Chaya, Also known as the spinach tree is a plant that can easily grow in Florida’s climate and produces an edible green.
When do you plant chaya in Florida and how do you grow it? You should plant Chaya during the early spring as the warm weather rolls in.
- North Florida: March
- Central Florida: March
- South Florida: February
Chaya is most productive when grown in full sun with rich soil. However, Chaya is a tough plant and can be grown in less than optimal conditions, it just won’t be as productive.
How To Plant Chaya?
It is best to start chaya from a cutting not from seed. You can purchase cuttings, like I did, on Amazon(Affiliate link). It was about $20 and it should be a one time purchase. Once you have your plants established you can easily take multiple cuttings from there.
Strating your Chaya plant from a cutting is simple. When you get your sticks in the mail all you have to do is simply stick them in a pot of soil. It’s stupid simple.
There are a few minor things you should pay attention to. The first one being that you need to make sure you’ve planted the correct end into the ground. The nodes need to be pointing the right way in order to send roots to the ground and leaves to the sky.
The picture above should help you decipher which way is which for your plant.
the next important thing to know when planting your chaya is that in order for roots to be produced your plant needs a warm and moist envionement. periods of drought or chilly weather will delay or may even kill your cutting.
Planting into a pot makes it easier to produce these conditions. Planting directly into the soil may be ok if you’ve worked on building
Sandy soils make it hard to keep a moist enviornment and also increases the chances that the cutting will rot.
I think it will be mush easier for you to plant into pots and then move them to where you would like them to be.
Best Time To Plant Chaya In Florida
As I mentioned above, the best time to plant chaya in Florida is during the early spring. This will change for you depending on what part of the state you live in.
- North: March
- Central: March
- South: February
Keep in mind that these dates are just guidleines. I’m basing these planting times off of the average date of last frost.
Chaya is a plant that loves the heat and humidity. It thrives in tropical environments.
So, these dates may change from year to year but the best time to get chaya in the ground is as soon as all of the cold weather is gone.
If an established plant is hit with a frost it will drop its leaves and die back. However, the roots are probably still alive and many people from northern Florida have reported that their chaya plants have grown back from the ground as soon as the weather starts to warm up.
How To Grow Chaya
Growing chaya is easy as long as you have warmth humidity and sunshine. We have an abundance of those things in Florida.
Chaya can grow up to 6-8ft tall in parts of Florida if it is given the right soil, sunlight
however, chaya is a resiliant plant and can be grown in much worse conditions. Chaya is somewhat drought tolerant but it will drop it’s leaves if not watered a few times a week.
Chaya can also be grown in shaded conditions. The plants will stretch for sunlight and produce
Chaya can make a great understory plant to any food forest.
Best Soil To Grow Chaya In
If planting a new cutting I wouldn’t recommend planting straight into the dirt, especially Florida dirt.
Chaya isn’t picky but, Adding compost to your dirt and a nice thick layer of mulch never hurt.
If planting into a pot, really, any old garden soil or planting mix will work. It doesn’t really matter as long as it has lots of organic material.
The absolute best thing that you can do for any plant and it’s soil is to lay mulch. You can buy mulch from your local nursery or you can make your own out of leaves from surrounding trees or unfinished compost. Mulch can be anything as long as it’s an organic material that protects your soil from the sun’s rays.
The chaya plant produces large green leaves that you harvest and eat. This means that you will use a different fertilizer than you would for a plant where your main goal is to harvest fruit that it has produced.
Fertilizers are commonly identified with three different
These are the N-P-K values. Nitrogen(N), helps plants produce green leafy growth, Phosphorus(P) helps the plant with flower and fruit development, and Potassium(K), is a general health booster for the plant.
So, since our main harvest from the chaya plant is it’s green leafy growth, we should focus on fertiliing with something high in Nitrogen.
You can accomplish this with an organic fertilizer
Can You Eat Chaya Raw?
Do not eat chaya raw. Chaya is part of the same, often toxic family as cassava is.
Chaya leaves actually contain cyainade. Yes, that means that if you consume these leaves raw you will become very very ill.
In order for Chaya to be edible to you and
Common Pests And Disease Of Chaya
As I mentioned above, Chaya contains Cyanide. This also happens to keep most pests away.
The most common issues with Chaya are during it’s rooting phase. There are certain bacteria that can lead to disease and death if conditions are too wet during this phase.
Nutrient Content Of Chaya
Chaya is a nutrient dense leafy green. In a 100 gram serving of chaya there are:
- Protein: 6.2 – 7.4 g
- Calcium: 200 – 330 mg
- Iron: 9.3 – 11.4 mg
- Vitamin A: 1357 IU
- Vitamin C: 165 – 205 mg
These numbers are sourced from US AID and many other sources support the fact that Chaya is a super dense, nutrient rich food that should be worked into a healthy Diet.
Planting And Growing Chaya In Florida
- Chaya is a fantastic source of nutrients and an easy plant to grow in Florida
- Plant in the early spring months, after the fear of chilly
- Chaya thrives in tropical conditions but will die back during times of frost and freeze
- Often times plants that die back due to north Florida’s winters will grow back when the weather warms up
- Chaya can be grown in full sun or partly shady conditions
- Chaya is not picky when it comes to soil but organic matter and thick mulch never hurt
- Never eat chaya raw. The raw leaves contain cyanide. Boil leaves for 20 minutes before consuming
- Fertilize Chaya with a nitrogen focused fertilizer
- Have fun easily growing Chaya in Florida 🙂