Looking for a climbing ornamental flower that is also edible!? Malabar Climbing Spinach plants are for you. This climber will reward you, growing vines up to 8-10 feet in a single season. As it grows, you can pick young, tender leaves for salads. The leaves have a pepper-lemon flavor. The plants are native to Africa, India and South to Southeast Asia. Use this guide to learn “How to Grow Malabar Flowers”. Then, plant some seeds and watch these vines, as they quickly climb up a trellis, post, or fence.
The plant has dark green leaves with burgundy vines and flower buds. Make sure to provide support for this plant to climb on. It will look great, climbing up a trellis or along a fence.
The plants produce small, white flowers, from summer into fall. The spent blooms will produce berries, in areas with a longer growing period.
Most gardeners will grow Malabar Climbing Spinach as an annual. In warmer weather, it can be grown as a perennial.
While Malabar Climbing Spinach is not a true spinach, it tastes great in salads, soups, and stir-fries.
Plant Height: 8′ to 10′.
Plant Hardiness Zones: 7 – 10
Other Names: Red Malabar Nightshade, Indian Spinach, Malabar Spinach
Annual / Perennial, Basella Rubra
Here’s how to grow Malabar Spinach plants from seeds:
For an early start, sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. We recommend a heated germination mat, to increase the speed of germination, and for a higher germination rate.
Keep the soil moist, not wet, after planting.
Germination Tip: Soak seeds overnight, before planting.
Seeds can also be directly sowed outdoors after the last frost date for your area.
Planting Depth: 1/4″
Days to Germination: 10 – 15 days.
Final Plant Spacing: 10-12″ apart.
Select a growing location that is in full sun, and where there is a trellis or fence for the vines to climb. The plants will tolerate partial sun. It can be planted in a container and grown down from a deck.
While the plants like warm weather, choose an area with partial shade in hotter areas of the country.
The plants need rich, loose soil to help fuel growth. Mix in plenty of compost to the planting site. The soil should be able to retain water, but also be well-drained.
Plants grow best in warm, rainy climates. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. But, do not allow the soil to become soggy for extended periods.
Give plants a regular dose of fertilizer, every 3-4 weeks.
Mulch around plants to keep weeds down, and to retain soil moisture.
If your space, height, or width, is limited, trim back plants from time to time.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 8.0. However, it grows best in slightly acidic soils.
Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.
Insect and disease problems are infrequent.
Importantly, if you are using Malabar’s edible leaves, avoid insecticides and fungicides.
You can begin to harvest leaves for the kitchen, as soon as the plant is established, and the vine is growing well.
Young, tender leaves have the best taste and texture.