Finally, a "how to" companion plant in your garden!
Finally, a "how to" companion plant in your garden!
February 16, 2017
Companion Planting is easy with the new and improved Almanac Garden Planner! See how to select the plants that thrive best with each other, and avoid the plants that do not “like” each other!
Companion planting is traditionally a bit of a headache with lots of conflicting information. In a recent survey users of our Garden Planner told us the feature they’d most like to see was one to help them with companion planting. So, we’ve spent many months diligently researching exactly that, so you can spend mere seconds selecting the best companion planting combinations for your garden.
The new companion planting feature in our Garden Planner makes it easier than ever for you to find perfect matches for your plants. We are offering a 7-day free trial so you can see if you like it!
Choosing Companion Plants
With many thousands of possible companion planting combinations we decided, right from the start, to include only those backed up by scientific evidence. Research must have proved why they’re good companion plants; we wanted proven associations, not just hearsay! So let’s look at a few examples of companion plant pairings that made the grade.
Many flowering plants attract pest-eating insects. Poached egg plants draw in hoverflies which control aphids on nearby lettuce. Borage attracts bees and tiny pest-eating wasps, making it a great companion for tomatoes. Another scientific study found that crimson clover grown with broccoli expanded the local spider population, which in turn controlled pests.
Some companion plants, such as nasturtium, lure insect pests away from crops. Nasturtiums can be planted close to fava beans so that blackfly will gorge themselves on the nasturtiums while ignoring the beans. The same companion also attracts hungry caterpillars away from brassicas like cabbage.
Some plants have a very strong smell, confusing pests by masking the scent of its host plant. Garlic, for example, has been found to deter the green peach aphid, so we’ve included it as a perfect companion to vulnerable fruits such as peaches and nectarines.
Other Benefits of Companion Planting
In many instances plants make suitable companions because they offer some sort of physical advantage. Tall-growing sunflowers offer shade and support for scrambling cucumbers and climbing beans, which in hotter climates can become sun-stressed.
The Three Sisters method of growing beans, corn and squash together works because the large leaves of sprawling squash help to smother weeds, and the beans use the corn as a support to scramble up while fixing nitrogen at their roots to the benefit of the other sisters.
Legumes such as beans and peas are also used to aid other crops with their nitrogen-fixing abilities. One experiment saw the size of potato tubers increase when potatoes were planted with beans.
Similarly, borage has been shown to add trace minerals to the soil, which in turn improves the flavor and growth of strawberries.
Using the Companion Planting Feature
The new companion planting feature in our Garden Planner makes it easier than ever for you to find perfect matches for your plants.
To use the Garden Planner’s Companion Planting feature:
- Left-click on a crop to select it.
- Click on the heart-shaped Companion Planting button. The selection bar will then show only suitable companion plants.
- Select a companion plant and drop it into place.
- To remove the filter, just click on the heart again.
To add a companion plant between two crops:
- Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard.
- Click on each crop you want to choose companions for.
- Click the Companion Plants button and the selection bar will show all possible companions for either of the selected crops.
More Companion Planting Combinations
- Lettuce + poached egg plant: Hoverflies love poached egg plant, and aphids love lettuce. Hoverflies also love aphids!
- Tomatoes + borage: Borage attracts pollinating bees and tiny pest-eating wasps.
- Strawberries + borage: Borage enhances the flavor and vigor of strawberries.
- Broccoli + crimson clover: Spiders like to lurk among the clover, where they will prey on pests.
- Fava beans + nasturtiums: Blackfly are lured away from the beans to feast on the nasturtiums instead.
- Cabbage family plants + nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are also the food of choice for hungry cabbageworms.
- Peaches + garlic: Strong-smelling garlic deters the green peach aphid, so the Garden Planner includes it for growing near fruits such as peaches and nectarines.
- Sunflowers + cucumbers or pole beans: Sunflowers help provide support for climbing plants, as well as shade for crops which, in hotter climates, can become sun-stressed.
- Beans + corn + squash: Also known as the ‘Three Sisters’ method, this famous companion planting combination works because the ground-covering leaves of squash suppress weeds, and the beans use the corn to scramble up while fixing nitrogen at their roots to enhance the growth of the other sisters.
- Beans + potatoes: Potato tubers have been shown to grow larger when planted with beans.
Companion planting can help improve your growing, but keep it all in perspective! Good soil, correct spacing, and crop rotation are the most important influences on your growing. Companion planting is just the icing on the cake! Learn more about Companion Planting.
See our top 10 vegetable companion planting chart with a list of friends and foes!
Our Almanac Garden Planner lists all the best matches for your plants. We are offering a 7-day free trial so you can see if you like it!