We tend to choose our life partners based on various factors. Though we have the option to choose our companion, plants don’t. Sometimes, due to the wrong companion, the plants have to settle in a dysfunctional relationship. However, you have the control to choose their beneficial partner that will help them grow and thrive.
But, how can you do that? Through Companion Planting. Gardeners know which plant combination can make a healthy garden. The right combination of plants can make them more productive. As a home gardener, you need to come up with diverse techniques to grow your garden.
If you are looking for a new gardening method, this will be a helpful guide for you. The companion planting guide will discuss all the information you need to know to become an expert in companion planting. We will discuss the techniques and ideas for which plants should be planted together to thrive.
First, let’s get our basics right and learn more about companion planting.
What is Companion Planting?
As the name suggests, companion planting is a process of growing different plants close to one another. Plants contain complementary characteristics, including pest-repelling ability, nutrient requirement, and growth habits. These characteristics allow the plant combination to become productive and grow to its full potential.
1. Relationships between Plants
It will help if you find a good companion for plants to thrive. Plants are considered ideal objects except for fruiting and growth. You plant them at a fixed spot where they do not have control over the surroundings. Therefore, plants will need support from other plants to grow.
Just like human relationships, certain plants support and provide nutrients for growth, whereas other plants do not.
2. Three Sisters Planting
Three Sisters Planting is an age-old planting method used and developed by a Native American. It is a process to grow beans, squash, and corn, sometimes pumpkin together. Beans find their support to grow with corn stalks. Like all legumes, beans fix nitrogen amount in the soil to provide corn with the necessary nutrition.
On the other hand, squash works to obstruct weeds from destroying the plants. The squash leaves deter pests and provide soil cover. Thus, good companion plants support and protect each other and provide nutrition to grow.
3. Benefits of Companion Planting
If you know which flowers, plants, vegetables, and fruits should grow together, you can reap a healthy and productive garden. Below you will find some of the benefits of companion planting.
The bright sunlight can drain the soil, and the empty plots result in making way for weeds to reach the plants. Companion planting helps in filling the open spaces while hindering and discouraging the growth of weeds. Additionally, it protects the soil from direct exposure to the sun.
Alter Soil Chemistry
The companion plant aims to replenish nutrients in the soil. Legumes such as beans and peas or Taproots fix the imbalance of nitrogen in the soil. Crops are utilizing nitrogens for growth benefit from nitrogen-enriched soil, such as brussels sprouts and rhubarb.
Therefore, it is important to keep a balance of nutrients in the soil to maintain the quality.
Plants such as bush beans and lettuce grow best when they are provided with shadier surroundings. Thus, some tall plants provide shade to smaller plants to avoid direct exposure to the sun.
Some plants function as deter critters or insect repellents. They help to protect the plant from garden pests to keep vulnerable crops safe and repel destructive insects. Crops like Rosemary, Sage are planted close to radishes, broccoli, and cauliflower to protect the crops from cabbage moths.
Companion Planting can also provide productive habitat for beneficial insects. Dill and Cilantro draw ladybugs that feed on aphids.
While planting crops close to each other will bring pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. That’s because the crops create an environment of scents and colors. Thus, the pollinators help your garden to grow naturally and healthily.
Ideas for Companion Planting
Companion Planting results in increased biodiversity, increased yield, and less reliance on pesticides. Thus, it helps to maintain a balanced eco-system in your garden naturally. For over a century,
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has employed Companion Planting. Since then, there have been major developments in companion planting combinations.
- Vegetables have enemies and friends when it comes to companionship. Some plants can impede growth while others benefit it. For instance, black walnut trees inhibit growth.
- Generally, companion plants mean vegetable plant pairs. However, flowers are being added to the companion planting chart along with vegetables as they act as a natural insect repellent. For instance, aphids favor nasturtium as they attract harmful insects and protect the plant.
- Flowers attract beneficial insects. Dill draws attention of the ladybugs to sway away spider mites and aphids.
1. Companion Planting Chart – Popular Pairing Ideas
By now, you must have understood that some companion plants are beneficial for each other while others are not. For instance, beans and peas don’t grow productively around the garlic. Similarly, sunflowers inhibit the growth of potatoes. Thus, you need to find a good companion for your plants.
Some classic example of companion plants are given below:
Basil and Tomatoes
Basil and Tomatoes are a great combination when eaten together, but they also make great companion plants. The aromatic herbs act as a pest repellent, and they hide the scent of the other plants from pests. Moreover, basil can withdraw hornworms from tomatoes.
However, you should not plant tomatoes around potatoes, fennel, or parsley.
Nasturtium and Kale
If you plant kale near the nasturtium flower, it will protect the plant from aphids. Moreover, a nasturtium decoy will help in the growth of your garden by distracting troublesome aphids. Aphids usually prefer marigolds and nasturtium over any other plants.
Spinach and Zucchini
Spinach and Zucchini are the perfect combinations as one supports the other in their growth. Zucchini provides shade to spinach through the summer season. On the other hand, spinach provides nutrients to the plants.
Thyme and Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is a German word that translates into cabbage turnip. It attracts cabbage worms. Thyme is a natural repellent that deters cabbage worms; therefore, they make a good combination.
If you want to plant kohlrabi near brassicas, you should do it properly; otherwise, it will inhibit their growth.
Strawberries and Borage
Borage is a type of therapeutic herb which enhances the flavor of the plant around which it is planted. However, borage attracts predatory wasps and praying mantises to feed on strawberry plants. Additionally, borage introduces trace minerals to the soil for a healthy crop yield.
Swiss chard and Onions
Swiss Chard comes with large leave which retains the moisture in the ground soil. This way, it provides a ripening environment for onions. Chives and Shallots belong to the allium family. When swiss chard is planted around them, it calls for a mutually propitious relationship.
Carrots and Chives
Carrot and Chives are beneficial for each other. Chives boost the carrot length and enhance its flavor while repelling cucumber beetles and aphids. Also, chives repel carrot flies and promote the carrot harvest.
2. Companion Planting Guide
Companion Planting Guide is incomplete without discussing and mentioning the companion planting chart. The companion planting chart displays which flowers and vegetables inhibit and support the growth of other plants.
Plant around: Basil can be planted around most of the garden crops. For example, tomatoes, purslane, peppers, and lettuce offer good growing conditions.
Notes: Basil helps to improve the flavor and growth of lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers, while purslane provides shade to the basil plant during the summer months.
Beans or Bush Beans
Plant around: Plant the beans or bush beans around savory corn, cucumber, marigolds, strawberries, potatoes, cauliflower, catnip, carrots, cabbage, and beets.
Enemies: Shallots, onions, leeks, garlic, and fennel
Notes: Catnip act as a repellent to flea beetles, whereas marigolds and potatoes deter Mexican bean beetles. Further, summer savory deters bean beetles and enhances flavor and growth.
Plant around: You should plant the beets around onions, kohlrabi, chard, cauliflower, cabbage, bush beans, lettuce, onions, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Enemies: Pole beans, field mustard, and charlock.
Notes: Onions provide support to beets against maggots, cutworms, slugs, mites, and borers.
Beans or Pole Beans
Plant around: Plant Beans or Pole beans around radishes, potatoes, marigolds, and corn.
Enemies: Shallots, onions, leeks, kohlrabi, garlic, and beets.
Notes: Corn fixes the nitrogen in the soil. Also, pole beans provide support to the corn to grow.
Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli
Plant around: Plant Broccoli and Brussels sprouts near wormwood, thyme, sage, rosemary, onions, nasturtiums, mints, marigolds, hyssop, dill, chamomile, carrots, calendula, buckwheat, and beets.
Notes: Nasturtium acts as a natural repellent to aphids, where marigolds help deter cabbage moths.
Cauliflower and Cabbage
Plant around: You should plant cauliflower and cabbage near tomatoes, spinach, chard, celery, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Notes: Celery and tomatoes deter cabbage worms and support the plant’s growth.
Plant around: Plant carrots near peas, potatoes, salsify, sage, rosemary, radishes, onions, lettuce, cabbage, chives, and leeks.
Enemies: Celery, Coriander, and Dill
Notes: Chives promote flavor and growth by repelling insects and mites.
Plant around: Plantcorn near squash, soybeans, pumpkins, peas, melons, cucumbers, marigolds, potatoes, and pole beans.
Notes: Pole beans promote structural support and provide nitrogen to the soil. Marigolds avoid the growth of nematodes in the soil.
Plant around: Plant chives around tomatoes, roses, peas, carrots, berries, and apples.
Notes: Chives promote the growth and flavor of their companion plants and deters Japenese beetles and aphids.
Plant around: You should plant cucumbers near sunflowers, radishes, corn, beans, cabbage, and early potatoes.
Enemies: Late potatoes
Notes: Radishes repel cucumber beetles.
Plant around: Garlic is best to grow near tomatoes, roses, fruit trees, cane fruits, and cabbage.
Enemies: Beans and Peas
Notes: Garlic oil spray repels ermine months, onion flies, and aphids. Garlic deters aphids and Japanese beetles.
Plant around: Grow dill near lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and onions
Notes: Dill is beneficial for cabbage plants to enhance growth and flavor.
Plant around: Plant lettuce near spinach, scallions, radishes, onions, chives, carrots, beets, and basil.
Enemies: Cabbage family
Notes: Garlic, chives, and onions deters garden pests with their scent. Basil encourages the lettuce’s growth and flavor.
Plant around: Plant near squash, radishes, pumpkins, potatoes, cabbage family, beans, and apples.
Notes: Nasturtium act as a natural repellent to Mexican bean beetles, striped pumpkin beetles, squash bugs, potato bugs, and aphids.
Plant around: You can plant marigolds crops like squash, cucumbers, gourds, peppers, and tomatoes.
Notes: Marigolds deters maggots, nematodes, squash bugs, potato bugs, bean beetles, and aphids. Moreover, it improves vegetable growth and flavor.
Plant around: Plant peas near corn, beans, cucumbers, radishes, early potatoes, carrots, mint, chives, and turnips.
Enemies: Avoid planting near shallots, onion, and garlic leeks.
Notes: Mint promotes flavor and growth while chives deters aphids.
Plant around: Onion makes a good companion with tomato, summer savory, Lettuce, Carrots, and beets
Enemies: Peas and Beans
Notes: Onion protect the companion plants from cutworms, mites, borers, and slugs.
Plant around: You should plant potatoes near corn, squash, peas, marigolds, hemp, flax, beans, basil, and eggplant
Enemies: Avoid planting near tomato, cucumber, apples, raspberries, cherries, and walnuts
Notes: Basil helps to repel potato beetles, whereas hemp repels Phytophthora infestans.
Plant around: Beets make a perfect companion plant for the Onion family, lettuce, garlic, bush beans, and brassicas.
Enemies: Pole beans, field mustard, and charlock
Notes: Onion protects beets from various garden pests. Apart from that, beets provide minerals for the growth of plants.
Plant around: You should plant peppers with crops such as onion, carrot, tomato, eggplant, oregano, and basil.
Enemies: Avoid planting peppers near kohlrabi and fennel.
Notes: Herbs such as oregano and basil comes with insecticidal and protective quality.
Plant around: Squash is best to grow near Oregano, Marigold, Corn, Calendula, borage, and beans.
Notes: Borage brings pollinators to promote vegetative growth, and oregano protects from pests.
Plant around: Plant radishes near root crops, peas, melons, lettuce, cucumber, and chervil.
Enemies: Avoid planting near hyssop
Notes: Lettuce help to make tender radishes, whereas chervil makes them hot.
Plant around: Plant swiss chard near onion, bush beans, and kohlrabi
Enemies: Do not plant it near pole beans
Notes: Swiss chards attract beneficial insects and create diversity in your vegetable garden.
Plant around: Plant tomato near carrot, onion, basil, rosemary, basil, parsley, mustard, cucumber, and cabbage family.
Enemies: Walnuts, potatoes, kohlrabi, and fennel
Notes: Parsley deters insects, whereas basil deters aphids, spider mites, mosquitoes, and whiteflies.
Techniques and Tips of Companion Planting
The plant companions can help each other in seven ways. Pest control, disease control, weed control, efficient use of space, physical support and protection, and nutrient sharing are the seven techniques of companion planting.
Let’s discuss each technique in detail.
1. Pest Control
Companion plants deters pests in multiple ways. Certain plants can repel insects, whereas other plants can draw insects to keep their companions safe. Most of the time, they tend to mask the smell of the other plant to confuse the flying pests insects with the smell of garlic or onion.
Another method is to create a territory for beneficial insects. By doing so, you will bring the predatory insects who are responsible for damaging the crops. Or, you can plant insect-attracting plants so that important plants remain safe from the damaging crops.
2. Disease Control
If you are growing different green plant varieties together, one of the crops deters disease or pests. Still, there are many other diseases left to handle. You need to provide a habitat for plants and vegetables to remain protected from diseases.
Monoculture has been around for a long time that attracts pest and disease invasion leaving the plants vulnerable. With companion cropping, you can create a diverse environment in your vegetable garden where the plant diseases could not spread or establish themselves.
3. Weed Control
Not just insects or pests, but you need to be watchful for weeds. Weeds sprouts from the bare ground and damage the crops. Therefore, companion planting does not provide space for the weeds to grow.
For weed control, you can apply two techniques:
- Sequential Cropping: The method requires you to plant crops in a particular sequence that do not leave any space on the ground.
- Intercropping: In this technique, you will plan two crops together simultaneously.
4. Efficient Use of Space
You can effectively use the space by combining sequential cropping and intercropping. Sequential cropping will have plants growing at different seasonal needs and different rates. Thus, it enables the garden to provide suitable growing conditions and get an early spring harvest.
Take an example; you have a 4 X 4-inch bed to plant about three to four tomato plants. However, if you do companion planting, you can grow a season full of carrot, basil, lettuce, and even onions from that space.
5. Physical Support and Protection
Plants require physical support and protection for their growth. Tomato and pepper are sun-loving and tall plants that can provide shade to small plants such as lettuce. Also, bushes can protect the bush beans from expected wind damage.
Corn is also a tall and sturdy plant while providing support to beans to grow.
6. Nutrients Required
Soil contains all the essential nutrients for the plants to grow. Nitrogen is one such crucial nutrient required by plants to remain healthy. The atmosphere consists of about 70 per cent of nitrogen. However, only certain plants such as peas, clovers, and beans can directly use nitrogen in the form of gas instead of from the soil.
The legumes can create a friendly environment to thrive bacteria that can fix nitrogen in the soil. The legumes then share nitrogen with companion plants. That’s the reason clovers and vetches are considered as cover crops because they fix the nitrogen in the soil and also add organic matter to the soil.
Generally, plants cannot provide or fulfill each other’s nutrients requirement. The plants which do not require similar nutrients make great companion plants. For example, potatoes and bush beans.
Bush beans are fruit-producing and flowering plants that require phosphorus from the soil. In contrast, potatoes require potassium to grow.
Don’t you feel companion planting is potentially rewarding and exciting? You can draw two conclusions from this guide. When you plant two beneficial plants together, it will save gardening costs and farm space. Another thing is that you will grow healthy plants and varieties in your vegetable garden.
To figure out a plan for companion planting seems challenging at first. However, with the companion planting guide, you can determine which green plant should be planted together to enhance their flavor and growth. Therefore, it’s all worth the research, time, and effort to grow plants that can support each other.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.