Having freshly grown spinach available to you all season long sounds like a simple-living dream, though it might not be as far off as you might think. Adding the right variety of plants to grow with your spinach can lead to benefits on all fronts, from your plants to local pollinators and, of course, you! Spinach companion plants are much more than something to just help your spinach grow with fewer issues; they are useful for culinary purposes and can brighten up your space with a bounty of different scents and colors.
Benefits of Spinach Companion Planting
Companion planting for spinach, or any plant, can provide various benefits and make caring for and tending to the plants easier for the gardener. These benefits include:
- Pests deterrent: either deterring pests from the target plant or attracting them to the companion plant itself, acting as a shield.
- Pollinators attracting: attracting pollinators which can be beneficial for your garden’s diversity and health.
- Providing shade to plants.
- Weed suppressing: acting as a weed suppressor, depending on the plant chosen.
Best Spinach Companion Plants
Wondering what grows well with spinach? Suitable companion plants for spinach are surprisingly easy to come by, and they may even be on your wishlist for the summer garden already! Consider these healthy and helpful additions to any spinach garden patch:
Borage is a powerful herb that produces blue, star-shaped flowers. It is a powerful pest deterrent that also is able to attract the right kinds of predators to your garden to attack any pests munching on your spinach. Plant Borage in full sun to partial shade.
This fresh herb isn’t just for garnishing. Cilantro attracts insects like ladybugs and parasitoid wasps, which can easily wipe out any pest populations you may have in your garden. Regularly harvest cilantro to keep it growing and encourage the beneficial insects to come to your garden.
Radish is a peppery root vegetable that grows easily near spinach. It won’t compete for nutrients with the leafy vegetable and will instead be a trap crop for flea beetles and leaf-mining insects. Take care to harvest the radish on time so as not to let the leaf miner affect it.
Legumes include beans, peas, and peanuts. These plants are nitrogen-fixers, so they give your spinach plant more available nitrogen to draw from in the soil. Nitrogen is an important macronutrient in foliage growth, so having a pea or bean plant near your spinach might increase your yield. You may need to have a trellis for your peas or beans to cling to.
Nasturtiums produce bright, edible flowers that can be used successfully as a spinach companion and an addition to a bouquet! Nasturitum’s function as a companion plant is to repel pests like aphids and beetles, though adding any flowering plant will give greater diversity for the pollinators in your area.
These happy flowers can be used to brighten your garden with a pop of color, though this color is also what attracts beneficial insects. These insects prey on the pests that like to chew on your garden plants, so the more of these good insects you have in your garden, the fewer pest-related problems you’re likely to run into throughout the growing season.
Tansy is a gentle, bright yellow flower with delicate fern-like leaves. Aside from its cute looks, it gives your garden some insect-repellent qualities that can help with roving insect hordes looking for your spinach. Plant it in an area with full sun to partial shade in a well-draining soil.
Spinach and strawberries go together not only in salads but as companion plants, as well. Strawberries are helpful in shading the soil by the spinach, which doesn’t like to get too hot. Your strawberries will also get benefits: spinach gives off chemicals called “saponins” which can act as another layer of defense against diseases commonly affecting strawberries.
Crimson Clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant that can provide some shade to the spinach due to its ground-cover growth habit. It can also help make more nitrogen readily available for the spinach to use for healthy foliage development. Plant it in well-draining soil in a sunny area.
Other Leafy Greens
Lettuces, mustard greens, chard, and watercress are leafy greens that can successfully be grown with spinach for successful companion planting. These mainly function to shade the plant and suppress weeds. Be sure to water well throughout the growing season to prevent your leafy greens from drying out.
What to Plant with Spinach
There are plenty of plants to situate next to your spinach that are more suitable for certain uses or planting styles than others. Here’s what to plant with spinach:
To Keep Bugs Away
Garlic is a powerful allium that can be used to repel pests thanks to its strong, pungent aroma. It will help deter pests like beetles, aphids, and even slugs.
Odor is a powerful tool against pests, as leeks use their odorous nature to keep pests at bay. This means the pests will stay away from the plants immediately near the offending allium, and your spinach is safe!
Chives are another stinky herb that insects detest but people love. It’s a great addition to any herb garden and can grow well next to spinach in the confined space of a container. Be sure to harvest your chives and spinach regularly to encourage further growth.
Basil can easily be grown with spinach. Just try not to get them confused! Basil won’t compete with your spinach and can provide some extra protection by staving off hungry pests. Basil likes bright light, so be sure you locate the container where the spinach can get some shade during the hotter parts of the day.
In Raised Bed
Tomatoes are easily grown in containers or raised beds, but if you grow your tomatoes in a raised bed with spinach, you can save space by interplanting the spinach between tomato crops.
Kale is a member of the brassica family, which includes other popular vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Kale also helps suppress weeds and can repel insects due to its strong taste when chewed upon.
Worst Companion Plants for Spinach
Not all plants are comfortable with each other, so it’s important to know what to steer clear of when. Here’s what not to plant with spinach:
- Potatoes: potatoes are not a good choice as a companion plant for spinach because they will compete for nutrients. This can lead to one growing far more, starving the other plant out. Opt for other nightshades, such as peppers or eggplants, which provide other benefits to your spinach without the nutrient competition.
- Dill: dill is a strong-smelling herb that can be beneficial in deterring pests from your plant when it is young, though as it grows, it may compete with plants near it, hindering their growth.
- Fennel: fennel is an allelopathic plant, meaning the fennel will emit a compound into the soil that inhibits other plants from growing near it. This is the reason to avoid it as an option for a spinach companion plant.
- Sunflowers: these are more allelopathic plants that will inhibit the growth of other plants nearby in order to gain all the nutrients. Not only will the spinach not grow due to lack of nutrients, but also the tall sunflower will out-shade it.
Mistakes to Avoid in Your Companion Planting
Companion planting spinach enjoys easy enough, but that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. Avoid the following mistakes to make your life and the life of your plants a bit easier:
- Don’t plant unsuitable plants together: take into consideration soil type and pH and watering/ fertilizer requirements.
- Don’t forget about proper spacing between crops: too many plants too close together can increase humidity and moisture retention.
- Planting at the proper depth: make sure you’re planting your companion plants at the right depth so plants that normally wouldn’t compete for nutrients aren’t drawing from the same soil level.
Spinach Companion Planting Tips
Some things are learned through trial and error, and other tidbits of knowledge can be passed along. These are some seeds of knowledge that can be planted in your garden to make spinach companion gardening an easier, more rewarding experience:
- Ensure ventilation: make sure there’s enough room between plants for air circulation. This will discourage fungi and other pathogens from infecting your plant.
- Mind diseases: don’t plant things that are susceptible to the same diseases near each other. For example, if using brassicas in your companion garden, don’t plant them too close to each other. If one crop gets infected, chances are it will spread to the other members of the same family nearby.
- Diversify your crops: this helps avoid potential pest disasters but also varies the benefits available to your plants.
Can Spinach and Cucumber Grow Together?
Spinach and cucumbers grow well together and can be used for spinach companion planting. The spinach will be shaded by the cucumbers, preventing it from getting burnt.
Can Spinach and Basil Be Planted Together?
Planting basil and spinach together can be quite beneficial for spinach, as basil can be useful in repelling pests that may want to get to your spinach leaves. Other fragrant herbs will work, too!
Where Is the Best Place to Plant Spinach?
Spinach should be planted in an area that gets full sun or partial shade during the hottest afternoon hours. The planting area should be fertile, with well-draining soil at an average pH.
How to Increase Spinach Yield?
To increase your spinach yield, be sure to harvest often to encourage new growth, and regularly feed your plant using fertilizer or compost. Prior to planting, a granular fertilizer can be applied to the soil or a layer of compost about 2 inches (5cm) on top of the soil.