Arguably one of the easiest vegetables you can grow, spinach makes for a fantastic addition to almost any vegetable garden. It is also relatively quick to harvest and requires no special care. But it can always do better.
One of the best ways to boost its growth is to use the best spinach companion plants. These species grow well alongside the spinach but also help it grow healthier, bigger, and faster. Here, we want to talk about those.
You’re going to learn about all the accompanying species for spinach well, why they’re so helpful, and how you can get the most out of each. More importantly, we’re going to show you which plants to avoid and why.
So, are you ready to get your spinach-growing experience to a whole new level? Then check below!
Why Use Companion Plants with Spinach?
While most people will think that planting vegetables alone is the way to go, it’s not always the case. In fact, planting the proper companions will actually boost their growth, among other things. Here’s why you should plant spinach with companions:
Better Use of Space
When you plant spinach alone, you need to separate them into rows and columns, leaving a lot of space on the sides and around. With companions, you can plant the seeds closer and not waste a single inch of space.
Fewer Pests & Diseases
When spinach is too close to other spinach plants, it is easier for diseases to spread. Even if they aren’t too tight, the diseases will not have to struggle to pass from one plant to another. The same happens with pests – with no plants around to attract or repel them, they will eat away all your spinach.
Boosted Vegetable Taste
Surprisingly, spinach ends up tasting better with some companions. Plants that add specific minerals to the soil will eventually give the spinach a better flavor.
Because some plants can protect against the sun or eventually add helpful nutrients into the soil, they help spinach grow faster and healthier. This is especially true when spinach is in the sprouting stage.
With all these benefits in mind, let’s check which plants you should consider!
15 Best Companion Plants for Spinach
We found many species worth trying with your spinach. We didn’t focus on individual plants but brought a more general list you can use. If you’re looking to boost the growth of your spinach, here are the plants to consider:
All the brassicas, also known as the mustard family or cruciferous vegetables, are among the best companions you can use for spinach.
Why are they so helpful? Easy, spinach and brassicas don’t compete for nutrients in the slightest. You can actually plant them a few inches from each other, and there shouldn’t be a problem. Brassicas and spinach gather nutrients at different levels so they don’t interfere with each other’s growth.
Among the brassicas you can consider, there is:
- Bok Choy
- Brussel Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Sweet Alyssum
The one that stands out the most among all these is the radish. What sets it apart from other brassicas is the unique density of its leaves. This attracts pests like leaf miners that often feast on the spinach.
You may think: Won’t the radish have issues if the leaf miners attack it? Well, yes and no. If the radish is already grown, leaf miners won’t cause much of a problem. But if the radish is young, it may get affected.
Having said that, radishes grow super-quick. Even if the leaf miner attacks the radish, it will need a lot of time to kill it. In most cases, you’ll harvest the radish before the leaf miners can cause any fatal damage.
2. Other Leafy Vegetables
Spinach is a leafy vegetable, among the hundreds out there you can pick (including brassicas). Because of that, it’s safe to say that you can also plant other leafy vegetables alongside spinach.
Here, however, you’ll have to choose carefully. Some species consume almost the same nutrients at the same soil level as spinach. If you aren’t careful, you may end up with plants competing for the food.
What leafy vegetables can you consider? Here are a few:
The main benefit of using these vegetables is that they prevent common diseases from spreading. Also, they often attract different kinds of bugs that don’t prey on spinach. This prevents unwanted attacks and keeps both the spinach and its companion thriving.
You may also consider all the plants in the onion family as the alliums, which wouldn’t be wrong. They’re super-helpful for many reasons – but mainly because they deter pests that love feasting on spinach.
Here are a few alliums to consider:
It’s worth remembering that these plants may offer various benefits. For example, leeks will prevent carrot rust flies from attacking the spinach. In contrast, garlic will discourage almost all other pests, going from beetles to aphids, spider mites, and many others.
Garlic has another advantage, though. It accumulates sulfur in the planting area. This prevents diseases that may attack spinach and/or other plants. Spinach also produces saponin, which has a similar effect, so garlic and spinach make for an almost indestructible garden.
Everyone loves their nightshades. Things like pepper and eggplants never go out of style. But more importantly, they work almost perfectly with the spinach. They appreciate different environments and don’t consume each other’s nutrients.
Some of the nightshades to consider are:
There’s evidence that both nightshades and spinach work well when they’re planted one after the other. The nutrients they leave in the soil end up being beneficial for the second planting.
Also known as the melon family, cucurbits can also help your spinach grow quicker and healthier. Because most of these plants tend to produce viny vegetation, they don’t cover or damage the spinach. Apart from that, they don’t consume the nutrients, so spinach can live beside them pretty safe.
What are these cucurbits? Here are some of them:
Be aware that cucurbits can overgrow spinach. Meaning, if you plant the spinach way after the cucurbits are already growing, there’s a high chance they will cover the sprouts. This can produce unwanted results in the short term.
6. Beans & Peas
Even though they’re entirely different plants, both peas and beans can be used as spinach companions for the same reasons. They help to use space more efficiently while giving some shade to the spinach. The main advantage comes from the nitrogen – both peas and beans produce a lot of it for the spinach to feed.
You can plant pretty much any bean or pea alongside your spinach, like:
There’s a slight difference when you consider peas. They leave many nutrients in the soil, yet they also leave essential chemicals that help protect the spinach’s root.
These plants are both aromatic and used as vegetables. Some of them are often known as herbs as well. Either way, if you haven’t read the name umbellifers before – don’t worry.
Their advantage for spinach comes mainly from its ability to prevent pests. Due to the strong scent coming from their flowers, they keep away leaf-eating bugs.
Some umbellifers to consider are”
Between these, celery stands out because it requires the same light and moisture to thrive, so it works almost perfectly with spinach.
As for dill, you’ll have to use them only when the spinach is already growing a third of the way. When dill is growing, and spinach is maturing, the nutrient-sharing activities start, producing larger and better-tasting spinach while helping the dill grow quicker.
It’s worth noting that matured dill can cause damage to the spinach, so use it correctly.
Most types of berries are also worth using with your spinach. But none of them works as well as the strawberry plant.
One reason is their ability to consume nutrients from a different soil level. The second reason is that strawberries keep the soil moist and cool – something spinach loves.
Strawberries actually benefit a lot from this, as spinach grows taller than strawberries, producing helpful shade that the berries like. On top of that, the saponin that spinach makes is immensely beneficial for the strawberry, preventing common diseases when planted close.
Planting them together means you get better yields and healthier growth in both plants’ short and long term.
One of the best species you can grow alongside your spinach to get rid of pests is the nasturtium. Regardless of the species you choose, the bright-colored flowers will trap the beetles and aphids, preventing them from eating your spinach.
In contrast with the nasturtium, tansy will produce yellow flowers that don’t attract the pests but actually repel them. The unique fragrance these flowers produce will mainly attract pollinators.
But that’s not all. Tansy increases the amount of potassium in the soil. Surprisingly, this is something the spinach benefits a lot from.
It’s worth noting that tansy is a bit toxic. If you’re growing alongside your spinach, it should be as mere ornamentals (keep them away from animals and children).
11. Crimson Clover
The plant grows in a manner that creates natural openings in the soil, whereby there is better drainage. They benefit the earth since they keep it intact, preventing erosion. Moreover, crimson clover is known to fix nitrogen, which is helpful for the growing spinach plant.
Spinach is good to grow with asparagus since it takes up less space in the soil, and its growing duration is shorter. The spinach offers weed control for the asparagus while benefiting from the shade provided by the latter.
Petunia helps to keep pests away while also attracting pollinators. Although, care must be taken before planting the petunia that the spinach is firmly rooted and growing well in the soil. If not, the petunia might take away available space from the plant.
Borage keeps many pests away from the crop, such as cabbage loopers, armyworms, etc. The smell of the borage is such that it keeps these pests away while attracting beneficial predators. The deep roots of the borage also draw trace elements from the soil, and it becomes available to the spinach plant.
It has very high levels of pollen that increase the pollinators visiting the garden, which is beneficial for the spinach. Also, the calendula flowers have a unique smell that keeps the likes of aphids and beetles away.
Worst Companions for Spinach
With a better idea of what species to keep close to your spinach, let’s now show you which ones you should always keep away. These include:
There’s almost no plant that grows well alongside the fennel. Spinach, for example, hates it.
This is because fennel produces damaging compounds that can affect the spinach’s growth. And because fennel consumes the same nutrients, it is almost the worst companion you can get.
Another plant that will fight with your spinach for nutrients is the potato. While many people consider potatoes to be a good companion, we don’t recommend them.
If planted too close, they will consume all the spinach’s nutrients as potatoes are super-thirsty plants. Even worse, potatoes can cause soil damage, making it impossible for the spinach to thrive.
Now that you’ve learned all about the spinach companion plants and those that you should avoid, it’s time to put your knowledge to work.
Get that spinach in your garden with the right neighbors and enjoy quicker, tastier, and healthier yields. Are you ready for that? Then don’t waste more of your time and get to work!
Potatoes, pumpkins, corn, and fennel should not be planted with spinach.
Yes, it is advisable to grow the two together. The shade of the tomato plant keeps the spinach from bolting. Thus, it is a valuable companion plant for spinach in the hotter durations of summer.
Yes, marigolds are good companion plants for spinach. The bright colors of the marigold attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, that predate aphids, thus keeping them away. This protects the leaves of the spinach.
Spinach requires full to partial sun, but it’s shade tolerance depends on the seasons since it is a cool-season vegetable. In early spring, when the sun’s rays are less intense, spinach needs direct exposure. During the actual summer, the spinach can be kept in partial shade.
You can intercrop spinach with peas. They pull nitrogen from the air and affix them to the soil, thus aiding the spinach with its nutrient requirements. Broccoli, cabbage, brussels, and cauliflower can also be interplanted with it since they draw nutrients from different depths of the soil and will not interfere with the requirements of the spinach.
The seeds may be sown in rows at a spacing of five to fifteen centimeters apart.
Yes, spinach can be planted along with onions. While spinach has a tap root, onion has rootlets that grow near the soil’s surface. Consequently, they occupy different portions of the soil. Of course, spinach and onion both heavily draw on nitrogen. Planting them together will require proper attention to be given to the quality of the topsoil.
Carrots are a good companion plant to grow along with spinach. While spinach grows close to the ground and does not have deep roots, carrots grow much deeper; hence they occupy different areas in the soil.
The process of growing spinach is usually nitrogen intensive. Consequently, the best fertilizer for spinach would be one that reinforces the soil’s nitrogen content. For instance, you can use calcium nitrate at around 1 pound per 100 square feet. Compost manure is useful for growing spinach during the development stages. Other organic fertilizers for spinach include fish emulation, blood food, and bone flour. For commercial fertilizers, you can use the likes of coffee grounds.
Spinach and garlic are good companion plants. The spinach helps reduce the weeds around the garlic plants and provides ground cover. Garlic grows deep underground, and consequently, there is much space for a crop such as spinach which grows closer to the soil. Moreover, garlic is similar to spinach because it is sown in the fall and grows till summer. Consequently, the two are similar in their hardiness during winter.