Unless you’re using companion planting in your yards, gardens, flower beds and orchards.
Companion planting can combine beauty and good effects to give you a healthy and enjoyable environment. As gardeners, we are curious and creative folk. So let your imagination soar. There are many ways to incorporate the useful and helpful plants into your garden.
By using companion planting, many of us find that we can discourage pests whilst welcoming those insects and organisms that we want in our yards and gardens.
There are many, many varieties of herbs, flowers and plants that are great for companion planting. Find what works for you, find what you like. Possibilities in companion planting might be interplanting your flower or vegetable beds where there is a specific need (Got squash bugs? Consider companion planting!), borders and interplanting in existing beds.
Plants that are native to your area are good to know since they will attract the beneficial insects to your yard and those insects already know what to look for.
Many plants have substances in their roots, leaves and flowers that can either repel or attract insects, perfect for companion planting.
Some plants, in fact, can help enhance the growth rate or flavor of other plants.
Companion planting helps bring a balanced system to the landscape, allowing nature to do its job. Our world integrates a wide variety of organisms into every life system so there is really no waste. The death of one organism becomes food for another. Symbiotic relationships are all around us.
Companion planting is a holistic concept due to the many, many levels in which it works in our constructed ecosystems.
I’ve listed some plants that could provide support to other plants in your yards and gardens.
I understand that not every suggestion is going to work in every situation – The fine folks at the Master Gardeners tell me that companion gardening works MOST OF THE TIME.
My favorite things to plant as companions are yarrow, borage, sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, and zinnias. Another good choice is any wildflower blend that is configured specifically for your area, and especially if it is a blend designed to draw in the pollinators.
Experimenting with some interesting new ideas is always fun; even more so when those ideas work as we hope they will.
Corn: A classic example of a corn grow is the Three Sisters; growing the climbing beans on the corn while interplanting pumpkins or squash. The corn is a natural trellis for the beans; the squash smother the weeds and helps the corn’s roots retain moisture. Corn is a hungry plant and takes quite a lot from the soil and the beans fix the nitrogen from the air into the soil. While the beans do not feed the corn while it is growing, when they die back they return nitrogen to the soil that was used up by the corn. The ultimate in symbiotic relationships. Keep corn away from celery or tomato plants.
Anise: A licorice flavored herb, it is loved by predatory wasps that prey on aphids and is also said to repel aphids. Anise is also good to grow around your brassicas – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, etc. – as it camouflages their odor. It improves the vigor of any plants growing near it. Anise is frequently used in ointments to protect against bug stings and bites.
Yarrow: Yarrow is a natural insect repellant and is also an excellent fertilizer. A handful of yarrow tossed into your compost bin or pile will really speed things up. It also attracts predatory wasps, ladybugs and many other beneficial insects to your garden.
It may increase the essential oil content of herbs when yarrow is planted among them. You can’t really miss with planting yarrow; it has too many wonderful qualities to skip.
Tomato: Who doesn’t love a tomato? There are many who do! Asparagus, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chives, cucumbers, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, peppers and more.
Tomato might stunt the growth of your carrots, but the flavor will be outstanding. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes and improves growth and flavor. Bee balm, which is always nice to have around for the obvious reasons, as well as mint and chives will improve the health of your plants as well as the flavor of the fruit. Keep your tomatoes away from corn, kohlrabi, potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower.
Elderberry: Here she is with the elderberry, again. I know, I know…but still…a spray made from the leaves can be used against aphids, carrot root fly, cucumber beetles and peach tree borers.
Put branches and leaves in mole and gopher holes and the vermin will be sent packing.
Elderberry leaves will also speed up the decomposition process in your compost bin or pile.
Garlic: Perhaps the most versatile of all the companion plants as well as being healthful and tasty – garlic. Plant it around your roses to repel aphids.
It is also beneficial to apple and pear trees, cucumbers, peas, lettuce and celery. Garlic accumulates sulfur, a naturally occurring fungicide which will help in the garden with disease prevention.
Garlic is systemic in action as it is taken up into the plants through their pores and when garlic tea is used as a soil drench, it is also take up by the roots. Garlic is offensive to codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, cut worms, snails and carrot root flies.
I was told that researchers have observed that time-released garlic capsules planted at the bases of fruit trees actually kept deer away. Well, I don’t know about that! Maybe with a truck load of garlic capsules – but it might be worth a try.
Garlic sprays have been show to repel and kill whiteflies, aphids and fungus gnats and is also safe to use on orchids (if you have any).
The world of companion planting is a rich one, filled with the unexpected.
Now, get out there and grow something!!