How To Grow Lamb's Quarters / White goosefoot (Chenopodium album) In Your Garden

Chenopodium album, often referred to as Lamb's Quarters or White Goosefoot, is a plant known for its resilience and versatility. Although usually considered a weed, it does have some uses.

This annual plant is a part of the Amaranthaceae family, and can be found growing wild in many parts of the world.

Lamb's Quarters typically reach a height of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters), and have a spread of around 2 feet (0.5 meters).

Chenopodium album plant
Chenopodium album photograph by Harry Rose; CC.

The plant has a profusion of small green flowers. These bloom from June to September, creating a simplistic display.

Its leaves are known for their unique shape, and are reminiscent of the foot of a goose, which gives the plant one of its common namea, White Goosefoot.

Chenopodium album is low maintenance and has a robust nature. It is suited to USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 11 and RHS Zones to H7, further highlighting its wide adaptability.

While typically considered a weed in most gardens, it is valued in some settings for its edible leaves, which can be consumed much like spinach (which has replaced this blander plant in many culinary circles). This can make it a worthwhile addition to vegetable gardens or permaculture settings (if you are looking to try something a bit different or more old-fashioned; but be aware that as the leaves are rich in oxalic acid, this plant may be toxic if consumed in large amounts – thus it is much better to cook this plant than to eat the raw leaves). The plant is also used for animal grain in parts of Asia and Africa.

Lamb's Quarters inflorescence
Lamb's Quarters inflorescence image by NY State IPM Program at Cornell University; CC.

How to Grow Chenopodium album in the Garden

Growing White Goosefoot in the garden is quite straightforward, as the plant is not particularly demanding.

It will thrive in a variety of soil types, although it prefers a well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Fot the location, well, a spot that gets full sun to partial shade is ideal for this plant.

To grow Chenopodium album from seeds, sow them directly in the ground in the spring. Simply scatter the seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly cover them. Given the plant's robust nature, it tends to germinate easily without the need for much intervention.

Once established, plants require very little maintenance. They are highly drought-tolerant, so no need to worry too much about watering unless, there are exceptionally dry conditions.

Similarly, there is no need to fertilize these plants, as they can thrive in less nutrient-rich soils.

Be aware that White Goosefoot can become invasive if not properly controlled. It's recommended to remove the flowers before they go to seed to prevent it from spreading too widely in your garden. This, along with an occasional pruning to manage size, should keep it under control.

White goosefoot
White goosefoot image by by Harry Rose; CC.

Quick Lamb's Quarters Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Chenopodium album

Common Name(s): Lamb's Quarters, White Goosefoot, Fat-hen.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 2-11. RHS Hardiness Rating: H7 (Hardy – are fully hardy and can cope with winter frosts).

Best Used For / Garden Location: Considered a weed in most gardens, but can be used as a leafy vegetable (also known as Wild spinach) in kitchen gardens.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Annual, herb.

Plant Height: 1-5 feet (0.3-1.5 meters).

Plant Spread: 1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters).

Blooms: Summer.

Flower Details: The flowers are tiny, green, and clustered.

Leaf Foliage: The leaves are diamond-shaped, light green, often covered with a white powdery coating.

Fruit: The plant produces small, shiny, black seeds.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to part shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Thrives in most soils, including poor ones, but prefers well-drained, fertile soil.

Sowing / planting: Sow seeds directly outdoors in spring.

Germination time: Germination typically occurs within 1-2 weeks.

Propagation: Propagation is done by seeds.

Plant Care: Requires little care. Water moderately and avoid over-fertilization.

Growing in pots and containers: Not typically grown in containers.

Growing as a House plant: Not typically grown as a houseplant.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Can be used as a spinach substitute. Highly resilient and often considered a weed. Can be invasive in certain conditions.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free, but can be affected by leaf miners.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: No notable cultivars.

Family: Amaranthaceae, the Amaranth family.

Native: Eurasia.

References and Further Reading: Eat The Weeds; Weed Plant Identification; Plants for a Future.

Common Questions

Does Chenopodium album make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Chenopodium album is typically considered a weed in gardens and landscapes. However, it can be grown for its edible leaves, which are often used in parts of the world where spinach is not available.

Is White goosefoot a fragrant plant?

No, it is not a fragrant plant.

What is the perfect location to grow Chenopodium album?

This hardy plant that can tolerate a range of conditions. It tends to thrive in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-draining soils.

Is Chenopodium album invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Chenopodium album is native to Europe but is now common across the USA, and it is often considered a weed. It is not listed as invasive, but can quickly spread if not managed.

How do I remove Chenopodium album from my garden?

Removing this plant involves thorough weeding. Be sure to pull out the entire plant, including its roots, otherwise regrowth can occur. Regular monitoring and removal of any seedlings should help to keep the plant under control.


Chenopodium album is often found in disturbed soils. It is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. Full sun to partial shade, along with a moist, fertile soil, are ideal growth condition.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow White goosefoot. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow French Spinach, Kochia, and Celosia plants in the garden.