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


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The spinach we are familiar with is in the Amaranthaceaefamily. New Zealand spinach (Tetragoniatetragonioides), on the other hand, is in the Aizoaceae family. While NewZealand spinach may be used in the same way, it has very different growingconditions from its look-a-like, cool-season cousin. Keep reading for tips onhow to grow New Zealand spinach, a plant you can enjoy all summer long.

What is New Zealand Spinach?

Spinachhas a host of uses, whether fresh or cooked. Its high concentration of VitaminsA and C and low calories make it a perfect stand alone or complement torecipes. In many regions, growing New Zealand spinach is a warm-seasonalternative. What is New Zealand spinach? This plant is also packed withnutrients and a perfect stand-in for regular spinach.

Like regular spinach, New Zealand is a leafy green; however,its leaves are much thicker and succulent, lending it the alternate name of iceplant. Other names are Tetragonia, everbearing spinach and perpetual spinach.

Regular spinachwill bolt and slow leaf production once warm temperatures arrive,but New Zealand spinach plants will keep producing throughout the hot summermonths. The variety is frost tender and dies back when cold weather appears.

Plants grow 1 to 2 feet (.35-.61 m.) tall with a similarspread. There are several cultivars, some with smooth leaves and others with a savoytype leaf.

How to Grow New Zealand Spinach

A bright sunny location is best for growing New Zealand spinach.The plants do benefit from light shading during the hottest part of the day insouthern regions.

Start seeds outdoors after all danger of frost has passed inprepared, well-draining soil. Slightly sandy soil provides an excellent medium,with organic matter incorporated and a pH level of 6.0-7.0. This spinach is alsotolerant of saline soils.

You can even grow New Zealand spinach plants in containers.Keep soil moderately moist, but established plants can tolerate brief periodsof drought.

New Zealand Spinach Care

New Zealand spinach has few pest or disease problems. Leafminers can do cosmetic damage to the leaves. Other potential pestsare cabbageworms, cabbageloopers, and aphids.

Drowning from poorly aerated soils and powderymildew may occur. Make sure the soil is well draining, water fromunder the leaves and use rowcovers to protect leaves from pests. Mulch around the plants toprevent weeds, conserve moisture and keep soil cool.

Harvest when leaves are young, as older foliage may have a bitterflavor. You can remove just a few leaves or cut the plant back to the soil andlet it come again. This is a really interesting, easy-to-grow green that canprovide all the benefits of spinach well into the warm season.

This article was last updated on


Growing Spinach: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Delicious Spinach

Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.

Want to eat healthier while still saving money? Then you should be growing spinach. You only need a tiny space, a bit of light, and some super affordable seeds.

Spinach used to have a reputation as a slimy, unappealing green that parents tried to force down their kids’ throats. However these days, most people know how delicious it can be.

When you’re growing spinach, there’s no reason not to eat your veggies. Here is how to get started:


So what is New Zealand spinach?

While it might pass the Popeye test, New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) isn’t actually part of the spinach family. However I do use the tender young leaves as a spinach substitute. They have a pretty similar mild flavour. Like spinach, it’s recommended that you cook the leaves to remove the oxalates. The plant originates in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia and is considered a perennial in those warmer climates. Here in North America, it’s grown as more of a tender annual, but depending on your zone, it could overwinter. Unlike spinach, which is more of a cool weather veggie, New Zealand spinach thrives in the heat.

New Zealand spinach is considered to be an heirloom vegetable. Apparently Captain Cook and his crew ate it to prevent scurvy in the 1700s. The plant grows along both the shorelines of Australia and further inland in woodland settings. Because of these voyages, it was the first Australian vegetable to be cultivated in England—botanist Sir Joseph Banks brought seeds back with him. And many will argue it’s actually better than spinach!


New Zealand Spinach

50-70 days. Also known as Tetragonia, this heat-loving New Zealand native was discovered by Captain Cook in the 1770s. He developed its culinary uses to help ward off scurvy. Not really a Spinach at all, it tastes like Spinach and can be cooked in much the same way as Spinach. This is key since it can be used as a substitute for Spinach during the high heat of summer when the real Spinach tends to overheat and bolt. A bit finicky to get started but easy to grow once it germinates, its thick, bright green, 4" triangular leaves thrive in hot weather without becoming bitter. Presoak its irregularly shaped seeds in room temperature water overnight before direct-sowing it in the garden after the threat of frost has passed. Once it sprouts, New Zealand Spinach is easy to grow right up until the first fall frost. (OP.)

One packet of about 100 seeds

  • Spinach Sowing Instructions
    Planting Depth
    :1/2”
    Row Spacing:12”-18”
    Seed Spacing:1/2”
    Days to Germination:10-14 days
    Germination Temperature:45°-85°F

Vitamin-rich Spinach likes it cool, so you may direct-sow in the spring as soon as you can work the soil. You may also sow in the late summer or early fall for fall and early winter harvest. Spinach thrives in rich soil, so amend beds with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure as needed. Keep soil evenly moist. When seedlings are 2" tall, thin to 4" to 5" apart. (Thinnings are great tossed into salads.) If you plant Spinach in warm weather, sow seeds deeper and in partial shade with frequent watering to help it avoid bolting. In cool climates, direct-sow Spinach seed every 2 to 3 weeks for constant harvest. To harvest, either use a few outer leaves from each plant or cut the plant off at the base, after which the plants will likely regrow a second crop of leaves. Make sure to wash thoroughly in cool water before use. Pat dry.

Cool Weather Spinach
Summer gardeners miss out on the three seasons in which this tasty, nutritious green truly thrives. For fall Spinach, wait until cool weather is just starting to settle in, but there are still enough frost-free days to bring the crop to maturity. For winter Spinach, just protect it with a cold frame or--if your climate is mild--a layer of straw. The outer leaves may look beat-up in the dead of winter, but fresh new growth will continually appear at the center. For spring Spinach, you can keep on harvesting these wintered-over plants, or start new ones from seed as soon as the soil can be worked. Another trick is to sow a late fall crop that will germinate just before the ground freezes up, then overwinter the young seedlings. (In cold climates, protect them with a cold frame.) They’ll start to grow as soon as spring arrives!

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

  • Warm Bacon Dressing
  • Tuscan Spinach with Raisins
  • Three-Cheese Chicken Roulades for Two
  • Strawberry Spinach Salad
  • Spinach with Raisins
  • Spinach and Caramelized Onion Soufflé
  • Savory Chicken Roll-ups
  • Nestled Baked Eggs Florentine
  • Manfred’s Popeye & Olive Oil Sandwich
  • Grilled Portobello Stroganoff
  • Goat Cheese Crisp Salad
  • Creamed Spinach

  • Spinach Sowing Instructions
    Planting Depth
    :1/2”
    Row Spacing:12”-18”
    Seed Spacing:1/2”
    Days to Germination:10-14 days
    Germination Temperature:45°-85°F

Vitamin-rich Spinach likes it cool, so you may direct-sow in the spring as soon as you can work the soil. You may also sow in the late summer or early fall for fall and early winter harvest. Spinach thrives in rich soil, so amend beds with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure as needed. Keep soil evenly moist. When seedlings are 2" tall, thin to 4" to 5" apart. (Thinnings are great tossed into salads.) If you plant Spinach in warm weather, sow seeds deeper and in partial shade with frequent watering to help it avoid bolting. In cool climates, direct-sow Spinach seed every 2 to 3 weeks for constant harvest. To harvest, either use a few outer leaves from each plant or cut the plant off at the base, after which the plants will likely regrow a second crop of leaves. Make sure to wash thoroughly in cool water before use. Pat dry.

Cool Weather Spinach
Summer gardeners miss out on the three seasons in which this tasty, nutritious green truly thrives. For fall Spinach, wait until cool weather is just starting to settle in, but there are still enough frost-free days to bring the crop to maturity. For winter Spinach, just protect it with a cold frame or--if your climate is mild--a layer of straw. The outer leaves may look beat-up in the dead of winter, but fresh new growth will continually appear at the center. For spring Spinach, you can keep on harvesting these wintered-over plants, or start new ones from seed as soon as the soil can be worked. Another trick is to sow a late fall crop that will germinate just before the ground freezes up, then overwinter the young seedlings. (In cold climates, protect them with a cold frame.) They’ll start to grow as soon as spring arrives!

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.


Watch the video: How to grow New Zealand spinach u0026 Eat Tetragonia tetragonioides


Previous Article

Sedum hemsleyanum

Next Article

Galina Kizima's method: do not water the tomatoes!