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Publication #HS676

Swiss Chard—Beta vulgaris L. (Cicla group)1

James M. Stephens2

Swiss chard belongs to the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. Also known as chard, leaf beet, or spinach beet, Swiss chard lacks the fleshy root of the garden beet. Its large, glossy, dark green leaves are borne on fleshy leafstalks that are white or red, depending on variety. Chard is commonly found in gardens throughout Florida both as a winter vegetable, since it is a cool season crop, and as a summer cooking green, since it also tolerates heat very well.

Figure 1. 

Red Swiss chard


Blue Goose, Inc.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Chard may be seeded directly in the garden or transplanted from a seedbed or from one point in the row to another. Plants are spaced about 6 to 12 inches apart.

Most gardeners find chard easy to grow. Some even grow it as a border plant around buildings because of its attractive foliage. In plots where beet tops were almost destroyed by chewing insects, chard was only lightly attacked. However, root-knot nematodes often are a problem.


The succulent, glossy, dark green leaves, which are usually slightly crinkled or savoyed, are eaten as cooking greens. Sometimes the fleshy white leaf midribs are separated from the leaf blade and prepared much like celery or asparagus. Chard is ready to eat 50–60 days from seeding.

Favorite varieties are 'Lucullus' and 'Fordhook Giant,' which are green-leaved, and 'Rhubarb,' which has red leaves.



This document is HS676, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1994. Revised September 2015. Visit the EDIS website at


James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.