How To Grow Spinach In Pots – Step-by-Step Guide

Nothing tastes better than fresh young spinach leaves in a summer salad. And Spinach is also very good for you, as it is full of iron, vitamins and fibre. 

In this article we will show you how to grow spinach in pots, so you can have homegrown spinach all year round, even if you have limited space.

Why Grow Spinach?

I want to start this guide about how to grow spinach in pots by talking about why you should grow spinach at all.

Over the past few years, spinach has had a real revival. Not only is it now considered a “superfood” by many, but its use in salads has highlighted how tasty young spinach leaves can be. The days of boiled-to-death spinach are over.

As already mentioned, spinach is full of nutrients and, therefore, has many health benefits. Popeye knew it and while it will not make you super strong, it can contribute to your health.

Furthermore, spinach is such a versatile ingredient. You can eat it raw in a delicious salad or add it to sauces, curries or pasta dishes. A few spinach leaves in a burger or a sandwich will not only add vitamins and iron, but will also make it tastier. 

And it is so easy to grow spinach at home. Even if you don’t have a garden or only limited space, you can still grow this delicious and healthy crop. We will show you how to grow spinach in pots, so you can enjoy it all year round.

Finally, it is much more cost-effective to grow your own spinach than to buy it. You can buy a packet of spinach seeds for the same price as two packs of spinach from the supermarket. But you will get anywhere from 250 to 500 seeds. And one plant will give you more than two packs of spinach over its growing period.

And you can just pick what you need when you need it, and it will always be fresh. 

All these reasons make spinach a really great crop to grow in your own garden. And you can grow these greens in containers, which is great news if you don’t have much space. 

Are you ready to be shown how to grow spinach in pots? Then let’s go!

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Which Varieties Of Spinach To Choose

young spinach plants

No guide about how to grow spinach in pots would be complete without a section on which varieties to try. There is a huge choice and if you are new to growing spinach, it might feel a bit overwhelming to know which variety to choose.

That’s why we have put together a list of the best spinach varieties to grow here in the UK.

Unlike other plants, such as tomatoes or peas, you are not restricted to certain types when you want to grow spinach in containers. Any variety will do well grown in a container.

But before we tell you which varieties to grow, you should know that there are two types of spinach. There are winter spinach varieties and summer spinach varieties. The difference is when you can harvest them, either in winter or summer.

This is great, because it means that you can virtually have homegrown spinach all year round. 

Now let’s get to it. Here are the spinach varieties we recommend you try.

Amazon F1: this summer variety is a fast-growing true spinach, that will produce glossy dark green leaves. This variety can be grown as a so-called cut-and-come-again type (more on that later), which means you pick the outer leaves as you need them and the plant will grow more. This variety also has good resistance to downy mildew and bolting.

Medania: I love this variety because of its sweet and earthly taste and the leaves are so juicy and tender. The leaves are a beautiful dark green. This variety is great for successional sowing.

Perpetual Spinach: this is a popular variety because you can sow and harvest it all year round. It’s actually a chard, but tastes like spinach and is easier to grow. The taste is great, and the plants are very hardy. And it also thrives when grown in pots or containers.

Renegade F1: this variety has good disease resistance and is slow to bolt. You can get a high yield out of this variety. It tastes very sweet and produces dark green oval leaves.

How To Grow Spinach In Pots

Whenever you grow vegetables in pots or containers, it is important to choose the right pot. 

So, in our guide about how to grow spinach in pots, we will give you some recommendations for pots or containers that are suitable.

One thing that is essential is that any container you use is between 15-20cm (6-8in) deep. You want to space out your spinach plants, so you have 8cm (3in) between plants. This is to allow for the growth of spinach plants.

Here are pots and containers that will work well for growing spinach.

This foldable grow bag works very well for spinach as it is big enough to grow several in one pot. And you can fold them for easy storage. 

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  • Easy To Use and Storage: Unfold the felt fabric grow bags, can be placed on any flat surface such as brick floor, cement floor, patio, yard etc, fill with soil, when the growing season is over, simply empty the earth out of the fabric bag and pack it away.

These grow bags are great, I have used them for tomatoes and spinach, and they work well for both. The handles make them easy to move if necessary.

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These rectangular grow bags are ideal for growing successional spinach. As you can start to sow at one end, which makes it easier to remember which ones to harvest first.

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Whichever container or pot you use, make sure it has drainage holes, as well-draining soil is a must for spinach.

Let’s move on to the next section of this guide about how to grow spinach in pots, sowing spinach seeds.

Sowing Spinach Seeds

sowing seeds in pot

While you can buy spinach plug plants, I prefer growing spinach from seed. That’s why in our guide about how to grow spinach in pots, I will focus on growing from seed.

Unlike other vegetables that are grown from seed, spinach can be sown straight into its final pot or container. 

The first consideration for a good spinach crop is the soil. Spinach is a hungry plant, so it will need rich soil. Using good quality compost will ensure that your spinach has the best possible conditions.

You also want to add some organic matter, such as well-rotted manure. This will make sure that the soil is rich in nutrients. This will not only ensure a good yield, but also that the leaves won’t taste bitter.

Sow your spinach seeds 8cm (3in) apart from each other. This will ensure they have enough space to grow, but it will also make sure there is good air circulation. You want to sow each spinach seed 2.5cm (1in) deep. 

Growing Tip: Give the potting soil in your container a good soaking before you sow your seeds. Watering afterwards might move the seeds.

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When you start sowing depends on when you want to harvest and what variety you are growing. The seed packet will tell when you can sow and harvest. 

But generally, you sow summer cultivars, ones that you harvest over summer, from February/March until late spring. In February and early March, you want to protect your spinach with cloches or fleece. 

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From mid-March onwards, it will be warm enough for the spinach seeds and seedlings not to need protection.

Winter cultivars, varieties that are harvested over winter, are sown in August/September.

Caring For Your Spinach

The next section of our guide about how to grow spinach in pots is all about caring your plants.

Let’s talk about the perfect conditions for spinach. Spinach loves moist soil, but not wet soil. So, in dry periods, make sure you water them regularly, especially during summer. 

Especially when you are growing spinach in pots or containers, you should keep an eye on the soil conditions. Soil will dry out quicker in pots. And dry soil could cause the spinach plants to bolt. Bolting means that the plants start to produce seeds. Once this process has started, the plant will focus all its energy and resources on producing the seeds.

And this means, there won’t be any more leaves for you to harvest. So spinach plants bolting needs to be prevented. 

During the spring and summer months, you want to position your pots in partial shade. Because if the spinach gets too warm, it will also start to bolt. 

In Autumn and winter, you want to find a sunny spot for your spinach plants to give them as much sunlight as possible. From October onwards, you should also consider protecting your spinach plants from the cold, either with cloches or horticultural fleece. Depending on how severe the winters are in your area of the UK.

You can also grow spinach over winter in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

You want to feed your spinach regularly as well, to ensure that you get a good crop.

Harvesting Your Spinach

harvesting your spinach

Now we come to the best part in our guide about how to grow spinach in pots, harvesting our crop.

In as little as 35 days after you have planted your first spinach seed, you could start harvesting baby spinach leaves. Check your seed packet to find out how quickly you can harvest the variety you have chosen.

There are two ways to harvest spinach, and lettuce by the way. One method is called cut-and-come-again, where you harvest individual leaves, but leave the plant to continue growing. 

Start by picking the outer leaves and work your way inwards. The plant will replace the leaves quickly by growing more inner leaves, providing you with a constant stream of delicious spinach.

For this method to work, you have to pick leaves regularly.

You can harvest the leaves when they are still very small, which is called baby spinach. Or you can wait a bit longer for the leaves to grow a bit bigger. Baby spinach tends to be used more for eating raw, as it is more tender and juicier. Bigger leaves are used for cooking.

The other method is to cut down the whole spinach plant. For this, you cut down the plant about 7-8cm (2.5-3in). The plant will grow back, but much slower than the individual leaves in the first. method. It takes about two weeks for the spinach plants to grow back.

I like to use both methods at the same time. I have some plants where I harvest individual leaves on a regular basis. When I make a salad or sandwiches, I just go out in the garden and pick some leaves, just enough for the meal I want to make. 

I tend to throw a handful or two of spinach into soups, sauces or with pasta dishes. This adds an extra source of healthy nutrients, enhances the taste and makes sure I keep up the regular harvest.

Then I have some plants which I harvest whole. I plan meals where I need a lot of spinach and harvest when I start cooking.

You can store spinach leaves in the fridge for up to two weeks, but I prefer to harvest my spinach fresh. 

Pests And Diseases Affecting Spinach Plants

black bean aphid on leaf

No guide about how to grow spinach in pots would be complete without a section about pests and diseases. 

Diseases

One disease that could affect downy mildew, which is caused by a fungus-like organism. 

Signs that your spinach is affected by this air-borne disease are yellow patches on the upper side of the leaves. If you then look at the underside of the leaves, you will see white mouldy growth.

A severe infection can lead to stunted growth and the plant might even die.

There is no cure, so the only option is to prevent an infection. Here are some measures you can take to minimise the risk of an infection plaguing your spinach:

  • ensure good air circulation by planting your spinach plants well apart (at least 8cm/3in)
  • water your plants from underneath, to avoid the leaves getting wet – water in the morning rather than the evening so that the leaves can dry out quickly if they get wet
  • If you are growing spinach in a greenhouse or polytunnel, make sure that the conditions aren’t too humid by opening doors or vents
  • practice crop rotation to prevent soil-borne spores from infecting new plants
  • There are some varieties that are said to be resistant to the diseases, such as Amazon F1 and Renegade F1

If you do spot signs of this disease remove affected leaves immediately and destroy them. Don’t compost them, as this could contaminate your compost.

If a plant is severely infected, remove the whole plant and destroy it.

Another disease your spinach plants might catch is spinach blight or also called cucumber mosaic virus. This is a viral disease that can be spread by aphids.

Young spinach plants might grow slowly and look twisted. The leaves might fold partially. On more mature plants, you will see yellow or green spots on the older leaves. The growth of new leaves is stunted, and they might look yellow and twisted. These spots will turn brown eventually.

Infected plants will have stunted growth and might stop growing all together.

Like with most plant diseases, there is no cure. The only option is to try and prevent an infection. And as this disease is transmitted by aphids, keeping down aphid numbers will minimise the risk (we will talk more about aphids below).

If you suspect a plant being infected, clean your hands and tools after handling them to avoid spreading the disease to healthy plants.

To prevent the disease from spreading, also destroy any plant that is infected immediately.

Weeds can be a host for this virus too, so keep your garden weed free. This includes your pots.

There are some varieties that are resistant to this virus, such as the Renegade F1.

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Pests

slug close up

In this guide about how to grow spinach in pots, I also need to talk about pests. The good news is, by growing spinach in pots, you avoid some pests. But there are still some that might attack your spinach, even when grown in pots.

One of those is aphids. This sap-sucking tiny insect is one of the most common garden pests and has numerous different species. Spinach can be affected by black bean aphids, which are small black insects, or common green aphids. 

Aphids are a food source for many other insects, so where possible, tolerate them. Aphids are big enough to be seen with the naked eye, especially, black bean aphids, due to their colour.

These dinky insects will suck the sap from your spinach plants. They also excrete honeydew, which ants love. As a result, the ants will “farm” the aphids and protect them from predators.

Heavy infestations can lead to the affected parts of the plant going yellow and curling up. As already mentioned, aphids can also transmit cucumber mosaic virus, which can devastate your crop.

There are things you can do to keep your spinach plants safe from aphids:

  • encourage natural predators of aphids to your garden, such as ladybirds, hoverflies, earwigs and lacewings. Plant flowers such as foxglove, marigolds or yarrow in your garden.
  • keep checking your spinach plants and remove any aphids you see by hand.
  • use companion planting to repel aphids and other pests. Add garlic or radishes in the pot with your spinach. Their smell will put off the aphids.
  • if you have a heavy infestation, you can wash your plants with soapy water or commercial insecticidal soap and neem oil. 
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Another pest that might nibble on your spinach are slugs and snails. They are another common garden pest and some gardeners even see them as their arch enemies.

However, slugs and snails play a vital part in our ecosystem and, therefore, try to tolerate slugs where possible. I also don’t recommend using slug pallets or other methods that kill them, for that reason.

If you grow your spinach in containers, then slugs and snails are less likely to be a big problem. However, they might still find your spinach and nibble at it. So in this guide about how to grow spinach in pots, I will show you some things you can do to protect your plants from these slimy customers:

  • pick off any slug or snail you see on your spinach plants and move them to a different part of the garden, where they can’t do much harm. If you do that regularly, it should keep down slug and snail numbers. The best time to do this, by the way, is about two hours after sunset.
  • seedlings are especially vulnerable as these slimy creatures can devour them completely. The best way to keep your seedlings safe is by keeping them indoors, such as a greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel. Slugs and snails are less likely to get in there.
  • There are also plants that slugs and snails don’t like, such as lavender, rosemary and sage. Position your pot in the middle of such plants to “hide” your spinach from the slimy pests. 

Now that we have shown you how to grow spinach in pots, go and try it out. In no time, you will have crispy, juicy spinach leaves straight from your own garden. Happy Growing!

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