Companion Planting Guide and Chart for Your Vegetable Garden

Companion planting is a gardening technique in which you strategically place plants together to maximize their growth and ward off pests.

Tomato plants growing next to marigolds

This ancient practice has been used for centuries to create thriving gardens without relying on harmful chemicals or excessive intervention. 

Examples of Companion Planting

Here are some popular complementary plant combinations, but we have a much longer chart down below.

  • Tomatoes and Basil: Growing basil alongside tomatoes not only enhances their flavor but also helps repel pests like aphids and hornworms.
  • Carrots and Onions: These two veggies make great companions as carrots deter onion flies while onions repel carrot flies.
  • Marigolds and Beans: Marigolds act as natural insect repellents when planted near beans, protecting them from harmful pests like bean beetles.
  • Cabbage and Dill: Dill attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs that prey on cabbage-eating pests such as aphids and caterpillars.
  • Corn, Beans, and Squash (Three Sisters): This Native American trio works in harmony with corn providing support for the beans to climb, while squash acts as a living mulch, suppressing weeds and promoting moisture retention.

Pest Control through Companion Planting

One of the big advantages of companion planting is its ability to naturally control pests without resorting to chemical solutions.

By interplanting pest-repellent species with susceptible crops, you can create an environment that discourages unwanted visitors.

Pests Repellent

Certain companion plants emit natural scents or compounds that repel pests. For example, marigolds are known to deter nematodes, aphids, and whiteflies.

Nasturtiums repel aphids, whiteflies, and squash bugs. Planting these flowers alongside susceptible vegetables can help deter pests and reduce infestations.

Attracting Beneficial Insects

Companion plants can also attract beneficial insects that prey on or parasitize pests. For instance, planting flowers such as daisies, yarrow, and sunflowers can attract ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies, which feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. These beneficial insects can help control pest populations naturally.

Masking Scents

Some companion plants can mask the scents of the host plants, making it difficult for pests to locate them. This can be helpful for crops that are attractive to pests due to their distinct scents.

For example, planting strong-smelling herbs like rosemary or sage near cabbage plants can help deter cabbage moths.

Trap Cropping

Certain companion plants act as trap crops, attracting pests away from the main vegetable crops. For instance, planting radishes near susceptible plants can lure flea beetles away from more valuable crops.

The radishes can then be sacrificed or managed separately to protect the primary crops.

Biodiversity and Resilience

Companion planting increases biodiversity in the garden, which can improve overall ecosystem health. A diverse ecosystem with a variety of plants and beneficial insects is more resilient to pest outbreaks.

It creates a balanced environment where pests are less likely to thrive and cause significant damage.

Here are some specific examples:

  • Nasturtiums: These vibrant flowers are not only visually appealing but also serve as trap plants for aphids, keeping them away from your more delicate veggies.
  • Garlic and Alliums: Pungent-smelling garlic and other alliums act as natural repellents against aphids, ants, and even larger pests like deer.
  • Mint: Mint’s strong aroma deters many insects, making it a great option to keep near cabbage family plants or repel pests like ants and rodents.
  • Chives: Chives help repel aphids when planted among roses or other susceptible plants. Their purple flowers also attract pollinators like bees.

Enhancing Soil Fertility and Nutrient Sharing

Companion planting not only helps in pest management but also plays a crucial role in improving soil health and nutrient availability.

Some plants have deep root systems that help break up compacted soil, while others fix nitrogen or provide shade. Here are a few examples:

  • Legumes (Peas, Beans): Legume crops have the unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form for plants nearby. Interplanting legumes with nitrogen-hungry vegetables like leafy greens or brassicas ensures a continuous supply of this essential nutrient.
  • Sunflowers: With their deep taproots, sunflowers penetrate compacted soil layers, improving drainage while bringing nutrients closer to the surface.
  • Comfrey: Comfrey is a fantastic plant for creating homemade organic fertilizer. Its deep roots mine nutrients from the soil, and its large leaves can be used to make nutrient-rich compost tea.
  • Cover Crops: Planting cover crops like clover or rye during fallow periods helps prevent erosion, suppress weeds, and add organic matter to the soil when tilled in.

Pollination and Maximizing Harvests

Proper pollination is essential for fruit-bearing plants. Companion planting can attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, by providing a diverse range of flowers.

And some plants act as natural repellents against pests that may otherwise damage your harvest. Consider these examples:

  • Borage: Borage’s beautiful blue flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects while repelling pests like tomato hornworms.
  • Lavender: This fragrant herb not only adds beauty to your garden but also attracts pollinators while keeping unwanted pests like aphids at bay.
  • Zinnias: Zinnias are not just eye-catching flowers; they also attract butterflies, which are excellent pollinators for many vegetable crops.
  • Dahlias: These showy flowers provide nectar for bees and other pollinators while repelling nematodes when planted near susceptible crops.

Tips for Successful Companion Planting

While companion planting offers numerous benefits, it requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some tips to ensure success in your garden:

  1. Research: Before planting, understand the specific needs of each plant species to determine their compatibility with others.
  2. Crop Rotation: Rotate your vegetables regularly to prevent the buildup of diseases or pests associated with specific plant families.
  3. Plant Density: Avoid overcrowding your plants as they may compete for sunlight, water, and nutrients.
  4. Timing: Consider the growth rates of different plants when planning their placement so that they do not overshadow or hinder each other’s growth.
  5. Observation and Adjustment: Monitor your garden regularly to identify any signs of plant stress or pest infestation. Make adjustments as needed to ensure a healthy garden ecosystem.

Companion Planting Chart

Here’s a quick helpful guide.

PlantCompanion Plants
TomatoesBasil, marigold, onions, carrots, parsley, nasturtiums, calendula
CucumbersBeans, corn, peas, radishes, dill, marigold, nasturtiums
CarrotsOnions, leeks, chives, lettuce, sage, rosemary
LettuceCarrots, radishes, strawberries, marigold, chrysanthemums
BeansCarrots, cucumbers, corn, celery, marigold, nasturtiums
CornBeans, peas, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, morning glories
PeasCarrots, radishes, cucumbers, corn, chervil, sweet peas
RadishesPeas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, nasturtiums, marigold
CabbageCelery, onions, dill, chamomile, daisies, nasturtiums
SpinachStrawberries, radishes, onions, marigold, petunias
BroccoliBasil, dill, rosemary, beets, nasturtiums, calendula
CauliflowerCelery, thyme, marigold, chamomile, lavender, zinnias
StrawberriesLettuce, spinach, borage, onions, marigold, nasturtiums
AsparagusTomatoes, parsley, basil, marigold, dill, yarrow
Herbs (general)Many herbs are good companions for each other, such as basil, thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary. They also pair well with various flowers like marigold, lavender, chamomile, and calendula.