As humans, we all have people in our lives that we love and get along with. Companionship is such an important thing for us, but did you know it’s also very important for plants? Spring is here! Get your green thumbs ready- here’s how to maximize your garden for best results using companion planting tricks.
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is when primary and secondary crops are grown together to enhance the growing process (1). This is done mainly for pest management purposes (1). It’s safe to say that some plants work better in pairs! Read this next to discover other natural ways to manage pests in your garden.
Companion plants are one category of biocontrol plants (2). Biocontrol plants are added to crop systems with the goal of enhancing the productivity of crops through pest attraction, mutual benefit, and/or pest regulation (2). Overall, companion planting leads to increased crop productivity, which is what every gardener wants (2).
Benefits of Companion Planting
Plants That Do Pair Well Together
- Basil and Tomato
Basil and tomato don’t just go well together in pasta sauce; they also complement each other well when grown together in the garden! Basil improves the flavor and vigor of tomatoes while also repelling a number of insects that are attracted to tomatoes (3).
- Soybeans and Corn
Corn and soybeans are the foundation of many food plots (4). They grow well alongside one another, with soybeans repelling Japanese beetles and chinch bugs from corn crops (3).
- Brassicas and Herbs
The broader category of brassicas, which includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, and turnip, benefit from being grown alongside herbs such as mint, rosemary, and sage (3). Although these plant categories are usually grown as monocultures, they are actually a great complimentary species (5)!
- Marigolds and Beans
Marigolds are good companions for beans as they protect them from root nematodes, which feed on plant roots and kill plants (6). Marigolds also attract pollinating insects, which help promote the growth of bush beans (6).
- Chamomile and Onions
Even though this may seem like a strange pairing, chamomile improves the flavor of onions when planted near them (3). Chamomile also has a mosquito deterring scent and attracts beneficial insects like hoverflies and ladybugs (7).
Plants That Don’t Pair Well Together
- Tomatoes and Corn
Although tomatoes and corn work well together in a salad, they can’t be grown together in the garden. Tomato plants are extremely sensitive when it comes to companions and corn attracts tomato pests (3).
- Onions and Peas
Onions are generally pretty great companions for other plants; however, being planted next to any variety of peas can be detrimental to onions (8).
- Garlic and Beans
Garlic is a plant that offers pest-deterring benefits to nearly all its neighbors, with the exception of beans (9). When garlic is planted near bean crops, it tends to stunt their growth (9).
- Fennel and Vegetable Plants
Fennel isn’t a suitable companion for any garden foodplant (3). It inhibits the growth of tomatoes, kohlrabi, bush beans, and other vegetables (3). Keep fennel far away from your vegetable garden!
- Carrots and Potatoes
Carrots shouldn’t be grown in close proximity to potatoes or other root crops as they compete for available phosphorous, which inhibits their ability to grow (3).
Companion planting is a great way to promote crop growth using natural methods. By pairing the right plants together, you’ll have a healthy, bountiful garden fully blooming in no time! Learn more tips and tricks on how to successfully grow your garden this spring here.
(1) Bresch, C., Desneux, N., Brun, R., Bout, A., Boll, R., Poncet, C. (2012, April 25). Secondary plants used in biological control: A review. International Journal of Pest Management, 58 (2). Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F09670874.2012.659229
(2) Parolin, P., Bresch, C., Poncet, C., Desneux, N. (2014). Introducing the term “Biocontrol Plants” for integrated pest management. Scientia Agricola, 71 (1). Retrieved from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-90162014000100011
(3) MacDonald, M. (2018, April 29). Companion Planting. Retrieved from https://www.westcoastseeds.com/garden-resources/articles-instructions/companion-planting/
(4) Harper, C. (2012, March 28). Mixing Corn and Soybeans in Food Plots. Retrieved from https://www.qdma.com/mixing-corn-soybeans-food-plots/
(5) Brassica & Herbs (n.d.) Retrieved from http://pasturegenetics.com/seeds/brassica-herbs/
(6) Dalziel, C. (2015, November 2). Companion Planting with Herbs for a More Robust Garden. Retrieved from https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/companion-planting/
(7) Larum, D. (2018, April 4). Chamomile Plant Companions: What To Plant With Chamomile. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/chamomile/chamomile-plant-companions.htm
(8) Baessler, L. (2018, April 4). Companion Planting With Onions – Lean About Onion Plant Companions. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/onion/onion-plant-companions.htm
(9) Vanderlinden, C. (2017, December 23). The Best Companion Plants for Garlic (Allium sativum). Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/companion-plants-for-garlic-2540042
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