Malabar Red Stem
Basella alba ‘Rubra’
Malabar Red Stem
Malabar spinach has many names Phooi leaf, Red Vine spinach, Creeping spinach, Climbing spinach, Indian spinach, Alugbati, Vietnamese Spinach, and Ceylon spinach. This lush vine grows best in tropical and subtropical climates and can reach up to 14'. It has reddish-purple stems, glossy dark green leaves, and grows more rapidly than the green stem variety. The leaves are used like spinach. In cooler areas, it will not over-winter but will produce a good harvest as an annual. Also grown as an ornamental.
- Warm season annual/perennial
- Approx. 140-170 seeds in packet. (A seed will vary in weight and size within a given seed lot. The number of seeds stated is only an estimate.)
- Average 18,000 seed count per pound.
- Maturity: Approx. 60 days
- Planting season: Late spring/early summer
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Cultivation: Prepare fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid clay soils. Sow seeds in late spring/early summer (soil temp at least 60°F) in a warm and sunny location or start seeds inside 6 weeks before last frost date (or 8 weeks before expected transplanting date). Keep soil warm until emergence. Seeds will not germinate in cool soil and planting out too early may affect plant vigor. Harden off plants carefully before transplanting. Partial shade may increase leaf size. Consistent moisture helps to keep plant from flowering (which can cause bitterness). Fertilize as needed. Train to a sturdy trellis. Harvest by cutting 6-8" young tips and leaves. New growth can be cut throughout the season.
Please note: Maturity, adaptability and disease tolerance may differ under your specific climate and/or growing conditions.
Culinary tips: Malabar spinach has a mucilaginous texture and is mostly used to thicken soups/stews. Use in any recipe that calls for spinach, with noodles and in stir-fries. In Japan, it is cooked in tempura, ohitashi or braised and topped with a sesame dressing.