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Cabbage Companion Plants – What Works and what doesn’t.

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Are you wanting to grow big, beautiful, robust cabbage, but you’re worried about heavy pest pressure? We have some wonderful tips to help you pick the best companion plants for your cabbages to ensure you bring in your best cabbage crop harvest.

Read on to see which companion plants can help keep pests away from your cabbage plants and which plants you should never plant anywhere near your cabbages if you want them to thrive!

Cabbage planted alongside dill and marigolds as companion plants.
Table of Contents

    What are Companion Plants, And Why Do We Practice Companion Planting?

    Companion planting means planting vegetables, aromatic herbs, fruits, and flowers together with other vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers that benefit from each other’s growth. This method can help to improve soil health, increase harvest yields, and reduce pest problems, all naturally and sustainably.

    Companion planting can also help build soil health and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

    In addition, dense plantings can help conserve water and reduce soil erosion.

    Benefits of Cabbage Companion Plants

    Companion planting offers numerous benefits for cabbage plants and vegetable gardens, including improved soil health, pest control, and increased yields.

    By planting companion plants alongside cabbages, gardeners can create a healthy and diverse garden ecosystem that can help to support the growth and development of the cabbage plants.

    Improved Soil Health:

    Companion plants can play a crucial role in improving soil health. They can achieve this by adding nutrients or breaking up compacted soil. For instance, legumes such as beans and peas help fix nitrogen in the soil – an essential nutrient for plant growth.

    Moreover, plants with deep roots, like comfrey and yarrow, can draw nutrients from deep within the soil and make them readily available to other plants.

    Pest Control:

    Companion plants can also help control and deter pests by attracting beneficial insects or repelling harmful insects. For example, chamomile can attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies and parasitic wasps, which can help to control pests like aphids and cabbage worms.

    Additionally, marigolds have a strong scent that can repel harmful insects such as nematodes and whiteflies.

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    Increased Yields:

    Companion plants can also help to increase yields by providing shade, conserving moisture, and improving soil health.

    For example, planting fast-growing crops such as lettuce and radishes between rows of cabbage can help to provide shade, which can help reduce soil moisture loss and maintain a consistent soil temperature. This can help improve the cabbage plants’ overall health and productivity.

    Specialized Benefits

    Some companion plants offer specific benefits to cabbage plants. For example, chamomile can help control pests like aphids and cabbage worms (cabbage loopers) while improving soil health by increasing soil fertility and reducing soil compaction.

    Marigolds are another popular companion plant for cabbages, as they can help to improve soil health by adding nutrients to the soil and repelling harmful insects.

    Other beneficial companion plants for cabbages include dill, thyme, and mint, which can all help to control pests and improve soil health.

    Best Cabbage Companion Plants

    Regarding excellent companion plant planting for cabbages, some plants work better than others. Here are some of the best companion plants for cabbages, including their specific benefits and how they should be planted.

    Dill:

    Dill is a great friend of cabbage crops because it attracts bugs like wasps that can help control those pesky cabbage worms. These bugs lay their eggs inside the cabbage worm larvae, which then hatch and eat the larvae, effectively reducing the number of pests. This is great because we don’t have to use harmful pesticides that could impact the environment and other useful bugs.

    Not only that, but dill has deep roots that can help loosen compacted soil, which is good for the structure of the soil and the growth of cabbage plants. Plus, it can add nutrients to the soil, which is also great for the plants.

    To top it off, dill is a versatile herb perfect for cooking and pickling. It has a delicious and unique flavor can add a new dimension to your dishes. So, if you’re considering starting a garden, dill is a great addition!

    Leaves of cabbage, marigold flowers and dill on the vegetable garden.

    Marigolds:

    Marigolds are great companions for cabbages for several reasons. Firstly, their strong scent repels harmful insects such as nematodes, whiteflies, and aphids, which reduces the risk of pest problems for cabbage plants. The marigolds’ roots also produce alpha-terthienyl, a toxic compound harmful to certain soil-borne pests.

    Marigolds effectively suppress harmful root knot nematodes while attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings. If the flowers of French tagets marigolds are tilled under the soil after blooming, they can effectively destroy root-knot nematodes.

    Moreover, marigolds are easy to grow and require minimal care, making them a great choice for gardeners of all skill levels. They are also known for their bright and colorful flowers, which can add beauty and visual interest to the garden.

    • Learn More: Marigolds are wonderful stars in our summer and fall gardens and make excellent companions for a whole bevy of fruits and vegetables. See our guide on marigold companion plants and the varieties of marigolds that do best as companions in garden settings.
    Garden with white cabbage companion planted with marigolds.

    Thyme:

    Thyme is a great companion plant for cabbages because it repels cabbage moths and flea beetles, reducing the risk of pest problems for cabbage plants.

    Luckily, thyme will not compete for water or nutrients, making a good companion for cabbage. With that said, thyme doesn’t like to be waterlogged, and cabbage enjoys a moist envoirmemt, so plant your thyme on the outside rim around your cabbages, where you can water the cabbages without over-watering the thyme.

    • Learn More: Thyme can be a picky herb to grow, and many people can struggle to get thyme plants to flourish. We have an article to help you overcome that challenge and grow lush, fragrant thyme plants inside and out!
    Fully blooming thyme plants in a garden.  The image is used as an example of a plant that would do well planted as a companion for cabbage.

    Bush Beans:

    Bush Beans are a vegetable that can help to add nitrogen to the soil, which is important for the growth of cabbage and tomato plants. To plant beans, sow seeds in the spring after the last frost or plant seedlings in a sunny spot with well-draining soil in and around cabbage plants.

    Bush beans growing in the garden.

    Chamomile:

    Chamomile is a flowering herb that can attract beneficial insects and improve soil health. It can be planted around the edges of the cabbage bed or interspersed among other members of the cabbage and plants. Chamomile prefers well-draining soil and full sun.

    Chamomile is a champ of a plant to add to your garden. They make wonderful cut flowers, can make a cozy cup of relaxing tea, and can help ward off pesky mosquitoes. But chamomile can look right at home as a stand alone plant, added to cottage style gardens, or as we did here, added as a companion to our vegetable beds.

    Chamomile flowers in bloom.

    Tips For Planting Companion Plants With Cabbage

    When choosing companion plants for cabbages, selecting plants with similar soil and sun requirements is important.

    For example, plants that prefer moist soil may not be good companions for cabbages that prefer well-draining soil. Additionally, some plants may require more or less sun than cabbages, so choosing plants that thrive in the same conditions is important.

    To plant cabbage companion plants effectively, try interplanting them with the cabbage plants or planting them in a border around the edge of the cabbage bed. Be sure to give each plant enough space to grow, develop, and water them regularly to ensure the plants stay healthy and productive.

    In conclusion, choosing the right companion plants for cabbages can help to improve soil health, control pests, and increase yields. By selecting plants with similar soil and sun requirements to the cabbage family and planting them effectively, gardeners can create a healthy and thriving garden ecosystem that supports the growth and development of their cabbage plants.

    Cabbage and marigolds together in a garden as companion plants.

    The Worst Companion Plants for Cabbage

    Certain plants are known to be poor companions for cabbages, as they can compete for resources with other insect pests, attract pests, or hinder their growth. Here are some of the worst companions for cabbages:

    Plants in the Brassica family:

    Cabbages are part of the Brassica family, which includes other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Planting these vegetables nearby can increase the risk of pest and disease problems, as they can attract the same pests and diseases. Additionally, they may compete for the same soil nutrients, which can hinder the growth of each plant.

    That said, you will find contradicting information on that point on our site, as we tend to plant many of our brassicas together under row covers to help prevent damage from cabbage moths. Sometimes, you must consider what challenge will be more difficult to manage and make those decisions for you and your garden.

    Tomatoes:

    Tomatoes with an "X" through them.

    Tomatoes and cabbages are not good companions, as they can attract the same pests, such as the tomato hornworm, and may compete for soil nutrients. Additionally, tomatoes prefer a more acidic soil than cabbages, which can affect the growth of both plants.

    Pole beans:

    Pole beans with an "X" through them.

    While bush beans can be a good companion for cabbages, pole beans are not recommended. Pole beans can grow too tall and shade the cabbages, stunting their growth. Additionally, beans can fix nitrogen in the soil, producing excess nitrogen that can harm the cabbage plants.

    Strawberries:

    Strawberries with an "X" through them.

    Strawberries are not recommended as a companion for cabbages, as they can attract slugs and snails, harming the cabbage plants. Additionally, strawberries prefer a more acidic soil than cabbages, which can affect the growth of both plants.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid

    While companion planting can benefit cabbage plants, there are some common mistakes that gardeners should avoid when planting companion plants. Here are some common cabbage plant mistakes and tips on how to avoid them:

    Common Mistakes Gardeners Make When Companion Planting

    Planting incompatible plants:

    Some plants may be incompatible with cabbages and can even harm them. For example, plants in the nightshade family (such as tomatoes and peppers) can attract pests that attack cabbages.

    Planting too closely together:

    Overcrowding plants can lead to stunted growth, poor air circulation, and increased disease risk. When planting companion plants for cabbages, give each plant enough space to grow and develop. For example, if planting marigolds as a companion plant, leave at least six inches between each plant.

    Choosing the wrong companion plants:

    While some companion plants can benefit cabbages, others may have little effect or even harm them. For example, planting too many beans as companion plants can produce excess nitrogen in the soil, harming the cabbage plants.

    To avoid this mistake, research which companion plants work well with cabbages and choose plants that offer specific benefits.

    Ignoring plant height:

    When choosing companion plants, it’s important to consider their height at maturity. For example, planting tall plants such as sunflowers or corn near cabbage plants can shade them and stunt their growth. To avoid this mistake, choose companion plants similar in height to cabbages or plant taller plants away from the cabbage bed.

    To ensure successful companion planting, it’s important to choose plants compatible with cabbages, give each plant enough space to grow, and consider the height of each companion plant for cabbage only.

    Additionally, monitoring the garden regularly for signs of pest or disease problems and addressing them promptly to prevent further damage is important.

    While using great companion plants for planting can benefit cabbages, avoiding common mistakes such as planting incompatible plants or planting too closely together is important.

    By choosing the right companion plants and giving each plant enough space to grow, gardeners can create a healthy and thriving garden ecosystem that supports the growth and development of their cabbage plants.

    • Related: Looking for more information on growing cabbages? Check out our article on when to harvest cabbage for best flavor and storage.
    Healthy, full grown cabbage heads in the garden.

    Conclusion

    Successful cabbage companion planting can make a big difference in the health and productivity of your cabbage patch.

    You have now learned about the fantastic companion plants for cabbages, from dill to marigolds, thyme to beans, and even chamomile. These friendly neighbors help keep pests at bay, improve soil quality, and boost your cabbage crop’s overall well-being.

    When choosing your companions, select them wisely, give each plant the space it needs, and consider factors like sunlight and soil compatibility. Avoid planting incompatible companions and steer clear of plants that can overshadow or outcompete your cabbages.

    By incorporating these simple companion planting tips into your gardening journey, you are well on your way to nurturing healthy, delicious cabbages! Put your newfound knowledge to work and watch your cabbage patch thrive!

    Happy gardening!

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