Companion Planting 101

Companion Planting 101

Most gardeners would agree that one of the best methods of growing happy and healthy plants is the prevention of unwanted pests and diseases. A fantastic way to prevent disease and unwanted pests is to grow plants that complement each other. Planting compatible plants together prevents problems, but it can also introduce many excellent benefits to help your plants thrive. If you're new to companion planting, you'll want to grab a pen and paper to take down a few of these great suggestions for pairing up your plants.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the process of planning and implementing a garden that will create a beneficial natural ecosystem to help our plants grow. We can introduce beneficial pollinators while deterring unwanted pests like Aphids, Flea Beetles, Hornworm, Whitefly and more. Companion planting can is a great way to add more nutrients to the soil. It can ensure your plants rooting systems aren't fighting for nutrients. It can also provide shade for smaller plants that need it and more. Companion planting can even create new and enhanced flavours for vegetables and herbs!

Pests & Pollinators

When planning your garden, it's a good idea to consider the kinds of pests attracted to the plants you've chosen. By carefully reading the package or googling the plant, you might discover that certain plants are susceptible to certain pests and diseases. To avoid introducing these pests and diseases to your other plants, it's best to plant them further away or pair them with a plant that can help disguise, distract or introduce prey to these insects. Planting garlic chives near your carrots can disguise their smell from susceptible pests like Rootfly and beetles. Or, depending on the plant, introducing fennel in a planter to your garden can attract Hornflies that eat Aphids. The combinations are endless, so be sure to do your research before pairing your plants together.

Soil & Nutrients

Every plant has its own rooting system, which allows them to absorb nutrients. When planting your garden, it is essential to know what your plants' root system looks like to ensure that your plants aren't fighting for nutrients. For example, although carrots and radishes are both root vegetables, carrots develop their roots much later than radishes. Planting these two together will provide one another with enough space and similar growing conditions that they both need. Alternatively, planting similar root structures like carrots and potatoes together will create problematic growing conditions leaving both plants unsatisfied.

Growth 

Generally speaking, when spacing your plants, it's essential to know how much room each plant requires to prevent overcrowding. Alternatively, pairing certain plants together is a great way to benefit your plant's growth habits. When paired together, corn provides a natural trellis for beans. While beans provide fixed nitrogen levels in the soil for corn. You can use your plants to create a natural trellis, but you can also use them for protection against harsh UV rays for plants like lettuce. There are endless combinations to consider when planting for growth, so do your research before planting! 

Flavour

Looking to create some unique flavours in the garden this year? An excellent way to build flavour is by following a few tried and true companion combinations for added flavours! A common practice is to pair herbs with their compatible vegetable friends. When planted with basil, peppers absorb some of the basils' strong flavour through the soil, creating a unique pepper/basil taste! Or, plant chives with tomatoes and carrots for a boost of flavour while repelling Aphids and Beetles.

Plant companions

Companion planting has been around since the beginning of time. It can take many years to perfect your perfect combinations with unlimited possibilities. Lucky for us, many successful suggestions have been shared over time to help us make the right choice from the start. Below are some of the best tried and true companion combinations to help you create your best garden yet.

 Plant
 Companion
 Why
Place potted mint near plants that are often attacked by smell-driven insects to disguise their smell.
Fruit trees, Beets, Dill, Kale, Spinach, Potatoes, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Geranium, Marigolds, Nasturtiums Effective fungicide, deters pests including rabbits/deer.
Lavender Chamomile, Broccoli, Brussels, Basil, Lemon Balm, Squash, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce Attracts pollinators, while repelling unwanted pests like beetles.
Wormwood Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Sage, Rosemary Used as a tea to spray on non-edible plants, or potted beside plants to repel insects like Carrot Fleas.
Calendula Tomatoes, Asparagus, Peas, Carrots, Leafy Greens, Cucumbers

 

Acts as a lure for Aphids and Slugs. Calendula also repels Whitefly while attracting beneficials like Lacewigs, Hoverflies and Ladybug.

Sage Carrots, Tomatoes, Parsley, Strawberries, Rosemary, Beans, Thyme, Nasturtiums, Oregano, Broccoli, Brussels  Enhances flavours, deters pests like slugs, increase nitrogen in soil.
Borage Tomatoes, Cabbage, Strawberries, Squash Improves strawberry flavour while deterring tomato Hornworm and cabbage worms. Used to attract pollinators to squash, melons and cucumber. 
Thyme

 

Broccoli, Brussels, Strawberries,  Asparagus

Used as a tea and extracted onto cabbage plants to deter Whitefly. Thyme can also deter blackflies from roses.
Cucumber  Asparagus, Beans, Broccoli, Brussels, Celery, Corn, Dill, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Radish, Tomatoes, Sunflowers Sunflowers and Corn are both used by cucumber as trellises. Nasturtiums improve cucumbers flavour while Dill distracts pesky pests.
Carrots Broccoli, Brussels, Chives, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Pole Beans, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Tomatoes Benefits depend on the combination of plant pairings. Added taste and soil fertility is among the top best pairings. Be careful on placement as root plants can compete for nutrients.

 

Have a suggestion or question?
Let us know at info@wildwoodoutdoorliving.com. 
Sign up here for more blogs dedicated to better gardening!