Basella alba L.
Malabar Spinach, Vine Spinach, Red Vine Spinach, Climbing Spinach, Creeping Spinach, Buffalo Spinach, Ceylon Spinach
Basella cananifolia, Basella cordifolia, Basella crassifolia, Basella japonica, Basella lucida, Basella nigra, Basella ramosa, Basella rubra, Basella volubilis, Gandola nigra, Gandola rubra
Basella alba is a fast-growing perennial vine with slender much-branched stems and semi-succulent heart-shaped leaves. It is grown as an ornamental foliage vine or annual leafy vegetable for its edible spinach-like stems and leaves. The stems are green or red and up to 33 feet (10 m) long. Leaves have a mild flavor and mucilaginous texture. Small, purple-white flowers appear at the end of the summer.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
This plant grows best in full sun. Malabar Spinach prefers continuously moist soil and a pH level of 6.5 to 6.8. It can be grown in pots or a garden with a trellis or up a wall. If the soil becomes dry, it will flower, and the leaves have a much more bitter flavor.
Malabar Spinach can be grown from seed. To start from seed, plant the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Seeds should germinate in 10 to 20 days. If you want to speed up your seedling's growth, you can either soak them in water overnight before planting or use a knife to open up the hard exterior seed coating.
Seedlings can be transplanted into the garden once the soil has warmed and should be placed a foot (30 cm) apart. Plants will take off in the heat of the summer, above 80 °F (27 °C). Malabar Spinach does best with some vertical support. It can also ramble along the ground. This plant is beautiful, so it makes a lovely addition to your ornamental landscape.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Malabar Spinach (Basella alba).
This species is native to the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea.
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