Lawn & Garden

11 Types of Asian Greens and How to Grow Them

If you are greedy for greens, try Asian varieties that can add piquant pizzazz to your soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Audrey Stallsmith Avatar
types of asian greens - woman harvesting greens in garden


We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Enjoy a convenient supply of iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K by growing Asian greens in your garden. Most types of Asian greens are brassicas (members of the mustard family), which prefer cool temperatures, will tolerate light frosts, and mature in 2 months or less. So, plant them early enough that they will be ready for harvest before the weather heats up or late enough to avoid midsummer’s sizzle as seedlings grow.

Sow the seeds in full sun or partial shade, following packet directions, in fertile, well-draining soil that remains constantly moist but not soggy. After the greens sprout, cover them with row cover fabric to protect them from insects and late frosts. Many can be harvested at either their “baby” or mature stage.

RELATED: 10 Things to Plant Now for Your Fall Vegetable Garden

1. Bok Choy (Brassica rapa var. chinensis)

types of asian greens - bok choy growing in soil

Also known as pak choi or Chinese white cabbage, bok choy grows to 2 feet tall in a loose bulbous clump of dark green leaves and matures in 50 days. The most tender inner leaves can be eaten raw but tougher outer ones should be cooked for choice choy! After the plants germinate, thin them so that they stand at least 6 to 8 inches apart.

Best For: Stir-fries (if blanched first) or soups.

Our Recommendation: Packet of seeds of Pak choi from Burpee for $4.45 to grow attractively white-stemmed plants with mild flavor.

2. Chinese broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra)

types of asian greens - chinese broccoli plants in soil

Occasionally called Chinese kale or “yod fah” in Thailand, Chinese broccoli can reach 30 inches high. The plant matures in 55 days with asparagus-like stalks, kale-like foliage, and small broccoli-like heads. And it reportedly combines the flavor of all three of those vegetables! Once it sprouts, which can take up to 2 weeks, thin the seedlings to 8 inches apart.

Best For: Stir-fries, soups, side dishes
Our Recommendation: This Wan Shen Chinese broccoli for $3.95 from TomorrowSeeds at Etsy requires minimal care and offers natural nutrition.

RELATED: 11 Decoy Plants Guaranteed to Trick Garden Pests

3. Habotan (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

types of asian greens - purple flowering kale

Also known as Japanese flowering kale, habotan sports a large, ruffly open head resembling an oversized rose, which often is rose colored at the center. Growing up to 2 feet tall and at least 1 foot wide, it takes longer to mature than most Asian greens, namely about 85 days. This Asian green reportedly is edible and highly nutritious, as well as decorative. Space these broad plants about 14 inches apart.

Best For: Decorative plantings, kale chips
Our Recommendation: Grow this heirloom Japanese flowering kale, $4.25 from TattooGardener at Etsy, as the last rose of autumn!

4. Komatsuna (Brassica rapa var. perviridis)

types of asian greens - komatsuna greens growing in ground

Often dubbed Japanese mustard spinach, this plant grows to 3 feet high with a clump of large green mildly mustard-flavored oval leaves. Maturing in 52 days, it reportedly doesn’t bolt as easily as spinach does and can keep producing all summer if you keep cutting it. Thin the plants to stand 1 foot apart from each other and harvest once greens reach about 12 to 18 inches tall.

Best For: Salads, soups, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: This Tender Green strain of komatsuna from ValeyracSeeds at Etsy for $1.49 offers crispy leaves and a spicy taste.

RELATED: 10 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Beginning Gardeners

5. Mibuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica)

types of asian greens - long leafy green vegetable
Photo: via BountifulSeedPantry

Named for the Japanese town of Mibu, this green grows to 1 foot with clusters of narrow leaves that are a bit mustardy in flavor. It matures in 45 days but can be cut when only 3 to 4 inches tall for baby greens and should keep producing when harvested frequently. Allow 8 to 10 inches of space between plants.

Best For: Salads, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: Try this Dento Yasai mibuna from BountifulSeedPantry at Etsy for cold-tolerant spring greens at $3.25 per packet.

6. Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica)

types of asian greens - mizuna green plants in greenhouse

Similar to the previous green in both name and rapid growth, this one boasts much fancier and frillier foliage with serrated edges and can even mature a trifle faster—in 40 days. It may reach 16 inches high if not harvested at the baby stage, and its flavor is described as peppery but not strongly so. Thin its clumps to stand 6 to 12 inches apart.

Best For: Salads, soups, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: Purchase heirloom seeds of mizuna from Burpee for $4.35 to liven up salads.

RELATED: Frost Coming Your Way? What to Do With Veggies in the Garden

7. Napa Cabbage (Brassica rapa var. pekinensis)

types of asian greens - red napa cabbage in garden

Also known as Chinese cabbage, this plant tops out at about 20 inches with green outer leaves clasping a paler green or yellow heart. It matures in 54 days. However, you’ll want to wait until after the last frost date or until late summer to plant Napa, thinning the seedlings to stand 12 inches apart, as too much cold early reportedly causes it to bolt abruptly later in the season.

Best For: Egg rolls, salads, soups, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: Plant Red Dragon Napa cabbage seeds from Burpee for attractive bicolor clusters; a packet costs $6.95.

RELATED: How To: Grow Fresh Produce from Your Leftover Groceries

8. Shungiku (Glebionis coronaria)

types of asian greens - green garland chrysanthemum plants
Photo: via SuccessfulSeeds

Also called garland chrysanthemum, this green—like flowering cabbage—can be decorative, with chrysanthemum-like leaves that eventually will be accompanied by small yellow or orange also-edible flowers. The foliage matures in 45 days and should be harvested when 4 to 8 inches tall. If uncut, the plant can grow to 4 feet and reportedly has a somewhat bitter flavor for those who prefer greens that bite back! Space plants 9 inches apart.

Best For: Salads, soups, tempura
Our Recommendation: Purchase this Tong Ho strain of garland chrysanthemum from SuccessfulSeeds at Etsy for $2.99.

9. Tatsoi (Brassica rapa var. narinosa)

types of asian greens - tatsoi leafy vegetable

Tatsoi makes rosettes of round and sometimes wrinkly dark green leaves with white stems. Mild in flavor, it matures in 25 days for baby greens or 45 days for mature ones at about 10 inches tall and 10 inches wide; it tends to bolt in heat. So keep it cool if possible to keep it sweet, spacing the plants 12 inches apart.

Best For: Salads, soups, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: Choose this cold-hardy heirloom tatsoi from Burpee for $3.95 a packet and enjoy the harvest under snow.

10. Tokyo Bekana (Brassica rapa var. chinensis)

types of asian greens - leafy vegetable growing out of pipe

Growing in a lettuce-like cluster with ruffled pale green leaves (sometimes called blonde), bekana reaches 1 foot high, has a mild flavor, and matures in 45 days. In salads, it makes a striking contrast to darker and duller greens. Space clumps of this blonde bombshell 4 to 8 inches apart.

Best For: Salads, soups, stir-fries
Our Recommendation: Brighten up your salads with this loose-head Tokyo bekana from PanAsiaHeirloom at Etsy for $2.75.

11. Wasabina Leaf Mustard (Brassica juncea)

types of asian greens - close up of leafy greens

Also on the blonde side with frilly chartreuse leaves, this green isn’t as sweet as bekana. In fact, like wasabi, it can pack a punch when mature at 18 inches or so but is more mildly spicy when harvested earlier. Space seedlings about 10 inches apart. It reportedly will tolerate somewhat drier and toastier conditions than other greens, which is appropriate to the hotness of its flavor!

Best For: Salads, stir-fries, pickling
Our Recommendation: Muster the courage to spice up your life with organic wasabina mustard greens from Gardeners Supply Company for $3.55.

Prices accurate as of publication date March 30, 2023.