In a recent survey I sent out to all of you Kitchen Garten readers, I asked about some of your biggest gardening questions. Not surprisingly, many of you answered that you want to know more about companion planting. So, ask and you shall receive! Let’s dive into this companion planting guide for vegetables and herbs!
If you’re not sure what companion planting as, it’s essentially plants that are good companions for one another. It could be that one plant is susceptible to a certain type of bug or disease and that plant’s companion would repel the particular bug. It could also mean that one plant may actually enhance the flavor of the fruit of the other plant. So no surprise that those who are interested in gardening would want to know how to keep their gardens a little less buggy, and also want to know what plants thrive when they are planted together. So let’s get started.
The main focus of the companion plants I’m going to list here are herbs. Herbs are wonderful because they flavor our meals in the kitchen without the use of seasonings that have been sitting on a grocery store shelf for a year or more. Not to mention after I buy bottled herbs it usually takes me several years to use them if it’s not something I like to use weekly. So let’s check out all the fresh flavors you can grow in your garden that will also help your fruit and vegetable bearing plants.
I’ll also have some flower companions, perfect for the vegetable garden, listed below the herbs. So don’t forget to check those out and to snag the infographic/printable at the bottom as well!
And did you know that both herbs and flowers in the vegetable garden can be effective pest control? It’s true! If you’re looking for more ways to prevent pests in the garden without harsh chemicals, check out my book Natural Pest Control for the Home Garden. Now, onto the companion plants!
Herb Companion Plants
Basil– Honestly it’s one of the most popular herbs in the world and who can blame people for loving it? The anise taste of a quality sweet basil really goes with so much in the summertime, especially tomatoes. And it just so happens basil plants work well next to your tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, and petunias. Basil will also help to repel mosquitoes and flies. (Want to have an amazing basil harvest? Then learn how to prune your basil!)
Borage– This is a new addition to my garden this year. I first noticed it in the Master Gardener greenhouse and asked around about it because I’ve never used it before. LargerCome to find out it really is great for detering tomato hornworms and cabbage worms, which you know love to pop up on cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Borage also works really well with squash. And because of its great root system, it can break up compacted soils and also provide your soil with potassium, calcium, and other minerals that your vegetables need. It’s beautiful blue/purple blooms (and the leaves, of course) are edible and are also a pollinator favorite.
Chives– they’re not just for baked potatoes y’all. This is a perennial herb, and it works well almost anywhere in the garden. Not only are chives beautiful, adding an aesthetic touch to your garden, but they also contains lots of vitamins, minerals, carotene, and have even been known to fight high blood pressure. So not only is it great for any kind of plant in your garden, but it’s also great for you.
Dill– This is another garden favorite simply because I love having it for fish in the summer as well as my quick dill pickles. It’s perfect to plant near cabbage and lettuce, but you also want to make sure you’re not planting it near carrots. It’s a favorite of pollinators, especially honeybees, and it can also help to repel spider mites, aphids, and possibly even squash bugs (not be confused with vine borers, argh!)
Marjoram– I haven’t actually planted marjoram in my garden, as I prefer the taste of oregano. Marjoram can improve the flavor of any vegetable that it’s planted near, so if you like the less bold the taste of marjoram instead of oregano, then I recommend planting this where you have some free space in the garden.
Mint– Who can resist the fresh scent of mint? This perennial herb favorite is great to be planted near cabbage and tomatoes as it can improve the growth and flavor of both. It also can repel those pesky moths from cabbage worms and may even help with ants. However, mint is notorious for taking over a flower bed or garden, so consider using a container or flexible edging to keep the plant from getting out of hand. (See my Tips for Growing Mint.)
Oregano– If you want more of a flavor punch than marjoram provides, then oregano may be the one for you. It stays pretty low lying and is perennial, so it will come back. It’s great to plant near broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, as it can keep those cabbage worm moths away. It can also keep cucumber beetles at bay if you plant them near your cucumbers.
Sage– We don’t use a lot of sage in the kitchen, but it’s so beautiful that I love to grow it every year. The soft feel of the leaves is just wonderful to touch when you’re out in the garden. I recommend planting sage near tomatoes and also your brassicas (broccoli, kale, cabbage) that tend to be affected by those cabbage worm moths. Sage can also keep away carrot flies near your carrots. A word to the wise, don’t plant near your cucumbers or onions.
Thyme– Oh, if you could save it in a bottle… This is beautiful and hardy perennial herb is such a great addition to any kitchen garden. Whether you’re using it in a marinade for meats or sprinkling some fresh thyme on bread about to go in the oven, it really has so many uses, and it’s a great companion for eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. It may also deter cabbage worm moths as well, so consider this herb when you plant those brassicas.
Rosemary– I usually warn my clients about not using rosemary in a garden bed. If you are in the right zone, it can easily become a perennial shrub, so consider your zone when planting rosemary. It is very aromatic and beautiful; it can also be a great companion for beans, carrots, and hot peppers. As with many of the other herbs, cabbage moths don’t like it, as well as bean beetles, and carrot flies. But be warned, Rosemary may not interact well with potatoes and pumpkins.
Lavender– Last but certainly not least is the beautiful and fragrant lavender. If you can get it to grow in your area, it can definitely attract pollinators, which are always useful and it can deter white flies and even some fruit tree pests. So consider this perennial shrub if you have fruit trees or have been plagued with white flies in the past.
Marigolds– This is a garden classic, and it’s beautiful to boot! Marigolds are well-known for their ability to keep pests away, and they’re wonderful companions for tomatoes (think nematodes) as well as melons, brassicas, and basil.
Nasturtiums– These beautiful and edible blooms have a permanent spot in my spring and summer garden. They’re a great companion for cucumbers, okra, and melons since they deter aphids, and I’m even going to put a few near my squash to see if they repel vine borers.
Sunflowers– These large garden beauties have a practical purpose of drawing in pollinators to the garden, as well providing shade to those plants that don’t love full sun. But do keep them away from potatoes and beans.
Here’s a fun infographic on companion plants. Pin it to save for later!
I’d love to know what you plant together to ensure a better harvest, or what you’ve found that works well together. Comment below and let us know! Have a great week and happy gardening!