hot or dry conditions. Give it a good water and it should recover. 

How and when to harvest silverbeet

After 8–10 weeks, you can begin to harvest the outer mature leaves, leaving a few of the younger ones to continue growing. To harvest, hold the stalk near the base and twist to break.

Diseases and pests that affect silverbeet

Cercospora leaf spot is the most common fungal disease. Grey spots with brown margins appear on the silverbeet leaves and eventually fall out, giving the foliage a shot-hole appearance. The disease is prevalent in hot, humid weather and can be spread via water droplets, wind or insects. Treat with a suitable fungicide.

Snails and slugs favour the young, tender foliage. Use physical barriers or traps or spread snail and slug pellets around pots and garden beds.

How to propagate silverbeet

Silverbeet grows best from seeds or seedlings.

Safety tip

After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse fruit well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets. 

If you like this then try

Celery: another cut-and-come-again leafy green with a long growing season.

Spinach: baby spinach leaves are nature’s superfood, rich in iron, vitamins and fibre.

Kale: the ruffled or crinkled leaves are ideal in salads and smoothies.

Start growing today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

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