Spinach is one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetables to grow, even for first-time gardeners. It’s also great because you can just harvest as many leaves as you want and leave the plant to continue growing more. Plus, spinach is great for impatient gardeners because it doesn’t take long before you can start to harvest those delicious tender leaves.
Quick Start Guide To Growing Spinach In Pots
- Choose a suitable pot that’s at least 12 inches (300mm) in diameter and fill it with a quality potting mix. The pH level of the mix should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
- Scatter the spinach seeds over the mix and cover lightly with either seed-raising mix or a very fine layer of the potting mix.
- Water well with a small watering can with a rose attachment, being careful not to dislodge the seeds.
- If growing from seedlings, plant three small seedlings in the pot, well-spaced.
- If the weather is cool, place the pot in a sunny spot. If the weather is warm, place the pot in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Spinach doesn’t mind growing in the dappled shade either.
- Once the plants are growing, feed them weekly with a liquid fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen.
Can Spinach Be Grown In Pots?
Spinach is one of those plants that’s absolutely ideal for growing in pots. This method can increase the growing season and means that in some areas, you can enjoy homegrown spinach all year round. This is because you can move the pots around so that the plant receives adequate sunlight in the morning but is protected from the hot afternoon sun.
Another advantage to growing spinach in pots is that garden pests such as slugs and snails won’t be able to get to your plant, especially if you put some copper tape around the perimeter of the pot. Also, if you live in an area that attracts various other creatures to your garden, such as rabbits and deer, your spinach will be safe if you place it high up on a deck or balcony.
Additionally, harvesting spinach from a pot is super easy. Just snip off a few of the lower leaves whenever you want to add some spinach to your cooking or salads.
How To Grow Spinach In Pots – The Complete Process
Growing your spinach in a pot is as simple as it gets. Here’s the entire process from start to finish.
What’s The Best Pot Size For Growing Spinach?
To start your spinach growing journey, you first need to select a suitable pot. The pot should be at least 12 inches (300mm) in diameter and around twice as deep. Any type of pot is fine. Spinach looks great planted in a terracotta pot but will also do well in a plastic pot.
If you happen to have one of those self-watering pots lying around, this would be ideal as spinach does like a decent supply of water. You can also use a larger pot if you want, as this will accommodate more plants. Just remember that you may want to move your pot around, so don’t make it too heavy.
What Soil Is Best For Growing Spinach?
To grow spinach in a pot, you want to use some quality potting mix. You can purchase ready-made mix at your local garden center. They may even have a special potting mix designed for growing vegetables.
Otherwise, you can make your own mix using equal parts of compost, coconut fiber, and composted tree bark. You want the mix to contain lots of organic matter, retain some moisture but still be free-draining. The ideal soil pH for growing spinach is between 6.0 and 7.0. Therefore, spinach doesn’t like overly acid soil.
Whatever you do, though, don’t use plain garden soil when growing spinach in pots. Most garden soils are too dense for pot-grown plants and may also contain soil-borne pests and diseases.
Should You Use Seeds Or Seedlings?
You can start your spinach plants either from seeds or purchase ready-to-plant seedlings from your local garden center. Either way is fine. Seeds will take around 40 to 45 days until you can harvest some young leaves. If you choose to use seedlings instead, you could start harvesting some young leaves in as little as two weeks.
Starting With Seeds
Once you have your pot selected and filled with quality potting mix, all you have to do is scatter the seeds over the soil and then just cover lightly with some more mix. Gently press the soil down to ensure that the seeds have good contact with the soil.
Once the seedlings start to emerge, you may need to thin them out to around 3 or 4 strong plants depending on the size of the pot. You can leave more seedlings if you have a larger pot. Plants should be spaced around 2 to 3 inches (5-8cm) apart. This will give the individual plants enough room to grow.
Be careful when pulling out the weaker seedlings to not dislodge the ones that you want to retain. Sometimes it’s easier to just cut the seedlings that you want to cull at the base with a pair of scissors or pruning snips.
Starting With Seedlings
If you’ve chosen to purchase seedlings, the process is just as easy. Take the seedlings out of the punnet and gently separate the roots. Place around three seedlings into a 12-inch pot evenly spaced.
To do this, just make a hole in the mix large enough to accommodate the roots. Place the seedling in the hole and gently firm the soil down around it. If you’ve purchased a punnet of seedlings, you might need to use a larger pot or use two or three 12 inch diameter pots to accommodate the number of little plants that you have.
If this is too much spinach for your needs, you can always give one of the additional pots to a friend or family member.
Light Requirements For Spinach
Generally, spinach is a cool-season crop which means that it’s ideal for growing in a partly shady spot. It will tolerate full sun when the weather is cool but does like some shelter from the hot midday and afternoon sun.
If you have a deck or balcony that only receives morning sun, this is an ideal spot to place your container-grown spinach plants. If temperatures are likely to exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), then you should place your spinach in a shady spot.
Water Requirements For Spinach
Spinach does like a lot of water. Once you’ve planted your seeds or seedlings, water well using a small watering can or a hose with a rose attachment. Water deeply until you see the water drain from the bottom of the pot.
Because spinach has a shallow root system, it requires frequent watering. In warmer weather, this could mean that you have to water your plants every day or at least every couple of days. In the cooler weather, however, the plants will grow a little slower, and it will take longer for the soil to dry out.
Therefore, you might only need to water once or twice a week. The best way to determine whether your plant needs water is to test the moisture level in the soil. Push your finger into the soil in the pot around 1 to 2 inches deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.
You can also purchase a moisture meter which is an easy way to test the moisture level in the soil, whether in a container or out in the garden.
Fertilizing Your Spinach
Spinach is a heavy feeder and needs adequate amounts of nitrogen to keep producing those lovely green leaves. Use a liquid fertilizer high in nitrogen once a week to water your plants. An organic fish emulsion is ideal for this, or any other liquid fertilizer that contains a high percentage of nitrogen will also work well.
Is Spinach An Annual Or A Perennial?
Spinach is regarded as an annual crop. Therefore, it completes its entire life cycle in the same year. However, if you give your plant the right conditions, you can easily extend the growing season. Therefore, growing your spinach in a shady spot and harvesting the leaves often should give you harvestable leaves from fall through to the end of spring as long as you protect your plant from heavy frost.
Those who live in cool climates may be able to nurse their spinach through summer by not exposing it to direct sunlight or too much heat. It’s the heat, direct sunlight, and longer periods of daylight that trigger the plant to bolt and start producing flowers and seeds.
Once the bolting has begun, the spinach leaves will become bitter and unpalatable. However, you can let the plant go to seed and then collect the seeds to sow another crop. In fact, spinach lends itself well to successive planting so that when one plant finishes, another one is ready to harvest.
To encourage your plant to continue growing, it’s also important to harvest the leaves correctly. Each spinach plant will grow new leaves from the crown or center of the plant. This is regarded as the plant’s growing point.
Therefore, you should always harvest the outer leaves that are closest to the soil. When harvesting, cut these leaves with a pair of scissors or snips to within 2 inches of the soil. Make sure that you don’t cut into the growing point of the plant.
You can also grow varieties of spinach that are considered slow-bolting. Varieties include Bloomsdale Long Standing and Big Crop.
Common Problems With Spinach And How To Fix Them
Growing spinach in a pot eliminates many of the common problems that garden-grown spinach plants face. This includes a number of soil-borne fungal diseases and also pests such as cutworms.
However, here are a few pests, diseases, and other problems that you should look out for, especially if you have your pots outside.
Slugs and snails
Even pot-grown plants can get attacked by slugs and snails. However, it’s much easier to see these pests and pick them off by hand. Another solution is to stick some copper tape around the perimeter of the pot. Snails and slugs don’t like crawling over this, so they won’t be able to get to your plants.
Stick this tape in a continuous circle around the outside of your pot, around half to three-quarters up the side of the pot.
Aphids are common sap-sucking insects that just love tender young plants. There are a number of ways you can get rid of them. You can just dislodge from your spinach by using a strong stream of water from the garden hose.
Otherwise, you can spray your plant with a solution of insecticidal soap and water or neem oil.
If the leaves of your spinach plants are turning yellow, it means that your plant needs more nitrogen and is suffering from a nutrient deficiency. You can remedy this fairly easily by spraying the plant with a foliar fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.
The Crown Of The Plant Starts To Grow Taller
This is a common sign that your plant is getting ready to bolt. Once this happens, there’s really not much you can do except to place the pot in a cool, shady spot and harvest the leaves for as long as you can.
Your Seeds Are Not Germinating
Because spinach is a cool-season crop, seeds that are planted in the warmer weather may fail to germinate. It’s best to start your spinach plants very early in spring or late in the summer once the worst of the heat is over. It’s also important to keep the soil moist while the seeds are germinating.
As you can see, container-grown spinach is much less likely to be affected by common garden pests and diseases. That’s precisely why this is such a great crop to grow in a pot or grow bag.