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Basella alba

Pronunciation: Ba-sell-ah al-buh
Family: Brassicaceae
Common Name: Malabar spinach, indian spinach, ceylon spinach, basella, vine spinach
Plant Type:
  • vines and climbers
  • perennial
Height to: 10'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
  • 60 to 50ºF ZONE 12
  • 70 to 60ºF ZONE 13
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Malabar spinach (basella alba) bears white to soft pink flowers
Soil Type: Malabar spinach (basella alba) grows well in a wide range of soils, but prefers moist, fertile soils, high in organic matter, ph 6. 5 to 6. 8. Requires consistent moisture to keep from flowering, which causes leaves to turn bitter.
Propagation: Malabar spinach (basella alba) an be grown from seeds or cuttings.
Winter Sowing Zones: None
Notes for Identification: Vine spinach (basella alba) is  a salad green. The leaves from this heat-loving vine have a mild flavor and are used like spinach in salads and cooking. Extremely frost-sensitive. It creeps when temperatures are cool, but leaps when the mercury hits 90 f. Site characteristics: part shade increases leaf size, but prefers hot weather and full sun. Plant traits: grown as an annual, but is perennial in frost-free areas. Ease-of-care: moderately difficul. In colder climates, you must start plants inside and transplant after danger of frost has passed. Requires trellising. Foliage: dark green how to plant: propagate by seed, cuttings germination temperature: 65 f to 75 f days to emergence: 14 to 21 - scarify seed to hasten germination. Seed can be saved 4 years. Maintenance and care: in zone 7 and warmer, direct seed 2 to 3 weeks after last frost date. In colder areas or to get an earlier crop, start seeds inside about 6 weeks before last frost. Scarify seed (use a file, sharp knife or sandpaper to carefully cut through the tough seed coat) to speed germination, which may take 3 weeks or more. Wait until soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed before transplanting -- at least 2 to 3 weeks after last frost date. Space transplants about 12 inches apart. Well-adapted to high temperatures, even into the 90s f. But growth is disappointing when temperatures stay below 80 f. Requires consistent moisture to keep from flowering, which causes bitterness in leaves. Requires trellis or other support for twining vine. Can follow peas up the same trellis. Basella rubra has more handsome reddish stems and flushing of red on the leaves and fruit, but is otherwise similar to b. Alba; some authorities consider these two taxa to be varieties of a single species and are more or less interchangeable in the landscape when cooked, malabar spinach is not as slick in texture as many greens, such as spinach. The bengalis cook it with chopped onions, hot chilis, and a little mustard oil. Two vines are sufficient to supply a small family all summer and fall. Vines are somewhat ornamental, so they can be trained to climb over doorways for easy accessibility. Source: cornell university, university of florida, texad a&m, university of minnesota pin it
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
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