Complete Companion Planting Guide
Increase Crop Yields, Improve Soil Health, Use Garden Space Efficiently and Keep Pests at Bay
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is an organic method of preventing or protecting plants from pests and diseases, attracting the right types of insects for pollination, enhancing nutrient uptake, and increasing crop production simply by growing specific plants near each other. In essence, companion planting helps bring a balanced ecosystem to your landscape, allowing nature to do its job.
The 8 Benefits of Companion Planting
1. Organic Pest control
Some plants can emit scents that either repel insects, attract them, or confuse insects or disease organisms in search of their favorite host plants. They make insects less likely to land on your garden vegetables.
2. Attracts beneficial insects
Some plants help attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies, that pollinate and help control harmful bugs. Beneficial insects feed on common garden pests, like aphids and caterpillars.
3. Provides necessary shade
Tall sun-loving plants offer shade to smaller shade-loving plants. This results in better products and can also potentially provide pest control. A good example is The Three Sisters Garden. Practiced by Native Americans thousands of years ago, this garden includes corn, beans, and squash. The tall corn provides shade for the lower squash but also stops the squash vine borer beetle.
4. Shelters plants
Some plants can provide windbreaks and prevent soil erosion. Strong winds can damage gardens by removing mulch, topsoil, and eroding beds and hillsides. Rain can also cause severe damage by beating down young seedlings. By carefully selecting the right ground cover, you can help prevent soil erosion.
5. Provides natural supports
Some companion plants can physically support each other, reducing the need for staking. The example of planting corn, beans, and squash together applies here again. Corn provides tall stalks for the beans to climb so that they are not out-competed by sprawling squash vines.
6. Saves space
Interplanting different crops greatly maximizes space and improves productivity in small gardens.
7. Enhances flavors
Some plants can subtly enhance the flavor of other plants. Most herbs have been found to enhance the flavor of fruits and vegetables grown nearby, and Basil grown beside tomatoes is an excellent example. Similarly, chamomile has an aromatic scent that is believed to improve the growth and flavor of cabbages, cucumbers, and onions when grown beside them.
8. Better soil quality and fertility
Some crops help fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduce fertilizer needs. Similarly, planting plants with different root structures together can aerate the soil and allow plants to pull nutrients from different parts of the soil.
Not only can companion planting helps your plants to grow better, but it also makes the vegetable garden more attractive thanks to the addition of colorful flowers that help or hinder nearby vegetables. Companion planting combines beauty and purpose to create an enjoyable, healthy environment.
12 Examples of Companion Plants Combinations
Here are some popular companion planting pairs:
Tomatoes and basil: The pungent aroma of basil can help repel harmful insects, such as tomato hornworms and whiteflies, which are known to attack tomato plants. In addition, basil can help enhance the flavor of tomatoes, making them taste sweeter and more delicious. Tomatoes, on the other hand, can provide some shade for the basil plants, which can be beneficial in hot and sunny climates.
Carrots and onions: Carrots and onions are often planted together as companion plants because they complement each other well. Onions are a natural pest repellent that can help keep carrot flies and other pests away from carrot plants. Carrots, on the other hand, can attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, which can help control pests that attack onion plants. In addition, the strong odor of onions can help mask the scent of carrots, making them less attractive to pests.
Potatoes and marigolds: Marigolds can help repel pests such as nematodes and beetles that can damage potato plants while also attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings. In addition, marigolds can help improve soil quality and prevent the growth of weeds around potato plants.
Cucumbers and chamomile: Chamomile can help attract beneficial insects, such as hoverflies and wasps that prey on cucumber pests, while also providing some shade for the cucumber plants.
Lettuce and chives: Chives have insect-repelling properties and can help deter aphids, slugs, snails, and other pests that can damage lettuce plants. Chives can also improve the overall health of lettuce plants by attracting pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which can help increase lettuce yields.
Beans and corn: Beans can fix nitrogen in the soil, which corn requires, while the corn provides support for the beans to climb.
Borage and strawberries: Borage helps to repel pests that attack strawberries and attracts pollinators, which can help to increase the yield of strawberry plants. Borage also enhances the flavor and vigor of strawberry plants.
Cabbage and nasturtium: The strong odor of nasturtium helps to repel cabbage moths, which are common pests for cabbage plants. Nasturtium also attracts helpful insects like predatory wasps and hoverflies that eat other pests, such as aphids. Additionally, nasturtiums can improve the flavor of cabbage and other brassica plants when grown together.
Radishes and chervil: Chervil attracts beneficial insects such as hoverflies, which can help control pests that may damage radishes. Additionally, chervil improves their growth and flavor.
Calendula and broccoli: Calendula's strong scent can repel pests that might attack broccoli, such as aphids and whiteflies, while also attracting beneficial insects like beneficial ladybugs to dine on the aphids.
Roses and garlic: Garlic is believed to help repel aphids, which can attack roses, while also deterring Japanese beetles and other pests. Some gardeners also believe that garlic can help improve the health and vigor of roses.
Thyme and eggplant: Thyme attracts beneficial insects like bees and predatory wasps, which in turn help to control pests that attack eggplants. Additionally, thyme can help to improve the flavor of eggplants, and it also helps to repel some pests like whiteflies and cabbage worms.
It is important to note that just as some plants will benefit from being close together, other plants will suffer from the pairing.
Gardens by Design, Shutterstock
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.