Red Orache

Louisa Louisa
27/03/2023 · 4 minutes reading time

Help your September plant grow big and strong.

Here´s what´s ahead:

Getting Started

Red orache is also called Spanish lettuce. Unfortunately, the spinach-like plant has been pushed out of most gardens by its green competitor. Yet it tastes somewhat milder than spinach, is easier digestible and stands out because of its beautiful red colouring. With a bit of luck, red orache will grow in your bed again next year, if you leave the plant the plant in your bed until it's flowering.

The most important information at a glance

  • Germination depth: 2 cm, dark germinator

  • Temperature: 5 - 20 °C

  • Germination period: 10 - 14 days

  • Sowing indoors: March – April

  • Relocate outdoors: May – July

  • Direct sowing outdoors: April – August

  • Harvest leaves/flower: June - September/July – August

  • Plant spacing: 20 cm

  • Root depth: 20 cm

  • Location: sunny - semi-shady

  • Nutrient requirements: low - medium

Sowing indoors:

  • From April to March.

  • Fill pots or trays with growing soil.

  • Remove the sheet of seed paper from your calendar and tear it into small pieces.

  • Poke holes in the soil 2 cm deep and 2 cm apart.

  • Spread the pieces of paper in the holes and cover them with soil.

  • Place the pots on a bright window sill and keep the substrate moist until germination.

Direct sowing in the open or a pot (recommended):

  • From April to August.

  • Make grooves in your bed at a distance of 20 cm.

  • Take the seed paper out of your calendar and tear it into small pieces.

  • Distribute the pieces in the rows at a distance of 20 cm. You can also sow more densely but then you will have to separate the seedlings later.

  • Cover the seeds with a 2 cm layer of soil.

  • Moisten the soil regularly until germination.

  • Alternatively, you can sow directly into large pots (depth at least 20 cm, diameter 25 cm).


  • After a few weeks, you will need to prick out the plants.

  • Take a pricking stick or a spoon handle and carefully lift the plants out of the trays or pots. Then transfer them to their new home (either to a larger pot or, from May to your bed outdoors).

  • Don't forget to water them well!

  • Directly sown plants don´t need to be pricked out, only separated if they have sprouted too close together.

  • Final plant spacing: 20 cm


  • Sunny to semi-shady

  • Soil: no special soil requirements, but should not be too dry.

  • Good neighbours: potato

  • Bad neighbours: chard, beetroot, spinach


  • Water regularly, red orache does not like it too dry. If it is too dry, it can shoot up and flower too early.

  • Loosen the soil regularly and remove weeds.

  • Fertilising is not necessary.

Pests and diseases

  • Aphids: Spray the infested plants with a mixture of soap and water or use beneficial insects (for example lacewing larvae).

  • Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew develops when there is too much moisture, so do not water directly on the leaves, but rather from below. Infested plants can usually no longer be saved and must be disposed of in the rubbish.

Harvest & Storage

  • Harvest leaves from June to September.

  • Can be harvested as a young plant or until it produces its first flowers (although then the leaves taste a little more bitter).

  • If you leave the middle leaves when harvesting, the red orache can sprout again.

  • Best used fresh.

  • Freeze: Blanch the leaves briefly before freezing.


  • You can use red orache just like spinach – for instance, raw as a salad or steamed.

  • It goes perfectly with Asian dishes.

  • Red orache is very healthy because it contains a lot of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and proteins.