Now Sowing: Malabar Spinach (March–May)


About Malabar Spinach

Common Name: Malabar Spinach

Scientific Name: Basella Rubra

Seed Saving Level: Easy

Find Malabar Spinach in the catalog

Despite its name, Malabar Spinach is not in the spinach family. This heat-tolerant plant is actually a flowering vine and a great alternative green that can be grown over the summer.


Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, 12 inches apart once soil has passed 65 degrees. It prefers full sun, but can grow in shade, as well. Keep in mind, less sun yields bigger leaves but slower overall growth. You can also plant cuttings by cutting just below the node, providing at least 6 inches. Pot the vine in water or potting soil to allow it to root first or plant directly in the desired area. Water consistently throughout the growing season to keep the soil moist.

The vine is also ornamental and will sprawl if given a trellis or garden arch.


Sufficient watering will keep Malabar spinach from going to flower, which can make the leaves more bitter. Once the vine has 8-10 leaves, begin harvesting from the outside. Enjoy soon as the leaves don’t store well for long. Eat raw in salads or cook in stir fries and soups like kale or Swiss chard.

Seed Saving

Once it sets flowers, they will turn into deep purple berries that might fall to the ground. Allow seedlings to sprout and then transfer. Otherwise, pick the berries and allow them to dry whole. Save to be planted next season.

Source: How to grow malabar spinach

Recipe: Malabar Spinach Stir Fry 


  •      2 big bowls of chopped Malabar spinach
  •      1 onion chopped
  •      2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
  •      4-5 green chilies chopped
  •      1 teaspoon five spices or any masala mix
  •      1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  •      Oil as needed
  •      Salt and sugar (optional) to taste


Heat oil and five spices and green chilies. Add chopped or crushed garlic. Add chopped onion and sauté well. Add chopped vegetables and sauté well, adding salt and turmeric powder. Add Malabar spinach and mix well. Cover and let it cook well. Add sugar, mix well and remove from heat Serve with rice or roti or bread.

Source: Easy and Healthy Recipes with Malabar Spinach