So, How Much Sun Does Swiss Chard Need?

Leafy vegetables are some of the most popular with gardeners all around the world. Most are highly nutritious, and they are typically a lot easier to grow compared to vegetables that must bear fruits.

swiss chard

One such leafy vegetable that isn’t making a big comeback in terms of popularity is Swiss chard. Relatively unknown to many gardeners in America, it is cropping up on menus and in gardens across the country these days…

So, about how much sun does a swiss chard need if it is going to grow big and healthy?

Most swiss chard varieties need around 6 hours of full, direct sun daily. More sun will promote faster and fuller growth. However, some varieties can grow just fine when planted permanently in partial shade.

Swiss chard is interesting not just because of its nutritional profile and culinary applications, but also because there are so many varieties with distinctly different light and temperature requirements.

It’s no exaggeration to say that no matter where you live there is at least one variety of swiss chard that will do just fine with your existing garden setup.

I’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing this leafy green below.

Is Full Sun Best for Swiss Chard?

As a rule of thumb, yes, but know right up front that not all varieties do! Furthermore, most varieties are also fairly tolerant of a shade some of the time.

There are specific varieties of swiss chard that can grow well even when in partial shade nearly all the time. We will talk about those specifically and just a bit.

Because of the vastly different characteristics between types, make sure you research which ones are most appropriate to your typical climate and your specific garden setup, wherever it is on your property.

How Many Hours of Sun a Day is Best for Swiss Chard?

Pretty much every variety of swiss chard will grow big and healthy with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. (As a rule, more is better.)

This is still a plant that wants lots of sun and 8 hours or perhaps more. However, you can still expect a fine harvest with most cultivars if you can get them at least 6 hours of full sun every day.

Will Too Much Sun Hurt Swiss Chard?

Yes, too much sun in conjunction with elevated temperatures will hurt swiss chard. The leaves are vulnerable to scalding, and they will usually wilt, yellow and drop with continued exposure.

But, unlike many other vegetables, swiss chard is known to recover in good order with minimal loss of quality if you can shade it when needed going forward. Don’t give up on it even if you notice some wilting and scalded spots.

As long as the temperatures aren’t getting too warm, don’t be afraid to give your swiss chard more sun.

Does Swiss Chard Do Well in Indirect Sun?

Yes, definitely! Although some varieties will thrive with indirect sun where others will do merely average, swiss chard is generally adaptable to direct or indirect light.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to give your swiss chard enough direct sunlight, all you’ll need to do is seek out a variety that is happier with more shade, and then you can expect a bumper crop.

Because of this, swiss chard is more suited than many other leafy vegetables for growing indoors or just starting.

It typically does fine with grow lamps alone, and if you have even one good sunny window in your home your chard should start growing in no time. It really is a cinch!

A friend of mine found it so easy to grow indoors that it became a fixture in their dedicated indoor vegetable garden year-round…

Will Swiss Chard Thrive in Shade?

Some varieties can, yes! Most varieties are tolerant of shade, and some will grow wonderfully full and delicious even if they are in shade pretty much all the time.

This is one vegetable where too much shade is not going to hold you back from getting it going.

What Will Happen to Swiss Chard That Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?

You’ll know your plants aren’t getting enough sun because they start to bolt. Bolting, also known as going to seed, occurs when a plant is stressed and decides to stop growing and instead tries to desperately reproduce.

This doesn’t always occur due to a lack of light, and other stressors such as a lack of nutrition, lack of water or temperature spikes (hot or cold) might trigger it all the same.

Once the chard begins to bolt, it is possible to halt it but even if you catch it early the quality of the chard is going to be negatively affected. Sadly, it won’t be nearly as good as it could have been.

You don’t want to do all this work only to have bitter, tough chard in the end, so pay close attention to the needs of your chosen type before planting.

Do a little homework, and you can be confident that your chard will turn out wonderfully.

Sun Requirements for Different Swiss Chard Varieties

There are so many varieties of swiss chard, and so many with their own unique requirements, it would be impossible for me to list them all here in a brief fashion.

But I can tell you this though: no matter how sun-drenched your property is, no matter how shady it is, no matter how cool it stays or how warm it gets there is a variety that will grow wonderfully right where you are.

To help you make sense of the different varieties out there that you might try growing, remember that most types with darker leaves need more light. Lighter leaves need less sunlight.

Some varieties like the Fordhook Giant can grow perfectly well in a partial shade indefinitely.

Green Lucullus is the classic variety you’ve probably seen at the grocery store that does well with a lot more sun and is even tolerant of higher temperatures.

I could go on and on, but all you need to know is that there is a variety that is perfect for your property no matter what your layout and shade situation looks like.

Tips for Bringing Indoor Swiss Chard Outside

Whether you are starting or have been growing your swiss chard indoors, it is possible to transplant it outdoors with minimal losses so long as you take the time to acclimate it to the new conditions it will be experiencing.

This process, called “hardening off” if you’re unfamiliar, consists of placing the plants outside in the shade for a couple of hours before bringing them back in.

Repeating this daily for a week or two while increasing the amount of time they spend outdoors by 30 minutes or so will reduce transplant shock which can kill the plants.

Once this is done, they will be ready for transplanting in the ground or in another container, but just make sure to double check their shade requirements before you commit.

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