water spinach / ong choy / kangkong / rau muong

adrianag(AL z7)October 13, 2004

How is the hollow-stemmed version of water spinach typically sold? Bunched? How long are the stems?

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Here in the Philippines... its sold in bunches, maybe 2feet long from stem to tip, around 3 to 4 inches in diameter, depending where you would buy it. Cost around 20 cents or more (US).

    Bookmark   October 13, 2004 at 7:19AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Thanks Mysweetie,
From the consumer's perspective would there be any negative to buying kang kong which is shorter? I understand that it can grow as fast as 4" a day. Cutting it shorter would allow for weekly harvest and I would assume would give the buyer more of the tender parts near the growing tips.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2004 at 7:59AM
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That's right, more tender tips to eat, but for someone who wants to grow them, buy the longer ones and plant the tough stem that you can't eat anyway. But i recommend planting the chinese type of kang kong. It grows in the soil, you don't have to uproot the stems just cut off how much you plan to eat and after a few weeks more young tips will form. If you need seeds i can send you some.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2004 at 11:57PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Thanks for the seed offer. Kang Kong is on the US Federal Noxious weed list (apparently it can clog waterways badly in temperate climate areas) so any importation or sending across state lines is illegal.

Cultivation is allowed in some areas under very controlled circumstances. In a couple of states, Florida and Texas, possession of it is illegal, with the fines in Texas of $2,000 per plant!

I'm looking into commercial possibilities so I'll be following the rules or else I may need to surrender my first-born son. (Wait, I already did that when he went in the Army ;>)).

I think I have read that the hollow-stemmed water cultured Kang Kong is preferred in terms of flavor?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 8:19AM
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The kang kang becomes hallow no matter where you grow it, if you grow em in water or in soil. It just grows faster in water than growing in soil. And i only eat kang kong grown at home becoz i never know where kang knog is grown here in the supermarkets, could be some dirty stinky water irrigation.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2004 at 3:37AM
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There's a seed co. in Canada which sells the seed: do a google search for Ipomoea aquatica, the scientific name. Though I suppose that importation from Canada to the USA would be illegal too. ( I had wondered why places like Kitazawa Seed Co, Seeds of India, etc didn't have it for sale. )

I had a lot of luck rooting greens from the local Chinese market: I just put them outdoors in a bucket of water and practically forgot about them. Roots developed, I planted the offsets in a muddy part of the garden with no drainage, and voila.

It really seems like a good thing to grow if your yard is too wet for most normal vegetables. In zone 5, it's not going to be invasive for me, as it seems to be knocked back completely (read: dead and rotting) when the temperature drops into the forties.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 8:03PM
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nlin0273(z9-10 CA)

I have Kong Sin Tsai. I grow them in soil. Is that what your talking about the chinese Hollow Heart Spinach.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 3:18PM
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Yes, they're very similar. One is soil grown and one is grown in water.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 6:25PM
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Does anybody in the Phoenix area know where I can get some ong choy. The stores are no longer selling it due to the USDA restriction. I got some in Chinatown in San Franscisco 2 years ago and it was delicious. I am dying to have some. I would like to grow some for myself and would appreciate some info. or seeds. Many thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 3:48PM
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I just wanted to post on here as an avid lover of water spinach. I had a great crop in New York City and was dismayed to hear that it was illegal in Texas. But the good news is that it is no longer illegal to grow water spinach in Texas for personal consumption as of 2005. So if you live in Texas and want to grow it, make sure it can't escape cultivation (it grows really well in a bucket with soil and no drainage holes) and enjoy rau muong!

Here is a link that might be useful: Revisions of Texas invasive species list

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 11:58PM
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Could anyone help me with a seed source for water spinach??I would be very grateful for help,THANKSSS!!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 1:29PM
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It wouldn't be invasive in my backyard! LOL!!! I live in a dry area and would keep it contained. I love the stuff it's delicious.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 5:05PM
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Is there any way to get this stuff in Florida? I've read that it is on the USDA noxious weed list, but up above it can now be grown in Texas for personal consumption...Is that the same for Florida??? My husband just returned from a trip to Vietnam and now has a new "favorite vegetable" that we can't even get our hands on :-( Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 4:28PM
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i have no idea about florida, it took me a while to find the law change in Texas, about half of my season was over before i found out! i would recommend finding a vietnamese or chinese grocery store with it for sale (usually it's kind of wilted...) but if you take off the bottom part of the plant and place it in water until roots sprout, you can plant it in swampy water (bucket with soil and lots of water does the trick) and it's grow like crazy. make sure it isn't in full sun, partial sun or indirect light is best for it. if you do happen to get a hold of seeds, it's best to place them in a wet paper towel in a ziploc bag until they sprout, then place them in the soil. they usually don't sprout if placed directly in the ground. my plants are about to flower, if they do i can hope for a new crop of seeds and send you some if i'm lucky. cross your fingers.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:21PM
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My question, which I can't seem to find an answer to, is what exactly is the legal status of this in Maryland? I would love to grow this veggie in planting boxes and pots on my balcony rather than paying $11-12 per plate at Chinese/Thai restaurants (Maryland/DC/Philly). Is there an actual source for these seeds (again, for personal consumption to be cultivated in planting pots and boxes on my balcony) ?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 12:31PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

You can find the list of noxious weeds for any state here.

The seed I presently use was purchased in bulk from a Chinese store several years ago... fortunately, it has a very long storage life if kept in a sealed container. It is the "upland" type, which is more tolerant of cool weather & dry soil than the more tender lowland type. Not as tasty, though.

Local Asian stores may sell the seed in the Spring under one of its many names (look it up the species Ipomoea aquatica on Wiki), or they may sell the shoots in bunches as produce. The shoots root very easily in water, moist sand, or mud.

There is only one mail order source of seed that I know of, in Canada (see link). Don't know if they can ship the seed to the U.S., so you might want to contact them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water spinach

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 6:38PM
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I just bought two bunches from the Asian grocery store in Houston, and have taken a few to root.
Can't wait to have my own crop.
Yummy, they are delicious (stir-fried with bean curd).

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 8:52PM
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I've clipped the ong choy shoots a few times and placed them in water trying to start them, and they always turn soggy and rot. Can anyone clarify the correct method to start ong choy? Am I doing something wrong? How long should you clip the shoot?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 5:09PM
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nightbloomincereus 7A noVA(7a Northern VA)

I got my seeds from ebay in 2007/8? and have grown them out twice since then. They are sold there regularly, but you import at your own risk. Despite not quite knowing what I was doing the first time, there are still a few seeds left (but will they still be able to germinate after 4 or 5 years?). Since I live in northern VA (blizzards and ice storms) and am at some distance from free flowing water I wasn't worried about these escaping and choking the local rivers. Last year the ones I started from seed sulked most of the season and finally took off towards late summer and made vines/stolons of considerable length. From my short time trying to grow them I can say with uncertainty and trepidation that they don't seem to have a long enough growing season around where I live to flower and set seed if growndirectly from seed. The ones I didn't rescue stayed outside in the garden and did not survive the winter. :-( I did pot one up and bring it in from the cold as an experiment and by some miracle it managed to survive despite living in a dark and cool basement. This should give me a good head start on the 2011 season. Does anyone know if these divide well?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:43PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"...they don't seem to have a long enough growing season around where I live to flower and set seed if growndirectly from seed."

Ipomoea aquatica, like many semi-domesticated tropical vegetables, is daylength sensitive & and will only flower in short days. Unfortunately for most of us in the colder zones of the U.S., that is in late September... when cold weather puts an end to the growing season. When I grew it in San Diego, the plants flowered, and I was able to collect seed.

Unfortunately for those in the warmer zones, if your climate is mild enough for you to get seed, it is probably outlawed in your state. :-(

My method of rooting cuttings: Use the widest part of the stems (these should be rougher in appearance than the newer growth). Measuring from the base, cut them to 6-8" in length. Carefully cut or nip off all leaves, down to a bare stem... but avoid damaging the buds where the leaf joins the stem. Place the stems upright in a clear glass container (vase or drinking glass) with about 2" of water. Be sure all stems are immersed. Put the container in a sunny location; roots will form in a few weeks, and new leaves will emerge from the old leaf nodes.

A few shoots will usually rot; remove them promptly, and change the water. Avoid using treated (chlorinated) water, unless it has been allowed to "breathe" overnight.

For the past several years, the wife has been saving some shoots from the last cutting of the summer, and over-wintering them in a rectangular planter near a South window. Most of them survive. I still start most of my plants from seed, but these transplants are the first to bear, and it's nice to get a taste early.

I've had my seed so long, I can't remember what year it was given to me... it's been at least 8-10 years, and still has excellent germination. It has a very long life if stored properly. Use an air-tight container, preferably one just large enough to hold the seed. The more tightly packed it is in the container, the less air will be enclosed with the seed. Keep the container cool & dark, and only open it each year to remove that year's seed, re-closing it quickly.

I believe that excluding oxygen - and preventing the seed from drying - is the secret to the seeds' longevity. Seed packets that were sent to me in trade from the S.F. Bay area had significant germination loss after only 2-3 years. The seed I use now was originally a kilo from Known-You Seed, purchased through an Asian market.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 1:48AM
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Agrohatai.com has it

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 8:30AM
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My kangkong seedling is turning yellow. Any idea why? I'm pretty sure it is not because of overwatering, i don't water it enough i think. Mineral deficiency?

Here in australia, you can get kangkong seed from asian grocery seed packet, not all asian grocery sell them tho. I happen to find mine at Boxhill, Melbourne at Yang Yang store near the fridge (just in case someone in melbourne want to buy some). A company called Minara Seed sell a lot of asian greens (based in QLD or sydney, it will come up on google).

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 8:38PM
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I recently purchased water spinach seeds from a dealer in Thailand that's on ebay, "thaiddna". $4.00, nice packaging, quick and free shipping. An email address for them is nalinee1965@hotmail.com.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:18AM
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TorontoEm(Canada 6a, USDA 5)

I'm excited about this 'new to me' green. I got seeds from Agrohaitai for two varieties: HK White Pak Quat (white stem) type and South Green Ching Quat (green stem) type. Germination rate hasn't been great for me but I got about 8 seedlings of South Green so far and 3 of HK White. Now what?

I would really love some advice from someone in zone 5 who has had success growing water spinach. Should I just leave it in the pot I'm growing it in under lights indoors until it's warm enough outside? Is it better to transplant into soil? Right now I have half the South Green seedlings in a pot uncovered under lights and half in another pot covered with plastic to increase moisture. Is it beneficial to add water to any of these? I don't have a pond, so the best I could do is a bucket, if that level of 'wet' is needed. What experience do people have using row covers on soil for it? When should I put them outside? Is it worth trying to let nodes root in this zone or is it better to keep them upright?

I look forward to your responses based on experience.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 6:27AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

It is too early to transplant water spinach outside in Zone 5. This has been a cool Spring, and soil temperatures are too low. When the soil has warmed & night temps are consistently above 50F degrees (preferably above 60F) they can be transplanted.

Until the plants go outside, you can root the longest shoots to multiply your plants. Every year, from the first harvest, I save the longest stems, root them, and put in a second row. I may only get a picking or two from that row, but it increases the yield per seed, and lets me freeze a batch or two before frost.

As mentioned above, I sometimes root some shoots in a pot from the last harvest, and keep them over winter. If you do so, be sure to wash the stems thoroughly, and do not put that pot back outside. Last year, a few aphids survived, and despite all of my efforts to eradicate them, they multiplied. I eventually had to put the whole pot outside to freeze, lest the aphids spread to my other plants.

The seed I mentioned above (years ago) is still going strong - it is at least 10 years old now. Got enough for the rest of my life, if I can keep it alive. But when it is dead, there will be no more water spinach for me, unless I can find another seed source. :-(

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 4:26AM
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