Swiss Chard Seed Care: How To Plant Swiss Chard Seeds
By: Liz Baessler
Swiss chard should be a staple of any vegetable garden. Nutritious and tasty, it comes in a range of vibrant colors that makes it worth growing even if you don’t plan on eating it. It’s also a cold weather biennial, which means it can be started early in the spring and counted on not to bolt (usually) in the heat of summer. Keep reading to learn more about Swiss chard seed care and when to sow Swiss chard seeds.
When to Sow Swiss Chard Seeds
Swiss chard seeds are special in that they can germinate in relatively cold soil, as low as 50 F. (10 C.). Swiss chard plants are somewhat frost hardy, so the seeds can be sown outside directly in the soil about two weeks before the average last frost date of spring. If you want to get a head start, however, you can start them indoors three to four weeks before the last frost date in your area.
Swiss chard is also a popular fall crop. If growing Swiss chard seeds in the fall, start them about ten weeks before the average first autumn frost date. You can sow them directly in the soil or start them indoors and transplant them out when they are at least four weeks old.
How to Plant Swiss Chard Seeds
Growing Swiss chard from seed is very easy and germination rates are usually fairly high. You can get your seeds to perform even better, however, by soaking them in water for 15 minutes immediately before sowing.
Plant your Swiss chard seeds at a depth of ½ inch (1.3 cm) in rich, loosened, moist soil. If you’re starting your seeds indoors, plant the seeds in a flat bed of individual seed plugs with two to three seeds in each plug.
Once the seeds have sprouted, thin them to one seedling per plug. Transplant them out when they’re 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) tall. If you’re planting directly in the soil, plant your seeds 3 inches (7.5 cm.) apart. When the seedlings get to be several inches tall, thin them to one plant every 12 inches (30 cm.). You can use the thinned seedlings as salad greens.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Swiss Chard
How To Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is power packed with nutrients and easy to grow. It belongs in every garden. Learn how to grow Swiss Chard and how to incorporate it into your diet.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.
Chard Sowing and Planting Tips
- Chard can be grown from seeds or transplants.
- Direct-sow chard seeds in the garden 5 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost chard can be started indoors or in a plastic tunnel or cold frame 10 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Soak seeds overnight before sowing to hasten germination.
- Seed germinates in 5 to 7 days at or near 60°F to 65°F (16-18°C)—but sometimes seed can take up to 3 weeks to germinate if the soil is cold. Germination will not occur in soil chillier than 50°F (10°C).
- Keep the soil evenly moist until seeds germinate.
- Sow seed ⅓ to ½ inch (13mm) deep.
- Sow seeds 1 inch (2.5cm) apart later thin seedlings to 6 inches (15cm) apart use the thinnings in salads.
- Space plants 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) apart in a staggered pattern or in rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
- Chard grows best in full sun but can tolerate light shade.
- Chard prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
- Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of sowing compost will feed the soil and aide moisture retention.
- Chard grows best when daytime temperatures are in the 60s°F but can tolerate much warmer temperatures.
- Keep the soil moist until seedlings are well established once plants are established mulch with straw to keep the roots cool and moist.
- Chard can tolerate light frosts in the spring and moderate freezes in the fall.
- Avoid planting chard where beets, spinach, or orach has recently grown. Plant chard where beans have just grown if you can.
- Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion at half strength.
- Aphids and leaf miners can attack chard.
- Cut plants back to about 3 inches (7 cm) above the soil in late summer the plant will produce new leaves for autumn harvest.
Interplanting: Interplant chard with carrots, radishes, strawberries.
Container Growing Chard: Choose a container at least 6-12 inches (15-20 cm) wide and tall.
A tasty and easy way to cook rainbow chard along with red onion (via Taste of Home).
A creative way to use chard leaves—as a wrapping to make traditional Mehari Zushi, rice balls. (via Chopstick Chronicles).
A healthy, cheesy frittata using chard (via SkinnyTaste).
Whip up a batch of garden-fresh pesto featuring swiss chard leaves to brighten up wraps and sandwiches (via Dreamy Leaf).
If you have a lot of Swiss chard to use up, this spicy and healthy recipe makes good use of these leafy greens – vegan-friendly (via Kalyn’s Kitchen).
Why not turn those greens into crispy chips? (via Just a Little Bit of Bacon).
The goodness of bacon, chard, and gouda combine to make a delicious strata (via Taste of Home).
This vegan and nut-free recipe uses whole grain tortillas, swiss chard, and mushrooms – topped with tomato-habanero salsa (via Making Thyme for Health).