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SPINACIA oleracea

Image of Spinacia oleracea

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Chenopodiaceae

Botanical Name

SPINACIA oleracea

Plant Common Name

Spinach

General Description

The lovely dark green leaves of spinach are delicious cooked or raw and high in nutritional value. Spinach has been cultivated for centuries and thought to have originated in southwestern Asia. It was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages and brought to North America by colonists. This cold hardy annual herb is a cool season crop that will quickly flower and die once temperatures heat up.

Spinach forms a rosette of thick, fleshy, lobed leaves when young. The leaves may be flat and smooth, wavy or wrinkled. Plants mature quickly and elongate and produce stems of tiny, inconspicuous flowers when they do. Warm weather hastens bolting. It allowed to bolt and set seed, the plants will self-sow.

This easy to grow crop may be planted as seedings or directly sown in the garden. It prefers full sun and fertile, neutral to slightly alkaline garden soil. Spinach can be started very early and will even tolerate light frost. Plant in early spring in temperate zones and winter in warm frost-free areas. High soil temperatures will keep spinach seeds from germinating. Feed with a balanced fertilizer once plants begin to leaf out. Spinach grows best when provided regular, but not excessive, moisture.

Harvest spinach leaves starting 35 to 70 days after seeding by cutting the oldest leaves on the outside of the rosette every few days. Harvest the whole rosette of leaves if it shows signs of beginning to bolt. The days to harvest are dependent on cultivar (of which there are many). Choose varieties best adapted for your growing area. Newer cultivars tend to be the easiest to grow. Heirlooms tend to have narrower leaves, less vigor and bolt more quickly, though they often have excellent flavor.

Spinach is a traditional garden ideal for any vegetable garden, big or small. Try growing spinach with your children in containers. It's a great way to introduce them to the joys gardening for fresh vegetables.

Characteristics

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6"-12" / 15.2cm - 30.5cm

  • Width

    12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm

  • Native To

    Southern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Green

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes