Mother Nature’s approach to gardening is pretty haphazard compared to us humans. Plants will take root just about anywhere in their battle to secure the space and resources needed to extend the survival of their species. Gardeners, on the other hand, usually operate with a plan – especially when it comes to vegetable gardening. Plants are chosen carefully, planted in neat rows with spacing that will allow every plant to reach its full potential.
How Companion Plants Benefit Each Other
Plant locations in nature aren’t always as random as they may first appear. Often plants are found growing together because they benefit each other. It may be something simple, such as a shade-loving plant growing in the shadow of a sun-loving tree, or complex such as an orchid growing in the branches of a tree. Some plants support each other’s survival by providing natural pest control; they may attract beneficial insects for pollination, or repel insects and wildlife that may damage a plant. Some plants affix nitrogen to their roots and nourish the soil for surrounding plants. Some combinations actually enhance the flavor of fruits or vegetables. These happy relationships are what we call good “companion plants”.
Planning a Garden with Companion Plants
Smart gardeners can use companion plantings to their advantage when planning a vegetable garden. Note that there are also some plants that don’t get along and may even interfere with the health and productivity of plants nearby. On the other hand, there are a few plants that are always good vegetable garden friends. Petunias, Marigolds, Oregano, Mint, and Nasturtiums are natural insect repellents. All are excellent for planting around the perimeter of the garden to create a barrier, or grown in pots placed throughout the garden. Bonus: flowering plants also attract pollinating insects that are necessary for good fruit production.
Vegetable Companion Plants Chart
Download the Printable Vegetable Companion Plants Chart
Here’s a summary of vegetable companion plants to help you understand what to plant where in your veggie patch
Asparagus Companion Plants
Tomatoes, basil, marigold, nasturtium, parsley and dill are all perfect companion plants for asparagus and will keep your precious harvest safe by repelling asparagus beetles. Be careful not to plant asparagus too close to potatoes, garlic or onions as these can inhibit growth.
Beans Companion Plants
Corn and squash are the most common companion plants for beans. Corn plants offer bean vines a natural support. The large leaves of squash and cucumbers offer shade that helps reduce weeds and hold moisture. Savory and marigolds repel bean beetles. Avoid planting beans near chives, garlic and onions as they can stunt the growth of beans.
Beans and peppers do have different soil preferences; beans prefer neutral soil pH and peppers prefer slightly acidic soil, but beans will tolerate some soil acidity. Beans that vine should be planted some distance from peppers. The vines could grow over the plants, reducing light and even strangling the pepper plants. If your garden spacing is tight, it would be preferable to plant bush beans.
Beets Companion Plants
Pungent plants like garlic, onion, scallion, leeks, and mint can help repel snails, moles, aphids, root maggots, Japanese beetles, and coddling moths from beets. Do not plant pole beans and beets together as they can stunt each other’s growth.
Broccoli Companion Plants
Aromatic herbs such as mint, dill, and rosemary help repel pests from broccoli plants. Oregano, tomato, strawberry, and mustard should not be planted near broccoli. These are heavy feeders that can compete with broccoli’s high need for calcium from the soil.
Cabbage Companion Plants
Mint, onion, oregano, dill, sage, clover, and chamomile are aromatic plants that help repel common cabbage insect pests. Clover planted between rows disrupts Cabbage Aphid and Cabbage worm populations. Chamomile improves cabbage growth and flavor. Avoid planting strawberry, tomato, eggplant, or peppers near cabbage. Eggplant can attract flea beetles to cabbage. Strawberries and peppers are heavy feeders that will compete with cabbage for soil nutrients. Tomatoes and eggplant can also spread fungal diseases to cabbage.
Corn Companion Plants
Corn is a good companion for beans, cucumber, melons, parsley, pumpkin, squash, and marigolds. Marigolds repel Japanese Beetles. Beans affix nitrogen to their roots that replenishes the high levels of nitrogen corn needs to grow. The foliage of melons and squash shade the ground conserving moisture and reducing weed growth. Avoid planting tomatoes and corn next to each other. A caterpillar called a Corn Earworm (also known as Tomato Fruitworm) is attracted to, and feeds on, both plants.
Cucumber Companion Plants
Companion plants for growing with cucumbers include radish, lettuce, corn, beans, onions, nasturtium, and dill. Radish repels Cucumber Beetles. Corn provides a natural trellis. Nasturtium improves growth and flavor. Dill and onions repel some insects. Dill also attracts natural predators that prey on cucumber insect pests. Do not plant cucumbers next to sage as it can stunt growth. Also avoid planting cucumber next to potatoes. Cucumbers can put the potato plants at risk of potato blight.
Eggplant Companion Plants
Bush beans, catnip, peppers, spinach, tarragon, thyme, and marigolds are all good companions for eggplant. Beans help protect eggplant from the Colorado Potato Beetle. Catnip repels flea beetles.
Lettuce Companion Plants
Lettuce grows well with radishes, carrots, dill, cucumber, and strawberries. Radish and dill repel insect pests. The shallow roots of lettuce don’t compete for the water and nutrients needed by deep-rooted carrots so they do well together. Strawberries and cucumbers help keep weeds at bay and offer shade to keep soil moist. Plants you should not plant with lettuce include parsley; it can cause lettuce to bolt too early in the season. Beans and lettuce are both susceptible to a fungal mold called sclerotia. Cabbage can produce root secretions that inhibit the germination of lettuce seeds.
Melon Companion Plants
You can plant melons with almost anything. One exception is potatoes. Potatoes can attract melon aphids.
Peppers Companion Plants
Peppers grow well next to tomatoes, beans, onions, geranium, and petunias. Geranium repels Japanese beetles from peppers. Petunias repel a variety of insect pests and attract pollinators to pepper plants. Don’t plant peppers near fennel. Fennel roots secrete a substance that can inhibit the growth of nearby plants.
Peppers and beans do have different soil preferences; beans
prefer neutral soil pH and peppers prefer slightly acidic soil, but beans will
tolerate some soil acidity. Beans that vine should be planted some distance
from peppers. The vines could grow over the plants, reducing light and even
strangling the pepper plants. If your garden spacing is tight, it would be
preferable to plant bush beans.
Potato Companion Plants
Potatoes are good companions for corn, eggplant, beans, peas, cabbage, sage, nasturtium, coriander, and catnip. Sage repels flea beetles. Nasturtium, coriander and catnip repel Colorado potato beetles. Avoid planting potatoes near squash, tomato, cucumber, spinach, pumpkin, and raspberries because all of these can make potatoes more susceptible to blight. Fennel can inhibit growth. Onions, turnips and other root crops compete for water and nutrients.
Pumpkin Companion Plants
Good companion plants for pumpkins are corn, melons, dill, beans, radish, and oregano. Radish and oregano repel a variety of insect pests. Dill repels squash bugs. Don’t plant pumpkins near potatoes; the pumpkin plants can make potato plants more susceptible to blight.
Spinach Companion Plants
Spinach is a good companion to just about any vegetable or berry plant. Be sure to plant some radishes nearby, they help repel leaf miners from spinach plants. Potatoes use a lot of water and nutrients so they’re not a good choice for planting next to spinach.
Squash Companion Plants
Beans, corn, dill, radish, mint, nasturtium, and onions are all good choices to plant with squash. Dill repels Squash Bugs. Radish, nasturtium, and mint repel a variety of insect pests. Squash is not a good companion for potatoes since they both have high water and nutrient needs.
Tomato Companion Plants
To improve health, enhance flavor and protect from pests, plant tomatoes with asparagus, carrot, parsley, basil, marigold, and garlic. Garlic repels red spider mites. Avoid planting tomatoes next to potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or broccoli. These will all compete with tomatoes for water and nutrients. Corn and tomatoes both attract a caterpillar called a Corn Earworm (also known as Tomato Fruitworm) that can damage both plants.
Turnip Companion Plants
Plant turnips next to peas, mint, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beans, lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Planting turnips near other large root crops with similar nutritional needs increases competition for water and soil nutrients. It’s best not to plant turnips next to beets, parsnips, carrots or potatoes.
Zucchini Squash Companion Plants
Zucchini plants grow well near corn, beans, and nasturtium. Nasturtium plants repels a variety of insect pests. Don’t plant zucchini next to potatoes. Zucchini and potato plants can compete for water and nutrients to the point that neither will thrive.
Which vegetables you plant together can make a difference. Paying attention to plant heights, growth habits, nutritional and water needs, and potential pests and diseases will help you place good vegetable companions together. The result will be a vegetable garden with more productive plants and fewer pests and diseases.
Discover more about the additional flowers, vegetables and herbs from the companion planting list:
Basil | Carrot | Catnip | Cauliflower | Chamomile | Chives | Clover | Coriander or Cilantro | Dill | Fennel | Garlic | Geranium | Kale | Leeks | Marigold | Mint | Nasturtium | Onion | Oregano | Parsley | Peas | Petunia | Radish | Rosemary | Sage | Scallion | Strawberry | Summer savory
Looking for more vegetable gardening tips and ideas? Find more here!