Top 10 Companion Plants

Spring is finally here, and with it, planting season. Before buying ineffective, expensive and harmful chemical pesticides or fertilizers, try some companion planting techniques and let nature run its course. Here’s a list of the top ten best buds for your garden.

10. Three Sisters (Corn Squash and Beans)
Native American agricultural tribes have been using this combination of corn, squash and beans for centuries because it works. A fish would be buried under a small mound for fertilizer and corn would be planted on top of the mound. Squash would cover the ground beneath the corn while the beans climbed up the corn and added nitrogen to the soil. Multiple mounds could be integrated into an edible landscape. Though this is only one combination of plants that work well together, it is simple, proven to work, and a great basis for understanding permaculture gardening strategies.

9. Yarrow
Yarrow is a beautiful wildflower that both repels insect pests and attracts beneficial insects to the garden such as predatory wasps, ladybugs, butterflies and bees. Yarrow is known for its beautiful, intricate leaves and bright flowers and can be effectively used to combat soil erosion. Besides benefitting the garden, this herb can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic, astringent, or can be used in a variety of other medical uses. Flowers can be used to make bitters and has been historically used to flavor beer. Due to its hardy nature, yarrow thrives just about anywhere in the garden and comes in a variety of colors, making it excellent for aesthetic and practical purposes in any garden.

8. Stinging Nettles
Possibly the most unpleasant plant on this list, the stinging nettle is considered a weed by most. Chemical secretions within this plant cause it to burn when handled, so exhibit caution. Despite its drawbacks, stinging nettles are used in a variety of medicines and remedies including gastrointestinal aid, BPH, increasing testosterone in bodybuilding, or as a treatment for rheumatism. The leaves are eaten by many types of caterpillars and will increase the amount of beneficial insects in the garden. Stinging nettles are a natural repellent to aphids and the roots contain anti-fungal properties. Nettle leaves can be cooked as a healthy green or dried and used in herbal teas (soaking in water and cooking eliminate the sting). This weed is extremely beneficial, though care must be taken around the stinging leaves.

7. Wormwood
A strong, but pleasant smelling plant, wormwood is most famously used in absinthe, though can also be used to brew beer, wine, and in making bitters. This hardy bush contains chemicals that are the base of all standard malaria medications, but with wormwood no medication is necessary. It is a natural mosquito repellent, as well as a deterrent for moths, slugs, fleas, flies, and mice. Scattering wormwood around the perimeter of a garden acts as a natural fence to ward off unwanted visitors.

6. Marjoram/Oregano
These perennial herbs are a great addition to nearly any garden. They are unobtrusive to other plants and will increase yields of beans, asparagus, chives, eggplants, pumpkin, squash or cucumbers amongst many others. As long as the light is not being blocked and there is plenty of room for root growth, most plants will thrive alongside both marjoram and oregano. An aromatic mixture of herbs such as mint, spearmint, oregano, lavender or lemon balm can fill any empty spaces in the garden, stifling weed growth.

5. Mint
Everyone needs an herb garden. Besides repelling moths, ants and mice, mint is a great addition to many drinks, desserts, or as a garnish. Keep mint with other similar herbs and they will quickly fill out the space. Cabbage and tomatoes reportedly increase yields in the presence of mint, but proceed with caution. Despite all of its benefits, left on its own mint will take over a garden. It grows back with a vengeance after being cut. That being said, there will be no reason to ever buy mint at a grocery store again.

4. Beans (Legumes)
Everyone loves beans, and for good reason. Part of the legume family, they don’t need much space, they’re healthy, and they will revitalize your garden soil. Unlike many plants that use up valuable nitrogen from the earth, beans actually put it back through special enzymes in their roots. Known as nitrogen fixing, legumes take atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and convert it to Ammonium (NH4) in the soil, making this macronutrient available to future and current plants in the vicinity. Aside from plants in the onion family, beans will thrive alongside most crops. For best results, plant legumes before, after, and amongst heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash or broccoli.

3. Chives
Great in soup and even better in the garden, chives are a hardy, low growing part of the onion family. Besides inhibiting mildew growth and repelling many harmful insects, the bright purple flowers are known to attract bees, which are needed to pollinate squash, tomatoes, cherries, or a plethora of other flowering plants. Chives are best grown under most types of trees, bushes and vines but should not be present alongside beans. Harvesting can be done throughout the season as this plant will constantly regrow its leaves. Chives and other members of the onion family are excellent additions to any garden.

2. Garlic
Besides flavor, garlic has a multitude of benefits for many plants. Because this bulb thrives in shaded, nutrient rich soil, cover plants are Tomatoesrecommended. Garlic has been known to deter ants, mosquitoes, aphids, cabbage butterflies, caterpillars, snails, tomato worms, weevils and vampires (can never be too careful). Despite all the apparent benefits, avoid planting garlic with any type of beans, cabbages, or sunflowers since they will compete with one another for valuable nutrients. Next time you have an extra clove of garlic, plant it under a fruit tree, amongst cucumbers, or interspersed with lavender. It will grow with minimal effort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and garlic certainly is that friend.

1. Tomatoes and Basil
Probably the most well known example of companion plants. Besides improving each other’s flavor, tomatoes and basil really do work together. The tomato vines provide shade for the delicate basil, which delays flowering, lengthens the harvesting season, and overall increases the yield. Meanwhile, basil is a natural repellent for fruit flies, house flies, and aphids who want nothing more than to lay eggs in a plump, delicious tomato. Tomato roots run deep, while basil tends to stay closer to the surface, eliminating competition between the two plants. High yields and high flavor means true plant love.

This list is far from exhaustive, but these are some useful additions to the permaculture garden. Be sure to experiment with your own combinations to get the best yields year after year and remember; plants need friends too.

110 comments

Found this most interesting.

this is interesting!

um cannabis is not on this list for some reason

Colin

I’m not sure what cannabis would like.. maybe spinach or beans? experiment and let us know 😉

Marigolds and small red chili peppers are very “symbiotic” for MJ. 🙂 <3

good, thank you

The problem with using cannabis as a companion plant, as we found out the hard way, is it is ILLEGAL to grow in most states. We had our plants removed by the Sheriff’s Dept. So, we use poke as a helper as it was spontaneous as well. Of course, poke is prolific and pokes its roots everywhere…

How timely…

Salina

I read that Cannabis grows well with Stinging Nettle.

gregoryblyons

Cannabis seems to do well with grapes and roses.

Melville

What about Cannabis? Whenever I hang out with my legal 3 for an extended period regardless of consuming. I definitely feel a better sense of focus and love after exposure

Ralph

Cannabis should be planted next to the potato chip and chocolate plants.

I think about pH preference when companion planting. If I put all my acid-lovers in the same bed, I can easily fertilize the whole bed with acid-lover fertilizer. Here is a handy chart to pH preferences http://lazycompost.com/pH.shtml

Raquel Santos

This is not a comment but a question. How can I rid my garden of nematodes? For the last two years I have not enjoyed my garden, because of those pest! Please help!!!

Daniel

Many plants also “companion” well together for “ergonomic” as well as botanical reasons. For example, I enjoy growing pole beans in among staked, heirloom tomatoes. As they grow upward to the sky, the bean tendrils wrap and “trellis” the lanky, fruited tomato stems, supporting the fattening fruit. The tomato yield doesn’t suffer, in fact the results are impressive as they happily “surf” the bean vines…

Madhu

In the Himalayas, small farmers will grow potato, dal, spinach and cannabis in the same area. The cannabis acts as insect ‘sacrifice’ for the other crops, going for the (non-food) weed, sparing them.

Lilly Tilly

A few are asking about Cannabis. Well, not surprisingly, MJ is a beneficial companion for just about every plant.

As much as I enjoy all 7 of your articles, I don’t want to read them all everyday, write something new for crying out loud.

Ashley De La Plaza

Debjani

This is very good education. To have a holistic living, we must be able to know and appreciate important and interesting facts about plant and animal lives. Thank you.

i would like a low growing groundcover to plant on a hillside and ditch that also flowers to attract/feed honeybees…..any ideas?

ill have to put some more research into this..thank you…..do u know if it has to be cut or can you leave it alone

Elaine

Good information, but I’d like to add a word of caution about oregano. I can tell you from experience that it’s even worse than mint when it comes to taking over an entire garden. I got a little clump of it that fit in the palm of my hand from a neighbor and now it’s all over the garden and the yard!

Maggie

“Stinging nettles are a natural repellant to aphids.” Really? Because when I went to harvest stinging nettles to sell at market this year, they were so covered in aphids we had to give up that product. Aphids LOVE nettles.

carroll

My first book carrots loves ???????? now I can’t remember the full name of it! But anyways I used this book for companion gardening and had no trouble with my garden that year. Have moved a couple of times and got out od companion gardening. Now settled into a place that I own, not someone else, I am going to do it again. I find this post extremely interesting and beneficial to companion gardening. This will also help me when ordering my seeds. Anyone who is interested in companion gardening this is a good post to start with. As far as cannibas I have no idea where, when or even how to plant and wouldn’t dare to try it because of where I live. (To many game wardens and nosy people).

triciadd

Tomatoes like alot of water. Basil not so much. Not too good as companions for that reason akone but…how can fungus gnats get gone? I transpanted sterile pots & soil clogged flytrapps & apple cider vinegar with dawn wasnt worth the attempt?

Rhonda

triciadd – I tried a number of things to rid a bunch of houseplants of gnats and the one thing thing that worked pretty much overnight was putting a layer of sand on top of the soil. It drains/dries quickly and if the gnats can’t reach the soil to lay eggs you have no more gnats, and the gnats hatching in the soil can’t make it to the surface.

I used a number of companion plantings last year all around my garden, it helped greatly with pest, growth and yields even kept the deer out!

This is what it’s ALL about! Also, this is what my ES capstone research paper was on 🙂

cancerfreesue

As an indoor Cannabis cultivator, there is the other side of this to think about,…..which plants are the opposite of companion plants. Nothing worse than losing medicine or food and realizing you could have avoided it with a little more attention. 2 plants that will never be in our yard are cyclamen (carry spider, broad and cyclamen mites) and Euonymus Alatus (burning bush) (harborer of rot aphids)

Thanks, Koala!

I call them plant marriages!

Betty Lindstrom

Farmer Govey

We use turkey poop from the local turkey growers place. Works good.

I use cow, my own compost of goat, chicken and kitchen yard waste!

excellent – saving this! May also sign up for the free course – Katherine Bracken Ward – do you think I should?

Cabbage and nasturtium. Tomato and basil. Sage and carrots. French marigolds with everything! Eggplants and 4 o’clocks. Borage and cucurbits. Beans, corn and squash with sunflowers standing guard and artichoke to amuse those yellow and orange sentinels. Or perhaps, it’s the other way around? Love my companions many of which are edible themselves. Don’t eat the 4 o’clocks, though. Bad for tummies.

I planted 3 different kinds of mint in my garden and they all went everywhere! I can’t tell which is which anymore. But I love them. When I spray them the aroma is all over the yard. Lovely.

Aphids do NOT lay eggs in a plump juicy tomato. I wish people who dealt with plant information actually KNEW what they were talking about.

Oreo plants in Colorado.

Seriously though, marigolds near tomatoes.

Thanks Jude, I’ll keep this one. Though I don’t think I’ll plant stinging nettles. They did miss out on marigolds. Nasturtiums, too. Though I’m sure they had to draw the line.

Excellent post.

Dill near tomatoes- hornworms show up so much quicker on dill and they will strip it if allowed the time.

Stinging nettles? Sure, you can make tea out of anything.

Stinging Nettle is the bane of my yard!! LOL …some day I may eek out my vengeance on this evil stinging plant and EAT it .. or a make a tea.. though I’m not really a big tea person.

Awe yeah master gardeners and beginners***** companion planting works, an ancient knowledge

“Carrots Love Tomatos” Good book!

Aloe and root bark.

I have tryed but not much luck,. hoping to learn more

I am starting to learn more about this so we can plant our garden a little better this coming season.

I have but the eco system in our garden supports a hodgepod of beatles & It will take a few more years before I can see & measure the change in that eco system…so far the bugs are winning

they are nettles! and in the spring summer and fall, i make tea out of them!

Not with Nettles!

Has this “way” of planting alway been called Permaculture? Learned something anyway.. I thought this “way” was just planting a garden.

Acapulco Gold and Panama Red would make a good mix 😀

great information to be reminded of

Shared to Not From the Store 🙂

Good to know… And share on Garden Gossip… <3

I put this in my favorites to do more research. Thanks!

This looks like Stinging Nettle. An oxygen fixing plant and one of my garden favorites.

Love those nettles….fill a pillow case and submerge it in your bath till it’s tea….great for skin feels silky.

does not grow in Hawaii. But you get the dried herb in the health food store

So nettles are eatable until they pollinate??

Keeps the bug away too…..Nettle makes a nice tea!! wear gloves!!!

Very interesting.

Nettle leaves are good steamed – sort of like spinach. The leaves lose their sting after a couple of days and can be stripped off the stalk which can be then used for processing into cordage or fibre.

Katy McIntyre

David now we’re talkin. My kind of mix! LOL

hazelnuts and truffles!

What kind of plants do you grow!

Nettles can really take over everything, tho!

Just like people…

book is free but shipping and handling is nine and some change.

I put wormwood bundles along the edges of my chicken house floor and barn stalls. Repels ants, lice and other pests.

I have a book that I gave my father 30-40 years ago. “Carrots love Tomatoes” or some such and he wasn’t surprised. Seems the idea has just been rediscovered. Seems it has been rediscovered many times!

pine & chamomile, tomatoes & geranium , pigeon pea & wandering jews, catnip & spider plants. basil & spinach

reminds me or looks almost like peppermint…

Jean, last night I was planning our garden for this spring and had to remind myself of the companion plants for certain new additions that I want to plan. So I had looked them up and could have just waited 🙂

Opening this link I realize this is something that I downloaded awhile back and worked on a plan and put it aside.

it has been suggested that the dmt in them help them to establish chemical relationships with their environment

Just don’t plant stinging nettles or mint. One hurts REALLY bad and the other takes over like a jungle plant. Mint should always be in a pot.

Symbiotic relationships. I have mint growing all over the place like you stated Barbara. However, because I’m in So. CA, the lack of water slows it down and keeps it in check and manageable.

Use pots for mint and use its good for you! The juice of nettle is an antidote for its own sting. Nettle has many medicinal uses and is a rich source of Calcium and Vitamin D.

Looks like nettle, not mint, but very healing herb and edible, cures arthritis….. illegal to plant, very invasive weed.

yeehaw our garden gets a 10/10. Nettle soup is easy, an early green and really tasty, esp. if combined with a bit of early garlic mustard. We’ve got scads of both.

my garden gets 6 out of 10 and I’m sharing so thank you Richard for sharing it with me

Thanks, Kathy A. Antle!

It,s like life for us humans .the only combination that we need to survive is realising that we are allmost in trouble with GOD and we must believe yhat .We need GOD < my GOD ,Do you ,or can you belive in something thats good for once in a while. Hay I love my GOD >WHO is yours.

mother nature is my “god”

like garlic and roses…..

Troy Parenteau

why present it as a list & then force people to sign up for & go read a course ?

this plant is call stinging nettle. you can eat them. just pick when they are very young and jut about as tall as your teaspoon.but you must wear something so you don;t get the sting. now wash and then have a pot of water on the boil. drop some into th water as it remove the sting. drain and put on your plate and add some alt,pepper,olive oil,lemon juice…yum

Tomatoes and any legume. .. IE red clover

Also it makes the best tea. Very healthy. I’ve eaten it raw but it is tricky. Don’t let it touch your lips. ( just a fun experiment). The stingers will disapear simply by puuting the leaves under the hot water tap then add cold too put them in salads. The plants, when they’re 3 feet tall, (ONE METRE). Simply pick the small new leaves at the top and it makes the plant more prolific. Dry them for Winter teas. Enjoy.

This article has given me some ideas to experiment with in the yard this year. How about you?

Anonymous

Marigolds keep certain animals and insects away from your vegetables

Anonymous

Thank you

Tom Carter

Zoe Burnett

👏🏼👏🏼

Teagan Hunter

Dani Nicole this is like exactly why you’ve done all day today

Sierra Brose

Comments are closed