By using companion planting, many gardeners find that they can discourage harmful pests without losing the beneficial allies. There are many varieties of herbs, flowers, etc. that can be used for companion plants. Be open to experimenting and find what works for you. Some possibilities would be using certain plants as a border, backdrop or interplanting in your flower or vegetable beds where you have specific needs. Use plants that are native to your area so the insects you want to attract already know what to look for! Plants with open cup shaped flowers are the most popular with beneficial insects.
Companion planting can combine beauty and purpose to give you an enjoyable, healthy environment. Have fun, let your imagination soar. There are many ways you can find to incorporate these useful plants in your garden, orchard, flower beds etc.
Companion Planting: The Successful Kitchen Garden
Many suggestions we find on companion planting are no more than garden folklore passed down from generations of gardeners. Perhaps previous generations of organic gardeners held these and more secrets that we should test in our own gardens.
It makes sense to place plants that share the same diseases and insect pests away from each other, and to select companion choices known to deter pests. Marigolds, nasturtiums and many herbs have aromatic foliage that is not attractive to bugs. The general idea is to camouflage, confuse and repel with smell and/or biting juices. It also makes sense to mix flowers and herbs with vegetable plantings to create more flowers -- flowers produce more pollen and nectar, and attract predator insects. Many people believe that selected vegetables interplanted with choice companions can improve the quality and taste of the fruit, such as basil planted with tomatoes.
rate, enjoy your experimentation, don't take anything too seriously,
and go with whatever works.
Here's what works for me:
plant eggplant with tomatoes or potatoes.
Some plants are so highly antagonistic to one another, they stand in a
separate category all together.
Carrots, cauliflower or potatoes with tomatoes
Carrots with dill
Asparagus with onion and potato
Beans with chives, fennel or garlic
Potato with pumpkin and summer squash OR
with onion, garlic and shallots.
ANISE: Licorice flavored herb, good host for predatory wasps which prey on aphids and it is also said to repel aphids. Deters pests from brassicas by camouflaging their odor. Improves the vigor of any plants growing near it. Used in ointments to protect against bug stings and bites. Good to plant with coriander.
BASIL: Plant with tomatoes to improve growth and flavor. Basil can be helpful in repelling thrips. It is said to repel flies and mosquitoes. Do not plant near rue.
BAY LEAF: A fresh leaf bay leaf in each storage container of beans or grains will deter weevils and moths. Sprinkle dried leaves with other deterrent herbs in garden as natural insecticide dust. A good combo: Bay leaves, cayenne pepper, tansy and peppermint.
For ladybug invasions try spreading bay leaves around in your house anywhere they are getting in and they should leave.
bean enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed form the air. In general
they are good company for carrots, brassicas, beets, and cucumbers.
Great for heavy nitrogen users like corn and grain plants. French
Haricot beans, sweet corn and melons are a good combo. Keep beans
away from the alliums.
BEE BALM (Oswego, Monarda): Plant with tomatoes to improve growth and flavor. Great for attracting beneficials and bees of course. Pretty perennial that tends to get powdery mildew.
BEET: Good for adding minerals to the soil. The leaves are composed of 25% magnesium. Companions are lettuce, onions and brassicas.
BORAGE: Companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. Deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms. One of the best bee and wasp attracting plants. Adds trace minerals to the soil and a good addition the compost pile. Borage may benefit any plant it is growing next to via increasing resistance to pests and disease. After you have planned this annual once it will self seed.
CATNIP: Deters flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants and weevils. We have found it repels mice quite well: mice were wreaking havoc in our outbuildings, we spread sprigs of mint throughout and the mice split! Use sprigs of mint anywhere in the house you want deter mice and ants. Smells good and very safe.
CHIVES: Improves growth and flavor of carrots and tomatoes . Chives may drive away Japanese beetles and carrot rust fly. Planted among apple trees it may help prevent scab. A tea of chives may be used on cucumbers to prevent downy mildew.
CHRYSANTHEMUMS: C. coccineum kills root nematodes. (the bad ones) It's flowers along with those of C. cineraruaefolium have been used as botanical pesticides for centuries. (i.e. pyrethrum) White flowering chrysanthemums repel Japanese beetles.
CLOVER: Long used as a green manure and plant companion. Attracts many beneficials. Useful planted around apple trees to attract predators of the woolly aphid.
COMFREY: Accumulates calcium, phosphorous and potassium. Likes wet spots to grow in. Traditional medicinal plant. Good trap crop for slugs.
CORIANDER: Repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetle. A tea from this can be used as a spray for spider mites. A partner for anise.
COSTMARY: This 2-3 foot tall perennial of the chrysanthemum family helps to repel moths.
DAHLIAS: These beautiful, tuberous annuals that can have up to dinner plate size flowers repels nematodes!
DILL: Improves growth and health of cabbage. Do not plant near carrots. Best friend for lettuce. Attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps. Repels aphids and spider mites to some degree. Also may repel the dreaded squash bug! (scatter some good size dill leaves on plants that are suspect to squash bugs, like squash plants, yeah that's the ticket.) Dill goes well with onions and cucumbers. Dill does attract the tomato horn worm so it would be useful to plant it somewhere away from your tomato plants to keep the destructive horn worm away from them. We like to plant it for the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars to feed on. Even their caterpillars are beautiful.
ELDERBERRY: A spray made from the leaves can be used against aphids, carrot root fly, cuke beetles and peach tree borers. Put branches and leaves in mole runs to banish them. Yes, it works!
FLAX: Plant with carrots, and potatoes. Flax contains tannin and linseed oils which may offend the Colorado potato bug. Flax is an annual from 1-4 feet tall with blue or white flowers that readily self sows. We have quite a few flax plants return year after year here in zone 5.
FOUR-O'CLOCKS: Draw Japanese beetles like a magnet which then dine on the foliage. The foliage is pure poison to them and they won't live to have dessert! It is important to mention that four-o"clocks are also poisonous to humans. Please be careful where you plant them if you have children. They are a beautiful annual plant growing from 2-3 feet high with a bushy growth form.
GARLIC: Plant near roses to repel aphids. Accumulates sulfur: a naturally occurring fungicide which will help in the garden with disease prevention. Garlic is systemic in action as it is taken up the plants through their pores and when used as a soil drench is also taken up by the roots. Has value in offending codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly. Researchers have observed that time-released garlic capsules planted at the bases of fruit trees actually kept deer away! Hey, worth a try! Concentrated garlic sprays have been observed to repel and kill whiteflies, aphids and fungus gnats among others with as little as an 6-8% contentration! It is safe for use on orchids too.
GOPHER PURGE: Deters gophers, and moles.
HORSERADISH: Plant in containers in the potato patch to keep away Colorado potato bugs. There are some very effective insect sprays that can be made with the root. Use the bottomless pot method to keep horseradish contained. Also repels Blister beetles. We have observed that the root can yield antifungal properties when a tea is made from it.
LARKSPUR: An annual member of the Delphinium family, larkspur will attract Japanese beetles. They dine and die! Larkspur is poisonous to humans too!
LAVENDER: Repels fleas and moths. Prolific flowering lavender nourishes many nectar feeding and beneficial insects. Use dried sprigs of lavender to repel moths. Start plants in winter from cuttings, setting out in spring.
LEMON BALM: Sprinkle throughout the garden in an herbal powder mixture to deter many bugs. Lemon balm has citronella compounds that make this work: crush and rub the leaves on your skin to keep mosquitoes away! Use to ward off squash bugs!
MARIGOLDS: (Calendula): Given a lot of credit as a pest deterrent. Keeps soil free of bad nematodes; supposed to discourage many insects. Plant freely throughout the garden. The marigolds you choose must be a scented variety for them to work. One down side is that marigolds do attract spider mites and slugs.
MARJORAM: As a companion plant it improves the flavor of vegetables and herbs. Sweet marjoram is the most commonly grown type.
MINT: Deters white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, aphids and improves the health of cabbage and tomatoes. Use cuttings as a mulch around members of the brassica family. It attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps. Earthworms are quite attracted to mint plantings. Be careful where you plant it as mint is an incredibly invasive perennial. We have found that placing mint (fresh or dried) where mice are a problem is very effective in driving them off!
MOLE PLANTS: (castor bean plant) Deter moles and mice if planted here and there throughout the garden. Drop a seed of this in mole runs to drive them away. This is a poisonous plant.
MORNING GLORIES: They attract hoverflies. Plus if you want a fast growing annual vine to cover something up morning glory is an excellent choice.
OPAL BASIL: An annual herb that is pretty, tasty and said to repel hornworms!
Plant as a barrier around tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers,
and under fruit trees. Deters wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bug,
cucumber beetles and other pests of the curcurbit family. Great trap
crop for aphids (in particular the black aphids) which it does
attract, especially the yellow flowering varieties. Likes poor
soil with low moisture and no fertilizer. It has been the practice
of some fruit growers that planting nasturtiums every year in the
root zone of fruit trees allow the trees to take up the pungent odor
of the plants and repel bugs. It has no taste effect on the fruit. A
nice variety to grow is Alaska which has attractive green and white
variegated leaves. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible and
wonderful in salads!
PARSLEY: Plant among and sprinkle on tomatoes, and asparagus. Use as a tea to ward off asparagus beetles. Attracts hoverflies. Let some go to seed to attract the tiny parasitic wasps. Parsley increases the fragrance of roses when planted around their base.
PEPPERMINT: Repels white cabbage moths, aphids and flea beetles. It is the menthol content in mints that acts as an insect repellant. Bees and other good guys love it.
PEPPERS, HOT: Chili peppers have root exudates that prevent root rot and other Fusarium diseases. Plant anywhere you have these problems. Teas made from hot peppers can be useful as insect sprays.
PETUNIAS: They repel the asparagus beetle, leafhoppers, certain aphids, tomato worms, Mexican bean beetles and general garden pests. A good companion to tomatoes, but plant everywhere. The leaves can be used in a tea to make a potent bug spray.
EGG PLANT: Grow poached egg plant with tomatoes, they will
attract hover flies and hover flies eat aphids.
RADISH: Plant radishes with your squash plants. Radishes may protect them from squash borers! Anything that will help prevent this is worth a try. Planting them around corn and letting them go to seed will help fight corn borers.
ROSEMARY: Companion plant to cabbage, beans, carrots and sage. Deters cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies. Use cuttings to place by the crowns of carrots for carrot flies. Zones 6 and colder can over winter rosemary as houseplants or take cuttings.
RUE: Deters Japanese beetles in roses and raspberries. To make it even more effective with Japanese beetles: crush a few leaves to release the smell. Repels flies and has helped repel cats for us. Some say you should not plant it near cabbage, basil or sage. A pretty perennial with bluish-gray leaves. May be grown indoors in a sunny window. Rue can cause skin irritation!
SAGE: Use as a companion plant with broccoli, cauliflower, rosemary, cabbage, and carrots to deter cabbage moths, beetles, black flea beetles and carrot flies. Do not plant near cucumbers or rue. Sage repels cabbage moths and black flea beetles. Allowing sage to flower will also attract many beneficial insects and the flowers are pretty. There are some very striking varieties of sage with variegated foliage that can be used for their ornamental as well as practical qualities.
SOUTHERNWOOD: Plant with cabbage, and here and there in the garden. Wonderful lemony scent when crushed or brushed in passing. Roots easily from cuttings. Does not like fertilizer! It is a perennial that can get quite bushy. We have started to cut it back every spring and it comes back in not time. A delightful plant that is virtually pest free.
SUMMER SAVORY: Plant with beans and onions to improve growth and flavor. Discourages cabbage moths. Honey bees love it.
SUNFLOWERS: Planting sunflowers with corn is said by some to increase the yield. Aphids a problem? Definitely plant a few sunflowers here and there in the garden. Step back and watch the ants herd the aphids onto them! We have been doing this for years and it is remarkable. The sunflowers are so tough that the aphids cause very little damage and we have nice seed heads for our birds to enjoy! Talk about a symbiotic relationship!
TANSY: Plant with fruit trees, roses and raspberries keeping in mind that it can be invasive and is not the most attractive of plants. Tansy which is often recommended as an ant repellant may only work on sugar type ants. These are the ones that you see on peonies and marching into the kitchen. At least for us placing tansy clippings by the greenhouse door has kept them out. Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, ants and mice! Tie up and hang a bunch of tansy leaves indoors as a fly repellent. Use clippings as a mulch as needed. Don't be afraid to cut the plant up as tansy will bounce back from any abuse heaped on it! It is also a helpful addition to the compost pile with its' high potassium content.
TARRAGON: Plant throughout the garden, not many pests like this one. Recommended to enhance growth and flavor of vegetables.
THYME: Deters cabbage worms. Wooly thyme makes a wonderful groundcover. You may want to use the upright form of thyme in the garden rather than the groundcover types. Thyme is easy to grow from seeds or cuttings. Older woody plants should be divided in spring.
WHITE GERANIUMS: These members of the pelargonum family draw Japanese beetles to feast on the foliage which in turn kills them.
YARROW: Yarrow has insect repelling qualities and is an excellent natural fertilizer. A handful of yarrow leaves added to the compost pile really speeds things up. Try it! It also attracts predatory wasps and ladybugs to name just two. It may increase the essential oil content of herbs when planted among them. Yarrow has so many wonderful properties to it and is an ingredient in our own