Gardeners and scientists alike recognize the benefits of companion planting. The premise is simple (and proven!). Growing certain vegetables near each other helps both plants enjoy better health and higher yields.
Companion planting is far from a new concept. In fact, for centuries gardeners have been fascinated with the concept of growing certain vegetables together for mutual benefit. Native Americans used some of these techniques long before Europeans ever arrived in North America.
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry—it’s not. Here is your reference guide to companion planting vegetables for a healthier garden.
What is Companion Planting?
If you aren’t familiar with companion planting, it’s a very practical way to increase your gardening efficiency. For almost everything you grow, there are vegetables (and other plants) that you can put alongside it to provide benefits and encourage healthier plants.
By growing certain vegetables together (and avoiding planting other “unfriendly” vegetables nearby), you can utilize the properties of companion plants to have healthier vegetation and receive higher yields (which is the goal, right?).
It’s important to note that scientists and gardeners don’t fully understand all plant interactions, but they learn more about companion gardening every year.
Companion Planting Benefits
Companion planting vegetables can provide huge benefits to both plants when planted together. Here are just some of the benefits this type of gardening can provide!
Companion Planting Benefits for Vegetables Include:
- Repelling pests naturally and without the use of pesticides
- Saving garden space
- Helping reduce weeds
- Improving the flavor of one or both plants
- Increasing soil nutrients to help each other grow well
- Natural trellising
- Attracting pollinators and beneficial insects
Vegetables to Grow Together
While some companion planting relationships are well understood, others are not. However, time-honored gardening knowledge states that when certain plants are grown together, both will benefit in health and higher yields.
Here are 12 of the most popular garden vegetables and their list of companion plants.
Parsley and asparagus make excellent companion planting vegetables, as they each help the other thrive. Asparagus, tomatoes, and basil also make good companions because the basil protects the tomatoes which in turn protect the asparagus from asparagus beetles.
Grow with asparagus: tomatoes, parsley, basil
Avoid growing near asparagus: onion, garlic, potatoes
There are many different types of beans, and they all have slightly different companion plants. However, generally, beans of any variety thrive when planted with carrots, cauliflower, and beets.
Grow with beans: beets, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, corn, eggplant, peas, radishes, squash, potatoes, tomatoes
Avoid growing near beans: onions, garlic, shallots, chives, peppers
Growing garlic among your beet plants helps to improve the health of your beets.
Grow with beets: garlic, bush beans, onions, kohlrabi, lettuce, cabbage family
Avoid growing near beets: pole beans
Broccoli is part of the cabbage family and grows well with aromatic plants such as dill, celery, chamomile, sage, peppermint, and rosemary. Grow lettuce in between your broccoli plants and both will thrive.
Grow with broccoli: beets, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, turnips, potatoes
Avoid growing near broccoli: pole beans, strawberries
The cabbage (brassica) family has several popular members which all have similar likes, dislikes, diseases, and insects. The cabbage family includes
- Brussels sprouts
Plant aromatic plants or plants that have a lot of blossoms with members of the cabbage family. Hyssop and thyme do a great job of deterring the white cabbage butterfly.
Grow with cabbage: onion, celery, potatoes, dill, rosemary, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, spinach, thyme
Avoid growing near cabbage: tomatoes, strawberries, pole beans
Carrots love onions because onions repel the carrot fly. Also, carrots are heat sensitive, making them perfect to grow with tomatoes which can provide some shade. Leeks repel carrot flies, making them good companion planting vegetables.
Grow with carrots: onions, leeks, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, chives, radishes
Avoid growing near carrots: dill, coriander, parsnips
Since cucumbers and raccoons don’t mix (they refuse to walk on the prickly vines), grow cucumbers near your corn to keep the raccoons away. Corn also loves any vegetable that will add nitrogen to the soil (which corn depletes quickly), so growing green beans nearby will make your corn happy while the corn makes a great natural trellis for your beans.
Grow with corn: zucchini, beans, peas, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons
Avoid growing near corn: tomatoes (they are both attacked by the corn earworm)
Corn helps protect cucumbers from the virus that causes wilt and cucumbers like the shade that corn provides. Fun fact: thin strips of cucumbers will repel ants.
Grow with cucumbers: beans, celery, radishes, dill, lettuce, peas,
Avoid growing near cucumbers: potatoes, aromatic herbs (like sage, which stunts cucumbers’ growth)
Planting garlic and chives near your lettuce will help repel aphids.
Grow with lettuce: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beets, asparagus, carrots, corn, eggplant, onions, cucumbers, peas, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach
Avoid growing near lettuce: broccoli
Onions work wonders at repelling aphids, so grow them near onion-friendly, aphid-prone vegetables. Members of the onion family and the cabbage family grow well together.
Note: scatter your onions throughout your garden to reduce or prevent onion maggots from travel between plants.
Grow with onions: tomatoes, spinach, summer savoury, carrots, dill and beets
Avoid growing near onions: beans, peas, asparagus
Peppers thrive when basil grows nearby, as basil repels spider mites, flies, mosquitoes and aphids. Basil may also help improve the flavor of the peppers.
Grow with peppers: tomatoes, basil, spinach, and onions
Avoid growing near peppers: beans
Basil helps tomatoes by repelling flies and mosquitoes while also producing bigger yields – they were made for each other (and not just as part of tomato sauce). Tomato companion plants include carrots too because carrots aerate the soil around the tomato roots.
Grow with tomatoes: members of the onion family, celery, beans, carrots, lettuce, asparagus, onions, peppers, spinach, and parsley
Avoid growing near tomatoes: any member of the cabbage family, peas, corn, beets, rosemary, fennel, potatoes, and dill.
Flowers to Plant with Vegetables
Dreaming of a flower garden and a veggie garden too? Why not grow both together? Just like companion planting vegetables with one another can provide a wide range of benefits, certain flowers offer similar benefits. Flowers can provide added colour and an aromatic experience to your garden. There is also the added advantage that flowers will attract beneficial pollinators, which is a win all around.
Companion Planting Vegetables: Final Thoughts
Although this list gave a rundown for 12 popular summer vegetables, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. The more you experiment and learn in your garden, the better! If you want to learn more regarding companion planting, check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac for more resources.