Swiss Chard for Color!

These may just be the most beautiful foliage plants in Texas landscapes. Ornamental Swiss chard, specifically the old variety ‘Rhubarb’ and the newer blend called ‘Bright Lights’ bring some of the most cheering reds, yellows and oranges to their surroundings – set off, of course, against their showy bright greens.

Swiss chards grow best where temperatures won’t fall below 25 F. They’re not quite as winter-hardy as the ornamental cabbages and kales, so if you’re in the northern half of Texas, you’ll probably want to grow them either in an enclosed courtyard or alcove, or plant them in large pots that can be shuttled into the garage overnight when it’s really cold. Or, you can plant them in mid- to late February, when our coldest weather has passed.

You’ll find attractive Swiss chard plants growing in garden centers right now. Buy smaller 4-inch plants, or for quicker color, use 6-inch pots of taller plants. Look for vigorous plants that have been carefully tended by the nursery staff.

Give your plants rich and well-draining soils. Keep them moist, and fertilize your Swiss chards with a liquid high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen food.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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