Bright Lights Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens 'Bright Lights') is my favorite variety.
Developed by New Zealand amateur breeder John Eaton from heirloom stock, "Bright Lights" quickly became popular throughout the world and has won the prestigious All-American Selections award and the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Even though the Swiss chard plants (also called mangold, silverbeet or leaf beet) are all the same variety, each plant has its own unique bright colored stem: white, yellow, orange, red, gold, pink, cream, purple, or even striped!
The crinkled, bright glossy leaves are green, bronze, or burgundy, depending on which color the stems are.
Occasionally you'll find Swiss chard plants for sale at a local nursery, but you have to be careful -- if the plant gets pot-bound it won't transplant well. So it's best to start from seed if possible.
Here are some great online seed suppliers that have Bright Lights Swiss chard (click on the photos to find out more):
I found several seed types that look like Bright Lights but aren't labeled that way. It's not easy to find out more about them, as there doesn't seem to be a lot online about Swiss chard. But I'll update this as I find out more.
Neon Lights is described as a blend of five varieties, so I'm not sure if it's a seed mix or a variety of its own.
In any case, you get much the same result.
An Australian heirloom Swiss chard, perhaps the one that was used to create "Bright Lights", I don't really know. But it seems to me from the photos that this variety doesn't have as bright a color.
I've seen this referred to as the same variety as the Australian heirloom variety "Rainbow".
This is also described as a mix over on the Direct Gardening website, so I'm not sure if it's a separate variety or not.
I really like the colors in this one.
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You can use "Bright Lights" anywhere else you can use other Swiss chard varieties: in borders, containers, dividers, or any other place you'd like to have some low foliage.
Here are some other ideas:
If you want sections of your yard to have different colors in them, plant "Bright Lights" in pots then transplant the young plants to the areas you want them in.
The flavor is milder than other Swiss chard varieties and can vary depending on the stem color.
Use the smaller leaves and crunchy stems in salads, use the larger leaves as wraps, or stuff raw stems like you would celery.
Cooking can wash out the color somewhat, so quick steaming or saute/stir-fry is the best way to cook it.
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