Information About New Zealand Spinach

Information About New Zealand Spinach

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New Zealand Spinach Plants: Learn How To Grow New Zealand Spinach

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

While New Zealand spinach may be used in the same way, it has very different growing conditions from its look-a-like, cool-season cousin. Click on the following article for tips on how to grow New Zealand spinach, a plant you can enjoy all summer long.

The Spruce / K. Dave

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In gardening, the term “hill” refers to a raised mound of soil. While you can plant zucchini in rows, hilling provides several benefits: hills of soil warm more quickly early in the season, if you want to sow seeds as soon as possible after the last chance of frost, plus hills provide better drainage than flat rows. Additionally, planting several zucchini in a hill allows for increased pollination. Whether you choose to buy seedlings or plant zucchini seeds directly in your garden, you should group two to three plants close together for best pollination. Plus, hilling allows you to dig compost in to the soil. Zucchini plants like rich soil, and hilling gives the plants an extra boost of nutrients they'll appreciate. Make sure plants receive an inch of water per week.

The reason this is important when growing zucchini is because its flowers need to be pollinated to form a viable fruit, and each female flower is only open for one day. No pollination means no zucchini. So, if you have multiple plants growing near each other, your chance of pollination greatly improves.

Malabar Spinach Characteristics

Commonly called climbing spinach, vine spinach and Ceylon spinach, Malabar spinach doesn’t tolerate cold, frosty temperatures, making it a perfect addition to warm-season gardens when grown as an annual. However, those living in locations with year-round warm, frost-free weather can grow the spinach as an evergreen perennial. It also makes an attractive ornamental for a trellis, fence, post, arbor or hanging basket.

Even when conditions are humid and summer temperatures rise to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Malabar spinach produces robust leafy growth, according to NC State Extension, and once temperatures dip below 80 degrees, growth is negatively affected. Succulent, fast-growing vines grow anywhere from 6 feet to 30 feet tall, quickly covering a structure. In spring and summer, the climbing spinach flowers produce short spikes filled with inconspicuous flowers in shades of pink, red or white. Once the blooms fade, small black, reddish or white fruits form, followed by round and black climbing spinach seeds.

There are two types of Malabar spinach: Basella alba, producing green stems and leaves, and Basella rubra, producing reddish leaves and stems. Regardless of which type you grow, both have the same preference in growing conditions and the same habits of growth as well as taste and culinary uses.

Reader Comments

Spinach - harvested, now what?

Submitted by Lora D on July 25, 2020 - 5:06pm

I have harvested and enjoyed all the spinach I planted (first time grower), do I leave the empty spinach stalk in the ground for next year? Or do I pull it all out and plant new seeds next year?

Spinach After Harvest

Submitted by The Editors on July 30, 2020 - 9:31am

Hi Lora,
Spinach can be harvested by cutting the outer leaves off periodically and allowing new ones to grow from the center. Spinach is an annual, so once it’s done producing leaves, you’ll want to pull up the stalks and toss them in the compost. Spinach can actually be planted for two crops a season in most areas–one in the spring, and one in late summer/early fall. When the days start to cool off a little, try planting new seeds for a fall harvest!

Different media

Submitted by mike pande on February 28, 2019 - 6:51am

Hi can I use different growth media such as hydroponics, cocoapit and soil to determine the best media for growth and development of spinach?

Finding the right medium

Submitted by The Editors on April 1, 2019 - 10:23am

Certainly try them—and let us know how each goes.

Need Help To Grow

Submitted by Fayez Hashem on February 5, 2019 - 1:19pm

I am a 14 year old growing spinach for my school project. My question is: is there any Spinach Seeds that germinate in hot weather eg. 35 degrees Celsius?

Spinach in Hot Weather

Submitted by The Editors on February 5, 2019 - 4:10pm

Unfortunately, spinach is a cool-season crop and does not tolerate hot temperatures well (especially temperatures as high as 35°C / 95°​​​​​​​F). When grown in hot weather, spinach tends to “bolt”—in other words, it will spend all of its energy quickly producing flowers and seeds, rather than the tender, edible leaves.

Heat-tolerant greens that are similar to spinach include New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia) and Malabar spinach (Basella), but you should be aware that these are NOT related to the spinach (Spinacea oleracea) that’s commonly grown in temperate gardens. Perhaps your school would allow you to grow one of these warm-weather greens instead?

How to tell the health of your spinach

Submitted by Jane Doe on October 18, 2016 - 7:46pm

Hi I am trying to grow spinach and I am unsure how to tell if I am giving my spinach plant too much or too little nutrients? how can I tell if they are super saturated or unsatured?
Thanks for all your help

Spinach nutrients

Submitted by The Editors on October 21, 2016 - 3:01pm

Basically if your spinach looks healthy, then it is probably happy. But if you suspect a problem, a good place to start is to get your soil tested. The results will tell you if your soil has any deficiencies. You might check your county’s Cooperative Extension Service (see ), which may offer information on this topic. In general, spinach likes quite a bit of nitrogen and moist, not soggy, soil. A soil pH of between 6.2 to 6.8 also helps. Nutrient deficiencies may appear as yellow or pale leaves, stunted or distorted growth, purpling or bronzing of leaves, leaves dropping early, or other symptoms. Hope this helps!

Spinach varieties

Submitted by Todd charske on October 13, 2016 - 9:31pm

Is there a difference between Malabar spinach and mailbag spinach. Anyone have a good reference for types of spinach although I know the one o mentioned isn't a "real" spinach.

Storing spinach

Submitted by Jonathan Elizabeth on May 31, 2016 - 12:05pm

pls how do I freeze excess spinach

Please enjoy our blog on this

Submitted by The Editors on June 2, 2016 - 2:58pm

Harvesting time

Submitted by Christen on April 3, 2016 - 9:32am

I'm trying to get the most use out of my garden space. I live in zone 7-8. I planted the spinach and kale on March 12. Once it matures, how long will I be harvesting the plants? I want to grow okra there. Thank you. I'm still learning.

How long to harvest?

Submitted by The Editors on April 5, 2016 - 8:59am

Spinach likes cook conditions too hot for too long and it will bolt. But even in the best conditions, it won’t produce leaves endlessly. The harvest season, and the best conditions, also depend on the variety. Ballpark estimate of harvest season in ideal conditions: six to eight weeks. You might find more help below—there is lots of information there, including, maybe, the variety you are growing.

Kale starts best in cooler conditions, and it might appear to slow down in heat. Here, too, the harvest season, and the best conditions, also depend on the variety. You might find more help here be sure to read the questions and answers at the bottom of the page, too—there is lots of information there, including, maybe, the variety you are growing:


Submitted by Gary Shepard on March 17, 2016 - 11:25pm

used to get a spinach from Gurneys, I believe it was "australian or new zealand . like a bush spinach , grew almost 3' tall and could pick all summer. can't find it anywhere . any ideas? THANKS

New Zealand spinach

Submitted by The Editors on March 18, 2016 - 12:58pm

You can find New Zealand spinach (not a true spinach) offered by various mail-order companies, such as Burpee, Victory Seeds, etc. Search the Web for “New Zealand spinach” and it should turn up a few options for companies.

Tips for freezing my spinach?

Submitted by winnerhed on June 23, 2015 - 7:15pm

Tips for freezing my spinach? I harvested quite a bunch that i'd like to freeze for future--thanks!

There are many methods for

Submitted by The Editors on June 25, 2015 - 10:47am

There are many methods for prepping spinach for the freezer, but we prefer to steam it. Thoroughly wash the spinach and then dry completely. Trim the stems, chop leaves if desired, then steam in batches for 2 minutes each bunch. Place the leaves in ice water for about 1 minute after steaming. Thoroughly dry (a salad spinner is good for this part) and then measure and put into freezer bags, labeling each bag with the amount of spinach.

I live in NW Arkansas, and

Submitted by clantoncs on January 17, 2015 - 8:00pm

I live in NW Arkansas, and it's the middle of January. I'm looking to plant some spinach and other salad greens soon for early spring harvest.

1) In my area, is it feasible to start planting spinach and other salad greens this early?

2) If so, what other salad greens might be a good choice for such early planting?

(Thank you Almanac Staff for such thorough responses on all these comments! I'm really impressed and have learned so much already from this comment thread!)

Glad to hear that the info

Submitted by The Editors on January 21, 2015 - 9:52am

Glad to hear that the info here is helpful.
Hope this is too: Your geography is not as important as your soil temperature. So, January or February, early-spring harvest spinach seeds shouldn't get planted until the ground is thawed and will be 40°F or warmer (but not over 70° see above).
As for other options, most leaf greens seed packages suggest that planting is possible "when the soil can be worked" but even then you need minimum temps. Browse the seed packet displays, choose a few that appeal, and follow the instructions. (Not sure if we have guidance on every single one but you can check.) It's important that the ground not refreeze one the seeds are sown. All of this also presumes that you have ideal soil conditions and sun, of course.
Nothing stirs interest in salad greens quite like the longer days of midwinter. Good luck!

Hi! I live in Arkansas around

Submitted by SarahNaeD on April 7, 2015 - 3:13pm

Hi! I live in Arkansas around the Clinton area. You can also plant spinach in hanging baskets or window planters if you want to save space in your garden for other veggies :). This is our first year to plant a garden (fingers crossed!) . The guy we bought plants from (who sells to every successful gardener I know) suggested to soak 1/8 teaspoon seeds in 1teaspoon sugar for 1 minute. Then sprinkle the sugar mix in the baskets and gently brush hands over dirt. Once seeds sprout good, thin to 10-12 plants in your 10-12" basket. Also for our area in NWA, when the hickory tree buds swell, plant your cabbage, squash (plant 1 dill next to squash), broccoli, oh I'm forgetting a few others. Once a squirrel can hide in the
hickory tree foliage, plant your climbing veggies: cucumber, tomato, pole beans, etc & seeds to other veggies (that's all we can fit in 1 of our first small garden beds). If it's worked for decades for this guys family I'm going to try it! Thought I'd share :). I'm excited to see what our harvest will be like!

Spinach and lettuce in

Submitted by Amanda In SoFLa on July 12, 2014 - 11:40am

Spinach and lettuce in shade?
I'm looking to utilize my empty wall by my front door. 6'x9'. I wanted to go vertical and plant rows of lettuce and spinach in this area. I live in south florida. It's hot and humid most of the year. Can I achieve success with these two plants? It is there another veggie fruit or spice to plant in this area. It's west facing with minimal direct sun. I am just getting into gardening and really love it. Thank you for your help.

Also. I was looking to use

Submitted by Amanda In SoFLa on July 12, 2014 - 11:42am

Also. I was looking to use gutters to create the rows. Is this a good idea and healthy? Just seems to make sense.
TY again.

I live in Oklahoma and i'm

Submitted by shane stewart on August 21, 2014 - 4:00pm

I live in Oklahoma and i'm running a similar system. I used four 4' lengths of gutter on a 6'x 50" wood frame. I also found it difficult to water after 2 weeks of growth so i ran a length of schedule 40 pvc along the back of the gutter for easier watering. I've been growing black seeded simpson well in my indoor rack and simpson select on my outdoor rack.

I started a garden this year

Submitted by Clobsmom on July 2, 2014 - 2:50pm

I started a garden this year for the first time ever. Normally if it doesn't 'meow' I have no idea how to keep it alive.. But my garden is doing beautifully. My spinach was planted a few days after the last snowfall (which in Calgary, AB is late May)I have been harvesting steadily as I need the spinach, but now I have leaf miners. I've been removing the leaves that have been affected and am careful to clean each leaf before feeding it to my family but now a few plants are bolting and I was wondering if I should harvest the whole crop. And if I do will this kill off the leafminers before I try and plant a new crop in the fall? Any advise is appreciated..

I would harvest the entire

Submitted by Amber S on September 18, 2014 - 9:41pm

I would harvest the entire crop. If one spinach had started to bolt, it is likely because of the heat. Here in Southern California, my spinach bolted in March. If one has started to bolt, the rest will follow shortly after. If you wait, they will be too bitter to eat

I sowed my spinach Viking

Submitted by Catherine Cullinan on June 10, 2014 - 5:19pm

I sowed my spinach Viking from seeds in the ground in March, they are still small plants. It's my first time sowing spinach so I don't know when to pick them.

Spinach does not like hot

Submitted by The Editors on June 11, 2014 - 10:12am

Spinach does not like hot weather, so hopefully you have your plants in the shade. Harvest the leaves when they reach desired size. Don’t wait too long to harvest, or wait for larger leaves bitterness will set in quickly after maturity. The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked off the plants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

I planted some spinach last

Submitted by Roy Goodall on June 1, 2014 - 9:54am

I planted some spinach last year and had a wonderful crop. I left it in and this year it is about 7 foot tall, is this a record?

Roy, I don't think this was

Submitted by The Editors on June 4, 2014 - 1:54am

Roy, I don't think this was spinach unless it was born in a fictional land for Popeye the Sailor! The height for most varieties is 10 to 12 inches.

7’ foot tall spinach!

Submitted by Harmony Wu on August 23, 2018 - 1:38pm

Perhaps what you had was Gynura Procumbus? Also known as “Longevity Spinach “ :)

Health Benefits of Chard

Considered more of a cool season crop with a slower growth rate than lettuce, Swiss chard is available in a range of colors, including yellow, white, pink, red, and green, and has a mild spinach flavor. Like endive, chard contains the beneficial cardio-protective flavonoid kaempferol and is a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains.

The red-purple and yellow stems and veins in the leaves of some varieties of chard have been found to contain a large number of different betalain compounds, which have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties.

Swiss chard also contains high levels of vitamins A, K, C, E, and magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium. Cooler temperatures and higher nutrient solution EC levels promote the development of the red color associated with many of the health-giving compounds in this crop.

Chard can be grown through to maturity and the complete plant harvested by cutting at the base however, in hydroponics, it is more commonly grown as a longer-term plant and the outer leaves removed as required.

Chard is also a common ingredient in microgreen mixes or baby leaf salad cropping where its unique color combinations add variety. Bright Lights, Ruby Red, Bright Yellow, Fordhook Giant (green), and Magenta Sunset are chard cultivars often grown hydroponically, particularly for baby leaf production.

Reader Interactions


june says

Im not sure I have spaghetti squash. Do the grow green then turn yellow? How long after they turn yellow can you harvest..also some of the vibes look dead can you just cut them off or are they needed to continue to ripen

Jessica Walliser says

Spaghetti squash do go from green to yellow when they’re ripe, but a better way to tell is to press a fingernail into the rind. If it’s hard and your nail barely penetrates the rind, then it’s ripe and ready to pick. Even if the vines are dead, you need to wait for the fruit to be ripe before you pick it. Winter squash will not continue to ripen if they’re cut off the vine too early.

Watch the video: New zealand spinach. Tetragonia tetragonioides. TASTE TEST AND REVIEW


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