Question: Can I grow Swiss chard in a container? Is there a variety that grows better in containers? -Ted G.
Answer: Swiss chard is perfect for container gardening, and with delightfully colorful varieties such as ‘Bright Lights,’ which features foliage colors that range from red, white, and gold to yellow, violet, and orange, the leafy green pulls double duty as both a delicious and healthy food crop and an ornamental garden beauty.
Though the pot does not need to be incredibly deep for planting Swiss chard in containers, as the root system of the vegetable is not very deep or complex, you should still take into consideration the size of the plant’s large leaves when selecting a pot to grow your chard in. Once you decide on a container/containers for your chard, you can choose whether you want to buy transplants or sow your own seeds.
If you are sowing your own seeds, you can get quite an early head start outdoors as they thrive on colder temperatures. If you want to get an early start on growing Swiss chard, sow seeds indoors and move them outside as temperatures begin to warm up.
Plant seeds about one half inch deep and a half inch to one inch apart. Once seedlings emerge, thin to two to three inches apart. Swiss chard will be ready for harvest in just four to six weeks after planting. If you are just growing the plant as a garden ornamental, skip the harvesting and leave the outer leaves intact until they start to wilt, turn brown, or get worn down from being eaten by insects. Once the outer leaves start to become unattractive, remove them, leaving the inner leaves intact. The inner leaves will continue to grow.
Because the plant is quite resilient, Swiss chard care in containers is fairly simple. They don’t mind being crowded and will tolerate a bit of neglect on your part. Chard will also tolerate poor soil conditions and does not need any additional fertilizer. Though they don’t require additional fertilizer, like any plant, they will respond to additional nutrition. Swiss chard can start to become bitter during the summer, especially in warm climate areas, so be sure to provide plenty of water when temperatures rise. Plants grown in pots need additional watering as well, so keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil and provide water whenever the topsoil is dry to the touch. Chard plants are one of the few vegetables or leafy greens which prefer shady locations to full sunlight exposure.