Why can't I get Spinach to germinate??!!?

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)February 13, 2008

About a week and a half ago I started some broccoli and spinach seeds in flats. Both received the same amount of light, water, heat, etc, and the broccoli has been up for nearly a week, but none of the spinach has sprouted yet.

Does spinach just take a long time to germinate? Did I need to soak the seeds overnight first?

Does anyone else have problems getting spinach to grow? I'm trying it indoors this year because I've never had any luck with direct seeding.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never had good luck growing spinach. I've never tried to grow it indoors. I've only direct seeded it. I usually plant too late and get little mouse ears for spinach leaves. I'm sorry this isn't helping you, but at least you're not the only one that has trouble with spinach.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
john90808(z10 So Cal)

How old is your seed? I purchase new spinach seed every year because I always seem to have poor germination rates for any seed left over from the previous growing season.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 2:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

Sounds like your broccoli sprouted very quickly. I wouldn't get too worried about the spinach yet. Give it a bit more time.

Spinach germinates well with cool soil temps. Germination falls off if soil temps get too warm. Temps much above 75F may give poor, if any germination. Temps in the 60's (or lower) work well. If you don't get germination soon, you might try again with the soil in a cool spot.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 2:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Spinach can take up to two weeks to germinate.

I've read that spinach doesn't transplant well, and that has been my experience, too.

If your bed is ready, I would sow the seeds right into the bed. Spinach likes cool temps, and can be sown as soon as you can work the soil.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't usually have problems getting spinach up indoors or outdoors, but sometimes old seeds go dead rather suddenly. Get a new packet of seeds and try again.

Here is a link that might be useful: my website

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 4:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

My broccoli and cauliflower sprouted in 3 days or less and everything else took a week or three. Hang in there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's mistakes...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
corapegia(z5 NY)

I have LOTS of experience with this question. Old spinach seed does take longer to sprout so new seed is a really good idea. It transplants extremely well. I ALWAYS start spinach seed indoors because of the germination problems (and the slug problem since the slugs will eat them before you know they have germinated). I put seed in damp, folded paper towel in a new zipper plastic bag and transfer the germinated seeds to 4/6 paks of sterilized seed starter soil(I use tweezers). If the seed doesn't germinate well, a day or two in the refrigerator might help. I'm doing this now so I will have plants to put out late March or early April. They really need cool weather to do well. Spinach likes a little lime in the soil also and they like their nitrogen. These are not theories, I've been planting spinach this way for the past 6-7 years and have learned each step by experience.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 8:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thanks everyone!

I'm guilty of a couple of problems mentioned above.....the seed is a year or 2, or 3 old, and I used a heating pad under the seed trays. D'oh!

corapegia - do you put the sprouting seeds in the refrigerator (in the bag with the damp paper towel) or do you put the seed pack (dry) in the 'fridge for a couple of days.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 9:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
corapegia(z5 NY)

Bart, Fresh seed seems to germinate well at room temp. I used the frig technique when I got slow germination with year old seed. So now I try a few days on the counter but if only a few germinate, I put the bag of dampened seeds in the frig. Alternating temps sometimes helps also. I hope I can find the magnifying glass I use to see the tiny sprout breaking the seed cover. You just have to make sure the sprout doesn't get too long because the roots get into the paper towel. Check them twice a day and plant right away.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 9:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bart1, next fall try planting spinach outside in late Sept or early Oct and have it overwinter for an early spring harvest. It's tough and will survive ok by going dormant, can be covered lightly with straw if desired. In our mutual area I find this extends the harvest season by 2-3 weeks over regular spring planting which tend to bolt not long after first pickings.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 12:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thanks vgkg!

I've known about this technique for a while and haven't been very successful. The first 2 years I tired it, I started my seeds too late and they never germinated. This past fall I started them early enough, but I only got a couple of plants to come up. I was using a 4'x8' bed and only had 2 or 3 plants!

How big should the plants be before it gets too cold for them to grow? Mine were only a couple inches tall. Should they be full blown spinach plants, a foot or more tall? Or should they be smaller?


    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 2:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Cora -
Your ziplock bag method did the trick! I started the seeds in bags on Feb 14 and transplanted them into soil the evening of the 18th! Wow, that was fast!

Thanks for the great tip!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 12:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry for the late reply Bart, my fall planted (late Sept)spinach plants are typically smallish before the winter weather shuts them down. Each plant is about the size of a .50 cent piece by that time, and then they explode in growth by early March. I find that they are easy to thin and transplant too by late Oct before going dormant.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the best information I have found on the subject. Thanks to all of you. I have planted spinach for the last four years: old seed, new seed, early, late, warm, cold. I haven't seen a seedling yet. I think the slug issue may be my problem. We have oodles of them. My wife kept tell me... She is delighted with this information. Thanks! I'll try again.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 1:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Success!! I poured hot water over the spinach seeds (used my coffee maker w/out coffee), left to soak overnight. In the morning I placed them into a clean, wet coffee filter and then into a clean ziplock bag. I live in Southern California, so its typically warm. So to counter this I set the bag of seeds on a towel that was over an ice pack. I changed the ice pack about once a day. This kept the seeds around 60 degrees, which I've heard is their ideal germinating temp. I got lots of seeds sprouting in 2 to 3 days. I then took the seeds out that sprouted w tweezers and planted about a quarter inch deep, into moist seed starter mix, and lightly watered in. So far so good. Much better then my previous approaches, which was planting seeds directly in seed starter and waiting.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just saw this post and I also have had problems getting spinach seed to germinate outdoors. The best method I have used is as follows: Create a bed of whatever size you wish, making it as flat as possible. I press down lightly with a piece of plywood. This is not to compact the soil, only to flatten it. I then make small furrows no more than 1/2 inch deep and sow the seed in the furrows. I then cover the seed with dry sand (Builder's sand or play sand; I like the finer play sand; available in 50 # bags and Lowes or Home Depot). Then keep it moist cause it takes a while, usually 7-10 days. Labor intensive but worth the effort. Oh, and whatever fertilizer you use should be mixed in the bed before planting, and added at appropriate intervals.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jimpike19 i wonder if the sand is a possible slug deterrent?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 6:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This spring I grew some spinach from a seed packet. They took a little while to germinate. But I wanted to have some very fresh seed for this fall, so I saved some seed from my plants, after they had bolted. (Very easy to do, Google it).
I planted those seeds a few weeks ago, and the germinate very quickly... no problems at all. So if you do get some to germinate, try saving the seeds. I think the key is having the freshest seed possible.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I have tried growing spinach several times and have failed.
Then I found a BETTER alternative: GROW CHARDS !

Chards have many advantages over spinach:
--- have more texture, less water.
--- you can harvest them small , like spinach, or let them grow bigger.
--- Chards would not bolt as soon as it gets warm. I have had them till july.
-- you can plant different colors, green, yellow, red.
-- They produce MORE per seed than spinach.

I will never again be bothered with spinach.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 6:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I always put my spinach seeds between two pieces of wet paper towel, then enclose it in a sealed plastic bag. Stick in fridge for a couple weeks then check. Should show signs of sprouting. Take to good ones and plant 1/2 inch deep. Water good. Takes a few days to break through in the spring because of cooler temps. In the fall, mine break through the next day due to warmer temps.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 7:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I hate I didn't see this thread sooner. I didn't plant spinach this year for this very reason. Someone needs to bump it up come late winter!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These are great ideas for difficult to sprout spinach...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

jimpike19 i wonder if the sand is a possible slug deterrent?
off the topic;
A little rough sand can help to deter slugs. Their tender belly cannot take roughness. I also mix some used coarse coffee ground with sand. plus just a little slug bait. They run bleeding.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
laceyvail(6A, WV)

Spinach can be direct sown now in my zone, and I intend to sow it this week. It will take a while to germinate, but it will and will do so by late winter.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

here in zone 7 I've started in fall, only clipped outer leaves, then mulched with straw. they came up in february again. Also you can get those verticle planters at the everythings a dollar store and start inside. then have a spinach tree.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the key is your cabbage family plants all sprouted well for you. Cabbage family plants like warm temps for sprouting, spinach likes cool. From this page:


Cabbage family maxes at 77F, spinach at 50F.

You might do better putting the spinach in a cool place rather than on the heat mat.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
over wintering cabbage family for second year seed
I'm interested in which cabbage family vegetables I...
Can I use grape leaves as mulch?
I have alot of chopped and dried grape vine leaves....
Who uses hog/cattle panels for Tomato Trellis? Need some advice
Hello, I'm close to going with some kind of livestock...
Tomato cages
I have a large number (40+) tomato cages made from...
Hello All, I am planning my winter crop (live in New...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™