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How to Grow Climbing Spinach Plants


Annual / Perennial, Basella Rubra

Climbing Spinach is a great, climbing, ornamental flower. Not only does it look good, but it is edible, too! This climber is a joy to grow, reaching up to 8-10 feet in a single season. You can pick young, tender leaves for salads, as the plant climbs skyward. The leaves have a pepper-lemon flavor.

The plant has dark green leaves with burgundy vines and flower buds.  Make sure to provide a support for this plant to climb on. It looks great, climbing up a trellis or along a fence.

The plants produce small, white flowers, from summer into fall. The spent blooms produce berries, in areas with a longer growing period.

Most gardeners will grow Malabar Climbing Spinach as a annual. In warmer areas of the country, it can be grown as a perennial.

While Malabar Climbing Spinach is not a true spinach, it tastes great in salads, soups and stir-fries.

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Plant Propagation:

Here's how to grow Climbing Spinach plants from seeds:

For an early start, sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. We recommend a heated germination mat, to increase  the speed of germination, and for a higher germination rate.

Keep the soil moist, not wet, after planting.

Germination Tip: Soak seeds overnight, prior to planting.

Seeds can also be directly sowed outdoors after the last frost date for your area.

Planting Depth: 1/4"

Days to Germination: 10 - 15 days.

Plant Spacing: 10-12" apart.

Plant Height: 8' to 10'.

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How to Grow Malabar Climbing Spinach Plants:

Select a growing location that is in full sun, and where there is a trellis or fence for the vines to climb. If a trellis or fence is not available, you can pound tall stakes into the ground next to the plants.

While the plants like warm weather, choose an area with partial shade in hotter areas of the country.

The plants need a rich, loose soil to help fuel growth. Mix in plenty of compost to the planting site. The soil should be able to retain water, but also be well drained.  

Give plants a regular dose of fertilizer, every 3-4 weeks.

Plants grow best in warm, rainy periods. Keep the soil moist. Water plants during dry spells, and especially in hot weather.

Mulch around plants to keep weeds down, and to retain soil moisture.

If your space, hight or width, is limited, trim back plants from time to time.

Flowers Bloom: Summer through Fall

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Insect and Disease:

Insect and disease problems are infrequent. If you are using the edible leaves, avoid insecticides and fungicides.

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Harvesting Spinach Leaves:

You can begin to harvest leaves for the kitchen, as soon as the plant is established, and the vine is growing well.

Young, tender leaves have the best taste and texture.

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