spinach plants
Updated: February 20, 2023

Planting spinach facts

  • Hardiness: Hardy annual; can withstand heavy frosts in spring and fall.
  • Planting: Sow seed early in the spring after soil temperatures have reached 45°F. Make several small plantings several days apart for a longer harvest.  Tolerates partial shade (4-6 hours of direct light/day) but grows well with full sun in spring and fall.
  • Days to maturity: 28 - 55 from seed.
  • Spacing: 3 inches apart in rows or equidistantly in wide rows or beds.
  • Fertilizer needs: High requirement for nutrients, either from soil organic matter or fertilizers. Incorporate compost or fertilizer before planting. Side-dress as needed. Refer to Fertilizing Vegetables for details. 
  • Approximate yield: 2 lbs. per 10-foot row.

Common spinach problems

Bolting-flower stalk forms
Downy mildew

Growing and care of spinach

  • Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It grows to a height of 8-12 inches. 
  • There are two types of common spinach – smooth leaf and savoy leaf. The savoy types have more texture, but soil and sand tend to catch in the crinkles of the leaves. Both types will bolt (send up a flowerstalk) as daylength and temperature increase in spring.
  • Other types of spinach include perpetual spinach (which is actually a type of chard), New Zealand spinach, and Malabar spinach. New Zealand spinach prefers hot weather and should be planted after all danger of frost has passed. It will seed itself and come back year after year. Malabar spinach, a vine with glossy green leaves and purple stems and fruit, can be harvested throughout the summer, especially if grown in some shade. Water spinach (Ipomea aquatica) is a fast-growing, heat-tolerant tropical plant grown as a leafy green. Egyptian spinach (molokhia) is another warm-weather leafy green that grows well in Maryland.
  • Make several small plantings several days apart, sowing the seed in wide rows.
  • Use row covers to exclude spinach leaf miners, speed the growth of the plants, and prolong the growing season. 
  • Spinach tolerates frost so it is a good crop for the fall garden and with protection can be harvested into December. In mild areas, spinach sown in late fall will overwinter and make new growth in the spring.
  • Watering - Keep plants uniformly supplied with moisture for best performance.  Water deeply and regularly during dry periods.
  • Weeding - Remove all young weed seedlings by hand and mulch along each side of the row to keep weed seeds from germinating. 

Harvesting spinach

  • Thin by removing (cutting) every other plant in early summer so that spacing is about 6 inches apart. Thinnings may be used in salads or sautéed. Cutting full-size leaves encourages new leaves to emerge from the crown. 
  • Make a final harvest when plants send up flower stalks.
  • New Zealand and Malabar spinach can be harvested continuously throughout the summer.

Storage and preservation  

  • Spinach will last 2 to 3 weeks when stored in very cool (32 degrees F), moist (95% RH) conditions. 

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