Turnip Companion Plants – Everything You Need to Know

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Turnip companion plants can help transform your turnip patch into one of your favorite harvests. Although they’re a rather easy-to-grow vegetable, turnips can grow larger, sweeter, and with less pest and disease pressure when planted with some helpful companions. We will go through the list of the best and the worst companions for your turnips and give all the reasons why you should plant at least a few companions in your turnip beds.

A white turnip with green leaves against a bright white background.

Turnips can be a polarizing vegetable – you either love or hate them! However, your opinion of turnips often depends on where you grew up. On the Atlantic East Coast, turnips were a staple food on dinner tables and in gardens. In our home, we love turnips and are very particular about how we grow them and the companions we choose to plant alongside them. If you’re interested in learning more, join us as we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of companion planting in your turnip crop.

Table of Contents

    The Best Companion Plants For Turnips

    The best companion plants help repel pesky insects or benefit both vegetable crops with better health and growth.

    Hairy Vetch 

    Hairy, what now? Vetch is a legume primarily used for soil improvement but has many benefits in the garden.

    It will pull nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil as a nitrogen-fixing plant.In addition, the plant’s roots help anchor the soil, which reduces runoff and helps prevent soil erosion.

    The plant also suppresses weeds, and when plowed into the ground in spring, it further improves soil structure by promoting draining.

    But hairy vetch’s ability to protect the turnip crop organically against aphids is why it is on this list. Aphids can decimate turnips greens, so any natural organic way to prevent an infestation will improve the health and harvest of your turnips.


    Hairy vetch spreads like wildfire if you allow it to go to seed! If you use it as a companion plant you must make sure to be diligent about pulling vetch that has sprouted flowers. If you only get out into your garden every few days, steer clear of hairy vetch!

    Singular images of each vegetable turnip companion plants against a bright white background.


    Vegetables like bush beans, pole beans, green beans, and peas are nitrogen fixer plants and are one of the best companions for turnips.

    These plants cooperate with bacteria in their roots to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available in the soil.

    Consider planting turnips in front of trellised peas or beans or to the north side of runner beans in rows. This partnership encourages healthy plants on both sides.


    Companion planting turnips with radishes will repel pests like cucumber beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borers, and aphids, making them good companion plants for all kinds of vegetables in the garden. Plant a few radishes around the edges of the turnip bed to ward off those pesky aphids.


    Garlic will protect the garden from Japanese beetles, aphids, weevils, and spider mites. Cabbage aphid infestations happen quickly and will cause damage if left unchecked.

    Singular images of each turnip companion plant against a bright white background.


    Brassicas like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage make great turnip companion plants. The relationship, however, is very one-sided. Turnips will become a trap crop and attract aphids and slugs. It’s a beneficial companion planting, but not for the turnips.

    It is essential to note that turnip is part of the brassica family and will share diseases and pests. Monocultures (a group of plants from the same family) in the garden can encourage pests and diseases and make them more challenging to control. Diversification is key to a healthy garden.

    We reluctantly include brassicas to the list of companion plants for turnip. The cabbage family members can make good and poor companions for turnips, depending on the garden environment.

    Aromatic Herbs

    When herbs flower, they attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, and garden beetles, which act as pest control for your turnips.

    Strongly scented herbs such as dillrosemary, summer savory, sage, borage, lavender, chamomile, and hyssop repel insect pests that would love to make a snack out of a turnip plant. Different types of mints will also attract earthworms to help aerate the soil.

    Singular images of each herb turnip companion plants against a bright white background.


    Nasturtiums make fantastic companion plants for turnips for a couple of reasons.

    • Firstly, the bright flowers of the nasturtium attract beneficial insects, like hoverflies, parasitic wasps, bees, and butterflies.
    • Secondly, the low-growing nasturtium vines also act as a living mulch, shading the soil around your turnip plants, helping retain moisture and choke out weeds.
    • And tall climbing nasturtiums can be added to trellises and work as shade barriers for greens.
    • The scent of nasturtium also repels bugs and pests like cabbage moths, which you would love to snack on your turnip greens!
    • Nasturtium plants and vines also work as groundcover, providing shade to the soil and helping to prevent moisture loss around the turnip patch. And, of course, planting flowers in the vegetable garden adds a wonderful splash of color and gives your garden an old-world cottage garden feel.

    We’ve built a post on the best nasturtium companion plants to help maximize your companion planting efforts! And if you’re planning on planting nasturtiums with your turnips, you might find this post on how to grow and care for nasturtiums handy.

    Nasturtium flowers and leaves against a bright white background.


    Like nasturtiums, marigold’s bright flowers help attract helpful insects to your turnip patch. Parasitic wasps and ladybugs will help care for cabbage aphids, which will latch on to turnip greens. Marigold companion plants also attract and trap flea beetles, keeping them away from your turnips.

    Instead of pulling up your marigolds at the end of the season, turn them into the soil. This will help reduce soil pests like root-knot nematodes.

    Mexican marigolds or French marigolds are recommended if you want your marigolds to act as pest control.

    Bright yellow Mexican marigolds against a bright white background.

    Vegetables to Avoid Planting With Turnips

    Companion planting isn’t just about knowing which vegetables will help each other; it’s also about knowing which plants will not grow well together. Some plants can compete for nutrients or share pests and diseases, making them spread faster. You should avoid planting these vegetables with your turnips:

    Potatoes, Beets, Parsnips & Onions

    These crops store starches in their roots and compete for the same nutrients and water. This competition will cause stunted growth for turnip roots grown nearby. There are far better potato-companion plants and beet-companion plants than turnips.

    Hedge Mustard

    Hedge mustard makes a poor turnip companion plant because it will attract cabbage whiteflies, stunting the growth of the turnips.

    Fresh radish in a canvas bag and herbs on an old wooden background in rustic style.

    Expert Tips For Turnip Companion Planting

    Here are our best tips from this article that will help you grow robust turnip harvests through the help of companion planting:

    1. Pair with Aromatic Herbs: Planting turnips near aromatic herbs like mint, thyme, and sage can help repel common pests that affect turnips, such as flea beetles and root maggots. These herbs act as natural repellents, keeping pests away without relying on chemical insecticides.
    2. Benefit from Legumes: Legumes, such as peas and beans, are excellent companions for turnips because they fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits leafy vegetables like turnips that need nitrogen to grow well. Planting legumes nearby can enhance the soil’s nitrogen content, supporting turnip growth.
    3. Utilize Leafy Greens: Leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach, can be good companions for turnips. They have similar water and light requirements, making them compatible when planted together. These leafy greens can also serve as a living mulch, keeping the soil cool and moist, which turnips appreciate.
    4. Companion Flowers for Pest Control and Pollination: Marigolds are beneficial companions for turnips because they can deter beetles and nematodes, which might otherwise harm turnip roots. Additionally, planting flowers like nasturtiums can attract aphids away from turnips, acting as a trap crop.
    5. Avoid Allelopathic Plants: Some plants, like mustards and sunflowers, can inhibit the growth of turnips through allelopathy, a biological phenomenon by which one plant inhibits the growth of another through the release of biochemicals. It’s important to avoid planting turnips near such plants to ensure their healthy growth.


    Are rutabagas and turnips the same thing?

    Rutabagas and turnips are similar vegetables with the same growing conditions and companions. The only difference environmentally is that rutabaga will require a longer growing season.
    Rutabagas and turnips are often used interchangeablly, but they differ in looks and taste. Turnips are smaller with white flesh, while rutabagas are bigger, usually yellow to their skin and flesh. I find rutabagas sweeter.

    Can I plant turnips with tomato plants?

    All brassica family members (turnips and rutabaga included) will stunt the growth of tomato plants. Tomatoes have so many good companions that choosing something else will benefit your garden bed.

    Can I plant turnips with pepper plants?

    All brassica family members (turnips and rutabaga included) will stunt the growth of pepper plants. Peppers have so many good companions that choosing something else will benefit your garden bed.

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    Final Remarks

    The trick to companion planting is first determining the problems your garden has. Are your vegetables over-run with aphids? Is your soil depleted of nitrogen? Are your pumpkins not pollinating? The right companion plant will address these issues specifically.

    Once you know your garden’s problems, you can choose the right plants to address those issues. For example, peas would help improve the soil for your turnips, but if the problem is that pests are eating the greens, a better companion plant would be marigolds or nasturtiums.

    We have many companion planting guides for everything from vegetables to fruit, herbs, and flowers. Be sure to check our companion planting gardening category. Here are some posts you may find helpful in planning your garden this season:

    Author: Laura Kennedy

    Writer & Owner of Little Yellow Wheelbarrow

    Laura is a highly skilled gardener and fervent flower enthusiast. Despite her playful battle with plant spacing guidelines, Laura’s work inspires gardeners to create thriving, beautiful spaces that reflect both creativity and sustainability.

    Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on April 22, 2022, and was updated on February 9th, 2024. The post was updated to remove unnecessary information, improve formatting, and include expert tips and author byline.

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