Grow smarter not harder with companion planting (2024)

Companion planting is a method of gardening that involves placing plants close together for mutual benefit. It’s a permaculture tactic and a practice as old as agriculture itself. Using this method can vastly improve your harvests while also protecting soil health.

Grow smarter not harder with companion planting (1)

The practice of companion planting is rooted in the understanding that certain plants can enhance the growth, flavor and health of nearby plants. By strategically pairing plants, gardeners can create an ecosystem that promotes biodiversity and sustainability.

Why we should practice companion planting

There are so many valuable reasons to practice this gardening technique. The top three benefits of companion plants include using less pesticides, growing better crops and its more eco-friendly to our planet.

Dan Morris, an accomplished gardener and author of Fire and Saw, says, “Companion planting is useful for various purposes. In our garden, we do it primarily for pest control, attracting pollinators, shade and nutrient sharing.”

Common companion plant combinations

There are a few popular companion plantings you can easily start using right away. Pick and choose from these popular combinations and increase your garden’s output.

Plant tomatoes together with basil and the basil will help repel insects and it’s believed to improve the flavor of tomatoes. Likewise, carrots and onions work well together because the smell of onions can deter carrot flies, while carrots are said to repel onion flies and aphids, making them a great pair. Another popular combination is bean plants and corn, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits corn, while cornstalks provide a natural trellis for bean vines to climb.

Radishes can help repel cucumber beetles and other pests, so planting radishes and cucumbers together protects the cucumbers. Planting tall flowers like marigolds or nasturtiums with lettuce can provide shade for the lettuce, which prefers cooler temperatures and can help repel pests. Pigweed can lure away leafminers from pepper plants. Just be sure to remove the pigweed before it seeds.

Marigolds are known to repel nematodes and other garden pests, making them beneficial when planted near many vegetables. Nasturtiums can repel squash bugs and other pests, protecting squash plants.

Plant cabbage and dill together. The dill will attract beneficial wasps that prey on cabbage worms, offering natural protection for cabbage and related plants. When you plant borage together with strawberries it strengthens the resistance of strawberries to pests and disease and can improve their flavor.

By no means is that a complete list of beneficial companion planting options. There are many more to choose from. Often times a master gardener in your area can help you with more combinations for your specific needs.

What not to plant together

It is equally important while planning your plant companions to look into combinations of plants that don’t work well together. Sometimes plants from the same family can invite more disease to your gardens due to competition for resources, attraction of pests or negative chemical interactions. Some plants actively keep others from growing to the best of their ability, such as onions with beans.

Who should try this planting technique?

Anyone interested in gardening, from novices to experts, can benefit from companion planting. It’s especially appealing to those who value organic gardening, sustainability and creating a more diverse garden environment. Big or small, all crop sizes will benefit from companion planting.

If you love flowers in your garden, then just adding plants like calendulas andmarigolds, to almost any garden is a great way to get started. They’re easy to grow from seeds, attract pollinators, and often repel soil pests as well.

When to companion plant

Companion planting can be implemented at any time during the planting season. It’s a principle that can be applied when you’re sowing seeds directly into the soil, and interplant those seeds around another beneficial seed. If you’re transplanting seedlings, add some plants from the list above. If you’re planning your garden layout, it’s a great time to add areas for beneficial plants to your plan this year.

Where can you companion plant

Companion planting is versatile and can be beneficial in gardens of any size. Whether you have a sprawling outdoor garden, a small backyard plot or even containers on a balcony or windowsill, integrating companion plants is almost always beneficial.

In essence, companion planting is a holistic approach to gardening that emphasizes the relationships between plants. It’s a practice that not only can lead to a healthier, more productive garden but also fosters a deeper connection with the natural world.

Laura Sampson ofLittle House Big Alaska is on a mission to teach modern family-oriented home cooks how to make old-fashioned foods new again. She shares her passion for home cooking, backyard gardening and homesteading on her website and blog.

Grow smarter not harder with companion planting (2024)


How would you describe companion planting? ›

Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including weed suppression, pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity.

What herbs should not be planted near each other? ›

Examples of herbs that do not grow well together include chamomile and dill, dill and fennel, and basil and rue. It's best to research the specific herbs if you plan to grow and their compatibilities before planting them together.

Why is companion planting beneficial? ›

There are many potential benefits of companion planting including repelling or trapping pests, weed suppression, improved soil fertility, improved pollination and increased crop productivity.

How long has companion planting been around? ›

By companion planting, different species occupy the same space, without getting in each other's way. Companion planting is used both by the amateur gardener and at the forefront of agricultural innovation. But it's not new; companion planting's most famous technique was being developed 4,000 years ago.

What is another word for companion planting? ›

Today we call this companion planting. Intercropping is also another word used for companion planting. There are many web sites and planting charts available with a quick internet search.

How do you describe a companion? ›

a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another:my son and his two companions. a person employed to accompany, assist, or live with another in the capacity of a helpful friend.

What plants Cannot grow next to each other? ›

Examples of Plants That Should Not Be Grown Together
AsparagusFennel, Garlic, Onions, Potatoes
KohlrabiTomatoes, Peppers, Pole Beans
OnionsAsparagus, Beans, Dill, Peas, Sage
PeasChives, Garlic, Onions, Potatoes, Pumpkin
21 more rows

What should you not plant cucumbers next to? ›

Aromatic Herbs: Herbs like sage and rosemary, while useful in cooking, can inhibit the growth of cucumbers. They contain natural oils that can slow down the growth of cucumber plants. Brassicas: Plants like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can compete with cucumbers for the same nutrients in the soil.

How close should you plant companion plants? ›

In general, plants with known positive relationships should be planted within two or three rows of each other. Plants that have negative or detrimental relationships, should be planted at least two to three rows apart.

What are the three companion plants? ›

The Three Sisters planting method, commonly known as companion planting, entails growing corn, beans, and squash together in a mutually beneficial arrangement. It originated in North America around 3000 years ago.

Who planted the first garden in the Bible? ›

According to the Genesis account (2:4–3:24), God created Adam from the dust of the ground and then planted the Garden of Eden with the “tree of life” and the forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” at its centre.

Does companion planting increase yield? ›

Companion planting is a traditional gardening practice, designed to improve crop yield by attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects.

What are the Three Sisters crops? ›

The Iroquois and the Cherokee called corn, bean, and squash “the three sisters” because they nurture each other like family when planted together. These agriculturalists placed corn in small hills planting beans around them and interspersing squash throughout of the field.

What is a fancy word for plant lover? ›

anthophile - Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

What is one word for a person who loves gardening? ›

A plantsman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener (amateur or professional), nurseryman or nurserywoman. "Plantsman" can refer to a male or female person, though the terms plantswoman, or even plantsperson, are sometimes used.

What is the concept of companion planting also referred to as? ›

Companion planting is also known as intercropping or interplanting. The concept is to pair selective plants together to make the best use of your garden space, aid in improving the soil, provide structural support for climbing plants, attract pollinators and deter undesirable insects.

How close is considered companion planting? ›

Plants that have known beneficial relationships (friends) should be planted within two or three rows of each other. Plants that are known to have detrimental relationships (foes) should be planted at least 2-3 rows apart.


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