Spinach is a hugely popular crop to grow, with its quick-growing leaves that are packed with nutrients. There are a lot of beneficial companion plants for spinach that gardeners can take advantage of to help boost their crop and fight potential problems.
A wide range of other plants, including alliums, brassicas, legumes, roots, and herbs can help combat pest problems and stop unwanted visitors from coming along and feasting on your spinach leaves.
The list of spinach companion plants is long, but there are also some crops to avoid as they will not make merry neighbors for spinach. If you are learning how to grow spinach, discover the the best vegetables, herbs, and flowers to grow with the crop and what should not be planted in the vicinity.
Benefits of spinach companion plants
Companion planting is the practice of growing different plants together that offer benefits to each other. It is an organic gardening method that can offer a wealth of benefits, including healthier growth and combating pests and diseases.
There is a wide range of beneficial companion plants that can be grown with a fast-growing vegetable like spinach. Some can help spinach grow big and healthy, by providing them with additional nutrients or protecting the plant from the summer’s rays to delay bolting. Others can deter common spinach pests, including helping to get rid of aphids or flea beetles, or attract beneficial predators that can prey on pests.
All of these beneficial factors will help you get a better crop when it is time to harvest spinach. However, there are also some plants that should not be planted with spinach as they can be detrimental to the plant’s growth. It is worth taking that into consideration when planning a vegetable garden.
Vegetable companion plants for spinach
Brassicas, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower, are all good companion plants for spinach as they don’t compete for the same nutrients in the soil, thanks to the different depths of their root systems. This means they can share the water and nutrients in the soil, without any crops missing out and their growth being stunted as a result.
Plant expert Sara Lundberg, the owner of Bloom & Haul, a seed company, also recommends four other vegetables that form some of the best companion plants for spinach.
- Beans Legumes like beans and peas are nitrogen-fixing plants that help improve the soil quality for spinach.
- Radishes These help repel pests like aphids and flea beetles that can damage spinach.
- Carrots They help improve the soil structure and are a good companion plant for spinach.
- Onions Known to repel pests and insects that attack spinach.
Sara Lundberg is the owner of Bloom & Haul, a seed company launched in the Pacific Northwest in 2018. She is an experienced gardener and vegetable grower and won five blue ribbons at the 2022 Oregon State Fair.
Any types of onions, and other alliums including garlic and leeks, are great companion plants for many crops. They emit a strong fragrance that deters many pests, including beetles, aphids, and carrot fly, so are highly recommended as part of any companion planting plans.
Heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants can also offer benefits as spinach companion plants. These three plants commonly grow up supports, such as growing cucumbers vertically, and they can provide a spot of dappled shade for spinach to thrive in. It will help prevent spinach from bolting, which it is liable to do in periods of hot weather.
Herb companion plants for spinach
In the same way that alliums deter pests thanks to their powerful odour, herbs can also play a key role in protecting spinach from pests that want to nibble on its leaves and ruin your potential harvest.
Christi Kelly, founder and publisher at PatioGardenLife.com, says: ‘To help spinach naturally resist common pests like flea beetles, pair your spinach with fragrant herbs, like chives and mint, which pests find naturally repellent.’
Other herbs that act as great spinach companion plants include cilantro, a fragrant herb whose flowers can attract beneficial predators such as ladybugs and lacewings that will eat any aphids around the yard. Dill and parsley are other popular culinary plants commonly seen in a herb garden that can attract predators and help prevent pests ruining your spinach crop.
Flower companion plants for spinach
If you are planning a cut flower garden, a blooming border, or just want to mix flowers in with your vegetables, then there are some flowers that are fantastic spinach companion plants to take advantage of. The likes of marigolds and calendula are great at repelling pests thanks to their pungent fragrance, indeed calendula plants are even thought to be able to repel rabbits from nibbling on your spinach.
Miguel Palma, professional gardener and owner of JardinTienda, advises how nasturtiums serve as a trap plant for aphids, as well as deterring other pests such as whiteflies and cucumber beetles. He also highlights borage as an ‘excellent companion’ for spinach, adding: ‘It can help to repel pests like tomato hornworms, which can also attack spinach. Borage can also help to improve the overall health of the garden by attracting beneficial insects like bees.’
Miguel Palma is a professional gardener with over 20 years of experience in the horticultural business. He is the owner of JardinTienda, a site dedicated to reviewing gardening products and providing independent buyers guides.
What not to plant with spinach
It is not recommended to grow potatoes with spinach plants. Not only are they heavy feeders, which can take up all the nutrients and water in the soil and prevent other plants from accessing them, but potatoes attract unwanted guests. The likes of wireworm and flea beetles are attracted to potato plants and they will also munch on spinach plants. There are some good potato companion plants, however spinach is not one of them.
Fennel is another plant that is not on the list of good spinach companion plants. If you grow fennel you do need to be very considerate about where you plant it in your kitchen garden as its roots release allopathic chemicals into the soil that can inhibit the germination and growth of other plants around it. Try to grow spinach near fennel and your plants will struggle to turn into mature and healthy plants.
Can I plant beets and spinach together?
When you are planning when to plant vegetables, it is worth remembering that beets and spinach can be grown together but you do need to be considerate of the spacing between the crops. Spinach does not hugely compete with beets for nutrients in the ground, however maintain a decent distance between the crops or your spinach roots could start getting disrupted by the beets swelling and also disturbed when you come to harvest beets.
Can you plant spinach with zucchini?
Spinach is a good zucchini companion plant as the leaves of the zucchini plant can provide shade to spinach during the summer, helping stave off potential bolting. As spinach is only a light feeder, it will also not struggle when competing with the heavy-feeding zucchini for water and nutrients in the soil.
If you are planning a vegetable garden, then spinach makes a great addition. Not only are the plants suitable for small vegetable gardens, but the crop’s versatility also means they can grow happily in a vegetable container garden.
There are a lot of beneficial spinach companion plants to take advantage of, choosing one or more of them will help ensure strong spinach plants and healthy crops of leaves rich in vitamins and minerals.
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Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.
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