When to Plant Swiss Chard

Swiss chard

Chard—Swiss chard—is a cool and warm-season crop. It will tolerate frost and keep growing in summer. The optimum soil temperature for germination is 50° to 8°5F (10°-29°C).

Direct—seeding is the most common way to start chard. Sow seed in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the last average frost date in spring.

To get an early start on the season, start seeds indoors 4 weeks before setting transplants in the garden. Set transplants in the garden as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost.

For a fall and winter crop, sow seeds directly in the garden 10 weeks before the first frost in autumn. In mild winter regions, chard can winter over in the ground and may produce a winter or early spring crop.

For the best leaf growth, grow chard in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Chard grows best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. It is a light feeder that needs just moderate amounts of nitrogen.

Chard matures in 50 to 60 days, but you can begin harvesting outer leaves 40 days after sowing. Leave the inner leaves intact to assure continuous production.

Row of planted Swiss chard seedlings
Row of planted Swiss chard seedlings

Chard seed sowing dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-Apr. 1
Feb. 8Jan. 10-Apr. 1
Feb. 18Jan. 20-Apr. 15
Feb. 28Feb. 1-May 1
Mar. 10Feb. 15-May 15
Mar. 20Feb. 20-May 15
Mar. 30Mar. 1-May 25
Apr. 10Mar. 15-June 15
Apr. 20Apr. 1-June 15
Apr. 30Apr. 15-June 15
May 10Apr. 20-June 15
May 20May Cas10-June 15
May 30May 20-June 15
June 10June 1-15
Yellow rainbow swiss chard at harvest time
Yellow rainbow swiss chard at harvest time

Chard planting details

  • Sowing depth: ½ (1.25cm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 8-12 inches (20-30cm)
  • Days to sprout: 7-14
  • Days to harvest: 55+
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks
  • Seeds for 100 row feet: 1 ounce (29 grams)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 25 pounds (11kg)
  • Suggested Varieties: Lucullus, Fordhook Giant, Perpetual Chard, Rhubarb

More about planting chard:

How to Grow Swiss Chard

Chard Seed Starting Tips

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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