Spinach (Spinacia oleracea, New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia Tetragonoides))-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers


Spinacia oleracea, New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia Tetragonoides)

Spinach require fertile, well-drained soil. They do well in soils with pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Prepare a clean seedbed and remove all the weeds, add well rotted manure or compost or fertilizer based on soil test results. Side dress with nitrogen fertilizer only if the plants are light green in color. New Zealand spinach need more fertilizer than broadfleaf spinach. Provide plants with adequate moisture. New Zealand spinach can do well with little water. Control weeds by hand pulling or digging shallowly close to the plant. 


  • Melody (Savoy type - 42 days)
  • Olympia (Smooth leaf type - 46 days)
  • Samish (Savoy - 45 days)
  • Tyee (Semi-savoy - 39 days)
  • Unipack 151(Semi-savoy - 48 days)
  • Unipack 12 (Smooth leaf)
  • Correnta (Smooth leaf)

New Zealand spinach:

  • Maori
Planting Time

There are two types of spinach, the cool season or broadleaf type and the warm season or New Zealand spinach which is taxonomically different from broadleaf spinach but similar in taste and appearance.

The broadleaf spinach should be planted in early spring, and late summer for the fall garden. Long, hot summer days causes bolting leading to poor leaf quality. It can be grown anywhere in the Midwest. Plant as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Seeds can be broadcasted on frozen ground if soil was prepared in the fall. Plant spinach seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. To provide continuous supply of spinach, make successive plantings at 2 to 3 weeks interval.

New Zealand spinach can thrive in summer. It has good drought and heat tolerance. It is a tender vegetable that should not be planted before the frost-free date. Seeds can be started indoors for transplanting. Plant seeds 1 inch deep.


Harvest Time

Broadleaf spinach can be harvested anytime when the leaves are large enough to use but leaves are of good quality when they are in a rosette of at least five leaves (about 6 weeks after planting). Harvest by cutting the plants at or just below soil surface. They can also be harvested by picking outer leaves and retaining younger leaves for future harvest. Harvest the entire plant when seed-stalks are forming.

New Zealand spinach can be harvested by cutting young, tender leaves and tips of shoots when needed. Plants may be cut back to encourage new growth. Harvest until the first freeze in fall.



Broadleaf spinach are direct seeded (12 to 15 seeds per foot of row). After emergence when plants are 1 inch tall, they are thinned so that they are 2-4 inches apart. Thinning is not necessary if the entire plants are to be harvested. The rows should be spaced 12-18 inches apart.

New Zealand spinach are planted 12 inches apart within the row and need adequate space between the rows as plants can spread 2-3 ft across. Seeds can be started indoors for transplanting.


Soil Conditions
Moist, Well-Drained
Exposure/Light Requirements
Full Sun
Partial Sun/Shade
Pests and Problems

Environmental Damage

Insect Damage

Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:

Insect pests:

  • Cabbage loopers
  • Imported cabbage worm
  • Diamondback moth
  • Aphids
  • Leafminers


  • Downy mildew
Additional Notes
Bolting - Long daylengths lead to formation of flower stalks in broadleaf spinach. Choose varieties carefully, and plant them at the right time. Poor germination may occur when soil temperature is high.


Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic