AskIFAS Powered by EDIS

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

James M. Stephens 2

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.
Figure 1.  Red Swiss chard.
Credit: Blue Goose, Inc.



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.


1. This document is HS676, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1994. Revised September 2015. Reviewed October 2018. Visit the EDIS website at
2. James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #HS676

Release Date:November 6, 2018

Related Experts

Stephens, James M.


University of Florida

Related Collections

Part of Minor Vegetable Handbook

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Fact Sheet


  • Danielle Treadwell
thumbnail for publication: Swiss Chard—Beta vulgaris L. (Cicla group)