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Easy Guide to Companion Planting Vegetables

Are you wondering what vegetables grow well together? One of the easiest things that will help your garden thrive is incorporating companion planting. It’s a great strategy for many reasons, but especially for making sure that you plant the most compatible plants together!

Companion vegetables planted in a garden

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To start, you might be wondering what companion planting even means. It is the practice of planting different plants close to each other that will enhance each other’s growth or benefit each other in some way.

Some vegetables grow well together and some shouldn’t be planted near each other. But for the most part companion planting mainly consists of plants that benefit each other.

There are some plants that should not be grown together but most “enemy plants” have been passed down from old folklore and there is no research or supporting evidence that proves any real issues. 

So you shouldn’t worry as much about planting the wrong crops together but instead focus on the plants that provide proven benefits.

So throughout this article, I’ll give examples of companions and the few proven enemies so that you can easily start incorporating companion planting into your garden!

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Table of Contents

Companion Planting Benefits

There are many benefits to companion planting which is why it’s such a popular topic amongst gardeners.

There are vegetable plant companions but there are even more herbs and flowers that you can plant throughout your vegetables that will benefit your garden in the most impactful way!

Here are some of the most common benefits.

1.) Maximizes Garden Space

You can plant short-season crops in the same garden bed as longer-season crops. That way you’ll harvest the short-season crop before it competes with the long-season crop.

Learn more about short and long-season crops in my article about Succession Planting.

2.) Natural Pest Control

Certain crops planted together can help keep pests away while other plants can attract beneficial insects, which is just as helpful!

You’ll find the most success with attracting beneficial insects and deterring pests from planting herb and flower companions. But there are also some vegetables like onions, that do a good job at deterring pests.

Read more here, How to Naturally Prevent Bugs in Your Garden

3.) Increases Crop Productivity

The third reason why companion plants do well together is that they increase the overall productivity and health of your garden.

Most companion plants require the same care and so you’ll be able to easily provide an entire garden bed with the same needs.

Another way that companion plants can increase productivity is by providing additional nutrients for one another.

For example, plants in the Fabaceae family can fix nitrogen into the soil.

How to Start Companion Planting

The easiest way to begin companion planting is to group crop families. Crop families require similar needs and are prone to similar pests and diseases.

So by grouping them you can easily provide each garden bed or section of your garden with the same care and needs.

For example, plant all of your vegetables from the Brassicaceae family in one bed and all of your vegetables from the Cucurbitaceae family in another.

Then the following gardening season, implement crop rotation. So you’ll keep all of the plants in each family together but plant them in a different bed.

Although, there are a few exceptions when this is not the best practice. For example, plants in the Apiaceae family should not be planted together.

Another easy way to begin companion planting is to plant beneficial herbs and flowers such as marigolds and basil throughout your vegetables which will help deter common pests and attract pollinators.

To see which vegetables are in each crop family be sure to get my free crop family and companion planting guide below.

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The History of Companion Planting 

Companion planting has been used for thousands of years to grow healthier plants and produce greater harvests.

One of the most interesting stories I’ve read about companion planting is the Three Sisters Garden which originated from the Native Americans.

The method involves planting beans, corn, and squash together.

You start by planting rows of a tall sturdy variety of corn. Then plant pole beans around each corn plant which will grow up the stalks of the corn. And then plant pumpkins or any winter squash variety that will sprawl out throughout the corn and beans.

So whether you try out the Native American method or just group vegetables and other plants together that complement one another, you can take your garden to the next level!

Tomato Companion Plants

Tomatoes are in the Solanaceae family, also known as the nightshade family.

There are a few great tomato companions and a few non-companions that I’ll cover below.

Another great thing to keep in mind as you look into companions is to consider plants that help deter common pests and diseases.

This is a great practice for tomatoes as well as all other vegetables!

Tomatoes growing in the garden

Tomatoes and Carrots

Carrots aerate the soil around tomato roots helping the tomato plants grow healthier roots. The tomatoes also benefit the carrots by providing them with shade.

Tomatoes and Basil

Basil is a great companion because it helps repel flies, mosquitoes, spider mites, and aphids. It also helps attract pollinators.

Other Tomato Companions

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Onions

Lettuce and spinach planted with tomatoes help maximize garden space since the tomatoes grow upwards and the spinach and lettuce grow low to the ground.

Onions are a companion to tomatoes because they help deter borers and cutworms.

Bad Companions for Tomatoes

Be sure to keep tomatoes away from corn and potatoes.

Corn and tomatoes are both susceptible to the corn earworm, and potatoes and tomatoes can both be affected by blight.

So keeping these crops separate from each other will help lessen the chance of pests and disease.

Carrot Companion Plants

Carrots are in the Apiaceae family and are such a fun vegetable to grow.

But carrots tend to be non-compatible with many plants in their family so they are better to keep separate from other plant family members.

Fresh carrots harvested from the garden

Carrots and Trellised Cucumbers

Carrots are sensitive to heat and so they will benefit from the shade of the trellised cucumbers.

In my garden I have my cucumbers in a garden bed with an overarching trellis, then I plant the carrots in a couple of rows down the middle of the garden box so that the trellised cucumbers shade the tops of the carrots.

Carrots and Onions

The onions help repel common pests such as the carrot fly and aphids.

Carrots and Radishes

These are great companions for saving space in your garden.

Radishes are ready to harvest much quicker than carrots so you can plant radishes in between rows of carrots and they should be ready to harvest a couple of weeks after the tops of the carrots start coming up.

Once you harvest the radishes your carrots will have the space they need to mature.

Carrots and Leeks

Leeks repel carrot flies and carrots keep away leek moths and onion flies.

Bad Companions for Carrots

Keep carrots separate from dill because it produces a compound that may reduce carrot yields.

You should also keep carrots away from parsnips because they are susceptible to the same pests and diseases.

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Cucumber Companion Plants

Cucumbers are in the Cucurbitaceae family and will benefit the most from plants that help deter common pests and attract beneficial insects.

A cucumber plant growing in the garden

Cucumbers and Radishes

Radishes help repel cucumber and flea beetles. They are also very quick to mature and so they will be ready to harvest quickly before competing for space.

Cucumbers and Lettuce

Lettuce grown in between your cucumbers is another great way to maximize garden space because you can plan to harvest before it competes with the larger crop.

Cucumbers and Beans

Beans are a beneficial crop to cucumbers as well as many other crops because they fix nitrogen into the soil.

Corn Companion Plants

Corn is a great companion that provides benefits that a lot of other plants can’t provide such as structural support.

Corn plants

Corn and Beans

Beans make a great companion to corn because beans add more nitrogen into the soil and the corn provides the beans with a structure to grow on.

Corn and Spinach

The corn provides the spinach with shade and the spinach helps keep the corn roots cool.

Corn and Winter Squash

The corn grows upward and the winter squash can grow outwards throughout the corn plants making the best use of your space.

Onion Companion Plants

Onions are in the Amaryllidaceae family and are a great vegetable to grow because they have minimal pest and disease issues.

Onions growing in the garden

Onions themselves are not very susceptible to pests or disease but they make great companions to other vegetables. Onions make great companions to,

  • beets
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • chard
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes

Okra Companion Plants

Okra is a member of the Malvaceae family and is a great heat-tolerant vegetable.

Okra growing in the garden

Okra and Radishes

Radishes may help loosen the soil around okra plants which helps the okra grow deeper and stronger roots.

Okra and Baby Lettuce Mix

The okra can help provide some shade for the lettuce and since lettuce has a shallow root system they won’t be competing for root space.

Okra and Basil

The basil will repel common pests and attract pollinators.

Squash Companion Plants

Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and is another wonderful summer vegetable to grow! It will benefit greatly from plants that help deter common pests.

Squash growing in the garden

Winter Squash and Corn

These two crops do well together because corn grows vertically and winter squash sprawls out.

Summer Squash and Lettuce or Arugula

You can plant lettuce, arugula, or both along the outer edges of your summer squash garden bed to help use up space more efficiently.

You should end up harvesting the lettuce and arugula before the squash plants get big.

What garden plants should not be planted next to each other?

There are far fewer “bad” companions than “good” companions, but here are a few plants to keep away from each other.

  • Don’t plant peas near onions or garlic because they can stunt pea plant growth.
  • Don’t plant carrots near dill because it can reduce carrot yields.
  • You should also keep carrots away from other members of the carrot family (Apiaceae).
  • You should keep all vegetables away from black walnut trees because the roots secrete growth inhibitors.

The Best Companion Plants

One of the easiest and perhaps most beneficial strategies for companion planting is to plant herbs and flowers throughout your vegetables.

There are so many herbs and flowers out there that have no negative effect on vegetables that help deter pests and attract beneficial insects and pollinators.

Here are a few great options,

  • marigolds
  • nasturtiums
  • basil
  • mint (as long as it’s contained because it can quickly spread and take over).

So as you plant your garden this year, try to incorporate some of the above planting strategies.

Whether you pair the vegetable companions or just plant beneficial herbs and flowers, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits of companion planting!

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Companion vegetables planted in the garden

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