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Growing Malabar Spinach

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Growing Malabar Spinach in Australia

Malabar spinach is an exotic, heat-loving tropical climber that’s easy to grow and adds some colour and flavour to salads or stir fries. So get all the tips you need for planting, growing, and harvesting this edible fast-growing vine!

Malabar spinach (basella alba) is a nutritious vegetable that has gained popularity due to its fast-growing nature and ability to be grown even in limited spaces. Learn more about the best soil, planting, and growing conditions for this unique plant, as well as how to care for your malabar spinach crop.

This is an edible perennial vine from the tropics. Furthermore, commonly used as a leafy green, it is native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and New Guinea.

What are other names for malabar spinach?

Other names for malabar spinach (basella alba) include vine spinach, Ceylon spinach and Indian spinach.
Malabar Spinach

Growing Malabar Spinach from Seed

We have grown this plant both in pots and containers and sown directly into the garden.

Time needed: 5 minutes

How to grow malabar spinach.

  1. Sow Seeds

    Sow seeds directly in the garden 10mm deep and 20cm apart.

  2. Water

    Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.

  3. Temperature

    Seeds should germinate in around 10-21 days at a soil temperature of 24-30°C.

  4. Care

    Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.

Malabar Spinach Trellis

Where to locate your malabar spinach is an important decision. You need to have a trellis or some structure for your spinach to climb up.

Malabar spinach grows best in sunny locations, with temperatures between 18–30 degC (64-86 degF). If possible, incorporate a layer of compost into the soil before planting for optimal growth.

Malabar spinach prefers well-draining soils with a pH level of 6 to 7.5. When planting Malabar Spinach, make sure your soil is light, well-drained and that it retains moisture without becoming soggy.

Growing Malabar Spinach in Pots

For a healthy and happy spinach crop, pick the right soil for your containers. Mix compost into your soil for added fertility, and opt for containers that are at least 20cm (8 inches) deep to give them plenty of room.

Furthermore, make sure to use pots with good drainage holes and place them in an area of the garden that gets full sun or part shade!

Most importantly, have something for the vine to grow up. So either place your pot next to a trellis, tree, or whatever you would like the vine to grow over. Remember this plant grows vigorously in the tropics.

Watering Malabar Spinach

Malabar Spinach loves to be watered and requires regular watering, especially when the temperatures climb. When the weather is dry, water it deeply 2–3 times a week and make sure it never wilts.

Mulch around the spinach to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. The occasional misting won’t hurt, but avoid spraying water directly on the vines since this can cause disease. It is better to water at the base of your plants!

Malabar Spinach Benefits

Malabar spinach growing allows you to consume the leaves of this plant, which are packet with nutrition. Indeed it really is a superfood! The leaves of this plant are 93% water, 3% carbohydrates, 2% protein and contain very little fat.


A 100 gram amount contains 19 calories of food energy, providing 20% or your daily requirements of vitamin A and C, folate and magnesium. Indeed this plant has 3 times more vitamin C than most other spinach varieties and over 1.5 times more vitamin A than kale.


This plant is a great source of dietary fibre. Consequently, regular consumption can facilitate smooth movement in your intestines and help to prevent bowel problems.

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