Swiss chard is a highly nutritious vegetable, and one that is gaining in popularity all over the world. It is also gaining popularity with a gardeners and homesteaders as a highly adaptable and resilient vegetable, one that can tolerate a wide variety of conditions and still produce a good harvest.
So, how much sun does swiss chard need to grow?
Swiss chard generally prefers full sun, at least 6 hours a day with more being better. Note that some varieties of Swiss chard can even thrive in partial shade, and all are generally forgiving of varying light levels.
If you have struggled to grow other leafy vegetables, chances are that chard is going to be the one you’ll finally strike it rich with.
With a little bit of care in the beginning to help the plant get established, you’ll find that it is robust and adaptable enough to survive almost anything. Keep reading to learn what you need to know.
Does Swiss Chard Need Full Sun?
Yes, but only generally. Swiss chard will do best with full sun, but is generally tolerant of limited sunlight. Some varieties can tolerate partial shade much of the time.
In fact, there are even some varieties of chard that are specifically bred to grow in shady conditions. Those would be the best choices if you’re looking to grow chard in an area that doesn’t get much sunlight.
How Many Hours of Sun Does Swiss Chard Need?
A minimum of six hours is best, but more is always better. Swiss chard is a sun-loving plant and will do best when it gets plenty of sunlight.
If you live in an area with long summer days, your chard will be just fine getting 8 or even 10 hours of sunlight per day.
However, if you live in an area with shorter days, you should still be okay so long as you can provide at least six hours of sunlight.
Can Swiss Chard Grow in Shade?
Swiss chard is shade-tolerant, and some varieties can even grow in full shade with no problem.
If you don’t have full sun, you can still grow it; just look for a variety that is specifically bred for growing in partial shade.
Can Swiss Chard Get Too Much Sun?
Yes, but only as it pertains to overheating the leaves, which can scald. However, chard is not as susceptible to sun damage as other plants.
Swiss chard leaves will begin to wilt and turn yellow if they are exposed to intense sunlight for extended periods of time in already-hot weather.
However, the plant will usually recover quickly if it is shaded in a timely manner.
So, while Swiss chard can get too much sun, it is not usually an issue and still a relatively forgiving vegetable that is easy to grow in most gardens.
Do Different Varieties of Swiss Chard Need More or Less Sun?
Yes, big time! There is seemingly a variety of chard for every conceivable growing condition. Some varieties are specifically bred for growing in partial shade while others can tolerate full sun with no problem.
For example, the “Bright Lights” variety thrives in full sun, while the “Fordhook Giant” does best in partial shade.
In general, Swiss chard plants need about six hours of sunlight per day. However, they can tolerate some midday shade, especially during the hottest months of the year.
As a rule of thumb, the darker the leaves, the more sun the plant needs. So, if you’re looking for a variety that can tolerate less sunlight, choose one with lighter-colored leaves.
So, whether you’re growing Swiss chard in your garden or on your windowsill, be sure to determine the right amount of sun for best results.
What Happens if Swiss Chard Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
If a given variety of swiss chard does not receive enough sun, it will begin to bolt, or going to seed. Going to seed is what happens when a plant flowers and sets seed instead of continuing to produce leaves.
Bolting is often triggered by stress, such as lack of water or nutrients (light), or harsh changes in temperature. When a plant bolts, it stops producing leaves and instead focuses its energy on reproduction.
In the case of Swiss chard, if the plant doesn’t get enough sun, it will bolt and go to seed much sooner than if it were getting the right amount of sunlight.
This is why it’s so important to choose the right variety of Swiss chard for your garden or windowsill as it is, concerning sunlight to the area.
In addition, stress from a lack of sufficient sunlight can make the plant more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Can Swiss Chard Grow in Indirect Sun?
Yes, and grow well depending on the type. Swiss chard is a versatile plant that can grow in full sun or partial shade.
If you don’t have full sun, you can still grow Swiss chard. Just look for a variety that is specifically bred for growing in partial shade.
Likewise, growing swiss chard indoors is surprisingly easy. It takes well to container gardening, and as long as it gets indirect sunlight for much of the day it will do just fine. If adequate lighting is an issue, you can easily replace it with grow lamps to help it.
Transitioning Swiss Chard from Indoors to Sunlight
If you’ve been growing your Swiss chard indoors, you’ll need to transition it to sunlight slowly by “hardening it off.” Start by putting it in a shady spot for a few hours each day, and then gradually increase the amount of time it spends in direct sun.
This process should take about a week in mild conditions or two weeks if conditions could cause more stress.
Once your Swiss chard is acclimated to the outdoors in this way, it will be able to handle full sun without any problems. Just make sure to give it a little shade in to shield it from the hottest afternoon sun if you live in a hot climate.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.