Learn how to grow kangkong (Water spinach). There’s not much in growing water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica), it is a leafy vegetable from the family of morning glories (Ipomoea).
USDA Hardiness Zones— 10 – 11, *can be grown in lower zones as annual
Other Names— Ipomoea aquatica, Kangkung, river spinach, water morning glory, water convolvulus, Chinese spinach, Chinese Watercress,Chinese convolvulus, swamp cabbage, phak bung, ong choy, kongxincai, rau muống, kangkong, trokuon, kalmi saag, kalmi shak, Thooti Koora, kangkung, hayoyo
Water spinach is grown especially in the Southeast Asian region as a vegetable. It is a semi aquatic plant, a creeper that grows in or near the water on moist soils. Water spinach has light green ovate leaves, its stems are hollow, so they can float on the water. Both leaves and stems are edible and can be used as the way you use spinach. Under tropical conditions, water spinach can be harvested throughout the year, as the leaves grow again after harvesting. In cooler climates it is grown as annual, mostly in wide containers.
How to Grow Kangkong
Kangkong or water spinach can be propagated either by seeds or by cuttings.
Sow the seeds in fresh potting soil (sow about 0.5 centimeters deep). Ensure that you keep the seeds consistently moist. Also remember that temperature should remain around 68 F (20 C). Germination occurs within couple of weeks. To speed up the germination you can soak the seeds overnight in water.
Growing kangkong from cuttings is easiest method to propagate it. Just cut several 30-40 cm long cuttings from young growth and plant 15 cm deep in potting mix.
In subtropical and tropical climate you can grow kangkong anytime but in cooler climates plant it between late spring to early summer. Choose a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Either grow it in pot (which is better as kangkong grows aggresively) or on the ground. You can also plant it near the edge of a pond or other water bodies.
Requirements for Growing Water Spinach
Growing water spinach or kangkong needs evenly moist, wet and nutrient-rich soil of pH level around 6 – 7.
Kangkong grows in warm and humid subtropical and tropical climate, so it is essential to provide it full sun. However, it also grows in partial shade.
Also called as Chinese watercress or water morning glory, you can easily understand from its name that it grows in swampy areas, it needs consistently muddy soil. Deep and regular watering is important to keep the soil nearly wet.
If growing on the ground you don’t need to fertilize it often but in containers fertilize it with high in nitrogen liquid fertilizer every other week.
A first harvest date of nutritious water spinach is usually 4 to 6 weeks after planting – depending more on the temperature and growing conditions. Cut only a few leaves or entire plant with leaves and stems leaving only 3 inch of growth, the plant will regrow again. Both stems and leaves can be eaten.
If you’re growing kangkong on the ground, be careful it’s an invasive plant and grows aggressively. Harvest it before flowering, so that it can’t form seeds.
Pests and Diseases
Its main pests and diseases are stem rot, black rot, leaf beetle, aphids, and wire worm.