In the world of gardening, the practice of companion planting has gained popularity for its remarkable ability to enhance the health and productivity of crops. When it comes to spinach companion plants, the strategic selection of plants to grow alongside this leafy green can make a significant difference to your harvest.
This article outlines over 40 great companion plants for spinach, explaining how each plant can boost growth, deter common pests, and contribute to a thriving garden. We also cover the worst plants to grow alongside spinach to help you avoid any issues.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves strategically growing different plants in proximity to one another to maximise mutual benefit and promote overall garden health.
This age-old practice aims to harness the natural synergies between certain plant species to foster a healthier, more resilient garden environment.
Key benefits of companion planting
- Natural Pest Control: Certain plant combinations repel pests (known as trap cropping) or attract beneficial insects, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
- Improved Soil Fertility: Companion planting fosters nutrient exchange and nitrogen fixation between compatible plants, enhancing overall soil health.
- Shade Provision: Some plant combinations provide shade, preventing water evaporation and protecting more delicate plants from intense sunlight.
- Biodiversity: Creates a diverse garden ecosystem that promotes resilience and balance between species.
- Enhanced Pollination: Attracts bees and other pollinators, improving the pollination of crops and leading to increased yield.
- Weed Suppression: Some companion plants act as natural weed suppressors, helping to control unwanted plant growth.
- Space Optimisation: Efficient use of garden space by strategically placing plants that complement each other’s growth habits.
- Disease Resistance: Certain plant combinations can help deter the spread of diseases by creating an environment less conducive to pathogens.
- Increased Yield: Companion planting contributes to healthier and more productive gardens by leveraging the positive interactions between plants.
Overall, the companion planting technique not only boosts plant growth and yield, but also creates an ecosystem that fosters a harmonious balance between different species. It can save gardeners effort and money too!
The best spinach companion plants
Now you know why it’s a great idea to companion plant spinach, take a look at this list of the best spinach companion plants that will help your vegetable patch flourish.
Edible plants to grow alongside spinach
Plants that belong to the brassica family are great spinach companion plants because their root systems don’t grow at the same depth as spinach roots. This means they won’t compete for water and soil nutrients.
Members of the brassica family include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Bok choy
Plants from the legume family play a key role in soil health. When they die back, they add nitrogen to the soil, which is a key nutrient when it comes to plant growth. For this reason you might see these plants referred to as ‘nitrogen fixers’.
In the context of companion planting for spinach, growing legumes in the same place and letting the plants die back will enrich the soil and support strong growth in your spinach plants.
- Pole beans
- Bush beans
Allium plants have a strong scent, and this can act as a deterrent to spinach pests such as aphids, flea beetles, and leaf miners. They are also great when it comes to attracting beneficial insects that like to feed on those pests.
The upright habit of most alliums means they don’t take up much room either.
The name of this plant family may not be familiar, but lots of the plants will be. Circubits make good spinach companion plants because they won’t compete for nutrients. They work best if you grow them vertically rather than along the ground as they will leave enough space for spinach that way.
Curcubits to try growing with spinach include:
Carrots are root vegetables, and that means they are great at improving the structure of soil. Their tap roots help to break up soil and make it easier for spinach seeds and young plants to grow.
Like alliums, herbs can provide strong scents that repel insect pests. Some varieties of fragrant herb will also attract beneficial insects.
Great herbs to use when companion planting spinach include:
- Coriander (Cilantro)
Lettuce enjoys similar growing conditions to spinach, and the two make good companions.
If you plant these two leafy greens in close promximity you can also minimise weeds and help to keep the soil temperature down.
The growing season for tomatoes is similar to spinach, and the two plants will be happy side by side. Interplanting spinach amongst your tomato plants is an easy way to make the most of the available space, and your spinach plants will also provide ground cover. The two harvests won’t compete either as your spinach will be ready long before your tomatoes.
Like tomatoes, pepper plants are ideal for companion planting with spinach to maximise soil usage without creating competition.
Aubergines also work well for spinach companion planting in the same way as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Swiss chard belongs to the same plant family as spinach, but it will happily grow alongside it and can even provide beneficial shade.
Strawberry plants like to spread at ground level, and this habit will keep the soil cool and limit water evaporation – both of which is ideal for spinach plants. They also make good companion plants for spinach because they don’t grow as tall as spinach.
Flowering spinach companion plants
Nasturtiums make excellent companion plants for spinach as they will attract aphids and other predatory insects. The flowers look lovely too and are a great way to pretty up your vegetable plot. And as an added bonus, the flowers and seeds are also edible.
Lovely cosmos is an easy flower to grow from seed that comes with added benefits when companion planting spinach. Like nasturtiums, cosmos will attract harmful insects and bring colour to your plot, and the tall plants will also create the partial shade that spinach enjoys.
If you need to keep aphids and/or mosquitos away from your spinach crop, marigolds are a good choice. They will add a shot of colour to the garden too.
Another great companion plant for spinach, zinnias will deter pests from munching on your crop. They will also provide partial shade.
Like alliums and herbs, calendula has a scent that can deter predators – in this case rabbits as well as pesky insects.
The worst companion plants for spinach
Now let’s explore the plants you need to avoid when companion planting spinach. Grow all of these in another part of the garden to keep everything happy.
Potatoes are heavy feeders, and if you grow them with spinach the two will compete for nutrients.
Fennel produces compounds that make life hard for other edible crops, so it’s a good idea to grow it as a loner in the vegetable garden.
Like fennel, sunflowers will inhibit spinach growth due to the compound they release into the soil.
The dense vegetation and height of corn makes it a bad companion plant for spinach as it will limit available light.
Pumpkins love to scramble and spread, and as such they will compete too much with spinach at ground level. Avoid planting spinach near these space-hungry plants.
Tips for growing spinach plants
As well as choosing great companion plants for spinach (Spinacia oleracea), there are some other things you can do to get the most out of your crop. Here are some tips to help your plants do well.
- Grow spinach at the right time of year, to provide optimum temperature and daylight.
- Spinach likes moist, fertile soil that drains well, or good quality compost in pots.
- Provide your plants with partial shade.
- Allow enough space for growth when planting.
- Water regularly for best results.
- If you’re growing spinach from seed, plant small batches on a regular basis to create a continuous supply of leaves.
Checklist for companion planting spinach
Here’s a quick reminder of the conditions you need to look out for when choosing spinach companion plants:
- Fertile soil
- Well-drained soil
- Temperatures 15-20°C/60–70°F
- Regular watering
- Ability to provide shade (not essential but nice to have)
From pest management to improved soil fertility and efficient space utilisation, the benefits of companion planting are there for the taking. Embracing the principles of companion planting for spinach promises not only a bountiful spinach harvest, but a deeper understanding and appreciation for the interconnected nature of gardening.
More companion planting advice
For more tips and advice on successful companion planting, take a look at these articles: