Strawberry companion plants offer a natural solution to the challenges of growing one of the most beloved fruits. Strawberries consistently top the “dirty dozen” list due to pesticide exposure, underscoring the importance of organic cultivation methods.
This article serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding and implementing which partnerships will benefit strawberry companion plants, and which ones to avoid.
Strawberries are relatively easy to grow, and employing organic pest management techniques can be as simple as selecting the right strawberry companions. These plants not only support the growth of strawberries but also provide mutual benefits, such as nutrient enhancement, pest deterrence, and weed suppression. For instance, companion plants like bush beans and peas aid in fertilizing strawberries by harnessing nitrogen-fixing bacteria, enriching the soil and boosting fruit production. With a mindful selection of companions like alliums, asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, and aromatic herbs, gardeners can create harmonious ecosystems that promote the health and vitality of their strawberry plants while reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
Good Strawberry Companion Plants
When choosing a companion plant, consider its compatibility with your strawberries and its potential to address specific challenges in your garden. Look for companions that will solve a specific challenge that you are having. For example, choose onions if there is too much pest pressure, or bush beans if your soil is low in nitrogen. The most compatible strawberry companion plants are:
Bush Beans & Peas
Strawberries and beans (and peas) share mutual benefits in the garden bed.
Beans and peas help restore the soil through nitrogen-fixing bacteria. That extra nitrogen helps feed the strawberry plants and helps boost fruit production. Strawberries, in turn, act as a living mulch, helping to keep weeds down under the pea and bush bean plants.
If planted in close proximity, The pungent smell of garlic will discourage other pests, like beetles, aphids, and spider mites, which will help with higher yields from your strawberries.
Garlic also collects sulfur in the soil, a natural preventative measure against diseases.
Asparagus and strawberries make excellent companions in the garden bed.
There is no competition in the garden between the two plants for soil, space, or nutrients. Strawberries will shade the soil and help keep the moisture in for both plants, and because both plants are perennials, the roots won’t be disturbed by annual interplantings.
Spinach and strawberries make good neighbors in the garden. The bushy leafy greens of the spinach plant act as a living mulch around the strawberry crowns, providing shelter and shade. The spinach will also help prevent weeds and keep the soil cool and moist.
Spinach also contains saponins which are a natural antibacterial solution for the soil.
- Learn More: Spinach makes a wonderful companion plant for many crops. We have a post all about spinach companion plants you may find interesting.
Strawberries and rhubarb are a great pairing in the kitchen and the garden.
If you’ve planted strawberry types that harvest in spring, both the strawberries and the rhubarb are harvested together. No plants will suffer root damage during harvest for both the strawberry plant and the rhubarb.
The plants also do not compete for nutrients or space and grow together like good neighbors.
Strawberries will also act as ground cover for rhubarb, keeping the soil cool and moist and helping to prevent weeds from growing up in the beds.
- Learn More: Rhubarb makes a good companion plant for a few specific garden crops. Check out our post on rhubarb companion plants to see the list.
If you want a healthy strawberry patch adding a few aromatic herbs can provide many benefits:
Strongly scented herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage, basil, borage, and chives make good companion plants in the vegetable garden. The flowers of these aromatic herbs attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, and garden beetles.
Bold-scented herbs also help deter rabbits and deer from eating your tender strawberry plants. The scent from the herbs can cover and hide the scent of the strawberry plants from pests. Thyme specifically is a great protector against aphids and garden moths. Borage plants also add trace minerals to the soil and help improve strawberries’ flavor.
Marigolds’ beautiful flowers and abundant food sources (like pollen and nectar) attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to the garden. Insects like parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and ladybugs will make quick work of insect pests making marigold companion plants a good choice for your strawberries.
French and Mexican marigolds emit a strong scent that acts as insect control for common garden pests such as the irritating squash bug. In addition, marigolds attract slugs and spider mites, making them a good trap crop to keep insect pests away from your precious veggies.
Root-knot nematodes can be a particularly devastating pest for strawberry plants. Turning marigolds into the ground at the end of the season will actually kill pests like root-knot nematodes. You can also start marigolds early in the season and till under the soil after two months of growth. Be sure to use French or Mexican marigolds, as other varieties don’t have this effect.
Poor Strawberry Companion Plants
Although strawberries are happy to team up with lots of other crops, there are some that they don’t get along with for various reasons. So when choosing companion planting for strawberries, avoid any of the following:
Members of the cabbage family like cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts will compete for water and nutrients, stunting the growth of both plants. These vegetables do not make great companions for strawberries and should be avoided.
Avoid planting strawberries in any soil where roses have grown for the last five years. Both strawberries and roses are susceptible to verticillium which can lay dormant in the ground for years.
Fennel is a poor choice to plant near strawberries due to fennel’s allelopathic properties. The plant releases chemicals that inhibit the growth of neighboring plants, including strawberries, which can negatively impact their development and overall yield in the garden.
- Understand Your Garden’s Microclimate: Before selecting companion plants, assess your garden’s microclimate, considering factors like sunlight exposure, soil type, and moisture levels. Choose companions that thrive in similar conditions to ensure optimal growth and compatibility with your strawberries.
- Diversify Companion Plant Selection: Aim for diversity in your companion planting choices to maximize benefits. Select plants that offer various advantages such as pest deterrence, nutrient enrichment, weed suppression, and pollinator attraction, creating a well-rounded ecosystem that supports strawberry health.
- Monitor and Adapt: Regularly monitor your garden’s dynamics and observe how companion plants interact with strawberries. Be prepared to adapt your companion planting strategies based on observations, addressing any imbalances or challenges that may arise during the growing season.
- Rotate Companion Plants Annually: Implement crop rotation practices to prevent soil depletion and minimize disease buildup. Rotate companion plants annually to maintain soil fertility, reduce pest pressures, and promote overall garden health for sustained productivity over time.
Some of the best mulches are living companion plants like spinach. You can also use a straw, black plastic sheeting, landscape fabric, grass clippings, and leaves.
In a large strawberry pot, you can plant small flowers like marigolds which will help attract pollinators and increase yields. Marigolds also help repel harmful insects and, when mulched into the soil, help prevent root-knot nematodes.
Avoid planting brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), or nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) with your strawberries. Do not plant strawberries in a bed where roses have grown any time in the past 5 years.
Yes! Basil and other strongly scented herbs such as thyme, oregano, and sage attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, and garden beetles.
Farmers often plant onions with or around their strawberry crops to deter pests. Deer and rabbits don’t like the smell and will avoid onions, which keeps them out of the strawberry field. These are often called ‘strawberry onions’.
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Exploring companion planting techniques adds an extra dimension to strawberry gardening, offering simple and eco-friendly solutions. With thoughtful selection and integration of companion plants, gardeners can enhance the health of their strawberry patches while reducing dependence on synthetic chemicals. Embracing companion planting principles fosters biodiversity and soil health, contributing to more rewarding gardening experiences and abundant harvests.
Author: Laura Kennedy
Writer & Owner of Little Yellow Wheelbarrow
Editor’s Note: This post was origninally published February 6, 2022. It was updated on March 1, 2024 for clarity and to add expert tips and table of contents.