Red Orach Seeds - (Atriplex hortensis)

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Seed Count:
Approx 100 seeds per pack
Days to Maturity:
40-60 Days
Days to Germination:
14 days at 50-75F
Plant Spacing:
Light Preference:
Full sun
Heirloom, Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO seeds
  • Red Orach Leaves - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Young Red Orach Plants - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Red Orach Plants - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Young Red Orach Seedling - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Red Orach Seedlings - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Red Orach Seedling - (Atriplex hortensis)
  • Heirloom Red Orach Seeds - (Atriplex hortensis)

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Red Orach - The Ancient Egyptian Superfood That Thrives in the Heat

There’s a spinach that not only withstands the scorching summer sun but thrives in it, with leaves of striking crimson against the backdrop of all the other wilting greens. Meet Red Orach, a hardy and vibrant heirloom green that's as resilient and tasty as it is beautiful. Also known as Mountain Spinach, French Spinach, Red Fire Orach, or Saltbush, this remarkable plant has a rich history, gracing tables and gardens for centuries with its unique flavor, resilience, and surprising versatility, backed up by its stunning good looks.

But there's more to Red Orach than meets the eye. Its resilience is legendary, and it thrives in conditions where other greens simply give up. Drought-stricken soils? Bring it on. Heat? No sweat. Salty soil? It just adds a little extra flavor! 

This unassuming green was revered by pharaohs, embraced by Roman emperors, and then faded into obscurity. Modern-day gardeners rediscovered it as a nutritional goldmine and garden superhero.


Red Orach is a heat-loving, eye-catching plant that stands out in any garden. It has tall, upright stalks reaching 4-6 feet tall, with distinctive deep crimson leaves, which easily catch the eye and demand attention, often towering over shorter plants in front. The leaves change as the plant matures. They start out tender and smooth, then develop a slightly serrated edge and deepen in color to a richer, more intense shade, ranging from arrowhead-shaped when young to triangular as they mature. As the season progresses, delicate branching flower spikes emerge, decorated with tiny, subtle blooms that add intrigue to this tall and elegant plant.

Plants often grow taller than expected in full sun with soil moisture that is only slightly but consistently damp. Their shallow root systems spread horizontally and efficiently capture moisture from the upper layers of the soil, contributing to their ability to thrive in dry conditions. This hardy annual thrives in various climates, and its adaptability is closely related to quinoa, as it is a member of the amaranth family.


Red Orach's history traces back to the Fertile Crescent, a region containing parts of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, where it is thought to have originated. Evidence suggests that this versatile green was among the earliest plants cultivated by humans, with archaeological finds dating back over 4,000 years. Red Orach was a staple food in ancient Egypt, offering a unique flavor and dependable nutrition to Egyptian pharaohs and common people. It was recognized not only for its flavor but also for its reputed medicinal properties.

The Romans recognized the value of Red Orach, adapted it into their diet, and introduced it throughout their extended empire. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder mentions various types of "Atriplex" plants and describes their use as food and medicine, which aligns with the historical uses of red orach. It traveled north into Europe from the Mediterranean, adapting to the diverse climates and kitchens. It became a staple in medieval gardens, thriving in humble cottage gardens and the carefully tended herb gardens of monastic communities, where its nutritional value and versatility were valued. Its leaves were used in soups and stews to add a unique touch to salads and even create vibrant dyes.

European trade carried Red Orach seeds to the New World, where early growers recognized its resilience in harsh conditions and ability to provide food throughout the growing season. Thomas Jefferson cultivated this versatile green in his Monticello gardens, documenting its unique flavor and resilience in the summer heat. 


Red Orach is a versatile ingredient that improves the garden and the kitchen. 

In the kitchen, it blends the familiar flavor of spinach or chard - only milder - with a subtle saltiness, adding depth and a hint of mineral complexity to dishes. With their vibrant crimson shade, tender young leaves make a striking addition as salad greens, providing a burst of color and a delightful crunch, especially when partnered with mustard greens. Toss a few young leaves into a salad mix to brighten it up. As the leaves mature, their flavor deepens, and their texture becomes slightly heartier, making them ideal for cooking. Sauté like spinach, toss into soups and stews, or incorporate into omelets and pasta dishes for a nutritious and visually striking addition. Red Orach's color deepens during cooking, transforming everyday meals into visual celebrations. The large mature leaves can be used as a colorful substitute for grape leaves in dolmas or other stuffed vegetable dishes. As a bonus, the seeds are edible, raw, or cooked and can be added to soups, stews, breads, and cereal. 

Beyond the kitchen, the tall plants grace gardens with their ornamental beauty. Their crimson foliage, ranging from deep burgundy to vibrant scarlet, creates a dramatic focal point in edible landscapes, flower beds, and even container gardens. Their ruby-red leaves stand out against the backdrop of deep green kale, the silvery foliage of herbs like sage or lavender, or the bright yellow blooms of marigolds. This stunning contrast adds visual interest and depth to any garden design.

Even though it is wind-pollinated, many home gardeners report the multiple flower spikes, which, while not showy, attract a variety of bees looking for pollen and contribute to a thriving ecosystem in your backyard. Historically, it was even used as a natural dye, its leaves yielding beautiful shades of red and pink. 

Companion Planting

Beneficial companions include nitrogen-fixing beans, which enrich the soil with this essential nutrient. Tall plants like corn offer partial shade, shielding the delicate leaves from the harsh afternoon sun. With their vibrant flowers and pest-repelling properties, Nasturtiums make cheerful and helpful companions.

Antagonistic plantings include strong-rooted competitors like fennel and cabbage family members, such as broccoli and cauliflower, as they attract similar pests.

Pest and Disease Management

While remarkably resistant to most common pests and diseases, aphids and flea beetles occasionally visit. Regularly inspect your plants, paying close attention to the undersides of leaves, where these pests often gather, as early detection is key to preventing infestations. If you notice any signs of infestation, reach for natural solutions like neem oil or insecticidal soap, which effectively control infestations without harming beneficial insects. Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs, which are natural predators of aphids, to visit your garden.

Red Orach may be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as downy mildew in humid conditions. Preventative measures are crucial. Ensure good air circulation by spacing plants adequately and watering at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves.

Planting and Growing Tips

Begin sowing orach seed directly in the ground after the last frost in early spring. For a continuous supply of fresh greens, succession plant a new batch of orach seeds every 2-3 weeks. Red Orach can be grown as a winter crop in warmer climates, providing vibrant color and nutrition during the colder months.

Red Orach thrives in well-draining soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. A sunny spot is ideal but tolerates partial shade, especially in areas with intense summer heat.

Give your plants room to breathe and grow. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep and 18-24 inches apart to ensure adequate airflow and prevent overcrowding.

Harvest Tips

You can begin harvesting the tender young leaves when they reach about 3-4 inches in length. To encourage continued growth, harvest outer leaves regularly. You can cut the plant back by one-third to promote bushier growth and a second flush of tender leaves.

Harvest leaves in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler for optimal flavor and texture. Avoid harvesting during the hottest part of the day, as the leaves may wilt and lose their crispness.

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