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Malabar Spinach, Red Stem

Short Description

Climbing Asian vine that loves the summer and will flourish in heat and humidity.

Full Description

Malabar Spinach or Bassela alba is a vigorous climbing Asian vine, loves the summer and will flourish in heat and humidity. The glossy, thick leaves look like spinach but with mild Swiss chard-like taste. Use the edible fresh leaves in salads or stir-fries. Red vine Malabar spinach is a fast-growing vine that has both ornamental and culinary qualities.
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Order: 1 Pkt. (100 seeds)
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

60-80 days

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

6 feet

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

7 feet

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Direct Sow

Planting Time The recommended time of the year in which this product should be planted.

Spring, Summer

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How To Direct Sow Seeds
How To Direct Sow Seeds
Learn how to direct sow seeds from Burpee's expert horticulturist.
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Growing Spinach
Growing Spinach
Quick and easy growing as both a spring crop and a fall crop. Deliciously tangy, fresh or cooked.
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  • Spinach

    Start Indoors Start Indoors Starting seeds indoors is called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds indoors in the spring or summer
    Transplant Transplant When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for spring
    Start Outdoors Start Outdoors Starting seeds outdoors is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the spring or summer
    Start Indoors Fall Start Indoors Fall Starting seeds indoors in the fall called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    Transplant Fall Transplant Fall Transplant Fall-When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for fall
    Start Outdoors Fall Start Outdoors Fall Starting seeds outdoors in the fall is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    S S Succession Planting This means that the plants have multiple harvests in a season
    First Date: Apr-04 - Last Date: May-30

How to Sow

  • Sow in early spring for the first crop, again in late summer for a fall crop.
  • Sow in average, well-worked soil in a sunny location.
  • In rows 1 ½-2 feet apart, sow seeds evenly and cover with ½ inch of fine soil. Firm lightly and water gently.
  • Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days depending on soil and weather conditions.
  • Thin gradually to stand 6 inches apart starting when seedlings are about 1-2 inches high. Do not thin baby leaf spinach.

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. Avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding as spinach is shallow rooted.
  • Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. Plants need about 1-1 ½ inches of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Harvest the outer leaves when 3 inches long.
  • Snip baby leaf as needed when the leaves reach about 2 inches.
  • When the warm weather arrives and seed stalks start to develop, harvest the entire plant immediately.
  • Leaves can be sautéed or steamed as well as eaten raw.
  • Wash, dry and store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Days To Maturity
60-80 days
Full Sun
6 feet
7 feet
Sow Method
Direct Sow
Planting Time
Spring, Summer
Sow Time
After Last Frost
2 feet
Life Cycle
Malabar Spinach, Red Stem is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 4.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The "gift" that keeps on giving I'm not sure how to review this "veggie". Technically, you can eat it raw, but the leaves have a slimy feel to them that I find a little repulsive, although the taste isn't bad. When cooked, it tastes close enough to spinach that you can use it in recipes interchangeably, however, there is still that okra-like mucus, so you should limit the volume until you're sure you don't mind. That being said, it is a wonder to grow! A little difficult to start, but once it gets beyond 2" tall, look out! The warmer it is, the faster and taller it grows. At the end of summer, once it had "died" back a bit, I chopped it up and turned it under the soil expecting it to rot and add compost to the soil. Oops. Like an alien creature, the chopped up parts came back to life in a zillion places, even where I hadn't planted it. So it grows like a weed, difficult to kill, and produces lots and lots of edible leaves. If you enjoy it, this is a perennial plant that will give you years of food. I just sort of "like" it, so it's mostly an ornamental that I occasionally eat when I want some summertime spinach to add to a recipe. Might be good to have around after the Apocalypse. It's pretty darned hardy.
Date published: 2019-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love the plant, but slimy leaf consistency. I loved this plant. It is truly a fun addition to your garden even in a tight space due to its ability to climb so generously. My only negative, it is quite slimy in its edible form. I am not one who is ever bothered by that feature in usual spinach. I love it all, raw or cooked. But you should be aware of this if you are someone with sensitivity in that area. That said, it’s so adorable:vigorous, dark leaf, red/violet stem, thick leaves. It is certainly worth trying. I would like better advice on germinating it as well. I had a terrible time getting a large ratio of seedling to thrive. Once the weather warmed- it took off! Assuming cooler temps are not it’s friend! Thoughts?
Date published: 2019-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Spinach! Loved this variety. So easy to grow and harvest. Started my fall seeds. Will order again for next summer.
Date published: 2018-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My #1 essential for greens in summer heat This is a common veggie in southeast Asia. I grow 3 Malabar plants around a bamboo teepee in my raised bed every year and that is all I need for my family. it is slow to get started until temps get hot, but a BEAUTIFUL and ornamental plant once it gets going. Super productive vine up to 10 feet, it MUST have something to climb. The leaves are glossy, succulent and very mild tasting for ongoing harvesting all summer long and into fall when the first frost knocks it dead. Good addition to salads and as quick-cook greens, but avoid overcooking because its soluble fiber content is high and you want to minimize "slime" texture. The lovely purple berries are tasteless, but extremely high in anthocyanins - add berries to smoothies, use as natural dye, or puree and freeze for winter (dry & save some for planting next year, or just wait for "volunteers"). No insect pests bother this plant - maybe rabbits? Highly recommended!
Date published: 2018-02-19
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