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Spinach Spinacia oleracea

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
spin-AH-see-ah awl-lur-RAY-see-ah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Spinach is an annual vegetable in the Amaranth family that is widely grown for use as a leafy green in salads and cooked dishes.  It can be grown at home in containers or beds and tolerates areas too shady for most other vegetables to thrive.

Spinach grows best in moist, rich, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade– it can tolerate 3-4 hrs of sun a day, and some shade can be beneficial in hot weather.  Plant seeds 1/4-1/2 inches deep and thin to 2-3 inches apart.  For spring crops, plant seed directly in the soil in early spring or start indoors 8 weeks before first frost for later transplant.  For fall crops, plants can be started indoors early or direct seeded after the hottest heat of summer has passed.  For an extended harvest, plant seeds every one to two weeks.  Plants are somewhat frost tolerant and can survive temperatures up to 20F.  Spinach can be grown in containers as small as 1 gal. and as shallow as 4-6 in.

Harvest leaves at any size.  Spinach plants will continue to grow new leaves after harvesting, especially when harvested small, allowing for continuous harvests throughout the season.  Spinach grows best in the cool weather of spring and fall.  It is sensitive to the increasing day length and heat that comes with summer, causing plants to "bolt" and send up flowering stalks; as this process stops leaf growth and makes them bitter, bolt-resistant cultivars are recommended if growing a spring crop in warm climates.

Raw spinach leaves, while edible and safe to eat, contain oxalates that can prevent the absorption of iron and calcium.  Cooking spinach in several changes of water can reduce the levels of oxalates.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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Tags:
#sun#full sun#partial shade#small spaces#edible plant#green#container plant#shade garden#vegetable garden#vegetable#edible garden#edible#cool season vegetable#container#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable#ebh-vh#ebh#containers#spring greens
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#full sun#partial shade#small spaces#edible plant#green#container plant#shade garden#vegetable garden#vegetable#edible garden#edible#cool season vegetable#container#container vegetable garden#shade tolerant vegetable#ebh-vh#ebh#containers#spring greens
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Spinacia
    Species:
    oleracea
    Family:
    Amaranthaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central Asia to SW. Siberia
    Edibility:
    Leaves can be eaten fresh or cooked. Harvest only as needed as fresh leaves only keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Freeze for longer storage.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Spiny husk (utricle).
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Insignificant
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Most often dioecious, male and female flowers growing separately on different plants. Both sexes of flowers are small and non-showy, pollinated by the wind.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Auriculate
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Thick, fleshy leaves come in a variety of shapes depending on cultivar and age ranging from round to arrow-shaped; arranged spirally on the flowering stalk. Each may have little "earlobes" where the petiole meets the leaf blade. The surface may be smooth or crinkly. The succulent leaves are edible and can be eaten at any stage of growth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Only toxic in large quantities over time or with low calcium intake. Can interfere with absorption of iron and calcium as well as increase the risk of developing gout and kidney stones.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Oxalic acid
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Stems