Plants grow better with a little help from their friends, too! The practice of planting different varieties together is known as companion planting and can help ensure a healthy harvest of both crops. For example, taller plants can provide shade for ground-hugging plants, and some plants act as a pest repellant for their neighbors. That being said, other plants shouldn’t be planted together, either because they attract the same pests, or they stunt one another’s growth.
The benefits of companion planting stretch beyond the paired plants, too. Intercropping (or interplanting) flowers, vegetables, and herbs helps dissuade pests throughout the garden and improves biodiversity. Rotating plants and mixing types of plants also keeps your soil healthy by not exhausting the nutrients in one area. See which plants are just waiting to be best “buds”—and which ones would be best kept apart.
A classic trio, this plant combination has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years, and for good reason: Tall corn stalks support climbing beans, and low-growing squash vines act as a groundcover that deters weeds. This combo of corn and vine crops works well with other plants, too. Try corn with cucumbers, melons, or pumpkins.
Avoid planting with corn: Tomatoes
Besides being tasty together in a salad, basil can help repel unwanted insects from your tomato plants. Planting them as a pair also works well because they require similar growing conditions. The best part? The two have the same harvesting time, which means you can use your freshly picked bounty together in recipes.
Members of the cabbage family often fall victim to frustrating insects like the cabbage looper and cabbage worms. Onions can act as a deterrent to these bugs and also keep enterprising rabbits at bay. This pairing benefits the onion, too, as onion maggots spread more easily when the plants are close together. You can happily plant onions with cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and lettuce.
Carrots and leeks grow well together via a mutual pest control relationship. Carrots repel leek moths, and leeks repel carrot flies. Radishes are another option for carrot companions, as their seeds germinate earlier than carrots and ready the soil for carrots to sprout. After you harvest the radishes, the carrots will have plenty of room to thrive. Some herbs work well for planting with carrots—chives can improve flavor and encourage growth, while rosemary and sage also repel carrot flies.
French marigold and nasturtium make excellent companion plants to a variety of vegetables, as they are natural insect repellants. They are thought to deter aphids, beetles, and more. Marigolds in particular discourage nematodes. These two flowers also attract beneficial pollinators. Take note, however; other varieties of marigold and hybrids will not have these properties. Plant a ring of French marigolds around your garden plot and enjoy their bright orange color and protection!