As gardeners, we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into creating our perfect fruit and vegetable garden. Pouring over planting guides and constantly looking for the next great tip or trick to boost our harvest. Though sometimes, going back to tried and tested methods is what gets the best results. That’s why today we’ll be diving into all things companion planting. If you’re a seasoned gardener, we’re sure you are already well acquainted with this technique. So, feel free to use this article as a helpful refresher on the subject. But if you’ve newly acquired your green thumbs? Well…you’re in for a treat.
Companion planting is a natural gardening hack that gardeners have been implementing for hundreds of years to help grow healthy crops. Although, we admit that it can be confusing to understand exactly what specific plants will go well with your crops. That’s why with this handy guide to companion planting, we’ll break things down and give you all the best planting combinations for your favourite veggies.
What is companion planting?
Put simply, companion planting is understanding what plants grow well together. A technique that has been used for centuries, it allows gardeners to place different plants close to one another to enhance growing benefits and also deter pesky pests. Completely natural, it allows you to boost your garden without the need for pesticides or other chemical-heavy solutions.
What are the benefits of companion planting?
There are several benefits to companion planting that make it a must-have technique for every serious grower. The main benefits are as follows:
- Repels pests: Planting garlic, parsley, marigolds or other plants can deter pests like aphids from your vegetables. This will help to keep your main crop happy and healthy without the need for chemical pesticides.
- Limits disease: Certain plants have properties that can help suppress diseases that may threaten your vegetable plant. For instance, growing basil near tomato plants can limit the risk of tomato hornworms.
- Improves pollination: When certain flowers (like sunflowers) and vegetables are planted together, it can result in increased pollination for your crop. Flowers can attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies to your garden, acting as a pollinator and resulting in better yields.
- Limits weed growth: Growing plants close together reduces light levels and thus limits the growth of weeds. This is great as it means less maintenance for you and your plants will not be competing for hydration with unwanted growth.
The best companion plants for your vegetable garden
Sweetcorn, beans and squash
Known as the ‘three sisters’, this trio is probably the most popular companion gardening combination. They all work together to help each other grow. For instance, tall plants like corn will give support to the beans while they are growing upwards. While the squash utilises its large leaves to shade the corn’s roots from excessive sunlight. This also helps prevent water from evaporating from the soil. The beans meanwhile will help add nitrogen to the soil, enhancing the stability of the other plants. So, if you were thinking about planting corn or beans, you may want to throw squash into the mix while you’re at it!
|Lavender||A pollinator that will attract bees and butterflies.|
|Sage||Deters carrot root flies.|
|Lettuce||Provides shade for your carrots and helps to keep them cool.|
|Chives||Said to improve flavour.|
|Basil||Deters insects like thrips.|
|Carrots||Loosen the soil making it easier for the pepper’s roots to grow deep.|
|Spinach||Shades the soil, retaining moisture and suppressing weeds.|
|Corn||Increases nitrogen in the soil and mature stalks provide support for climbing varieties.|
|Marigolds||Repels aphids, beetles and other pests.|
|Dill||Deters insects and is said to improve flavour.|
|Onions||Said to improve flavour.|
|Dill||Fragrant and repels common pests.|
|Potatoes||Said to improve flavour.|
|Mint||Its strong scent will repel aphids and other pests.|
|Thyme||Attracts pollinators and said to improve flavour.|
|Lettuce||Limit weeds and reduce the risk of disease.|
|Basil||Improves plant health and flavour.|
|Sage||Strongly scented leaves deter pests, like beetles.|
|Parsley||Improves the flavour of the tubers.|
|Garlic||Increases disease resistance.|
|Marigolds||Great for attracting pollinators and will lure slugs and snails away from your veggies.|
|Oregano||Repeals insects while also attracting pollinators.|
|Yarrow||Fertilises the soil.|
|Garlic||Not only deters pests like aphids but also has antifungal properties and can limit the risk of diseases.|
We hope this guide has helped you better understand the concept of companion planting. To get started, you can check out our incredible range of plants online now. You can also learn more about growing your own by checking out the articles on our knowledge hub. We’ve got posts on everything from how to create a garden journal to showcasing the best low-maintenance plants for your space. Plus, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media (@gardeningexpress), we would love to hear from you!