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Companion plants I

by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

The concept of companion plants is found especially in small gardens and in organic gardens and rely on the idea that the plants can benefit one from the company of others. A whole interconnected system works and have the purpose to assure the efficient growth and development of plants and to replace the chemical insecticides and herbicides with organic prevention and pest control – attracting beneficial insects, birds and other animals.

The advantages of using this system are:

Some plants like beans and pea, with the help of bacteria that live on their roots, have the capacity to fix nitrogen in soil. So the need of using this fertilizer is reduced or lacks.

The tagetes for example, secrete from different parts of them (roots, leaves, flowers), substances which kill nematodes, substances which have insecticide and fungicide effects or substances with unpleasant smell for some insects.

The walnut inhibits the growth of many plants around him. Also the rye straw secretes a substance which inhibits the growth of some weeds (Epilobium hirstum, Conyza canadensis). The fennel inhibits almost any neighbouring plant except for dill. Knowing this you can protect some plants by not growing them together or you can use them as organic herbicides.

Some pest insects are attracted especially to certain plants. The black aphids for example, are attracted to nasturtium. Growing this plant near a tomato, the aphids will prefer the nasturtium. So you can protect this way the tomato.

The ladybugs feed themselves with aphids and are attracted usually to plants with umbel flowers (dill, carrots) or to dandelions, cosmos, calendulas, tagetes etc. Parasitic insects (some wasps) which lay their eggs inside the body of other insects (pest insects), can be attracted to mint, parsley, tagetes, zinnia, lavender etc.

The bean and pea grown together compete for the same substances from soil. Some plants have longer roots as others and look for food at deeper levels than the last ones.

For example, jasmine tobacco can provide some sun shelter to the lettuce.

The bean can climb on corn stalk.

The pest insects or some disease can destroy a whole plot migrating very fast from a plant to its neighbor. This can be stopped by growing different plants near each other. The pests have their preferences.

For example, the anise can hide the smell of cabbage, cauliflower or other Brassicaceae plants. The smell of tagetes can confuse the pests which look somewhere else for their favorite food.

Here is a list with some companion and non-companion plants:

Name
Companion
Non-companion
Comments

Alfalfa

(Medicago sativa)

Cotton

 

- the alfalfa attracts predatory insects      

- the alfalfa attracts lygus bugs which attack the cotton, strawberries, lettuce, beans

- the alfalfa fixes nitrogen in soil         

- the alfalfa can break the clay soil       

- the alfalfa accumulates iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium

- the alfalfa is a good organic fertilizer

- the alfalfa is very resistant to drought

Amaranth

(Amaranthus)

Corn, onion, potatoes, eggplants

 

- the amaranth provides shadow to corn roots, keeping the soil moist      

- the amaranth attracts predatory insects (ground beetles)                                     

- the young leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible

Angelica

(Angelica archangelica)

Can be planted in different places

Dill

- the angelica attracts beneficial insects

Anise

(Pimpinella anisum)

Coriander, bean, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard, basil

Carrots

- the coriander stimulates the growth and the flavor of anise

- the anise attracts predatory insects (wasps) which feed themselves with aphids

- the anise repels the aphids

- the anise protects the cabbage, broccoli, turnip from pests, camouflaging the smell

- the anise improves the vigour of neighbouring plants               

Apple

(Malus domestica)

Onion, chives, garlic, leek, corn, lettuce, cucumbers, clover, nasturtium

Potatoes

- the onion, chives, garlic can protect the apples from fungi

- the chives prevent apple scab in the third year

- the nasturtium attracts predatory insects and repels whiteflies

- the nasturtium attracts aphids and caterpillars and can be used as trap crop

- the clover can be planted under fruit trees                            

Apricot

(Prunus armeniaca)

Onion, chives, garlic, leek, asparagus

Peppers

- the fungi from peppers can attack the apricots 

- the chives protect the apricot from fungi     

- the garlic is an organic fungicide for apple and apricot trees                                     

- rotten garlic under fruit trees repels the deers        

Name
Companion
Non-companion
Comments

Asparagus

(Asparagus officinalis)

Tomatoes, parsley, basil, bean, nasturtium, apricot, lovage, marjoram, comfrey, calendula, coriander, daisies, dill, tagetes, petunia

Potatoes, onion, garlic, mint

- the tagetes repel different bugs, kill nematodes and attract beneficial insects

- the basil repels asparagus beetles

- the calendulas repel also asparagus beetles

- the petunias and the tomatoes repel asparagus beetles

- the asparagus repels nematodes

- the lovage improves the health of neighbouring plants and attracts many beneficial insects

Basil

(Ocimum basilicum)

Tomatoes, peppers, bean, cabbage, calendula, tagetes, oregano, asparagus, petunia, camomile, anise, beet

Sage

- the anise and camomile stimulate the basil oil production                                 

- the basil attracts the butterflies

- the basil repels asparagus beetles, mosquitoes and the flies

- the red basil repels tomato hornworms

Bean

(Phaseolus)

Corn, spinach, lettuce, rosemary, savory, dill, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnip, broccoli, collard, radishes, strawberries, cucumbers, eggplants, borage, celery, nasturtium, potatoes, petunia, squashes, pumpkins, anise, asparagus, basil, coriander, lovage, sage

Onion, chives, garlic, leek, tomatoes, chili peppers, fennel, gladiolus, sunflower, tagetes

- the green bean repels Colorado potato beetle

- the running bean and the beet inhibit the growth one to each other

- the bean fixes nitrogen in soil  

- the anise attracts predatory insects and improves the vigour of neighbouring plants      

Name
Companion
Non-companion
Comments

Beets

(Beta vulgaris)

Catnip, garlic, mint, basil, peppers, lettuce, turnip, onion, chives, leek

Running bean, mustard, tomatoes

- the beet and the running bean inhibit the growth one to each other

- the garlic improves the growth and flavor of beet

- the mint can be used as mulch around the beet                                    

Borage

(Borago officinalis)

 

Strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, turnip, bean

 

- the borage attracts predatory insects and bees

- the borage repels tomato hornworm

- the borage is considered one of the ideal companions for almost every plant                

Broccoli

(Brassica)

Anise, onion, chives, garlic, leek, dill, mint, camomile, celery, pelargonium, rosemary, oregano, sage, nasturtium, borage, bean, cucumber, chervil, calendula, hyssop

Mustard, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, lettuce

- the anise protects from pests, camouflaging the smell and attracts predatory insects

- the anise improves the vigour of neighbouring plants

- the onion, chives, garlic, celery, rosemary, sage, pelargonium and nasturtium repel broccoli pests

- the nasturtium attracts beneficial insects

- the borage and camomile attract beneficial insects

- the dill and mint repel broccoli pests and attract beneficial insects      

- the chervil improves the growth of broccoli                         

Brussels sprout

(Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group)

Onion, chives, garlic, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, celery, pelargonium, hyssop,   nasturtium, borage, bean, anise, basil, hemp, camomile, spinach

Mustard, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, strawberries, radishes, grape vine

- the anise attracts predatory insects and protects the Brussels sprouts from pests, camouflaging the smell

- the anise improves the vigour of neighbouring plants

- the hemp, onion and chives repel the Brussels sprout pests

- the nasturtium attracts predatory insects, repels whiteflies, cabbage moths

- the nasturtium attracts aphids and caterpillars and can be used as trap crops around cabbage         

Buckwheat

(Fagopyrum esculentum)

Pumpkin, squashes

 

- the buckwheat can be used as camouflage crop

- the buckwheat attracts hoverflies

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More about companion plants here.