Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together

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We all appreciate companions in our lives, people who journey alongside, encouraging and supporting us. Plants, it turns out, enjoy a form of companionship as well.

Companion gardening is the practice of planting specific plants close together, for the mutual benefit of both. Our grandparents and great grandparents understood that plants thrive better when certain combinations are tucked into the ground together. I’m learning more about this helpful process.

Companion gardening, plants that thrive together, offers a list to try out in your own backyard or garden space.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together title meme

The Benefits of Companion Gardening

Tom Maloney, horticulture educator for Penn State Extension, says

“The theory behind companion planting is that certain plants may help each other take up nutrients, improve pest management, or attract pollinators.”

Flowering herbs and plants attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees, wasps and birds that improve the growth and yield of certain vegetables. Other strong smelling flowers or herbs help to deter pests such as beetles or aphids. Large leafy vegetables provide shade for smaller plants or give climbers support. While sprawling plants like okra or squash help keep weeds from springing up.

Try the following companion gardening plants that thrive together.

Cabbage and Chamomile

What a surprise this pairing presents! The flowering herb, known for its relaxing properties as a tea, draws beneficial insects to the cabbage plant.

In the fall, chop up any remaining chamomile, if you can bear to part with it yourself, and scatter the pieces over the vegetable garden to enrich the soil.

Tomatoes and Basil

This is a classic companion gardening combo and for good reason.

Basil and tomato plants share nutrients in the soil. The fragrant herb improves the flavor of the tomato plant and its strong scent, which I absolutely love, keeps pests away. Plus, experienced vegetable gardeners swear that they harvest more tomatoes when they companion plant them with basil.

Let some of the basil plants flower, to bring in those important pollinators.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together tomatoes and basil
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – tomatoes and basil

Tomatoes and Lettuce

Extend their growing season by planting lettuce crops, which prefer cooler temperatures, among taller tomato plants. The tomato plants shade the lettuce and help to protect them from too much sunlight.

Lettuce and Chives or Garlic

Those pesky aphids don’t like strongly scented herbs such as chives or garlic. Interplant chives or garlic with lettuce to protect their tender leaves. Consider adding the flower alyssum as well. It’s tiny white flowers attract beneficial insects. Or allow the chives to flower.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together chives and lettuce
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – lettuce and garlic

Radishes and Carrots

Since both of these are root vegetables, you’d think that they might compete for the same nutrients. However, radishes mature quickly and don’t grow as deeply in the soil.

Carrots mature more slowly and put down a longer taproot, drawing their nutrients from a different space.

Corn and Pole Beans and Squash or Pumpkins

This method of companion planting originated with Native Americans, who called it the Three Sisters.

Corn provides a framework for the beans to climb on. Beans convert nitrogen in the air into a form the plants use in the soil. And the squash or pumpkins sprawl out with their large leaves, preventing weeds from springing up and competing for nutrients.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together three sisters
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – corn, beans and squash

Melons and Flowering Herbs

Melons need pollinators to produce their fruit. Plant flowering herbs nearby to draw them in. Great herb choices include dill, fennel, thyme, mint or parsley. Provide a framework for melons to climb upon or give them plenty of space for the vines to sprawl naturally.

Broccoli and Calendula

The calendula plants produce a sticky substance on their stems that attract aphids and trap them. Planting the flowers near broccoli and related plants such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and collards, keeps aphids under control.

Plus, ladybugs are attracted to the calendula flowers. And they love to dine on aphids.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together broccoli and calendula
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – broccoli and calendula

Cucumbers and Nasturtium

Grow cucumbers up a trellis or platform and plant colorful nasturtium beneath them.

The scent of the flowers repels damaging insects while the colorful flowers attract pollinators.

Summer Squash and Marigolds

Similarly, planting nasturtium or marigolds with summer squashes such as yellow squash or zucchini helps protect those plants. Aphids and beetles are repelled by the unique scents of these flowers.

Marigolds enhance the growth of other garden favorites such as basil, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, potatoes, squash and tomatoes. Or pair them with melons as a way to deter beetles. Do not plant marigolds near beans.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together squash and nasturtium
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – squash and nasturtium

Flowers that Pair Well Together

If you love flowers like I do, you might enjoy pairing these flowers together, in containers or your garden space.

  • black eyed Susans with garden phlox or coneflowers
  • daylilies with yarrow or lavendar
  • bee balm with Russian sage
  • daffodils with irises
  • shasta daisies with coneflowers

Need help coming up with a garden plan? Check out free garden plans HERE.

I hope you discovered fresh ideas for companion gardening! We all like a win/win situation. Flowers, herbs and vegetables benefit from such favorable arrangements as well.

Have you tried companion gardening? What pairings benefited your plants the most?

Companion Gardening

Check out these posts from the Backyard Gardening Series:

7 Summer Gardening Tasks

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

6 Ways to Personalize Your Garden

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