Companion Gardening: When Plants Work Together

The climbing temperatures in Georgia are heralding in the start of Summer, and with it, the time for vegetable gardens. Whether you’re on an apartment patio or have an expansive back yard, you have space for a few vegetables of your own, and how you use your space will determine how many different kinds of veggies and fruits you can enjoy. Companion gardening allows your plants to work together, making the most of your space and efforts while also helping to reduce insect issues and to boost flavor.

marigolds in a garden

Marigolds are an excellent companion plant, keeping insects off of veggies, fruits, and other plants.

Companion gardening for beginners: The first steps

If you’re using your garden for vegetables this summer, you probably already have a few tasty plants at the top of your planting wish-list. Make a list of the items you want to grow, then take a look at which plants they pair well with using a companion planting chart.

Once you have a list of good neighbors, think about the space you have available, as well as challenges your garden might face. For instance, do you have limited shade? A tall neighboring plant can provide shade for a shorter plant that needs partial instead of full sun. Is there a particular, bothersome insect that’s common in your area? Plant a bug-repelling plant nearby the vegetables most popular to this predator. Soon, you’ll have a complete list of good companion plants to fill your space.

Maximize flavor while you minimize pests

Companion gardening is perhaps best known for its ability to help with pest control. By planting marigolds around your veggies, you’ll cut down on the number and species of insects that are attracted to them. Herbs, such as basil and sage, also help deter certain pests. Other plants help with pest control by attracting insects to them and away from other plants;¬†Nasturtiums attract aphids, protecting other plants they love, such as sugar snap peas, from this common pest.

In addition to offering protection, companion plants can even offer an enhanced or altered flavor to help your vegetables taste the way you’d like. Some gardeners say that planting basil next to tomatoes will enhance the flavor and yield of the crop. Another popular combination is summer savory and beans, where summer savory is said to also improve the growth and flavor of the beans.

Understand your enemies

Your garden is like a social circle–Some plants will make great companions and bring out the best in each other; others just won’t get along. Some plants do not do well with other, specific varieties, i.e. onions and garlic are said to inhibit the yield from peas. Others, like fennel, do not seem to get along with most other plants and should be planted separately.

Don’t be afraid to try new things

As you plant your garden this year, don’t be afraid to jump into the world of companion gardening. Make the most of your pairings in pots (tomato plants and basil both do well in containers, especially when planted together) or in your large garden bed. Helpful guides are readily available to give you the who’s-who when it comes to friends and foes of the flora, so study up and let your garden work together for a tastier, higher yielding garden this year.


Are you already trying companion gardening? What groupings have you found success with?

Photo via Flickr. 

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