In this post, we dive into companion planting, what it is, and why you want to incorporate this strategy into your garden plans this year. Make sure you download and print the Companion Planting Chart for easy referral throughout the gardening season.
Welcome to learning all about companion gardening with my companion gardening chart! Many tips and tricks for growing a healthy and thriving at-home garden exist. That is why I am so excited to start this journey to garden companion planting with you. Learn from my research and experiences and download the free printable PDF Companion Gardening Chart and Guide.
You may have heard of this method before and wondered how well it works. Or you’ve applied companion gardening tricks to your practice because your grandpa told you to. But why? And does it really work? Never fear; we will explore all you need to know about companion gardening techniques in the coming weeks.
Researchers continue to learn more and more about this technique, meaning there’s some information that has been revised, and always more to learn! Let’s get our hands dirty together as we dig into this thorough Companion Gardening Chart and Guide based on proven science and lore passed down through the ages.
what is companion planting?
“…grouping plants together to benefit one another for maximized growth and a flourishing garden.”
Companion gardening is not only about what you grow and how you do it– it’s all about grouping plants to benefit one another for maximized growth and a flourishing garden! You can use this fascinating method for both vegetable and flower gardens. You’ll learn what plants to grow near one another to give them the best chance to grow strong and abundantly. Sound good? Here is how.
Companion gardening is the best way to use your space as efficiently as possible. Each seed or plant is planted intentionally near another to boost their growth and provide their needs. In some cases, one plant benefits from another, and the other is unaffected. However, there are also groups and pairs of plants that mutually benefit from being planted near each other.
to better understand this strategy, here are some examples of companion plants
- Basil and Tomatoes are the essential ingredients in many of my favorite dishes like this Mozzarella Bruschetta Recipe. But did you know they are also a fantastic pair to plant together? The basil repels pests away from vulnerable tomato plants while attracting pollinators like bees. Parsley has a similar relationship with tomatoes as basil does. It also reduces the chance of your tomato plant becoming infested with pesky bugs.
- Garlic has a powerful scent that deters all kinds of damaging insects. This plant is excellent for growing amongst many crops, such as potatoes, cabbage, and fruit trees or bushes. But, there also are quite a few that you need to keep away from garlic, which we will discuss later.
- Gardeners have used Marigolds for centuries to battle plant-parasitic nematodes and attract beneficial insects. The roots of marigolds hold a chemical that is nematicidal, insecticidal, and antiviral. However, you can’t plant marigolds once and think you have slayed the nematodes. Nematodes are resilient beasts, so you must keep the marigolds in battle. Marigolds are best when grown as a cover crop before planting your garden. And don’t dig them up; mulch them into the soil at the end of the season. The best marigolds for companion planting are French Marigolds.
- Calendula also repels nematodes and the dreaded Tomato Hornworm and Asparagus beetle. It also attracts butterflies, bees, and hoverflies, which eat aphids.
- Plant beans with potatoes, garlic, or nasturtiums. Potatoes repel Mexican bean beetles, and beans repel Colorado potato bugs. Nasturtiums attract hoverflies, which nosh on aphids.
- Onions will repel carrot flies from carrots and aphids from aphid-prone vegetables. But make sure they are onion-friendly veggies. The attached chart tells you what vegetables and herbs to avoid growing with onions.
The free, printable Companion Planting Guide lists ten companion plants for the five most commonly grown vegetables. We are working on adding more lists soon. If you click here to have the initial chart emailed, we will email you the expanded companion planting guide when done.
we are still learning about companion planting
As I briefly mentioned before, experts are still studying companion gardening. Yet, it is actually an ancient practice. Much of what we previously knew about this method was information passed down from generation to generation.
You may be familiar with the Three Sisters, a method of growing beans, corn, and squash together supposedly taught to the settlers by Native Americans. Corn provides a natural trellis to support the pole beans’ growth. Beans fix the nitrogen in the soil for use by both corn and squash. The broad leaves of the squash grow close to the ground, providing natural mulch that suppresses weeds and helps keep the soil moist.
Researchers are studying these theories to discover the truth about companion gardening and its workings.
what are the benefits of companion planting?
Let’s discuss the benefits of this age-old technique. Below are six benefits of companion gardening.
naturally control common pests
Many companion gardening relationships have much to do with pest control in the garden., which is why organic gardening devotees have embraced this method. Ditch the harsh chemical-filled pesticides and adopt healthier habits for your garden and the planet.
With companion gardening, you can naturally deter the common pests that cause significant damage to vegetables, fruits, and flowers. For instance, the essential oil in thyme deters cabbage moths, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms.
Nasturtiums and Petunias act as trap crops, luring aphids, tomato hornworms, cabbage moths, and asparagus beetles away from your more susceptible crops. In the case of Petunias, the pests are trapped in their sticky stamen and die.
attract beneficial insects
In contrast to the benefit above, some plants attract helpful insects, like pollinating bees and butterflies! Some even attract bugs that consume pesky damaging insects. I’ll plant anything that attracts ladybugs, praying mantises, hoverflies, green lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
Larger plants can provide shade for smaller ones that require protection from the bright sunlight. An excellent example is planting towering corn among your small, heat-sensitive lettuce plants.
improve soil health
One of the most incredible benefits of companion gardening is its boosting soil health. The biochemical properties of the soil in your garden change based on what you plant. For example, tomatoes may absorb a particular nutrient from the ground more than strawberries.
Beans and peas add nitrogen to the soil, making it rich and healthy. Other plants with tap roots (think carrots, turnips, etc.) aerate the soil to improve drainage, add oxygen, and improve root health.
You can intentionally plan your garden to reduce the weeds that grow. Planting crops like potatoes minimizes the empty spaces where weeds often sprout.
maximize space in the garden
One of the most prominent perks of companion gardening is how it maximizes the space in your garden. Each plant is situated most effectively, and each one has a purpose. But that doesn’t happen by accident. Make a plan on where each plant will go and what companion plant should accompany it.
An important note, companion planting does not negate the need for adequate space between plants. Make sure to follow the guidelines for each plant.
how to plant a companion garden
As mentioned, pay attention to the spacing requirements for each plant when planting companion plants. The best course is to plan ahead of time, considering each plant’s growth habits, spacing requirements, and water and fertilizer needs. Some other suggestions to keep in mind:
- Don’t position a large plant such that it will block the sun from a smaller plant
- Don’t place two heavy feeders next to each other.
- The same holds for those that have high moisture needs; don’t position two plants that will compete for the water.
Plants that will attract beneficial insects to your garden include, but are not limited to:
- Basket of Gold
- Butterfly Weed
- Carpet Bugleweed
- Cilantro (Coriander)
- Common Yarrow
- Creeping Thyme
- English Lavender
- Fern Leaf Yarrow
- Lavender Globe Lily
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Sweet Alyssum
companion planting in raised bed or in-ground garden
You can use this planting guide for companion plants in raised beds and in-ground gardens. We do both.
more information about companion planting
what vegetables should not be planted next to each other?
Just as some plants benefit those around them, others don’t mix.
- Corn and tomatoes don’t work well together. They are both heavy feeders and tomato hornworms are attracted to tomatoes and corn. No bueno!
- The lovely sunflower produces seeds that are toxic to potatoes! So don’t underplant your sunflowers with spuds.
- Vampires aren’t the only ones who find garlic offensive. Garlic produces a chemical that will wilt lettuce leaves. Garlic also deleteriously affects legumes, asparagus, sage, and parsley.
Poor Fennel, no one wants to hang out with him! But why? Does it have an unearned lousy rap? This may be one of those old wives’ tales that might need to be debunked. I’ve read that fennel secretes a substance that kills plants around it, especially tomatoes and peppers. But then I’ve read many anecdotes of gardeners who have successfully interplanted fennel with other plants. I do know that it will attract a variety of beneficial insects. So, what are your experiences with fennel and other plants?
Legumes, including peas, pole beans, and bush beans, grow nodules on their roots that attract atmospheric nitrogen, which is unusable by plants and converts it into useful ammonia. The legume plant uses most of the fixed nitrogen, but some of the ammonia leaks back into the soil for uptake by other nearby plants. However, the most benefit comes if the legume plant is left in the ground and composted into it.
And, to ensure that your legume seeds have the right kind of bacteria for this nitrogen ‘fix,’ it is recommended that you apply an inoculant to the seeds when planting them in the ground or seed starting indoors. Each legume requires a different rhizobia bacteria, so check which one you need for the legumes you will be planting.
Don’t be put off by the thought of inoculating your legume seeds; it is just a matter of sprinkling some of the powder into the hole with your seeds. It couldn’t be easier.
The Companion Planting Chart often refers to brassicas as ‘bad neighbors.’ Since the list of brassicas is long, we are grouping them under that umbrella. But know that you should include any of these plants in the mustard and cabbage family when ‘brassica’ is noted. Here are some of the more commonly used and familiar brassicas:
- brussels sprouts
- bok choy
- mustard greens
other organic methods to improve the health of your soil and garden
make sure to nab the free, printable companion planting chart!
This free, printable companion planting guide shares ten plants that make great companions for strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, and onions. It also includes plants to avoid and plants that attract beneficial insects.
You can nab the printable in the Library or click the button below to have it delivered to your email inbox. Open and print the Chart & Guide to get started, then off to the garden store!
Bookmark this page or pin the following image to return to this Companion Planting Chart and Guide post in the future.
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