13 Companion Planting Combinations That Actually Work

Did you look up a companion planting chart and see the endless options of plants you should put together? The truth is, they may or may not work. Some believe companion planting is a total fraud, while others SWEAR by the practice to keep pests and diseases away.

I sit somewhere in the middle. Not all companion planting pairs will be effective in your garden. Most will not aid your gardening endeavors, but some companion planting pairs are worth the time to plant together.

Companion planting is a gardening theory that some believe fully works to increase your harvest yield. The theory is quite simple; some plants help each other. Some plants take up different nutrients, chase away (or lure) garden pests, and attract pollinators.

Utilizing this garden practice won’t harm your plants, so why not give it a whirl?

Related: Maximize Your Harvest with Succession Planting

13 Companion Planting Pairs for Your Veggie Garden

Some pairs simply make sense; the evidence is more than anecdotal. Not only will these companion planting combinations increase your garden’s efficiency, but they may also make your garden beds look more attractive.

Tomato Plants + Marigolds

Marigolds are undoubtedly one of my favorite flowers to include in my garden, offering benefits. French Marigolds have a smell that many pests, including the whitefly, detest. Whiteflies are a common tomato plant pest, so tucking these flowers around the garden beds holding tomato plants makes sense.

While I start marigold seeds indoors, they are an inexpensive flower to grab at a local nursery. Put marigolds around the border of your garden beds or plant in pots placed throughout your garden.

Related: How to Make Tomato Plants Grow Faster: 12 Useful Tips

Potatoes + Peas + Marigolds

Potatoes are one of the first crops I plant in my garden. They grow well with peas, beans, and members of the Brassica family. Peas are my preferred companion plant for potatoes because peas have short roots and take up little space compared to potato plants. Peas (and other legumes) leave extra nitrogen in the soil, which potatoes need for growing throughout their long season.

Potato beetles are the enemy of potato plants. Marigolds repel these beetles along with nematode worms.

Related: 8 Best Fertilizer for Potatoes for Bigger & Better Harvests

Cucumbers + Nasturtium

Cucumbers need pollination, and nasturtiums are known to attract various pollinators to your yard. Biodiversity is essential, and combining these two plants makes sense. Plus, when you have cukes growing up a trellis and colorful nasturtiums along the border of your garden bed, the colorful display looks fantastic.

Carrots + Leeks

One of the worst garden pests for carrots is carrot flies. These little pests smell your plants, zooming in to take a bite of the growing foliage.

So, what can you do?

Plant a pungent allium, such as leeks, in a protective barrier around the carrots. It’s a win-win since the carrot smell confuses onion flies and leek months. They’ll work hand-in-hand to keep away their enemies. Try planting in strips or patchwork to avoid leaving space open for attack.

Melons (or Squash) + Flowering Herbs

Melons and squash require pollination. I ensure pollination by hand-pollinating my squash and melon plants, but more pollinators work to get the job done.

Many plants attract pollinators and flowering herbs grow well near melon plants. Consider planting dill, fennel, and parsley near your watermelon and zucchini plants. Without pollination, kiss your harvest goodbye.

The Three Sisters

Perhaps the best-known of the companion planting combinations is the “Three Sisters”: Corn + Pole Beans + Squash. Native Americans used this combination because each plant lends itself to the growth of the other plants.

The corn stalks give the beans a place to climb without building a trellis or support system. Beans convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that garden plants easily use. Squash or pumpkins grow along the ground, creating a living mulch to reduce weeds and retain moisture.

This trio works!

Mint + Cabbage Plants

Cabbage Plants have an archnemesis: cabbage worms. These pests start as fluttering cabbage moths that float around your plants before laying eggs on cabbage plants. Then, once hatching, cabbage worms munch holes in the leaves of your plants.

One way to potentially deter this terrible pest is to plant mint plants near cabbages. Mint plants sprawl, so I suggest using hanging baskets or pots rather than risking the plants taking over every inch of your garden. Cabbage worms dislike the scent of mint, so this pairing makes sense.

Cabbage + Chamomile or Onions

Here is another option for a companion planting combination. Cabbage is a cool-weather plant that typically gets planted before the final frost date in your region. However, pests don’t wait to start attacking, so ideally, you want to provide some pest control for your cabbage plants.

Chamomile or onions are two other solutions. Planting onions around cabbage will give you the protection you want, plus onions are a root crop and won’t take much space above ground.

Chamomile works great around the edge of your bed. Other flowers work as well, such as calendula (mentioned below) or pansies. Chamomile is frost-resistant and grows well in the cool season, making cabbage and chamomile great friends.

Related: 14 Organic Ways to Get Rid of Cabbage Worms

Calendula + Brassica Plants

I grow calendula yearly in my garden because I use it so frequently for medicinal remedies. Calendula releases a sticky substance on the stems, known to attract aphids. Planting calendula near brassica plants, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, or cabbage, keeps the aphids away from the veggies.

A bonus is ladybugs typically flock to calendula, and they love to snack on aphids too!

Basil + Tomatoes

Another one of my favorite companion planting combinations is basil with tomato plants. Basil and tomatoes go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Who doesn’t love a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad?

Planting them together makes dinner harvesting easier, but basil repels tomato hornworms. Hornworms are one garden pest I loathe. They vivaciously eat your tomato plants and fruits, leaving destruction in their path. Basil also repels whiteflies!

Related: How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms: 12 Tricks That Work

Radishes + Carrots

One of the first companion planting combinations I tried was radishes and carrots. Radishes grow faster than carrots, making it easy to mark the rows of carrots in between rows of carrots.

Another benefit to this pairing is that carrots and radishes utilize different nutrients in the soil, so they won’t compete. Instead, they’ll work together efficiently, especially if you laid a nice layer of compost over the beds.

Radishes mature fast, so by the time the carrot roots are mature and deep, the radishes will be gone. I often plant lettuce after harvesting radishes!

Lettuce + Garlic or Chives

Garlic and chives smell delicious to humans but pests stay far away from these crops, including aphids. Aphids love to munch on lettuce, so adding these smelly plants nearby will send their pests packing.

Calendula + Arugula + Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens to grow in my vegetable garden, but these plants take time to mature. Most varieties are large, so your companion plants need not compete with the above-ground space of Swiss chard.

One option is to try Arugula. It is a fast-growing green, giving you chances to harvest before your Swiss chard matures. It also has a stronger scent that may deter other plants.

Calendula acts as a trap crop to keep pests away from your leafy greens. It has the bonus of flowers for calendula tea or other medicinal uses.

Picking the right companion planting combinations takes trial and error. You may have more garden pests present in your area than others. Look at what plants deter the pests that cause the most damage in your garden to decide what to put together.

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