Heads up all my fellow lazy gardeners because I think I may have finally found the perfect green. Right now I am in love with Okinawa Spinach (its fancier name is Gynura Crepiodes). This plant ticks all the boxes. It grows like a weed. It looks so beautiful growing it can be used as an ornamental. It tastes great. It grows 12 months out of the year. It is easy to propagate. It is even well suited to indoor or container gardening. Ready to learn more? Then read on….
Okinawa spinach comes in two varieties, a bi-color version (pictured) with a purplish under leaf and also a solid green variety. Both are an outstanding addition to the landscape. They can grow as large as an azalea bush, or can be kept smaller by pruning. They are light feeders, so they need very little fertilizing and aren’t very picky about the soil they are grown in. They do well anywhere from full sun to partial shade. They are even happy in a sunny window so for everyone who can’t grow food because they have no yard, you can now grow food. A window box of these will keep you in greens all year. Okinawa is well suited to Florida and can put up with the occasional drought. It does not do well in constantly wet soil, so do not plant in a low lying or drainage area. It cannot take a hard freeze and needs to be covered if temperatures drop below 32F. It propagates extremely easily from cuttings, so just keep clipping and as one batch of plants matures, replace it with new ones. The more you prune them, the more they grow so help yourself to as much as you want. A bed of these will feed you every day.
Unlike a lot of other easy to grow “spinach” plants, Okinawa actually tastes good. It lacks the slimy, okra like texture of the malabar (unless you reeeally overcook it), the tastelessness of tree spinach, and the small growing window of traditional spinach. It has a rich almost nutty flavor that tastes great lightly stir fried with a bit of garlic. You can toss it raw in salads or juice it.The red variety contains the same beneficial properties as red wine and has been proven effective in reducing cholesterol levels as well as prescription medications. Other medicinal uses include: increasing white blood cell counts, lowering triglycerides, burning fat, easing the common cold, and treating liver diseases.
Once again, a whole lot to get in return from a plant that asks very little from you. If you haven’t discovered this wonderful plant yet, I strongly suggest you do.