How to Grow Swiss Chard in Containers

Swiss chard in a row.

Swiss chard is a nutritious choice for your vegetable garden. It has lots of vitamins including K, A, B, C, and E, minerals including iron, magnesium, and potassium and antioxidants. It has deep green leaves and green, red, or white stalks and veins, all of which can be eaten. It is similar to spinach but hardier and can last over several seasons with the proper care. Contrary to what many believe, most vegetables can be grown in containers and Swiss chard is no exception.

Step 1 - Pick the Right Soil

Use clean, nutritious, good-draining soil. Good drainage is important so your Swiss chard does not become waterlogged in its container. Make sure your soil is free of any microorganisms that may cause disease. Add organic matter for nutrients if needed. Use a good potting soil or homemade soil that meets these criteria, or buy a soil that is specially formulated for growing vegetables.

Step 2 - Find the Right Container

A 5-gallon container is an excellent size for Swiss chard. The plant itself can grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Although there is some lateral root growth, most of its roots grow down around a main taproot. A 5-gallon container will provide enough room for Swiss chard roots to become established and reach full growth to support the plant.

Step 3 - Plant

Find a sunny spot for Swiss chard. It can tolerate some shade but needs full sun sometime during the day to flourish. Plant during the spring once the danger of frost is past. Fill your container with soil and plant seeds or nursery stock. If you are planting chard from seed, remember that it is a prolific grower. Once your seeds sprout, thin them to no more than 10 and then down to one or two after they reach a growth of 5 to 6 inches high. Water thoroughly after planting and apply mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture.

Step 4 - Water and Feed

Swiss chard.

Give your Swiss chard regular, deep water. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. Fertilize Swiss chard two to three times during its main growing season with an all-purpose, nitrogen-rich fertilizer. It is considered a cool weather vegetable so it will be at its peak growth in the fall as the weather cools down.

Step 5 - Do Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Harvest Swiss chard when you need some leaves for cooking, when it is becoming overgrown or the outer leaves are starting to dry out. Cut off the larger, outer leaves and leave the inner core alone to continue to produce new leaves. Frequent clipping will promote new leaf growth. Swiss chard won't survive a hard frost outdoors. The beauty of having it in a container is that you can bring it indoors or place it in a sheltered area to protect it from frost and keep it growing for more than one season. When Swiss chard bolts, it's starting to go to seed. Cut off the flower stalk to extend the growing season.

Swiss chard is a wonderful, versatile vegetable that adapts well to being grown in containers.