Spinach is a popular crop species that greatly benefit from companion planting techniques. Spinach has a shallow root system that gains nutrients from legumes and benefits from retained soil moisture from shady species, all while being provided pest relief by other crops.
Companion planting is a simple task, but it can be detrimental to your plants if paired with the wrong species. In this article, I dive into the green and leafy world of spinach companion plants, including which species are the best to plant and which plants you should avoid at all costs!
- Companion planting with spinach can provide numerous benefits such as pest management, disease prevention, increased yield, and improved soil fertility.
- Good companion plants for spinach include cold-tolerant crops like sugar snap peas, kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli, as well as strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and legume species.
- It is important to avoid planting tall, competing, or toxic plants near spinach, such as corn, sunflowers, potatoes, melons, and fennel, as they can hinder the growth and productivity of spinach plants.
- Key Takeaways:
- What Is Companion Planting?
- 10 Benefits Of Companion Planting For Spinach
- 25 Best Spinach Companion Plants
- Companion Flowers To Plant With Spinach
- Companion Herbs For Spinach
- 3 Worst Companion Plants For Spinach
- Final Thoughts on the Best Companion Plants
- FAQs About The Best Companion Plants for Spinach
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What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a technique used in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which consists of ecologically friendly techniques aimed at managing the pests that feed on crop species.
It follows the idea that plants can benefit each other by giving shelter to beneficial predatory insects or acting as an alternative host to pests that typically feed on the crop.
Both actions have the potential to help manage pest populations to the point they reduce the need to use chemical pesticides while increasing overall crop yield.
Companion planting is a type of polyculture that focuses on growing two or more plant species together that are thought to have a collaborative improvement on each other’s growth and yield capabilities.
Specific plant species are planted together because they either mask the other species’ scent cues that draw in their pests or attract natural enemies that feed on those pests.
10 Benefits Of Companion Planting For Spinach
Companion planting has long been known to create benefits such as disease prevention, pest management, increased health and nutrition, and increased crop yield.
Spinach companion plants will help attract beneficial pollinators, increase protection from wind and sun, and increase the chances of having a productive, healthy spinach crop throughout the growing season.
- Insect and pests repellents
- Preventing animal foragers
- Attracting predatory insects
- Attracting pollinating insects
- Preventing crop diseases
- Amending or adjusting soil pH
- Offering shade where needed
- Improving soil nitrogen content
- Offering growing support for climbing varieties
- Ground cover for weed-suppressing
Considerations Before Planting
Crop diversification creates the need for more management and economic input, which could prove to be difficult for large-scale growers. The more diverse your garden is the more work is needed to maintain it.
But IPM techniques, such as companion planting, will reduce the need for pesticides used to combat inevitable garden pests and will create an environment that is capable of higher yields.
25 Best Spinach Companion Plants
Spinach can be planted with a variety of different crop species, each providing its own benefits too and rewards from the growing spinach plant. The plants below make great companions for spinach because they don’t compete with spinach patches.
Here is a list of some of the best plants to grow with spinach.
Cold Weather Companions For Spinach
The easiest plant species to plant with spinach are other cold-tolerant plants like sugar snap peas, kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli.
These species are early sprouting and grow to provide shade and moisture retention for the growing spinach. They are the most commonly paired companion species of spinach.
Here are the most common cold-weather garden plants to plant around spinach beds.
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Swiss Chard
- Winter Salad
Companion Crop Species
During the summer, planting spinach between tomatoes will provide the heat-sensitive leafy greens with enough shade and heat protection to keep your spinach from bolting.
This allows you to gain an extra harvest of spinach during a time of the year when it would typically be too hot for spinach to thrive.
Strawberry plants are a great companion plant for spinach. They grow to a similar size, which optimized space and protects soil moisture for both species.
They also have different root systems which allow strawberry plants and spinach plants to coexist without competing for nutrient resources while allowing the spinach to have access to nutrients that its shallow roots would not normally have access to.
Here are some warm-weather plants spinach loves. The right companion plants help extend the spinach season by supporting the growth of your spinach in more “extreme” seasons (we get those a lot here in Texas.)
I would tend to avoid vigorous plants such as squash, melon, and other sprawling large-leaved plants. They are too large and aggressive to control around a small plant such as spinach.
Companion Root Species
Spinach is popularly planted in beds of growing garlic. The garlic repels pests while the spinach keeps weed species from establishing.
Spinach and garlic can be seeded at the same time, either in the late fall or early spring. Radishes are very commonly seen paired with spinach plants because they act as a trap crop for the very damaging leaf miner bugs that can eat entire crops of spinach.
- Bok Choi
Companion Legume Species
Legume species, like peas, beans, and peanuts are nitrogen fixers and will add available nitrogen to the soil as they grow.
When planted with species such as spinach, they will increase the overall health and yield of the species by increasing the nutrient content in the soil.
- Pea Plants
- Dwarf Beans
Brassica Companion Plants
Brassicas are always a good option. Their broad leaves and moderate height offer a nice cooling shade during warmer periods of the growing season.
However, they can be prone to attract whitefly, aphids, and other pests. It is also worth considering the planting location of your crops. Brassicas typically prefer a cooler location away from intense direct sunlight.
In these circumstances, your spinach most likely will not need further shade, quite the opposite in fact.
Companion Flowers To Plant With Spinach
Petunias and tansy flowers are commonly used as companion plants in the garden because they deter pests while attracting pollinators. These species can be aggressive and invasive in nature, so don’t let them escape from your garden!
To help combat their competitiveness it is best to have your spinach already planted and with established root systems before bringing these beautiful flowering species into your garden. Here is a list of the best spinach companion flowers that will help your spinach grow.
- Sweet Alyssum
Companion Herbs For Spinach
Scallions, leeks, chives, and coriander are all known to be great companion herbs to plant with spinach. Like garlic, allium species, chives, and scallions, all produce a chemical that wards off many potential pests.
Cilantro (Coriander) is widely used as a companion crop based on its ability to attract beneficial natural enemies such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and hoverflies that feed on pesky aphids, spider mites, and beetles that harm other plant species like spinach.
Many gardeners choose to sow spinach seeds scattered within their herb gardens. The herbs provide nutrients and soil moisture to the spinach and the spinach plants act as a natural weed prevention for your herb gardens.
- Cilantro (Coriander)
3 Worst Companion Plants For Spinach
Some plant species do not make good companion plants because they either compete for the same nutrients or space, require vastly different growing conditions, or have allelopathic chemical compounds that prevent other crops from growing.
You should avoid planting spinach next to these types of plants because it will hinder or stop the growth of spinach plants in your garden.
Corn, Sunflowers, and other very tall species are not good companion pants for spinach and should be kept away from your spinach. These species block out sunlight and provide too much shade to spinach plants, which stops the crop from being productive throughout the season.
Spinach doesn’t NEED full sun, however, to make spinach grow to its full potential you will want as much sun as possible.
Potatoes are also not a good companion for spinach plants. Potatoes use a large number of nutrients and water from the soil creating direct competition for resources.
Spinach plants’ shallow root systems will not be able to gain the nutrients and moisture it needs to survive and produce a bountiful crop.
Melons and pumpkins tend to out-compete and unknowingly attack spinach varieties because they grow tendrils that can cause damage to delicate species, so they are not commonly planted as companions to spinach.
Fennel is not a good companion crop for spinach, or any other garden species, except dill. Fennel produces toxic allelopathic secondary compounds that are released into the soil in an attempt of poisoning nearby competitors.
These allopathic chemicals will cause plants to struggle to survive.
Planting spinach near Fennel will cause your spinach leaves to wither and stop your spinach plant from growing.
Final Thoughts on the Best Companion Plants
Plants such as garlic are typically planted as a companion crop because they mask the other species’ scent cues and repel pests that attack spinach while attracting the natural enemies that feed on those pests, while species such as spinach act as a weed preventing ground cover.
Companion planting can create a symbiotic relationship within your garden space, reducing the need for chemical pesticides to protect your spinach and increasing plant yield through environmentally friendly tactics.
For spinach, choose companion plants that aren’t too tall, don’t have allopathic chemicals, and don’t out-compete for resources. Species such as corn, sunflowers, fennel, potatoes, and melons are all not good choices for spinach companion plants.
Instead, choose other leafy greens, strawberries, garlic, or legume species to plant with your spinach.
These species will benefit spinach by increasing nutrient availability in the soil, attracting pollinators, increasing protection from wind and sun, and increasing the overall chances of having a productive, healthy crop throughout the growing season.
If you’re looking for more information on companion plants, check out our guide to companion planting here.
FAQs About The Best Companion Plants for Spinach
What Should Not Be Planted With Spinach?
It is important to avoid planting certain plants near your spinach to prevent competition for nutrients and other potential negative effects.
Some plants to avoid include tall species like corn and sunflowers, competing plants like potatoes and melons, and toxic plants like fennel.
What Are The Best Companion Plants For Spinach?
Some of the best spinach companion plants to grow near spinach are radish, kale, and eggplant. Other plants that grow well with spinach are broccoli and lettuce.
Companion planting with these plants can help your spinach grow by attracting beneficial insects, improving soil fertility, and conserving space.
Can You Plant Peppers With Spinach?
Yes, peppers can be planted with spinach as companion plants. Planting peppers alongside spinach can provide benefits such as increased protection from pests, improved pollination, and efficient use of garden space.
Just ensure both plants get the right amount of sunlight, and water, and care for optimal growth and productivity.
Can I plant flowering plants near my spinach?
It is not recommended to plant flowering plants near your spinach as they can compete with spinach for nutrients and resources. There are other great options if you’re looking for plants that help attract pollinators.
Can you plant spinach with cucumbers?
Cucumbers have sprawling vines that tend to spread and take up a lot of space, while spinach has a more compact growth habit.
When planting them together, make sure the cucumbers do not overshadow the spinach plants, depriving them of sunlight.
Try planting the cucumbers on a trellis or provide them with vertical support. This would allow the spinach to receive sufficient light.