Photo by: Proven Winners.

Many factors help plants to grow, including light, soil, water, and nutrients. What many gardeners overlook are the beneficial relationships that exist between plants, a growing method known as companion planting.

For example, one plant may deter garden pests that harm another species, while in return, that other species might enhance soil nutrients. Vegetables in particular see better yields, flavor, and pest and disease resistance when sited next to good neighbors. Conversely, certain combinations can result in poor performance.

Companion planting isn’t an exact science. Some combinations work better than others; factors such as weather and regional differences can impact effectiveness. Understanding how plants, insects, and organisms work together can reduce or eliminate the need for inorganic remedies, increase your gardening successes, and influence your plant choices.

Here are some key vegetables and herbs to consider, along with their beneficial helpers and plants to avoid. These are general recommendations; results may vary.

VEGETABLE GARDEN COMPANION PLANTS

Photo by Africa Studio / Shutterstock.

ASPARAGUS

Companions: Basil, coriander, dill, marigold, parsley, tomato

Basil, marigold, parsley, and tomato protect against asparagus beetle. Coriander and dill repel pests such as aphids and spider mites.

Keep away from: Garlic, onion, potato

Photo by: Proven Winners.

BASIL

Companions: Asparagus, beet, borage, carrot, chamomile, chives, marigold, oregano, pepper, radish, tomato, turnip

Borage improves the growth and flavor of basil. Flowering herbs such as chamomile, chives, and oregano enhance essential oil content in basil. When planted together, basil and marigold are a potent natural pest repellant.

Keep away from: Cucumber, fennel, rue, sage

Benefits of growing basil: Basil repels aphids, asparagus beetle, mosquitoes, and tomato hornworm. It also boosts tomato yields, while the flowers attract insect pollinators.

Learn more about growing basil.

Photo by: PosiNote / Shutterstock.

BEANS (BUSH)

Companions: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, catnip, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, kale, marigold, nasturtium, peas, potato, radish, rosemary, squash, strawberry, tomato

Catnip repels flea beetle, a common vegetable pest. Marigold and potato deter Mexican bean beetle. Nasturtium and rosemary repel bean beetle.

Keep away from: Allium relatives such as chives, garlic, onion, and shallots can stunt the growth of legumes such as beans.

Benefits of growing beans: Beans provide nitrogen to the soil.

Photo by: smereka / Shutterstock.

BEANS (POLE)

Companions: Broccoli, cabbage, carrot, catnip, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, marigold, nasturtium, peas, potato, radish, rosemary, squash, strawberry, tomato

Corn acts as a natural trellis while providing shade. Squash shades the roots and repels pests.

Keep away from: Pole beans can experience stunted growth when planted near beets, but bush beans are unaffected. Vegetables in the allium family such as chives, garlic, onion, and shallots can also stunt pole bean growth.

Benefits of growing beans: Beans provide nitrogen to the soil.

Photo by: Denis Pogostin / Shutterstock.

BEETS

Companions: Beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onion

Garlic improves growth and flavor of beets.

Keep away from: Pole beans and beets stunt each other’s growth.

Benefits of growing beets: Composted beet leaves add magnesium to the soil.

Photo by: Tatiana Zinchenko / Shutterstock.

BROCCOLI

Companions: Basil, beet, celery, cucumber, dill, garlic, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, potato, radish, rosemary, spinach, thyme

Dill attracts predatory wasps that control pests. Rosemary repels cabbage fly. Celery, potato, and onion improve the flavor of broccoli.

Keep away from: Asparagus, beans (pole), corn, melons, pepper, pumpkin, squash, strawberry

Photo by: DronG / Shutterstock.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Companions: Basil, beans, beet, carrot, garlic, mint, nasturtium, onion, peas, thyme

Brussels sprouts are susceptible to a number of insect pests, including aphids, beetles, cabbage looper, cutworm, leafminer, and squash bug. Pungent companions such as basil, garlic, onion, and mint can repel these pests.

Keep away from: Beans (pole), strawberry, tomato. Strawberries can inhibit growth of Brussels sprouts.

Photo by: Bernd Marczak / Pixabay.

CABBAGE

Companions: Beans (bush), beet, celery, chamomile, dill, mint, onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme

Marigolds and aromatic herbs such as mint, rosemary, and thyme repel cabbage moth. Dill, celery, garlic, mint, and onion enhance the taste of cabbage.

Keep away from: Beans (pole), mustard, strawberry, tomato.

Photo by: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.

CARROTS

Companions: Beans, chives, lettuce, onion, pea, pepper, radish, rosemary, sage, tomato

Beans fix nitrogen into the soil. Chives improve growth and flavor. Onion, parsley, rosemary, and sage deter carrot fly.

Keep away from: Dill, parsnip. Dill may stunt the growth of carrots.

Photo by: Montholz / Shutterstock.

CORN

Companions: Beans, cucumber, marigold, melon, parsley, peas, potato, pumpkin, squash, sunflower

Corn is a heavy feeder; beans and peas add nitrogen to the soil. Marigolds repel Japanese beetles.

Keep away from: Celery, tomato. Tomato attracts pests that also attack corn, including tomato hornworm and corn earworm.

Benefits of growing corn: Corn provides shade and is a natural trellis for pole beans.

Photo by: Nolte Lourens / Shutterstock.

CUCUMBER

Companions: Beans, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, dill, lettuce, marigold, nasturtium, peas, radish

Dill attracts beneficial insects that feed on pests such as cucumber beetle. Nasturtium deters aphids and beetles while improving growth and flavor. Radish repels pests including cucumber beetle and rust fly.

Keep away from: Aromatic herbs (except dill), potato, tomato. Cucumbers grow poorly when planted near potatoes or sage.

Photo by: inxti / Shutterstock.

DILL

Companions: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, corn, cucumber, lettuce, onion

Keep away from: Cilantro, carrot, tomato. Dill cross-pollinates with cilantro and carrot.

Benefits of growing dill: Dill discourages pests including aphids, cabbage loopers, and spider mites. It also attracts beneficial insects such as bees, hoverflies, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps.

Photo by: Philippe Motigny / Shutterstock.

EGGPLANT

Companions: Beans, catnip, marigold, peas, pepper

Catnip repels flea beetles, a common vegetable pest. Eggplant is a heavy feeder; beans and peas fix nitrogen into the soil. Marigold deters nematodes.

Keep away from: Other solanum relatives such as pepper, potatoes, tomatoes make eggplant more susceptible to blight.

Photo by: Denis Pogostin / Shutterstock.

GARLIC

Companions: Beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, dill, eggplant, kohlrabi, pepper, potato, spinach, tomato

Chamomile improves garlic flavor. Rue repels maggots. Summer savory and yarrow also benefit garlic.

Keep away from: Garlic can stunt the growth of asparagus, beans, parsley, peas, and sage.

Benefits of growing garlic: Garlic keeps away a wide range of pests, including ants, aphids, cabbage looper, fungus gnat, Japanese beetle, onion fly, snails, and spider mites.

Photo by: Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock.

KALE

Companions: Beet, beans, celery, cucumber, dill, garlic, lettuce, mint, onion, peas, pepper, potato, rosemary, sage, spinach

Kale is a heavy nitrogen feeder. Plant near beans or peas, which add nitrogen to the soil.

Keep away from: Avoid planting kale near other brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower to prevent spread of disease.

Photo by: David Litman / Shutterstock.

LETTUCE

Companions: Asparagus, basil, beans, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrot, chives, corn, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, mint, onion, peas, radish, spinach, strawberry, tomato

Basil improves lettuce flavor while repelling mosquitoes. Beets supply minerals to the soil that lettuce needs to thrive. Chives and garlic deter aphids. Mint repels cabbage moths and slugs, which are lettuce pests.

Keep away from: Some sources say to avoid planting lettuce near brassicas such as broccoli and cabbage, while others say it’s fine. Results may vary. Cabbage, celery, and parsley may inhibit lettuce growth.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

MINT

Companions: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, squash

Keep away from: Chamomile, parsley

Benefits of growing mint: Mint is a natural pest deterrent. It repels flea beetle, which chews holes in the leaves of cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and radish. It also discourages aphids, carrot root fly, mealy bugs, onion fly, and spider mites. Mint attracts beneficial insects such as hoverflies, ladybugs, and predatory wasps that feed on pests.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

ONION

Companions: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, chamomile, lettuce, pepper, strawberry, tomato

Keep away from: Asparagus, beans, peas, sage. Don’t plant near other alliums such as garlic, leek, and shallots to avoid spreading onion maggots or rust.

Benefits of growing onions: Onion repels brassica pests including cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, and cabbage maggots. It also deters aphids, carrot fly, and Japanese beetle.

Photo by: Irina Bg / Shutterstock.

PEAS

Companions: Beans, carrot, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potato, radish, spinach, tomato, turnip

Keep away from: Allium relatives such as chives, garlic, onion, and shallots can stunt the growth of peas.

Benefits of growing peas: Peas are good companions to many other vegetables because they increase the availability of nitrogen in the soil.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

PEPPERS

Companions: Basil, beans, beet, carrot, chives, coriander, cucumber, dill, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, parsley, onion, spinach, tomato

Basil deters aphids, spider mites, and thrips, and improves the flavor of peppers. Dill and coriander repel aphids and encourage beneficial insects. Parsley attracts predatory wasps that feed on aphids. Alliums such as chives, garlic, and onion repel aphids, beetles, slugs, and spider mites.

Keep away from: Brassicas including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Learn more about how to grow peppers.

Photo by: Dmitri Malyshev / Shutterstock.

POTATOES

Companions: Basil, beans, cabbage, chamomile, corn, horseradish, lettuce, marigold, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, thyme

Beans repel Colorado potato beetle. Horseradish increases disease resistance. Many herbs such as basil, chamomile, parsley, and thyme enhance potato flavor while attracting beneficial insects.

Keep away from: Cucumber, raspberry, and tomato attract harmful insects. Avoid planting near other vegetables in the nightshade family such as eggplant, pepper, and tomato to keep from spreading soil pathogens. Asparagus, carrot, fennel, onion, and turnip can stunt the growth of potatoes.

Learn more about growing potatoes.

Photo by: Hirundo / Shutterstock.

RADISH

Companions: Beans, carrot, chervil, cucumber, lettuce, melon, nasturtium, peas, spinach, squash

Chervil deters aphids and slugs which are radish pests. Chervil and nasturtium improve growth and flavor of radishes.

Keep away from: Brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Hyssop stunts the growth of radish.

Benefits of growing radishes: Radish can be used as a “trap plant” to lure pests such as root maggots and flea beetles away from other vegetables. It also repels cucumber beetle and squash bugs.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

ROSEMARY

Companions: Beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, kale

Keep away from: Pumpkins, squash

Benefits of growing rosemary: The pungent scent of rosemary repels many pests including bean beetle, cabbage looper, cabbage moth, carrot root fly, slugs, snails, and weevils. The flowers of rosemary attract insect pollinators. Rosemary improves the flavor of sage when planted together.

Photo by: Andrei Nekrassov / Shutterstock.

SQUASH / ZUCCHINI

Companions: Beans, borage, corn, marigold, nasturtium, peas, radish, tansy

Borage attracts insect pollinators and improves growth and flavor. Nasturtium deters aphids and squash bugs and improves growth and flavor. Radish and tansy repel squash bugs.

Keep away from: Potato, pumpkin. Potato is a heavy feeder, competing for nutrients. Pumpkin, which is closely related to squash, can cross-pollinate, affecting seed saved for the next year’s crop.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

STRAWBERRY

Companions: Beans, borage, caraway, chives, garlic, lettuce, onion, sage, spinach, thyme

Alliums such as garlic and chives repel predatory insects. Borage attracts pollinators and repels strawberry pests while increasing disease resistance. Caraway attracts beneficial insects such as wasps that kill strawberry pests. Planting lettuce, spinach, and strawberry together can enhance productivity.

Keep away from: Plants that are susceptible to verticillium wilt such as eggplant, pepper, potato, and tomato should not be planted nearby. Strawberry can inhibit the growth of brassicas such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Learn more about how to grow strawberries.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

TOMATO

Companions: Asparagus, basil, borage, carrot, celery, chives, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, marigold, mint, onion, parsley

Asparagus repels nematodes that attack tomato plants. Basil improves tomato growth and deters pests such as flies and tomato hornworm. Borage improves growth and flavor and repels tomato hornworm.

Keep away from: Don’t plant near dill or brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, as they can stunt tomato growth. Keep away from corn, which attracts tomato hornworm.

Benefits of growing tomatoes: Plant tomatoes near asparagus to repel asparagus beetle.

Learn more about how to grow tomatoes.

Photo: Besjunior / Shutterstock.

HISTORY OF COMPANION PLANTING:
THE THREE SISTERS

The concept of companion planting goes back hundreds of years. Indigenous Peoples planted corn, beans, and squash together, a symbiotic combination known as the Three Sisters.

Corn provides a natural trellis for climbing beans, while bean vines anchor the corn stalks, making them less prone to being blown over. Beans attract beneficial insects while boosting nitrogen levels in the soil, helping corn and squash to grow. The large leaves of squash suppress weeds and provide shade to cool the soil, slowing water evaporation. Tiny spines along the stems and leaves of squash deter predators and insect pests.

At the end of the growing season, the spent plants are worked back into the soil to provide nutrients for the following year.

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