Kathy is an avid gardener who loves to grow perennials and vegetables in her zone 5 Ontario gardens.
Companion Planting Can Help You Be a Better Gardener
Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful way to save money and may help you eat healthier, by providing a ready supply of vegetables during the growing season. Whether you are an experienced gardener, or just starting out, it can be helpful to learn about companion planting as a natural and eco-friendly way to have a productive and healthy garden.
Basically, companion planting means learning about which plants provide benefits to other plants and planting them together in the garden. Companion plants for a vegetable plant can be other vegetable plants, herbs or even flowers.
Benefits of Companion Planting
When successful, companion planting can:
- Deter harmful insects and other garden pests.
- Attract beneficial and predatory insects.
- Improve pollination and crop yields.
- Improve the flavour of certain vegetables.
- Maximize growth of plants by keeping down weeds and providing shade where needed, without the use of harmful chemicals.
Planting Herbs and Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden
There are many flowers and herbs that are beneficial to vegetable plants. The main benefit of most of these is in their ability to either attract or repel various insects.
Beneficial flowers in a vegetable garden include nasturtiums, marigolds, zinnias, petunias, sweet peas, cosmos, and sunflowers. Of these, nasturtiums and marigolds are my absolute favourite companion plants. They both keep away a large variety of garden pests, and provide a bright colourful addition to the garden. I tend to intersperse several different varieties of marigolds throughout my vegetable garden, and plant the lower growing nasturtiums along the edge of the garden.
Herbs such as chives, basil and dill also provide benefits to the vegetables growing in your garden, and of course are great for cooking.
Flowers and Herbs for the Vegetable Garden
Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Lettuce, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes
Strong smell repels garden pests such as Mexican bean beetles, nematodes, slugs, and tomato worm.
Broccoli, Cucumber, Cabbage, Potatoes, Radish, Squash, Tomatoes, Zucchini
Wards off fungal diseases. Attract aphids away from other plants. Also trap other insects such as whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and cabbage worms.
Throughout the garden, especially near tomatoes
Repel aphids, tomato worms, Mexican bean beetle, asparagus beetle, leafhoppers and other garden pests.
Anywhere in or near vegetable garden
Attracts beneficial insects such as ladybugs and wasps. Repels harmful insects. Fertilizes soil.
Zinnias, Sweet Peas, Cosmos and Larkspur
Anywhere in or near vegetable garden
Attract bees to the garden to improve pollination. Also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and wasps.
Asparagus, Cucumber, Tomatoes
Repels aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, hornworms and other garden pests. Attracts bees to improve pollination. Improves flavour of tomatoes.
Asparagus, Carrots, Tomatoes
Repels aphids. Improves the flavour of carrots and tomatoes. May help to prevent powdery mildew on cucumber plants.
Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Onions,
Attracts beneficial insects such as bees, wasps, and hoverflies. Repels garden pests such as aphids, spider mites, squash and cabbage bugs.
Vegetables as Companion Plants
Certain vegetables grow better when planted close to others. They may provide needed shade, improve the soil by adding nutrients, attract beneficial insects, repel harmful garden pests or improve the flavour of the other plant. A good example of this is the Three Sisters Garden,
In a Three Sisters Garden, corn, beans and squash are planted together to maximize the yield on each crop. Each of these plants is beneficial to the other plants in some way. The corn provides support to the bean stalks as they grow. Beans improve the soil by adding nitrogen to it, which benefits both the squash and the corn, which is a particularly heavy feeder. The squash helps keep the weeds down, and benefits from the shade provided by the other two plants.
Watch the video below for more information on companion planting in an organic garden, including an example of a Three Sisters Garden.
Organic Gardening With Companion Plants
Plant Combinations to Avoid
In the same way that certain plants are beneficial to each other when planted together, there are some plant combinations that are best to avoid.
For example, beans are beneficial to many vegetable plants, as they fix nitrogen from the air and enrich the soil. However, they should not be planted with beets as the two will stunt each other's growth. Also, onion bulbs' growth is stunted by too much nitrogen in the soil, so beans and onions should not be planted near each other.
The chart below summarizes which vegetables make good companions and which combinations should be avoided.
Vegetable Garden Companion Planting Chart
|Vegetable||Good Companions||Avoid Planting With|
Basil, Chives, Parsley, Tomatoes
Broccoli, Brussell Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Marigolds, Parsley, Peas, Rosemary, Sage
Chives, Fennel, Garlic, Onions, Shallots
Bush Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Lettuce, Onions
Climbing Beans, Tomatoes
Basil, Carrots, Marigolds, Onions, Parsley, Tomatoes
Beans, Beets, Cucumber, Dill, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Potatoes, Tomatoes
Beans, Beets, Chamomile, Celery, Cucumber, Dill, Lettuce, Marigold, Nasturtiums, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Rosemary, Sage
Garlic, Rue, Strawberries, Tomatoes
Beans, Chives, Coriander, Cucumber, Dill, Leeks, Lettuce, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Onions, Peas, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Tomatoes
Bush Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Dill, Leeks, Peas, Tomatoes
Beans, Beets, Cucumber, Marjoram, Parsnip, Peas, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Radish, Rosemary, Squash, Zucchini
Basil, Beans, Broccoli, Brussell Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Lettuce, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Onions, Peas, Radish
Beans, Marjoram, Potatoes
Basil, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Squash, Tomatoes
Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Dill
Beans, Beats, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumbers, Marigolds, Onions, Parsnip, Peas, Radish
Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Lettuce, Leeks, Parsley, Parsnip, Tomatoes
Beans, Cabbages, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Parsnip, Potato, Sage
Chives, Garlic, Onions, Shallots
Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Peas
Celery, Cucumber, Dill, Pumpkin, Rosemary, Tomatoes
Marjoram, Fruit Trees, Strawberries
Beans, Corn, Cucumbers, Marigolds, Onions, Nasturiums, Peas, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sunflower
Asparagus, Basil, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Dill, Lettuce, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Peppers, Radish, Spinach
Beets, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Fennel, Potatoes, Rosemary, Rue
Corn, Marjoram, Nasturtiums
Natural Insect Repellents
|Pest / Insect||Natural Repellents to Try|
Garlic, mint, tansy, pennyroyal
Basil, chives, garlic, onions, nasturiums, petunias, tomatoes
Chamomile, dill, garlic, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
Bee balm, catnip, citronella, lemon balm, marigolds, pennyroyal, tansy, wormwood
Lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme
Dry rosemary, marigold, leaf mulch, wormwood
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Kathy Sima
Peter Leone on May 13, 2020:
I found this immensely helpful and easy to understand. Thank you so much Kathy!
Paddy Wright on May 05, 2020:
nasturium petals are wonderful in a salad too. they add a peppery flavour. very edible. Pansies are edible too... hi Kathy from Barre, Ontario
Thomas Eubank on March 01, 2020:
I’m planting my corn with my beans for the nitrogen,I see onions ,peppers ,tomatoes ,you don’t want the nitrogen, what is a safe distance to plant them from the corn/beans?
Antonia on February 24, 2020:
very helpful article, glad I found it. My first year gardening veggies and herbs together and I knew some things did not go together but these lists are extremely helpful and easy to read. Thank you!
Kathleen Dusing on April 12, 2019:
Merigolds working great! Thank you for the tips!
Latinka Ellis on April 11, 2019:
Thank you,I have been looking for this,very useful :)
Ken Burgess from Florida on November 16, 2017:
Great article, just what I was looking for as I begin planning a yard garden of my own, I remember seeing a video a while back of a back yard that was turned into a garden of fruits, veggies, berries, etc. not an inch of space was wasted, and it was more like a oasis than a 'food garden'.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2013:
I'm so glad to hear you found it helpful, azrestoexp! I don't know much about gardening in the desert, as I live in Canada, but I hope some of these strategies work out for you!
Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC on May 29, 2013:
Glad I found you. Great hub full of lots of useful information. Gardening in the desert requires all the help I can get. THANKS! :0)
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 29, 2012:
You're welcome Joanie! I'm glad to hear you found it helpful!
Joanie Ruppel from Texas on December 28, 2012:
We planted marigolds interspersed with tomatoes and both did extremely well. We also erred in putting beans and beets near each other - no wonder the beets were so small! Won't do that again. Thanks so much for the useful information.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 02, 2012:
I'm glad you liked it! I used to shun marigolds because of their pungent smell. Apparently that smell discourages lots of garden pests, so I've learned to appreciate marigolds much more. Thanks for the visit!
Claudia Mitchell on December 02, 2012:
Another really useful hub. Love the table and really only knew about marigolds being a deterrent to various critters. Thanks. Shared!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2012:
Thanks Jill and Betty! I'm glad you found it useful.
Jill Spencer from United States on November 30, 2012:
Great info! This hub's a keeper.
Betty (Alawine) Overstreet from Vacaville, Ca. on November 30, 2012:
Great hub! I will certainly pay attention to this next year. I have bookmarked your page on my computer so I won't forget it. Have a wonderful day!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 29, 2012:
Those nasturtiums are certainly hard workers, aren't they? It's an added bonus that they're pretty too. Thanks for stopping by Bill. I always appreciate your visits!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 29, 2012:
An excellent gardening companion. It's never too early to start planning for the next garden. This past year I witnessed our nasturtiums doing yeoman work in attracting aphids....they were swarmed by aphids. It really was remarkable to see, and all the while the other veggies nearby were left alone.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 29, 2012:
Thanks KerryAnita! The nasturtiums do seem to help. I didn't plant any last year, and I definitely saw a difference in some of my vegetables, including the zucchini squash. I'll be planting lots this summer!
KerryAnita from Satellite Beach, Florida on November 29, 2012:
Thanks for this hub! It was very informative. I will have to try to plant some nasturtiums next time I try to grow squash; they always seem to get a fungal disease.