How to plant bertalha

Basella alba

The bertalha is a vine that can reach up to 10 meters in length, depending on the cultivated variety. Being a tropical plant native to India, it is also called Indian spinach, and is a vegetable widely appreciated in the cuisine of several countries in Asia. Its thick leaves and the tips of the branches can be eaten raw, sauteed or cooked. The purple juice of its small fruits can be used as a natural food coloring.


Plant of tropical climate, its cultivation is more suitable to hot and humid regions. In regions with a colder climate, it can be grown only in the hottest months of the year, as it does not support low temperatures.


Best if grown in direct sunlight, but also tolerates partial shade, as long as the light is good.


Ideally, the soil should be light, well drained, fertile, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8.


Irrigate frequently so that the soil is always kept moist, but without being soaked.


Bertalha is normally propagated through seeds, but it can also be propagated using pieces of branches, which take root easily when planted in moist soil.

The seeds can be sown directly at the final location, at a depth of 0.5 cm. They can also be sown in seedlings, trays and paper cups, being transplanted 20 days after germination, which usually takes 1 to 3 weeks. Before sowing, it is best to leave the seeds in warm water for a day to facilitate germination.

The spacing for cultivars of indeterminate growth can be 80 cm between the planting lines, with 50 cm between the plants. For cultivars that have a determined size, the spacing can be 40 cm between the planting lines and 40 cm between the plants.


For cultivars of indeterminate growth, the ideal is that there are supports to guide the growth of plants, which can be, for example, cuttings, trellises or fences.

Remove weeds that are competing for resources and nutrients.


The first harvest can be done in two or three months after planting, depending on the growing conditions. Cut the ends of the branches, approximately 40 cm long. Individual leaves can be harvested when necessary.

The harvest can be repeated every 20 or 30 days. In hot climates, bertalha is a perennial plant.

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