Companion planting is when two plants are grown close together for the benefit of one or both plants. It could be as simple as growing nectar-rich flowers among crops to attract pollinators or two vegetables grown side by side to confuse or repel pests.
Grow the right plants together and you’ll get better growth. This includes vegetable, flower and herb combinations – it’s not just what you grow, it’s where you grow each plant and the company it keeps.
I find that Piwakawaka Valley’s Companion Planting Guide and Chart is a quick easy way to figure out which plants thrive when planted together and which do not.
Some plants work better with others and some are a terrible combination and they both struggle. Here are some well-known plant combinations that work and you should aim for.
Nasturtium attracts caterpillars, aphids and whitefly. Therefore planting it alongside or around vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, beans and tomatoes will protect them. The adults will lay the eggs on the nasturtium leaves instead.
The nasturtium can be pulled while the eggs are at a junior stage to rid the garden of this cycle. Also when they are flowering nasturtium attract bees and provide homes for beneficial bugs.
You should plant marigolds close to crops that suffer from aphids and greenfly. Marigolds emit a scent that repels aphids and attracts hoverflies, which are a predator of aphids.
Foxgloves as a companion plant have a growth-stimulating effect on all the plants near it. It is also said to protect the garden from disease and strengthen tender plants.
Many herbs make great companion plants, if you choose culinary herbs, or medicinal ones, they can be of multiple benefits to you and your garden.
Sage is a great herb to plant around celery crops, as it helps to keep aphids away.
Hyssop deters white cabbage butterfly from brassicas such as broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts.
Basil improves the flavour of tomatoes when planted alongside. Basil can also be planted alongside capsicums.
Plant dill and rosemary next to broccoli.
Bee friendly companion plants include calendula, marigolds, sunflowers, poppies, clover, nasturtiums, Queen Anne’s Lace, echinacea, borage and purple tansy.
Borage is a great companion for your strawberries, attracting lots of bees for increased yields.
For more information check out Piwakawaka Valley’s Companion Planting Guide here.