Companion Planting Guide

Companion Planting Tips, Plant List, and More

By George and Becky Lohmiller
February 10, 2019

Close-up of an orange marigold.

Angela Altomare

Do you follow the principles of companion planting in your garden? See our tips on what plants to plant next to each other—and which to plant far apart—including popular crops like tomatoes, basil, potatoes, beans, and more.

What is Companion Planting?

It takes more than good soil, sun, and nutrients to ensure success in a garden. Time-honored gardening wisdom says that certain plants, when grown together, improve each other’s health and yields. For instance, some plants attract beneficial insects that help to protect a companion, while other plants (particularly herbs) act as repellents. Additionally, plants that require a lot of the same nutrients as their neighbors may struggle to get enough for themselves, producing lackluster crops.

Which vegetables should you plant next to each other? Which shouldn’t you plant together? Let’s take a look at the benefits of companion planting, then a list of the best companion plants.

Benefits of Companion Planting

There are plenty of reasons to plant certain crops together. For example…

  • Shade regulation: Large plants provide shade for smaller plants in need of sun protection.
  • Natural supports: Tall plants like corn and sunflowers can support lower-growing, sprawling crops such as cucumbers and peas.
  • Improved plant health: When one plant absorbs certain substances from the soil, it may change the soil biochemistry in favor of nearby plants.
  • Healthy soil: Some crops, such as bean and peas, help to make nitrogen available. Similarly, plants with long taproots, like burdock, bring up nutrients from deep in the soil, enriching the topsoil to the benefit of shallow-rooted plants.  
  • Weed suppression: Planting sprawling crops like potatoes with upright plants minimizes open areas, where weeds typically take hold.

Companion Plants for Vegetables

Some plants, especially herbs, act as natural insect repellents. They confuse insects with strong odors that mask the scent of the intended host plants.

  • Companion plantingDill and basil planted among tomatoes can protect from tomato hornworms.
  • Sage scattered about the cabbage patch reduces injury from cabbage moths.
  • Marigolds are as good as gold when grown with just about any garden plant, repelling nematodes which attack vegetable roots, especially tomatoes.
  • Some companions act as trap plants, luring insects to themselves. Nasturtiums, for example, are so favored by aphids that the devastating insects will flock to them instead of other plants.
  • Carrots, dill, parsley, and parsnip attract beneficial insects—praying mantises, ladybugs, and spiders—that dine on insect pests.
  • Much of companion planting is common sense: Lettuce, radishes, and other quick-growing plants sown between hills of melons or winter squash will mature and be harvested long before these vines need more leg room.
  • Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard grow in the shadow of corn.
  • Bush beans tolerate the dapple shade that corn casts and, since their roots occupy different levels in the soil, don’t compete for water and nutrients.
  • Tansy discourages cutworm, which attacks asparagus, bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, corn, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato plants.
  • Catnip, hyssop, rosemary, and sage deter cabbage moth, which is detrimental to a host of edible crops, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnip, and radish.
  • Mint wards off cabbage moth and ants.
  • Thyme thwarts cabbageworm, which munches broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, horseradish, kale, and kohlrabi
  • Lavender is known to deter codling moths, which wreak havoc on apple trees
  • Zinnias attract ladybugs, so when planted near cauliflower, which is susceptible to cabbage flies, the ladybugs are there to control the pest population.

See our companion planting chart for advice on popular vegetables.

Incompatible Edibles

Plants that are not compatible with each other are sometimes called combatants. Here are a few:

  • White garlic and onions repel a plethora of pests and make excellent neighbors for most garden plants, but the growth of beans and peas is stunted in their presence.
  • Potatoes and beans grow poorly in the company of sunflowers, and although cabbage and cauliflower are closely related, they don’t like each other at all.


One of the keys to successful companion planting is observation. Record your plant combinations and the results from year to year, and share this information with other gardening friends. Companionship is just as important for gardeners as it is for gardens.

More Companion Plantings

Even plants in the woodlands are companions:

  • Blueberries, mountain laurel, azaleas, and other ericaceous (heath family) plants thrive in the acidic soils created by pines and oaks.
  • Shade-loving plants seek the shelter provided by a wooded grove. The shade-lovers in return protect the forest floor from erosion with their thick tangle of shallow roots.
  • Legumes and some trees, such as alders, have symbiotic relationships with bacteria in the soil that help them to capture nitrogen from the air and convert it to fertilizer, enriching the soil so plants can prosper in their presence.

Pea pods

Strange Plant Pairings

Sometimes plants may be helpful to one another only at a certain stage of their growth. The number and ratio of different plants growing together is often a factor in their compatibility, and sometimes plants make good companions for no apparent reason.

  • You would assume that keeping a garden weed-free would be a good thing, but this is not always the case. Certain weeds pull nutrients from deep in the soil and bring them close to the surface. When the weeds die and decompose, nutrients become available in the surface soil and are more easily accessed by shallow-rooted plants.

Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle

  • Perhaps one of the most intriguing examples of strange garden bedfellows is the relationship between the weed stinging nettle and several vegetable varieties. For reasons that are unclear, plants grown in the presence of stinging nettle display exceptional vigor and resist spoiling.

Learn More

Want to learn more about companion planting? Watch our companion planting video about why vegetables need flower friends!


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Stink Bugs and Cucumber Beetles

I lost virtually my entire crop to stink bugs and cucumber beetles. Are there any plants / companion plants or insecticides which won't hurt pollinators? Hand picking only helped a little.

stink bug and cuke beetle prevention

The Editors's picture

There isn’t necessarily a sure-thing plant companion for every vegetable. The Univ of Maryland Coop Ext has this advice re stink bugs:

  • Clean up plant debris after the season, especially crucifers and legumes. Tilling disrupts overwintering sites.
  • Use row cover when possible, beginning in spring.
  • Search for egg masses and crush. Handpick bugs.
  • Bugs hide or drop when startled. Knock into a container with soapy water held underneath.
  • A cloudy spot in fruit can be cut out and does not affect eating quality.
  • Insecticidal soap or botanicals such as neem or pyrethrum are only effective on young nymphs. Adults are resistant even to highly toxic insecticides.
  • Thick organic mulch provides desirable habitat for stinkbugs. Consider removing mulch or using plastic, fabric or rolled paper mulch.
  • Many natural predators and parasitoids are still not enough to control them but conserve beneficial predators by using only insecticides with a short residual.
  • Thick-skinned cultivars may provide some resistance.

For some (similar) ideas re cuke beetles, look here 

One more thing, practice crop rotation if you have a garden large enough to put time and distance btw crops. It’s a simple but effective way to “fool” the bugs: all of a sudden, they can not find your plants! Here some help with rotation:


I haven't been able to find anything about blackberries. Are there any plants or vegetables that blackberries should or should not be planted near?

blackberry companions

The Editors's picture

Tansy, garlic, and rue are said to help deter Japanese beetles. Planting linden trees or geraniums may act as trap crops, luring Japanese beetles away from blackberries. Avoid planting blackberries near conifers, such as pine trees, as blackberry psyllid overwinter in the conifers, but attack the blackberry leaves. Avoid planting blackberries near black walnut trees, as they are susceptible to juglone, produced by the trees. Avoid planting blackberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant had been grown, as these plants are host to Verticillium fungi that can cause root rot in the blackberries. Clear out any wild brambles, to help prevent spreading any disease. Hope this helps!


I was looking for information on mallow companions, specifically; okra and rose of sharon. Maybe I am missing it, or maybe it is not as favored of a crop anymore? Either way, folks sell crops from victory garden times, like salsify for one. Sure would be nice to have that information out. All I have come across so far is generalized articles with little to no information. I was hoping if anyone had what I was looking for it would be the Farmer's Almanac.

Okra companions

The Editors's picture

The best Okra companions are: Melons, cucumbers, sweet peppers, eggplant.

We’re not aware of any plant that help Rose of Sharon thrive. We’d simply suggest pairing it with plants that bloom at other times (perhaps with a variety of roses). 


Any ideas how to keep earwigs out of my yard?


Don't remember if I read this or just stumbled on it, but after years of squashing potato nymphs I discovered that if you plant your potatoes along with horseradish, you will never have a potato beetle. I haven't seen one of those buggers in a decade. Best of Luck this spring.

companion planting

I've selected several companion plants for my container gardens, but when do I plant them. Is it best to plant them at the same time as the vegetables or before?

Companion planting

Great info. If plants are deterrents to each other, how far apart do they need to be planted? For example, could you explain distance between squash and potatoes? Thank you.

how far apart?

The Editors's picture

That’s a difficult question because to a certain extent it depends on how much space you have and each plant’s individual/particular needs. For example, squash (Hubbard-style) like pH of 5.5 to 7.0, but potatoes like pH of 4.8 to 6.5—so, more acidic. (See pH values listed here, btw, with summer-style squash a slightly different pH: )

So you want to separate the plants enough that they have enough room to flourish, without getting into each other’s soil; for example, you do not want to disturb the squash roots when you start digging up the potato harvest.

Here’s another consideration: Spuds like sandy soil (see here: ), and squash likes loamy (

With soil amendments ( ) as needed, by practicing crop rotation ( ), and using containers when plant conditions conflict, space can be workable.

We hope this helps!

Keeping Ants off Corn Stalks

How can I keep ants off my corn stalks without damaging the corn?

Sunflowers and beans

I planted beans away from sunflowers and in the same container with one to see if it made a difference. The ones I planted in the container with the sunflowers did much better than the other ones.


companion croping it's good, it help a farmers to control weed and pest without chemical

deer in the garden

we have deer in the neighborhood who like to nibble and crunch down the yard plants.. any idea how to stop them? or do we go without a garden? I know fencing and other barriers are needed but that is expensive. I like deer, also I want some plants.

garden pests

The Editors's picture

Oh, we have many ways to deter deer in the garden! See our deer page here.

Keeping Deer out of your garden

I've read that the Dog Rose (Rosa Canina) will form a flowering, thorny, thicket that will make a natural barrier that even a rabbit can't get through. In addition you can get some rose hips from them. I don't know if it will work, but it might be worth a try.

I can relate to the deer

I can relate to the deer issue for years they have eatin most things in my garden so I put up some fencing around I didn't want to spend the money either but I will be eating this year I like the deer also but they find other things on my property to munch on as host as and my other perennial s but they sure won't be eating my food
Good luck with the deer

Control deer

IF you put Irish spring (cut in fourths)in cheese cloths around the garden. It will smell of humans and keep away rabbits and deer. Cinnamon will keep away ants and other bugs. Look up holistic remedies for gardening. We use pie plates on strings to keep birds like crows out.


What flowers should I plant in my garden to attract bees / insects for pollination?

Attracting Bees for Pollination

The Editors's picture

This is a great question!  Attracting bees is so important for your crops to produce. One out of every three bites of food is thanks to the bees.

It depends what time you wish to plant as well as your climate but here are some ideas:

Bees love:  Bee balm, purple coneflower, butterfly-bush, common lavender, black-eyed susans, red and white clover, cosmos, sunflowers, common mallow, foxglove, allium, healther, dandelion, and many more! 

You may enjoy this post on helping bees and butterflies in the garden:

How far apart to plant non-compatable veggies?

How far apart is optimal when keeping non-comparable plant away from each other. Like the Onions and Beans for instance.

non-comptible plant distances

The Editors's picture

You really have to deal with the space you have. Ideally, it would be several to many feet. But if you have only a small space—even maximum 20 feet at the widest point, that’s your distance. Keep rotation in mind, too. You know, our Garden Planner would provide you the most optimal for your space—no heavy sell here, but a lot of people like it! See here:

and consider the 7-day free trial… just sayin…

Just beginner gardener, would

Just beginner gardener, would like some tips on a good healthy garden. From amherstburg, ontario

Beginner Gardening

The Editors's picture

Here is a good page on vegetable gardening planner for beginners:    You can also see the Gardening tab at the top of our Home Page to access many more Gardening Articles and Videos.

I am trying to educate myself

I am trying to educate myself about better companion planting though I have had a garden many years and had good crops for the most part. Some things I quit planting because I wanted to be organic, but had no way to fight the pests, i.e. worms in cauliflower and broccoli. I have heard that planting onions near them will help. Do you agree? Also can you plant cauliflower and broccoli near each other?

Hi Jerrene, Yes, you can

The Editors's picture

Hi Jerrene,

Yes, you can plant cauliflower and broccoli near each other. You can see a friend/foe chart for the 10 most common vegetables at

We don't recommend growing onions near the broccoli and cauliflower. Tomatoes and celery on the other hand are known to keep the cabbage worm away. They also grow well near broccoli and cauliflower. You can also try a garlic spray (soak 4 cloves in a quart of water for a few days and then blend in a mixer, strain and put the liquid in a spray bottle with a couple of drops of dish soap).

Please help me! I am looking

Please help me! I am looking for something that I can plant in my flower garden and among my shrubs to keep the voles and moles from eating the roots. I have tried lots of commercial things.

Hi Barbara, Try planting some

The Editors's picture

Hi Barbara,
Try planting some garlic cloves between the flowers and shrubs. Some of our readers swear by it.

My mother in law swears by

My mother in law swears by placing crushed eggshells around the bases of tomato plants for keeping cut worms and the like away- she sure has an awesome garden!