When you hear about companion planting, what comes to mind? Do you think of the Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash? Or maybe you think of companion planting as a way to repel unwanted pests. It’s certainly true that pairing the right plants can discourage unwanted visitors to the garden.
Another great reason to consider companion planting is to draw beneficial pollinators like bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and ladybugs into the garden.
So what plants make the best companion plants?
Companion Plants That Attract Pollinators
Herbs are great companion plants for attracting pollinators to the garden. Mints pair well with cabbage and tomatoes. Basil and oregano also do well with tomatoes. Dill attracts beneficial wasps (yes, they do exist) that help with cabbage pests, as well. Borage brings beneficial insects to strawberry plants.
Certain flowers are overachievers in the garden. Marigolds pair well with many plants: tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash, lettuce, and onions. They will help your plants to get much-needed pollination and thrive. When they are tilled into the soil, they also do double duty while decomposing by releasing biochemicals that can discourage pests like cucumber beetles, nematodes, squash bugs, and cabbage maggots.
Nasturtiums are pollinated by hummingbirds. If you want some real fun in your garden, plant some nasturtiums and watch your head! These flowers are excellent partners to brassicas like cabbage, as well as squash, radishes, and tomatoes. They’re also one of our favorite edible flowers.
The scent of cosmos will attract butterflies and beneficial insects such as lacewings, and hoverflies to your garden while repelling corn earworms.
Pollinators love zinnias! Butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds are attracted to the bright colors and readily available nectar. Zinnias are incredibly easy to grow, and they bloom all summer. And the more you cut, the more they grow new blooms. They're excellent companion flowers for summer gardens.
Sunflowers are a fun choice because they can pair with climbing vegetables to provide support. In addition, their cheerful flowers bring all sorts of birds, butterflies, and bees to the garden. They pair well with cucumbers, in particular.
Companion planting is a fantastic method to get the most out of your garden. Introduce some variety by adding herbs and flowers to plant alongside your vegetables. Not only will they add some beauty and pleasant odors to the garden, but they’ll attract beneficial pollinators. They’ll also help to repel some pests and encourage better growth and productivity of your vegetables.
What a beautiful way to organize your garden!
Penn State: Companion Planting
UMass Amherst Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden
University of Delaware: THE "NEW" COMPANION PLANTING: ADDING DIVERSITY TO THE GARDEN
Written by Teresa Chandler