Vegetable companion planting is a method of pairing vegetables that grow well together in a way that is beneficial. If you’ve never heard of it, or you’re interested in learning more about what vegetables to plant next to each other, then this beginner’s guide is for you!
Before we dig in, I want to say that this is a very vast topic, and I can not totally cover in one blog post (there are entire books on the subject!). Since it’s such a huge topic, it can be very overwhelming for new gardeners.
So in order to avoid the overwhelm, I’m just going to start by giving you an introduction to companion growing in this post. Then, to get you started quickly, I’m including a list of companion planting ideas you can try in your garden right away.
Once you understand the basics of companion gardening, and try a few of the simple plant pairings below, you can dive in deeper without feeling so overwhelmed. Let’s get started…
What Is Companion Planting?
Also referred to as “companion gardening” or “companion cropping”, companion planting is a way of grouping compatible vegetable plants together so that they will enhance or benefit each other in different ways.
But it’s not just about which vegetables grow well together, it’s also about what NOT to plant together. Some vegetables don’t like each other, which can cause negative effects when they are planted together.
So companion planting is about combining compatible vegetables, as well as avoiding the bad plant combinations.
What Is A Companion Plant?
Any plant that is beneficial to another type of plant in some way is referred to as a companion plant. For example, plants can benefit their companion vegetables by enriching the soil, providing shade, or attracting predatory insects that will feed on the bugs that commonly attack them.
On the flip side… some plants will compete with each other for nutrients, water or sunlight, or attract pests that plague other plants. These are not companion plants, and therefore should not be planted together.
Why Is Companion Planting Important?
It’s important to understand what plants grow well together in order to have a healthy and productive vegetable garden. Knowing what vegetables NOT to plant together is also a really good thing to learn about.
Once you get the hang of it, you can use companion vegetable gardening to help with pest, disease and weed control. That way you can prevent many common vegetable gardening problems, and give your plants the best growing environment that you can.
Benefits Of Companion Planting
Companion gardening has many benefits, including controlling pests, disease and weeds in the vegetable garden. Some vegetables can help enhance the growth, productivity and flavor of others, or deter the pests that feed on their companions. Certain plants also work as trap crops to lure pests away from vegetables, or improve the quality of the soil.
Taller plants can provide shade to cool season vegetables that don’t like the sun, and can double as plant supports for vining crops. Companion planting is also a great way to utilize the garden space that you have, especially for small gardens.
Companion Planting Examples To Get You Started
Like I said, it can be overwhelming, so try to focus on the which vegetables can be planted together first. Once you get the hang of that, you can worry about avoiding the bad combinations.
To get you started quickly, I put together a list of easy beneficial plant pairings you can use in your garden right away. This companion planting list includes many of the common vegetables you probably are already growing, and shows you what plants grow best together.
- Dill with cabbage family and cucumbers – Dill helps to deter pest insects like the flea beetle. Attracts pollinators and predatory insects that feed on pests like the cabbage worm. It’s also a favorite host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly!
- Nasturtium with squash – Nasturtium companion planting deters squash bugs and other pests that plague squash plants. It also attracts pollinators, and looks beautiful flowering with the squash too.
- Planting basil with tomatoes and peppers – Both green and purple basil are good companion plants for tomatoes and peppers. Basil is said to enhance their flavor, and it deters many pest insects. It also attracts pollinators to the garden if allowed to flower.
- Cilantro with spinach – Cilantro encourages the growth of spinach, and is great for repelling pests like aphids and whiteflies.
- Beans with lettuce and other salad greens – Pole beans add nitrogen to the soil, and also protect cool season vegetables that like shade, like lettuce and other greens. Growing pole beans on an arch trellis or a-frame support, and then planting the greens underneath is a great space saver!
- Planting marigolds with vegetables – Marigold flowers attract beneficial insects, and help deter pests. They are one of the best flowers to plant with vegetables. I love using them to border my vegetable garden, and plant as many as I can every year. You can never have too many marigolds.
- Rue with roses – Rue are good companion plants for roses to keep pests away (like Japanese beetles). These aren’t vegetables, but I wanted to add this pairing here to show you that companion gardening isn’t just for the vegetables. There are also beneficial plant pairings you can use in your flower garden too.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, vegetable garden companion planting is a huge topic! This list is only the tip of the iceberg, but gives you some really great combos to start with. It really is a fascinating topic, so hopefully you’ll do more research to learn more about which vegetables to grow together, and the best companion plants to use in your garden.
Recommended Companion Gardening Books
- Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting Book
- Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty
- Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers
- The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting
More Posts About Vegetable Gardening
- How To Attract Bees To Your Vegetable Garden
- Add Color To Your Vegetable Garden
- How To Plan A Vegetable Garden Layout
- Beginner’s Guide to Mulching Your Vegetable Garden
Have you ever tried companion planting? Tell me about your favorite combinations of compatible plants in the comment section below.