Malabar Spinach – How To Grow it in South Florida

Malabar Spinach Quick Look

You can grow Malabar Spinach year round in South Florida, even during the scorching heat of summer.  Malabar is not a true spinach but it does taste like spinach and I’ll add, it tastes better than English Spinach. There are two varieties, Green Malabar and Red Stem Malabar. Malabar is a vining plant and prefers to grow up a trellis than along the ground. The plant prefers full sun but can be grown in the shade. In the shade the plants tend to produce larger leaves. Malabar is disease resistant, has few pests and an abundant producer of thick juicy leaves. Malabar can easily overgrow a garden if allowed. Malabar prefers moist organic rich soil with a Ph. of 6 to 6.5

Malabar Spinach Malabar Spinach Malabar Spinach Malabar Spinach

Planting Malabar Spinach.

Malabar can be grown from seed and from cuttings at any time of the year. My suggestion would be to grow the plant from seed in a container with a good amount of compost. Once you have well established plants take 6″ to 8″ long cuttings from off shoots, place in water and wait for roots to form. 4 to 5 plants should provide a small family with an adequate amount of leaves.

You can find Malabar Red Stem Spinach Heirloom Seeds on ebay

You can plant Malabar reasonably close together. In a 14″ to 15″ diameter container you can easily plant 5 plants.  Grow Malabar in full sun or partial shade. Growing Malabar Spinach in partial shade has worked out well for me. I have a small garden so the slower growth and larger leaves is perfect for me and my family.

When Malabar Spinach germinates the plant will for a few leaves and not grow much initially. This is the time the plant invests into building a strong root system. Once the roots are in place the plant will shoot up and start looking for something to grow up on.


Caring for your Malabar spinach plants.

Give Malabar spinach something to climb up on. I have found that plants that have something to grow on grow faster than plants left to grow on the ground.

Malabar Spinach likes to be fed a well rounded plant food such as Garden Tone Herb and Vegetable Food and Organic Blood Meal. A foliar feed every second week with epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) and or Pure Kelp Plant Food helps keep the plant in top form as well.

Malabar Spinach – Pests

I have only had a few pest problems growing Malabar Spinach. You might see slugs and snail damage on the lower leaves. To help prevent this trim off the leaves that are touching the ground.  If the damage persists use Slug and Snail Bait

You might see avides. A strong blast from the hose will get rid of them.

My personal preference is to use Neem oil on the plats when they are young and more vulnerable, but later I stop using this because I don’t want to taste Neem when I eat the leaves.

Overall the amount of bug damage is minimal but if you run into a major bug problem you can always use BT – Garden Dust. 

Cooking Malabar Spinach

What I do is wash the leaves and dry them in a salad spinner. I remove the stems and roll the leaves together and then cut them into 1/4″ strips. I fry some chopped onion and garlic in a pan and them add the Malabar whew the onion is translucent. I add a dash of salt and black pepper at the end before serving it. Adding the salt too soon draws out too much of the leaves moisture. I have also added Malabar to soup we have had it uncooked on ham sandwiches and in salads too.

Here are a few resources you can go check out.

Malabar with Bacon and Roasted Mushrooms

Malabar Spinach Coconut Curry

Malabar Spinach Stir Fry

Malabar Spinach Soup

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