Growing Guide
 
plant thumbnail

Orach

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Salad Greens, Vegetable (Warm Season) - Salad Greens

Also known as Mountain spinach, French spinach, Giant Lambsquarters, Orache
Atriplex hortensis
Chenopodiaceae Family

Touted as a warm-season alternative to spinach, orach is actually a cool-season plant that just doesn’t go to seed (bolt) as quickly as spinach. Harvest leaves that are less-bitter than spinach into the summer. Red varieties in particular make good ornamental plants, though can reach 4 to 6 feet tall.

arrow
arrow
arrow
Site Characteristics
Sunlight:
  • full sun
  • part shade

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates droughty soil
Prefers well-drained, fertile soils, high in organic matter, pH 6.5 to 7.5. Tolerates alkaline soil and salt. Also tolerates drought, but has better flavor if kept watered.

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 4 to 6 feet

Spread: 1 to 1.5 feet

Foliage color:

  • light green
  • medium green
  • dark green
  • red
  • purple
  • yellow

Depends on variety.

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: upright

Special Considerations
Tolerates:
  • frost - tolerates moderate frost
  • salt
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Western Asia and Mediterranean origin. Has been naturalized in much of North America.
Special uses:
  • edible landscaping
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed - Each husk from plants contains a single seed.

Germination temperature: 50 F to 65 F

Days to emergence: 7 to 14

Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care:
While touted as a warm-season alternative to spinach, orach is a cool-season plant that is most productive and flavorful when grown in spring and fall. It is more tolerant of both heat and cold than spinach. Harvest can continue into summer after spinach has gone to seed (bolted).

About 2 to 3 weeks before last frost, sow seed to inch deep, 2 inches apart, in rows 12 to 18 inches apart.

Harvest tightly spaced plants when 4 to 6 inches tall, cutting them an inch or two above the soil in "cut and come again" style. Or thin plants at this height to 6- to 18-inch spacings, eating the thinnings.

Continue to harvest young leaves from older plants as they mature, leaving the older leaves to help sustain the plants. Pinch off flower buds to encourage branching and more young, vegetative growth.

Make succession plantings until weather warms. Make mid-summer plantings for fall harvest.

Pests:
Aphids - A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.
Diseases:
Seldom a problem in home gardens.
Varieties
Browse orach varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.


Red-, yellow- and green-leaved varieties are available, each with a slightly different spinach-like flavor. Red varieties are prized in ornamental plantings and edible landscaping. The yellow varieties are still popular in Europe - particularly France - because of their superior flavor.