Gardeners have long been aware of the benefits of companion planting to increase the success of their crops. Choosing the best companion plants can benefit a vegetable garden by providing shade to neighboring plants in hot weather, attracting beneficial insects, and deterring garden pests.
Good companion plants have specific qualities that complement other plants, while harmful companion plants can hinder the growth of nearby crops. By understanding the basics of companion planting and its principles, gardeners can improve the success rate of their vegetable crops in an environment that supports healthy plant growth and production.
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This article offers a comprehensive guide to companion planting that teaches everything you need to know. I have also provided links to other articles on this site, answering more specific questions, and by the end of this article, you’ll be an expert in companion planting.
- Discover these 5 revolutionary benefits of companion planting and why you should utilize this ancient practice in your backyard garden to better support your crops and reward yourself and your family with larger yearly harvests.
- Save money with these done-for-you companion planting charts to discover what grows well with certain vegetables, fruits, and herbs AND what to avoid!
- Stop letting limited space keep you from having a fruitful and productive companion planting garden AND discover why this age-old practice can work just as well with containers and pots!
What Is Companion Planting
Companion planting is a gardening technique used to enhance crop growth naturally by pairing vegetable plants that will grow in harmony without overwhelming each other. Here, you group plants based on how they can benefit each other, and the benefits can manifest in many ways. Some of the most common benefits are:
- Pest management
- Shared nutrient requirements
- Nutrient recycling ability
- Provide shelters, such as shade from intense sunlight, wind, or other adverse weather conditions
Certain plants, such as legumes, known for their nitrogen-fixing qualities, are good at adding nutrients to the existing soil. Others require fewer nutrients to flourish, leaving plenty for nutrient-hungry plants.
In addition to enhanced soil nutrition, it also serves as an effective method for controlling pests in the garden. Certain combinations of plants have been found to help repel unwanted insects due to particular scents or the release of natural chemical compounds. 1
For instance, marigolds deter whiteflies by releasing the chemical limonene, helping to reduce damage to nearby vegetables prone to whitefly infestations.
Good companion plants also attract beneficial insects and bugs into the garden. Beneficial insects are considered natural pest deterrents or pollinators that further assist with maintaining a balanced and productive environment.
How Does Companion Planting Work
Companion planting works by selecting a combination of plants that support each other’s growing demands and locating them strategically within the same green space. When done correctly, you create an environment where they can mutually benefit from each other’s presence.
For companion planting to work well, proper garden planning and paying attention to each plant’s requirements are a must. 2
Below is a list of things to consider:
- Nutrient requirements – Choose plants, like basil and tomatoes that won’t fight over soil nutrients like water or nitrogen.
- Pest management – Research which pests are most problematic to your main crop and pair them with plants known to deter or lure them away.
- The weather – Delicate crops can struggle with intense sunlight, heat, and strong wind. Choose tall, hardy plants to combine with that provide shade and act as a natural windbreak.
- Growing requirements – Sowing plants with similar soil and nutrient requirements within the same area reduces your workload and saves time.
- Flavors – Another aspect of a careful selection is that some plant combinations are thought to enhance the flavors of their companions.
Benefits Of Companion Planting
Companion planting offers numerous benefits. While I’ve briefly covered some of them above, this section provides more detail on these incredible advantages.
Companion planting is an excellent method of natural pest management in the garden. Certain plants have natural abilities to repel harmful critters or attract beneficial insects that prey on pests.
For example, planting marigolds alongside tomato plants can help deter aphids and other harmful insects. Likewise, as ladybugs are natural predators of aphids, attracting these speckled insects to your garden will help keep aphid numbers under control.
Planting alliums such as garlic or onions alongside strawberries can significantly reduce spider mite numbers due to the pungent smell produced by their sulfur content.
Common plant invaders that can be reduced through plant combinations include:
- Carrot Flies
- Parasitic Wasps
- Cabbage Moths
- Flea Beetles
- Cabbage Worms
- Spider Mites
- Squash Bugs
- Cucumber Beetles
- Colorado Potato Beetles
Selecting suitable companions with insect-repelling capabilities can significantly enhance the overall health of your crops and help prevent diseases such as blight. Some crops like tomatoes and potatoes are prone to blight disease. 3
Enhanced Soil Fertility
Some plants are good at extracting nutrients from deep within the soil, making them available to other plants. These plants are known as “dynamic accumulators.” 4
For example, planting legumes, such as peas or beans, alongside other vegetables can help fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more readily available to other plants. Similarly, planting herbs such as basil or dill can improve the soil’s health and attract beneficial insects.
Although dynamic accumulators can be great at fertilizing soil, in many cases, they only occur after the plants have broken down. When alive, these plants can also rob nearby plants of nutrients, so do your research and choose carefully.
Fruit vegetables, like tomatoes, require pollinators to produce fruit. Planting strongly scented herb varieties and flowers like marigolds or bee balm alongside tomatoes can attract pollinators, such as beneficial bees and butterflies, to the garden. 5
When certain plants are grown together, they benefit from each other’s growth habits. For example, growing corn alongside climbing beans can help the beans climb the corn stalks, allowing both crops to grow in the same space.
Similarly, planting lettuce or other leafy greens alongside taller vegetables like peppers or corn can provide shade and keep the soil cool, resulting in higher yields. Tall plants also protect delicate plants from strong winds.
Better Flavor Profile
It has long been thought that some plants can improve the flavor of other plants when grown in proximity. Basil can enhance the taste of tomatoes when planted alongside them, while Borage is thought to enhance the flavor of strawberries.
Combining plants in a single bed can have several benefits that enhance the flavor of nearby crops. These advantages include soil health maintenance, improved pollination, and the potential for cross-pollination. Conversely, poorly matched companions may reduce the flavor profile of nearby plants, so research carefully.
Companion Planting Guide
Companion planting isn’t necessary for healthy crops, but it can increase productivity and improve their health when used correctly. Many studies have shown that those who practiced this technique had increased yields with more successful harvests than those who didn’t.
I have provided companion planting guidelines below that can help you identify which vegetables and flowers complement or hinder the growth of other plants and which pests they repel.
Companion planting has many benefits, although it isn’t an exact science, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for some may not work for others. That being said, you should follow some general guidelines when creating your unique combination of plants. 6
Key considerations for pairing plants:
- Plant size and spacing
- Sunlight requirements
- Hardiness zone
- Required soil type
- Water needs
- Nutrient requirements
- Ability to deter pests while attracting beneficial insects
- Growth rate
With proper planning and consideration for all these elements, you can select the best plants to thrive side by side! In the following section, I’ll list companion plants in an easy-to-read chart to help get you started quickly and easily.
Check out this video below, which explains the critical advantages of companion planting, the results you should expect, and some unique guidelines and strategies you can employ in your green oasis today!
Companion Planting Charts
The benefits of companion planting are pretty straightforward when selecting the perfect combinations. The following sections provide easy-to-follow charts covering some of the most popular vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
Within each chart, I have listed some beneficial companion plants for each and some incompatible plants you should avoid, although the list is a guide and not exhaustive. Further research may help you find alternative combinations.
Vegetable Companion Plant Chart
|Asparagus||Tomato, Parsley, Basil||Garlic, Potato,|
|Beetroot||Broad Beans, Lettuce, Onions, Brassicas, Passion Fruits||Runner Beans,|
|Broad Beans||Carrot, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber||Garlic, Leek|
|Brussel Sprouts||Beets, Herbs (Sage, Thyme), Clover, Marigolds,|
Nasturtiums, Brassicas, Strawberries
|Aromatic Herbs, Beets, Celery, Chard, Onion Family,|
|Dill, Pole Beans,|
|Carrots||Leeks, Peas, Lettuce, Onion Family, Tomato||Dill, Parsnip,|
|Celery||Onion & Cabbage Families, Tomato, Bush|
|Corn||Potato, Beans, Peas, Pumpkin||Tomato|
|Cucumber||Green Beans, Corn, Peas, Sunflowers, Radishes||Potato,|
|Garlic||Lettuce, Celery, Peas, Potatoes, Cucumbers||Cabbages,|
|Kale||Cabbage, Tomatoes, Cauliflower, Passion Fruit||Peppers|
|Leeks||Carrots, Parsnips, Chilli Peppers, Peppers, Tomatoes, Celery, Strawberries, Beets||Swiss Chard|
|Lettuce||Carrot, Radish, Strawberry, Cucumber||Cabbage,|
|Onion Family||Beets, Carrot, Lettuce, Cabbage Family||Beans, Peas|
|Peas||Carrots, Radishes, turnips, Cucumber, Corn, Beans||Onion Family,|
|Potato||Beans, Corn, Cabbage Family, Marigolds, Horseradish||Pumpkin, Squash,|
|Radish||Peas, Nasturtium, Lettuce, Cucumber||Hyssop|
|Squash||Corn, Nasturtium, |
|Sweet Potato||Beans, Corn, |
|Tomato||Asparagus, Carrot, Cucumber, Onion Family, Herbs|
(Parsley, Basil, Dill), Nasturtium, Marigolds
Vegetable companion planting is one of the most popular choices among backyard growers, especially as more people want to try and grow their food. 7
Here are five tips on how to get started:
1. Attracting bees – Plant flowers around your vegetable beds to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Borage, zinnias, lavender, sunflowers, butterfly bushes, and coneflowers are just a few excellent selections to get you started.
2. Adding organic fertilizers – Add compost or other organic matter to provide essential vegetable nutrients.
3. Do your research – Use our chart to research which vegetables grow best together before planting them.
4. Build healthy soils – Improve soil structure by adding light mulch or cover crops between rows of vegetables.
5. Monitor soil conditions – Monitor soil pH levels regularly so you can adjust them if needed.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving success with your vegetable garden!
Fruit Companion Plant Chart
|Apricot||Basil, Alliums, Strawberries, Grapes||Peppers,|
|Blackberries||Beans, Peas, Blueberries, Bee balm, Borage, Herbs||Nightshades|
|Gooseberries||Beans & Legumes, Tomato, Chives, Tansy||Tomatoes|
|Figs||Borage, Dandelions, Lemon balm, Mustards, Marigolds||Eggplants|
|Grapes||Basil, Beans, Blackberries, Chives, Clover, Garlic, Geraniums,|
Hyssop, Mint, Oregano, Peas, Rosemary, Tansy
|Kiwi||Blueberry, Catnip, Currants, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lavender,|
Lemon balm, Marjoram, Raspberries
|Melon||Brassicas, Lettuce, Spinach, Leeks, Garlic, Onions, Carrots,|
|Peach||Bee Balm, Strawberries, Tansy, Garlic, Legumes, Herbs,|
|Raspberries||Garlic, Chives, Nasturtiums, Leeks, Onions, Chamomile,|
|Strawberries||Beans, Lettuce, Onions, Passion Fruits, Spinach||All|
Many fruits, like passion fruits, apples, pears, watermelons, and berries, benefit significantly from pollination. By strategically planting key pollinator species near your fruit-bearing plants, you can stimulate increased bee and butterfly activity, leading to higher yields.
Herb Companion Plant Chart
|Basil||Tomato, Oregano, |
|Chives||Carrots, Grapes, Roses||Beans, Peas|
|Coriander||Chervil, Cabbages, Carrots||Dill|
|Lavender||Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes,|
Oregano, Sage, Rosemary,
|Lemon Grass||Eggplant||Mustards, Mints|
|Mint||Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas,|
|Oregano||Peppers, Pumpkin, Grapes||Radish, Potatoes, Thyme|
|Rosemary||Brassicas, Carrots||Peas, Beans|
|Tarragon||Eggplants And Most|
In general, herbs grow well with most plants and are better used as companions to other plants, fruits, and vegetables due to their hardiness and strong scents, which attract pollinators and can be used as trap crops. 8
Best Companion Plants For Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, And Mints
To ensure your corn reaches its full potential, consider cultivating it alongside beans and squash. These three crops form a mutually beneficial trio, with corn providing a natural trellis for beans to climb, while squash acts as a living mulch, shading the soil to conserve moisture and deter weeds.
If you plan to grow eggplants, it’s wise to include marigolds and peppers as their garden companions. Marigolds add a burst of color to your garden and act as a natural deterrent to many common pests that bother eggplants. Peppers, conversely, create a friendly neighborhood for eggplants, as they share similar soil and sunlight preferences.
Asparagus and parsnips make good companion plants for lettuce. With its deep-reaching roots, asparagus doesn’t compete with lettuce for nutrients, making them ideal bedfellows. Parsnips complement the growth of lettuce by breaking up compacted soil, allowing better aeration and root development.
Tomatoes benefit from the strong scent of mints, which help repel aphids and whiteflies. With strawberries, its aromatic presence can attract pollinators like bees, benefiting strawberry fruit production.
Companion Plants For Onions, Peas, Celery, & Tomatoes
Avoid planting beans alongside onions as it poses a challenge because of their shallow root systems. Both require similar nutrients, and the swift absorption of these essential elements by bean roots can lead to depleted soil, ultimately causing inhibited onion growth and smaller bulb development.
To address this issue, consider planting beets near your onions. This strategic arrangement can be a natural barrier, effectively deterring thrips and helping protect your onions’ health.
Peas benefit from being grown alongside Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, corn, and beans while also being planted near potatoes. However, onions or garlic do not, as these selections hinder pea growth.
Alliums like leeks, onions, and chives are great companions for celery. One of the reasons is that celery requires full sun (5-7 hours) to grow well, and alliums thrive in full sun. Also, when planted as a border around the celery, they can mask its scent and help keep animals like rabbits or deer from entering the area.
To help tomatoes flourish, squash, known for its large leaves, provides ground cover, helping keep the soil cool and preventing water loss. Carrots, marigolds, and legumes are other excellent choices to grow alongside tomatoes.
Three Sisters Planting Method
The Three Sisters Planting Method is a companion planting technique with a history stretching back centuries. In this method, plants support each other like a family, providing many benefits.
History Of The Three Sisters Planting Method
The 3 Sisters Method has been around for centuries, having originated in the Americas. The traditional planting technique combines corn, beans, and squash, forming an interdependent relationship between each crop that helps to control pests while ensuring soil doesn’t naturally become depleted over time.
The beans absorb nitrogen from the air, adding increased nutrients to the soil to support the corn and squash, while the corn provides stalks for the beans to climb. The broad squash leaves cover the ground below, giving shade to keep the soil moist and help prevent pesky weeds from taking root.
This practice provides better yields than growing crops individually and can also be rotated seasonally as part of an effective crop rotation plan. 9
Companion Plants In The Garden
Companion planting is a great way to give your garden some structure while making it more productive and healthy. Companion plants not only protect your prized plants from insects and the elements, but they also help improve soil health.
By strategically placing certain plants together, you can increase soil fertility, control pests naturally, mulch with straw for moisture retention, and even rotate crops in the same area yearly.
Companion Planting Garden Layout
Gardening is often compared to an art form, which requires careful thought and planning and a certain degree of creativity. With companion planting, this analogy takes on new meaning. Because the practice relies on placing specific plants to create balance and harmony in the garden environment, you need to take time and think it through carefully.
Think about what selection of plants or vegetables you plan to grow throughout the year while comparing the seasonality of your companion plants. Additionally, knowing why certain plants are paired together and how they interact can significantly impact the effectiveness of your planting strategy. 10
Consideration must also be given to how much space should be allotted between plants. Overcrowding can damage growth potential, causing competition for resources such as sunlight and water. With thoughtful planning, you’ll soon reap the rewards of healthier plants and greater yields come harvest season!
Companion Plants In Containers
Gardening in containers is a great way to grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables. However, some important considerations must be considered before you sow your companion plants in containers.
Container soil preparation is essential for the successful growth of companion plants. A lightweight potting mix should be used with added sand or perlite for drainage. Considering the container size is important, as your success will rely on this essential factor. If a container is too small, the roots may bunch, causing a lack of nutritional uptake for the plant, while too large of a container allows water to become exhausted before reaching the roots. 11
Consider watering strategies for container plants, which often need more frequent attention than traditional in-ground beds. Also, it’s best to research light requirements for each plant variety before buying. Use fertilizer, but be cautious because overuse can harm both the plant and neighboring ones.
Companion planting can be an excellent way to enhance the health and productivity of your garden. It provides many benefits, such as pest control, better soil fertility, and increased yields.
Careful planning allows you to create a companion planting layout that meets all your gardening needs. Using plants in combination with one another is an age-old practice used by farmers for centuries.
Today’s gardeners have access to more information than ever before on which plants work best together, making it easy to get started with companion planting. There are endless ways to use this technique, from Three Sisters Plantings to container gardens.
Why not give companion planting a try? After all, what do you have to lose? Its potential for higher yields and healthier plants could make all the difference in having many successful harvests!
Do you organize your garden with companion plants for better yields, taste, pest control, and soil fertility? We’d love to hear about your success story. Take a moment now and drop us a line in the comments below!