If you want the East Asian and Chinese flavor in your cuisine–Growing Asian Greens is a wonderful idea. These rich-tasting leafy greens can be grown in pots as well.
Asian greens are leafy vegetables, popularly cooked or used in salads in Asian countries, e.g., China. They’re available in hundreds of varieties. From those, some are most common, and you can buy them from the market.
For the fresh, homegrown taste, growing Asian greens in your garden is a great idea. Even if you don’t have a regular garden, plant them in window boxes or other wide containers in your balcony, patio or rooftop. They’re super easy to grow.
It’ll have two benefits one is that you won’t have to worry about the quality of the vegetable and another is that you can harvest them fresh, anytime. Asian greens are rich in nutrients, and you can prepare them quickly or toss them in salads.
Also Read: Best Green Leafy Vegetables for Salad Garden
Here is the list of most popular Asian Greens that you can grow easily:
1. Napa Cabbage
Botanical Name: Brassica rapa Subsp. Pekinensis
It’s also known as Chinese cabbage. The foliage is pale green, wrinkled and contracted and also comprised of large white stalks. Napa cabbage has a mildly sweet taste. You can consume it in both raw and cooked form. This biennial vegetable grows quickly and gets ready for harvest in around 60-90 days.
- It requires around 5 hours full sunlight in a day for optimum growth. If you live a hot climate protect it from the afternoon sun.
- Plant this cabbage in a soil which neither drains too fast too slow. Adding peat moss, manure, compost, or shredded bark to the soil will help.
- Water the plant thoroughly and deeply. In pots, watering on alternate days is a great way to keep plants healthy and growing.
2. Pak Choi
Botanical Name: Brassica Rapa Subsp. chinensis
- This plant does well in partial shade to full shade, receiving only the morning sun. Although in cold climates it’s better to grow it in full sun to part sun.
- It prefers moist soil.
- Get all the information required to grow Pak Choi in this informative article here!
Also Read: Vegetables for Shade
3. Gai Lan
Botanical Name: Brassica Oleracea Var. Alboglabra
Gai Lan is also commonly known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. You can sow the seeds in fall, winter or early springs. It is broadly divided into two main varieties one which has white flowers and can grow about 16-19 inches tall and other which has yellow flowers and 8 inches in height. Although the stalks have similar taste to that of broccoli, the leaves are somewhat sweeter, depending more on the cultivar. It is rich in vitamin A, C, and calcium.
- Locate the plant in the sunniest spot you can find.
- Rich potting soil with good drainage is the key for growing Chinese broccoli plants productively.
- If you live in a hot climate, grow it in late fall, winter, and early spring.
4. Choy Sum
Botanical Name: Brassica rapa var. Parachinensis
Although, this leafy vegetable resembles the Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) the taste is much sweeter and mild. It bears distinct yellow flowers which are edible and will appear if you do not harvest it on time. Also known as Yau Choy this plant is characterized by its thin white stems and dark green leaves. It has incredible taste irrespective of being stir-fried or steamed.
- Use good potting soil with some organic matter to increase the moisture retaining capacity.
- Keep the soil slightly moist and water regularly.
- Fertilize using a mild fertilizer; you can also apply washed rice water, which is also rich in nutrients.
5. Water Spinach
Botanical Name: Ipomoea Aquatica
This Asian green grows near the shore of water bodies in the moist soil in its natural habitat. The stems are lightweight and hollow, so they float on the surface of the water. In subtropical regions, it can be planted at any time throughout the year, and as the leaves grow again, it can be harvested throughout the year. Whereas, in cold climatic conditions begin planting since mid springs to early summers. You can propagate this plant from both seeds and cuttings.
Also Read: How to Grow Spinach
- It’s a semi-aquatic plant so you should plant it in the evenly moist soil. The soil should also be rich in nutrients.
- Water the plant frequently and deeply so that the soil remains moist all the time.
- For optimum growth, locate it in full sun.
- Fertilize it with nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer if planted in the container.
- Check out this article to learn more.
6. Chinese Celery
Botanical Name: Apium graveolens var. Secalinum
Chinese celery resembles Western celery, but there are some distinguishing factors like the stems are thinner, and unlike western celery, the leaves are flavorful and edible. Mostly cooked in stir-fries, this celery is rich in fibers. As it is fibrous, the stems are tough, even the young shoots. Also, Chinese celery has a more strong and sweet taste, short in height and easier to grow than common celery. Add them in the salad for pleasant crunch and flavor.
- It prefers moist and cool soil.
- This plant does well in both partial sun and full shade.
- Growing it is similar to the common celery.
7. Chinese Mustard Green
Botanical Name: Brassica Juncea
It is also known as Brown Mustard, Indian mustard or Mustard cabbage. The leaves have an intense mustard flavor and can be consumed raw in salads or cooked. It is advised to blanch the leaves first so that some of its bitterness is removed. Alternatively, preparing it with sugar and ginger will also help to restrain bitter taste.
- The well-drained loamy soil is best for planting Chinese mustard. Add some organic matter to improve fertility.
- Grow it in the spring and fall.
Also Read: Must Grow Vegetables in Containers
Botanical Name: Nasturtium Officinale
It is a no-brainer that Watercress is an aquatic vegetable. It is a water-loving plant as the name implies. This plant is found in the wild habitat near ponds and streams. English Watercress and Broad Leaf Cress are its two most popular varieties. It has round foliage, hollow stems, which float on the surface of the water, and clustered flowers of white and green color. It’s very easy to grow in small containers!
- Plant Watercress in moist soil. To increase the moisture retaining capacity, add a lot of organic matter and aged manure.
- Keep the soil very moist all the time.
- Choose a spot that receives a lot of sunlight but shade in the afternoon.
9. Yin Choy
Botanical Name: Amaranthus Dubius
It’s a variety of Amaranth greens–this super powerful leafy vegetable is popular in Africa and China and its other neighboring regions of the Indian subcontinent, where it’s called “Chaulai.” The leaves somewhat resemble spinach in appearance, but the taste is different. This fast-growing green can be harvested within 30 days of planting. It’s so easy to grow that in some parts it’s considered as a weed. You can enjoy them in stir-fries, soups, and curries. It can also be cooked with lentils.
- It can grow in a wide range of soils but will do best in the well-drained, moist soil.
- As they love the warm temperature, you should plant them in summers or early fall.
- Bask it in the sun for at least five hours a day.
10. Shephard’s Purse
Botanical Name: Capsella Bursa-Pastoris
It’s considered a weed in many parts around the world but most commonly cooked as food in Shanghai and nearby regions. This plant bears triangular fruits which resemble the purse, the main reason behind it being called Shephard’s purse. It has a mild peppery taste which adds a punch to the salad. You can stir-fry Shephard’s purse with rice cakes or add it to soup and porridges. It is prized for its use as traditional medicine.
- It will do well in both rich and poor soil; only the growth rate differs.
- You can grow it in full sun, but it also doesn’t mind partial shade or full shade.
- Water when the soil turns dry to the touch.
11. Pea Shoots
Botanical Name: Pisum sativum
Pea shoots are the younger shoots which are harvested before the plant matures. You can grow an entire plant only to harvest young or snip off the tender top growth and tendrils of your pea plant while you’re growing it for harvesting pea pods. You can add them to your diet for nutritional intake. They can be consumed in salads, sandwiches, tacos, and even as soup toppings.
- Learn everything about growing peas for pea shoots here.
- Harvest the plant when it reaches a height of 6-8 inches. You can harvest again 3-4 weeks later.
Tatsoi, which is also known as Spinach mustard or Spoon mustard, looks similar to Bok Choy. It has round and spoon-shaped leaves. The flavor is a bit bitter as compare to bok choy but less intense than mustard. You can consume it raw or cooked like other Asian greens.
- If you’re growing Asian Greens, it’s not different.
- It grows best in part sun, getting only 3-5 hours of direct sunlight.
- You can grow in a small pot.