Everyone should grow a patch of strawberries in their garden – or even on their balconies in containers. Strawberries are an excellent addition to the food garden that can be frozen, turned into jam and preserves, or eaten fresh (the best way!). Strawberries, unfortunately, are always number one the dirty dozen to avoid because of pesticides. For this reason, I always recommend growing your own. Strawberries are not hard to grow, and managing pests organically can be as easy as planting the right strawberry companion plants.
The Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting is a fantastic way to solve many common gardening problems without harmful chemicals. It can even reduce the amount of weeding you have to do! Typical benefits of companion planting are:
Attract pollinators: Using bright beautiful flowers as companion plants can help attract bees and other pollinators. Pollinators are the reason why we have vegetables and fruit in our gardens and without them, we would be in big trouble. Creating a hospitable environment where bees want to hang out will help increase your yields.
Attract beneficial predatory insects: Many plants attract helpful bugs like parasitic wasps hoverflies and ladybugs, which will voraciously feed on insect pests like aphids.
Repel harmful insects: Some plants, like oregano, or basil have strong scents that deter common garden pests, such as flea beetles, squash bugs, and tomato worms (to name a few). Or they attract harmful pests and work as a trap crop to keep these pests away from your precious veggies.
Help improve the soil: Flowers like marigolds will help destroy root-knot nematodes that live in the ground and harm plants from underground. While other plants like spinach or low-growing flowers can act as a living mulch to help control moisture in the soil. In some other cases, plants like carrots with large taproots can help break up heavy clay soils.
They help control weeds: Densely planting leafy greens like lettuce around other plants will quickly choke out weeds.
Companion planting can help with disease issues. Diseases are spread more quickly through your garden when plants of the same type are planted in a large grouping. Adding different species throughout the planting can help break up the garden and slow the spread of diseases like powdery mildew or blight.
You can see from this list that companion planting offers many benefits for organic gardens.
Quick Planting And Care Tips for Strawberries
The garden strawberry (or simply strawberry; Fragaria × ananassa) is a widely grown plant worldwide for its delicious fruit. The fruit is popular due to its wonderful aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness.
Seed Starting: Starting strawberries from seed is tricky, and you will need to go through several growing seasons before they are ready for harvest.
Germination is the most challenging part of growing strawberries from seeds. The germination rate is poor, and the seeds are very picky about their growing environment. However, alpine strawberries are the easiest variety to grow from seed, so try those if you’re having difficulty, but are determined.
Sow seeds and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water the tray and keep it under a transparent cover either in a greenhouse, near a bright sunny south-facing window, or under a grow light. Germination takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks, so be sure to start plants early.
Once the plants have three leaves, plant them on into larger pots.
Planting out: Plant your strawberry plants outdoors after the last frost in your area.
Sun Requirements: When planting strawberries, choose a spot with full sun.
Soil conditions: Soil should be well amended with compost and be well-draining. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil to perform their best.
Fertilizer: Mix 2 to 4 inches of aged manure or compost into the soil, or work in some 5-10-10 fertilizer. You can also side-dress your plants with different organic matter through the season to ensure healthy, hardy growth.
A quick List of Strawberry Companion Plants
This is the complete list of strawberry companion plants. Below we break down each plant and how it works with strawberry plants to become a good companion choice for the garden.
- Bush Beans
The Best vegetable companion plants for strawberries
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, help keep weeds down under the pea and bush bean plants.
Allium family members, such as garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots, can plant and grow successfully with strawberries.
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.
- Learn More: Garlic makes a wonderful companion plant for many vegetables and fruits in your garden. We have an entire post all about garlic companion plants you may want to check out.
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.
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. we Check out our post on Rhubarb Companion Plants to see the list.
Herb companion plants for your strawberry beds
There are so many wonderful herbs that you can plant next to your strawberries for successful healthy harvests:
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.
Thyme specifically is a great protector against aphids and garden moths. When herbs flower, they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies into the garden, which in turn help with yields.
Borage plants also add trace minerals to the soil and help improve strawberries’ flavor.
Flower companion plants for Strawberries
Marigold flowers are the best companion plants for strawberries for several important reasons. If you’re only going to plant one companion plant, marigolds may be the best choice overall.
Marigold’s 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 marigolds a good companion plant.
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.
Turning the flowers into the ground at the end of the season helps 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. Root-knot nematodes can be a particularly devastating pest for strawberry plants. Be sure to use French or Mexican marigolds.
What not to plant with Strawberries
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, Brussels sprouts will compete for water and nutrients, possibly stunting the growth of both plants. These vegetables do not make great companions for strawberries and should be avoided.
Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant make poor companions for strawberries. The plants all share fungal diseases that can easily spread to each other.
Avoid planting strawberries in any soil where roses have grown for the last five years. Both strawberries and roses are susceptible to verticillium that can harbor in the ground for years.
Popular varities of strawberries to Try in Your Garden
There are three different types of strawberries, overbearing, June bearing, and alpine. We’ve listed out some of the most popular types to try in your garden.
I enjoy everbearing because of their long growing season and constant availability of strawberry fruit. You can harvest fresh berries all through summer.
If you’re planning on making jam, or require a large harvest all at once, try planting June-bearing strawberries.
- Ozark Beauty
- San Andreas
June Bearing Strawberries
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”.