What does GKH need to self seed?

The popular perennial spinach good king henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) is pretty difficult to germinate. Under Making sense of wild seeds I found how hard some fellow perennial vegetable gardeners have worked to eek out nothing but empty pots of this plant. In my own experience, a hundred seeds will likely yield as high as twenty, and as low as one or two seedlings.

When I established this plant in Mortal Tree, I hoped the seed would suit itself, and sprout on its own. I’d transplant whatever appeared. Such serendipitous propagation eluded me for years, until last year, when I moved them.

Next to the patch this year, I was ecstatic to see a moderately thick patch of the sprouts!

This is a southwest facing slope, but has a small windbreak of plants in front of it. The bed is in its second year. The grass mulch I laid to start it still covers the ground. We also had an extremely mild winter. In general, I think this plant likes really temperate conditions, prefering cool over heat, moisture over dryness.

I hope this conjures some images in your mind of areas in your garden that might suit this plant. It really is quite a nice perennial vegetable. I call it, The better broccoli, for its delicious flower buds. With seeds growing themselves now, I plan on having a lot more of this food in the very near future.


  1. Unfortunately, the photo of your GKH isn’t loading (probably my wifi) but it sounds a fab plant to grow. I’ve got more chard at the moment than a person could reasonably eat, so don’t need any more ‘spinach’, but if I found some seeds I would give it a go.


    1. You should definitely see the post on it’s edible flowers -more pictures (assuming they load. Sorry about that that! Will check to make sure it’s not the site.) and a value chard doesn’t offer. I think they would do very well for you. I gather you have some shady spots in your yard, which it would probably love. I would love to hear how it goes for you if you decide to get some!


      1. I think the shady spots may be in the way out (if the neighbours cut down the trees which are creating them). However, it depends how much shade the GKH needs.


  2. That’s exciting. I haven’t tried my GKH yet – last year was it’s first year, although it did flower, I don’t think it set seed. I have got lots of seedlings this year (a few weeks in the fridge seems to work for me) although whether any will survive to planting out is another matter!


    1. Good for you! I never had much success with refrigerators. Although they can be set to ideal temperatures, and I haven’t experimented much in that area. May I ask what yours was set at for the GKH?


  3. I am finding that although many plants will grow in generally similar conditions actually need quite specific individual conditions to thrive (and self seed). Frustratingly this also changes from one year to the next as conditions in the beds change! Close observation (as you are doing) is one key to making sure we can continue or recreate good conditions for plants we want to encourage. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very important point, yes! That’s one reason why I mentioned the age of the bed, and the fact mulch still covers the ground. I am curious if it will continue to self seed as conditions change. Thank you for mentioning that point, Anni.


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