A Beginner’s Guide to Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden

Have you ever tried companion planting in your vegetable garden? See how your garden can greatly benefit by growing the right combination of plants.

When growing a vegetable garden, it’s not always about which plants you grow. Being strategic about where you grow your plants and which ones you grow together can reward you with better growth and reduced pests.

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the practice of growing different crops near each other for mutual benefit and keeping others separated so that they all thrive.

The Three Sisters Planting Method

The Three Sisters method of companion planting is a well-known example. It has been widely used by Native American farming societies.

  • Corn stalks support pole beans.
  • Pole beans stabilize the corn and enrich the soil.
  • Squash shades the soil helps to prevent moisture from evaporating from the surface, and deters weeds.

Benefits of Companion Planting

There are so many benefits to planting specific crops together:

Deterring Pests and Repelling Insects

Many plants are natural insect repellents or deter critters. Two vegetables that are grown side by side can reduce pest infestation.

  • Basil repels insect pests such as thrips. If you plant basil next to your tomatoes in the garden, many say that you should have fewer egg-laying armyworms.
  • Cucumbers can keep raccoons away because they dislike the smell.
  • Grow flowers in your vegetable garden such as sunflowers, zinnias, calendula or cosmos to repel pests.
  • Garlic has a strong odor that deters many insects such as aphids, onion flies, and Japanese beetles. Plant between potatoes, near fruit trees, and next to lettuce and cabbage.
  • Marigolds have a strong fragrance and will keep deer from feeding on plants such as tomatoes.
  • Mint deters aphids and ants, but can be highly invasive and should be planted in their own pot or container.
  • Nasturtium is often used to attract aphids, caterpillars, and blackflies away from other plants.
  • Sage repels carrot flies and can help deter cabbage moths.

Attract Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

Growing nectar-rich flowers among crops will attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. This will help to boost the pollination of flowering crop plants like tomatoes, beans, and squash.

  • Basil and Borage partner well with tomatoes, attracting pollinating bees.
  • Dill attracts beneficial ladybugs, which eat aphids and spider mites, and is a food source for caterpillars and butterflies.
  • Parsley attracts beneficial insects to protect and pollinate tomatoes.
  • Grow flowers in your vegetable garden such as sunflowers, zinnias, calendula or cosmos to attract beneficial insects.

Improved Plant Health

The soil biochemistry can positively change when one plant absorbs certain substances from the soil. This benefits the other plants nearby.

Shade Regulation

Tall plants such as corn and sunflowers provide shade for smaller plants. This protection can benefit plants such as lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard that need relief from the hot summer sun.

Bush beans tolerate the shade from corn. Their roots don’t compete for water and nutrients at their level in the soil.

Improved Soil Fertility

Some crops, such as beans, peas, and other legumes, help to improve the nutrient supply and uptake from the soil.

Natural Supports

Tall plants, such as corn and sunflowers, can support sprawling and lower-growing crops needing trellising like cucumbers and peas.

Weed Suppression

Companion planting can help suppress weeds if done the right way. Interplanting different crops can help mark garden rows. It also distinguishes fast-germinating plants from slower-germinating plants.

Companion Planting Mistakes to Avoid

Certain neighboring plants can actually cause harm rather than benefit them.

Any crops that are similar to one another should not be planted next to each other.

These similarities can include:

  • Nutrient needs
  • Above-ground growth
  • Root systems
  • Water needs
  • Sunlight needs
  • Space needs
  • Susceptible to the same diseases and pests

Some crops can inhibit the growth of other plants.

NOTE: Fennel is a poor companion plant that should be planted in the garden far away from all other crops.

Common Vegetables Companion Planting Chart

Here are some of the most common garden crops and the best companion plants so your garden will benefit from them. 

PlantCompanionsKeep away from Notes
 Asparagus Asters, Basil, Cilantro, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Oregano,
Parsley, Peppers, Sage, Thyme, Tomatoes
Onion, Garlic, PotatoesRepels flies, mosquitoes, and thrips. Improves flavor in tomatoes.
BasilAsparagus, Oregano, Peppers, TomatoesSageRepels flies, mosquitoes, thrips. Improves flavor in tomatoes.
BeansCabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Rosemary, SunflowersChives, Leeks, GarlicImproves nitrogen deficiency in the soil.
BeetsBush beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Garlic, Leeks, Lettuce, Mint, Onion, Sage,Pole beans
Beet leaves add minerals to the garden’s soil and are composed of 25% magnesium.
BroccoliCelery, Dill, Onion, Oregano, Potatoes, Rosemary, HyssopStrawberries, Tomatoes
CabbageBeets, Celery, Chamomile, Garlic, Nasturtiums, Onion, Potatoes, SageEggplant, Strawberries, Tomatoes
CarrotsBeans, Chives, Leeks, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Rosemary, Sage, TomatoesChives, Dill, ParsnipTo prevent cross-pollination, don’t plant any members of the carrot family
CornBeans, Cucumber, Dill, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Spinach, SunflowersTomatoes
CucumberCelery, Dill, Lettuce, Nasturtium, Oregano, Pea, RadishesBasil, Cauliflower, Potatoes
GarlicBeets, Carrots, Cole crops, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes
LettuceBasil, Beets, Carrots, Chives, Garlic, Onions, Radishes, StrawberriesBeans, Parsley
MelonBroccoli, Corn, Garlic, Radishes
OnionsBroccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Marigolds, TomatoesBeans, Peas
PeasAlyssum, Beans, Carrots, Chives, Corn, Cucumbers, MintGarlic, Onions
PeppersBasil, Beans, Carrots, Catmint, Cilantro, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Tomatoes Fennel
PotatoesBeans, Cabbage, Catmint, Cilantro, Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Radishes, SpinachCucumber, Pumpkin, Sunfloweroften used as trap crops for flea beetles.
RadishesBeans, Beets, Carrots, Nasturtiums, Peas, SpinachCabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts
Winter Squash/
Calendula, Corn, Oregano, Nasturtiums, SquashPotatoes
SpinachBeans, Brassicas, Cilantro, Eggplants, Leeks, Lettuce, Oregano, Peas, Radishes, Rosemary, Strawberries Parsnips, Potatoes
TomatoesAsparagus, Basil, Beans, Bee Balm, Borage, Calendula, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Dill, Garlic, Lettuce, Marigolds, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion, Parsley, Peppers, Squash, ThymeBrassicas, Corn, Dill, Fennel, PotatoesPotatoes spread blight to tomatoes. Corn attracts bad pests
ZucchiniBeans, Corn, Nasturtium, Oregano, Peas, Radishes, Zinnias

Companion Planting with Herbs

Many herbs offer a number of benefits to the garden. They not only repel and trap pests but also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to plants.

Plant some of these most beneficial herbs in the garden. You will be rewarded as a result.

  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

I hope you have found some companion planting ideas of your own. Your garden is sure to reap the benefits this year. You’ll not only be surprised by how your plants will benefit from this type of gardening but how they will protect each other from pests.

Make sure to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought about this post. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Happy Gardening!

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  1. This post is so helpful Kim! I’ve just pinned it and will definitely share it on Friday too. I know a lot of people are getting started with their vegetable and herb gardens since the weather seems to have stabilized just a bit. I never realized how much one plant could help another plant out like this, that is so cool. Love your gorgeous gardens and all your helpful tips! Big hugs, CoCo

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