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Chinese spinach

Ipomoea aquatica

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Chinese spinach is part of the Ipomoea genus. Its scientific name is Ipomoea aquatica.

Also known as: water convolvulus, water spinach, swamp cabbage, ong choy, hung tsai, rau muong.

Kang kong is closely related to sweet potato, as well as ‘morning glory’, the climbing plant with large purple flowers that grows as a weed in the warmer parts of Australia. Like its relative, kang kong can escape from cultivation and the plant is considered a weed in some places. However, it is a popular and common vegetable in many parts of south-east Asia.

Kang kong prefers damp conditions, flourishing along the banks of streams and boggy areas. The plant’s long, hollow, pale-green stems float on the water or creep along damp ground. The leaves are darker green and are usually long to heart-shaped, depending on variety.

It is quick to grow—simply break off a piece and put it into damp soil. Yields of 10kg per square metre have been reported in Hong Kong. In a greenhouse it can grow up to 10cm per day when given plenty of water and fertiliser, which is often how it is grown in Australia. This maximises yield, minimises water use, and helps keep the plant clean.

Preparation and cooking
Unlike some other green vegetables, kang kong is not bitter; it has a sweet, mild flavour. The young shoots and leaves are picked before the plant flowers to ensure good quality.

In Vietnam, kang kong is eaten raw as part of a salad or included in soup. Elsewhere it is usually lightly cooked, such as stir-fried with a savoury paste or chillies. The stems should be added first when cooking as the leaves take only a few seconds to wilt.

May be considered noxious or invasive in your area, especially invasive in Florida and Texas, USA. The USDA has labelled it a noxious weed.

A type of edible aquatic, it mainly grows as an annual plant - which means it typically only grows best for a single growing season.

Normally reaching to a mature height of 9.75 feet (3.00 metres).

China is believed to be where Chinese spinach originates from.

Chinese spinach is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners!

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Chinese spinach have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Chinese spinach

  • Dappled Sun

  • Very High

Culture:Kangkong can be grown in various ways. Under dry cultivation the
plant is grown in soil which is not inundated. Seeds are broadcast, sown in
rows or into raised beds. Cuttings can also be used. Organic fertiliser and
urea is applied after planting and soil must be kept moist. Using wet
cultivation the plants are planted into a paddy field situation, either as
cuttings or seedlings. When the plants are established they are flooded,
and the water level raised according to development. In some areas
kangkong is grown floating on the water in ponds or rivers. The roots are
not in contact with the soil and cuttings are anchored in the water using
bamboo sticks.”;:

Chinese spinach likes a position of dappled sun and remember to water very often. Use Zone 11 - Zone 14 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Chinese spinach tends to grow best in a soil ph of between 5.5 and 7.0 meaning it does best in weakly acidic soil - neutral soil. Keep in mind when planting that Chinese spinach is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside.

See our list of companion Plants for Chinese spinach to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Chinese spinach from seed

Transplanting Chinese spinach

Ensure that temperatures are mild (minimum night temperatures should be around 16°C / 61°F) and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Chinese spinach is a tender plant.

Harvesting Chinese spinach

Harvest the plant whole or cut off certain parts for future growth

How long does Chinese spinach take to grow?

These estimates for how long Chinese spinach takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

Days to Germination How long does it take Chinese spinach to germinate?
6 days

Average 6 days | Min 2 days | Max 9 days (6)

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Days to Maturity How long until Chinese spinach is ready for harvest / bloom?
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Other names for Chinese spinach

Water spinach, Swamp cabbage, Water convolvulus, Water morning-glory, Kangkung, Kangkong, Eng chai, Tangkong, Kang kung, Trawkoon, Pak boong, ผักบุ้ง, Rau muống, Kongxincai, 空心菜, Kōngxīncài, Home sum choy, Ong choy, Tung choi, 蕹菜, Ngônkcôi, Wéngcài

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