How to Germinate Spinach Seeds

Spinach is grown for its edible leaves.
Spinach is grown for its edible leaves. (Image: Spinach Crop image by Karin Lau from

Spinach is one of the first vegetables that is ready to harvest in spring and one of the last to stop growing in fall. A cool-season vegetable, it doesn't survive the heat of summer. Spinach seed is usually planted directly in the garden, as it germinates best in cool temperatures between 38 and 60 F. If you are planting a fall crop, starting the seed indoors ensures it germinates as soil temperatures are often too high at the end of summer.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Plastic bag
  • Pots
  • Potting soil

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Outdoor Germination

Prepare a full-sun garden bed as soon as the soil thaws out enough to work in spring. Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and work it into the top 6 inches of soil.

Sow 12 seeds on the soil surface per each 1 foot of row. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil. Space the rows 12 to 18 inches apart.

Water the bed if the soil begins to dry out. Mist the soil lightly with water so seeds aren't washed away. Watering every seven to 10 days is usually sufficient in spring when soils are naturally more moist. Germination occurs within seven to 14 days.

Indoor Germination

Place the spinach seeds in a sealed plastic bag. Place them in the refrigerator for two weeks prior to planting. Cold treatment is necessary for seeds to germinate.

Fill 3-inch diameter pots with soil to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Water the soil until the excess moisture begins dripping from the bottoms of the pot.

Sow two spinach seeds on the soil surface in each pot. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil.

Cover the pots with a plastic bag, which retains soil moisture during germination. Place the pots in a cool, 55 to 60 F room to germinate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thin seedlings after they sprout so they stand 2 to 4 inches apart in the bed.
  • Spinach seeds only retain viability for one year, according to North Carolina State University, so purchase fresh seed each year.


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