Chard is a bright and beautiful leaf vegetable in the beet family. It comes in all colours of the rainbow and is delicious fresh or cooked.
Chard, Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris is a beautiful leafy vegetable that is fun to grow. Growing chard is a great garden project to do with your kids, as vivid colours await! There are many types of chard to choose from. Leaf textures range from smooth to curly, with stems ranging in colours from white to yellow, orange, red, and purple, with mixes in-between. Read on to find out the best and most common chard varieties to grow at home.
Chard varieties: which one to pick?
There are two main groups of chard, the flavescens group and the cicla group. The flavescens group is grown for their large, thick, and luscious leaf stems, which can be prepared in a multitude of ways. The cicla group is a leafier type, similar in texture to spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and can be eaten raw or cooked.
When you are choosing which type to grow, base your decision on how you will utilise it in your kitchen. Or consider the aesthetic value that the plants will add to your garden. It is also important to be aware of which plants make good chard companion plants before planting your veggie patch, so check out our other article for all the details.
The best types of chard to grow in your garden
There are many different varieties to choose from within the two cultivar groups. In the next sections, we will break down the best types of chard to grow in your garden.
The flavescens, or large, fleshy, leaf stem group
The flavescens group can be further subdivided, based on the colour of the leaf stems. The cultivars with white-to-green stems tend to grow bigger and be more productive than those with coloured stems.
White stem group
While it may not be as flashy as its coloured stem counterparts, these cultivars are delicious and produce abundant yields.
- ‘Barese’: this Swiss chard is a lovely delicate type that can be grown as a baby chard. It has large tender white stems and smooth leaves.
- ‘Fordhook Giant‘: is a large, robust variety, growing up to 100cm tall. It is an all-time favourite. It has very curly shiny green leaves and large broad white leaf stems.
- ‘Lucullus’: is a large, fast grower with abundant yields. It has thick succulent white stems and smooth green leaves.
- ‘White Silver’: is another classic robust variety with verdant green glossy leaves and a thick white broad stem.
Colourful stem group
The colourful stem group offers a rainbow of colours for your garden and for your table.
- ‘Bright Yellow’: is very popular. It has vivid yellow to orange stems and very curly glossy green leaves.
- ‘Flamingo’: has bright pink, almost fuchsia-coloured stems, though not as thick and broad as others in the flavescens group. It has smooth glossy green leaves.
- ‘Golden’: is unique as it has lovely golden stems and smooth deep green leaves.
- ‘Magenta Sunset’: is a bold coloured cultivar with large dark green leaves and bright magenta stems.
- ‘Peppermint’: has an interesting combination of pink and white striped ribs on its stem and curly green leaves with a tinge of red.
- ‘Rhubarb Chard’: is another classic. It sports purple-tinged curly green leaves with vivid ruby red stems.
- ‘Ruby’: is similar to ‘Rhubarb chard’ in colour but with an even more curly leaf texture.
- ‘Rainbow Chard’: is a misnomer. This is actually a mixed package of several different coloured chards to give you a rainbow of colour in your garden.
- ‘Bright Lights’: similar to ‘Rainbow Chard’, is also a mix of brightly coloured cultivars.
The cicla, or leafy group
As mentioned earlier, the cicla group of cultivars grow very similarly to spinach. They are smaller and more tender than the flavescens group and can be eaten raw or cooked. Because of their smaller size, they can also regrow quickly after harvest. This allows for multiple harvests a season.
- ‘Charlie’: has thin, tender, vibrant red stems and glossy, green leaves. It can be a wonderful colour contrast in fresh salads.
- ‘Perpetual Spinach’: is a leafy type of chard, with delicate stems. It is very productive and can be frost resistant.
- ‘Verde da Taglio’: has tender green leaves and thin stems and is fast to grow and early to harvest. Depending on the weather and planting time, multiple harvests are possible.
Now that you have chosen which varieties of chard you want to grow, plan ahead. Learn how to harvest and store chard in our in-depth article on the subject.