Looking for ways to reduce the use of pesticides in your garden? Here are 10 easy-care companion plant partner ideas for your vegetable garden.

When it comes to organic vegetable gardening, one of the key principles to keep in mind is the concept of companion planting.

Companion plants are those that are strategically grown together to enhance each other’s growth and ward off pests. It’s like having gardening buddies that provide mutual benefits.

Wait until you see how companion planting improves the overall health of your garden without the use of harsh pesticides.

Follow these simple tips for companion plant partnering success!

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a gardening technique where different plants are grown together for their mutually beneficial qualities. Certain plants have natural abilities to repel pests, attract pollinators, improve soil fertility, or provide shade and support to neighboring plants.

By carefully selecting and arranging companion plants, you can create a thriving ecosystem in your vegetable garden and promote healthier plant growth.

borage flowers in the potager garden as a companion plant idea for the vegetable garden
Borage Flowers

6 Benefits of Using a Companion Plant Strategy

There are reasons you should incorporate companion planting in your vegetable garden.

  1. Natural pest control: Some companion plants have natural pest-repellent properties, helping to deter harmful insects and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.
  2. Improved pollination: Flowers of certain companion plants attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, ensuring better pollination for your vegetable crops.
  3. Weed suppression: Companion plants can help smother weeds by providing dense foliage, shading the soil, and preventing weed growth.
  4. Enhanced nutrient uptake: Some companion plants have deep roots that draw nutrients from lower soil layers, benefiting shallow-rooted vegetables by making those nutrients available in the upper layers.
  5. Soil improvement: Certain companion plants can improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen or accumulating beneficial minerals.
  6. Increased yields: When companion plants work together harmoniously, they can lead to increased yields and healthier, more robust vegetable plants.
marigolds among tomato plants in the potager garden work as a companion planting
Marigolds planted with tomatoes

7 Easy Companion Planting Tips

When practicing companion planting, it’s important to consider the specific requirements and characteristics of the plants you are growing. So always read those plant tags as it provides you with a wealth of information about the plant you are growing. Here are some guidelines to help you implement companion planting effectively.

Research and Plan

Before you start companion planting, research the compatibility and benefits of different plant combinations. Consider factors such as pest-repellent properties, nutrient requirements, growth habits, and flowering times (if any). Then plan your garden layout accordingly to maximize the benefits.

Complementary Companion Plant Pairings

Select companion plants that provide benefits to the neighboring vegetables. Look for plants that repel pests, attract beneficial insects, improve soil fertility, or offer shade and support. And aim for combinations where the strengths and weaknesses of each plant complement each other.

close up of calendula - it's a great companion plant for the vegetable garden
Calendula

Proximity

In general, it’s best to plant companion plants in close proximity to the vegetables they are intended to protect. This allows for the exchange of beneficial compounds, such as scents and chemical signals. However, be mindful of not overcrowding the plants, as they still need adequate space to grow and access sunlight.

Spatial Considerations

Consider the growth habits and sizes of the plants involved. Taller plants like sunflowers or trellised crops can provide shade and support for shorter plants. Avoid planting tall companions that may overshadow or compete for resources with smaller vegetables.

calendula larkspur and snapdragons in potager
Calendula, snapdragons, and larkspur in the potager garden

Succession Planting

Take advantage of succession planting to ensure a continuous supply of companion plants throughout the growing season. And as one crop finishes, replant with another companion plant to maintain the benefits.

Observation and Adaptation

Observe your garden regularly and make adjustments as needed. Not all companion plant combinations will work equally well in every garden. Monitor for any signs of competition, nutrient deficiencies, or pest issues. If necessary, make changes to the layout or try different companion plant pairings.

pruned tomatoes in the vegetable garden with marigolds that are companion plants
Recently pruned tomatoes with basil and marigolds

Crop Rotation

Rotate your crops annually to avoid the buildup of pests or diseases that may affect both the vegetables and their companion plants. This helps maintain a healthy garden ecosystem and prevents long-term issues.

And it is a good idea not to plant in the same location within the same 3 to 4 years. Why? Because vegetables in the same botanical family are usually more susceptible to similar pests and diseases.

Therefore, home gardener should avoid planting them in the same location within 3 to 4 years. But waiting 5 years or more is even better if you have the growing space.

So write down where you planted your vegetables too because trust me, you won’t remember next year!

cucumber plants in the potager garden

10 Easy-Care Companion Plant Partner Ideas

Now that you understand the benefits of partnering, let’s chat about these ten popular companion plant ideas and who they help in they pair well with.

Basil

Basil is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes and other garden plants. It helps repel pests like aphids, asparagus beetles, mites, mosquitoes, and tomato hornworms. Not to mention, it’s a great herb to grow for recipes!

I love to use it in my favorite recipes that include:

close up of basil which is a great companion plant
Basil

Marigold

Marigolds act as natural pest repellents, particularly against aphids, Mexican bean beetles, and nematodes. They also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, which prey on common garden pests.

Marigolds are my go-to in the vegetable garden. I plant them around my tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables I want to help protect.

I love them for their companion planting capability, but also because they brighten up otherwise green spaces in my vegetable garden.

yellow and orange marigolds

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are often grown with cucumbers, squash, and melons. They deter pests like aphids, Colorado potato beetles, Mexican been beetles and squash bugs while acting as a trap crop, luring pests away from your precious vegetables. I’ve been growing them for several years now.

Did you know that you can even eat the flowers. Yes! They add a peppery flavor and make a great addition to salads for more flavor.

close up of nasturtium flower

Chives

Chives are a great companion plant that helps repel aphids, Japanese beetles, and several other insects. They are a great plant partner for roses, raspberries, and grapevines or wherever Japanese beetles are an issue.

They also attract pollinators and provide a lovely onion-like flavor to many dishes. While I tend to cut them often, I also LOVE the flowers. So I plant a few so I can get the best of both worlds.

close up of chives and parsley and thyme

Onions

Onions are easy-care companion plants that help repel pests, deter aphids, and ward off other insect pests. They make great companions for carrots because they help protect against pests commonly affect carrots, such as carrot flies.

Onions have a vertical growth habit, allowing you to maximize the use of garden space. You can interplant onions with other vegetables, utilizing the vertical space and effectively growing multiple crops in the same area.

This helps optimize space and increase overall productivity in the vegetable garden. This is my first year growing onions. I can’t wait to harvest!

onions growing in the garden make a great companion plant to carrots

Borage

Borage is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, and other pollinators to the garden. Its bright blue flowers and hairy leaves repel tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, and other pests.

Borage pairs well with a wide range of vegetables that can be planted alongside tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, and many other crops. This is the first year I’m growing it and I have to say I am impressed!

The Japanese beetles arrived and they are flocking to the borage and generally staying off my other plants. So I consider borage a good trap crop to help protect plants from Japanese beetle damage.

close up of borage at sunset in potager garden - an amazing companion plant in the vegetable garden

Calendula

Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is not only a beautiful addition to the garden but also a fantastic companion plant for vegetables. They repel a range of garden pests, including aphids, whiteflies, asparagus beetles, and nematodes.

Calendula is highly attractive to beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies. These insects are natural predators of common garden pests like aphids, thrips, and caterpillars.

Plus, calendula’s bright and vibrant flowers are a magnet for pollinators, including bees and butterflies.

The abundant nectar and pollen-rich blooms attract these important pollinators like butterflies to your garden. Increased pollinator activity can result in improved pollination for your vegetable plants, leading to better yields and fruit set.

Calendula can act as a trap crop, luring pests away from your vegetables. Some insects are particularly attracted to calendula flowers, which helps divert their attention from your valuable crops.

Calendula pairs well with various vegetable plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Its bright flowers create a visually appealing contrast in the garden while providing the mentioned benefits as a companion plant.

I’ve been growing calendula for a few years now. They start with ease from seed but the critters love them. So keep an eye on seed starts. I lost an entire crop last year from a rabbit.

close up of calendula in the garden

Dill

Dill attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and hoverflies, which prey on aphids, mites, and other garden pests. It is an ideal companion plant for cabbage, cucumbers, and lettuce. When dill starts to bolt, let it flower. It’s a great host plant for butterflies as they like to lay their caterpillar eggs on them.

Dill that went to seed but is a great companion plant idea
Dill that went to seed

Sage

Sage has natural insect-repellent properties and can help protect cabbage and carrots from pests like cabbage moths and carrot flies. It also enhances the flavor of many vegetables when used in cooking. Do you grow it? It’s really easy to grow and is perennial in certain growing zones.

two sage plants that are a great companion plant idea
Two sage plants

Rosemary

Rosemary is indeed a wonderful companion plant for various vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. Rosemary’s strong aroma repels many common garden pests like cabbage worms, carrot flies, and aphids, which are known to damage cabbage, carrots, and lettuce.

If left to bloom, it also attracts beneficial insects to the garden like bees, hoverflies, and other pollinators are drawn to the fragrant flowers of rosemary. By planting rosemary near these vegetables, you create a protective barrier that can help prevent pest infestations.

borage and zinnias in potager garden are great companion plant ideas

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of companion plants that can protect specific vegetables. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of companion planting may vary depending on various factors, such as your specific region, garden conditions, and pest populations. So it is not an exact science.

It’s always a good idea to experiment and observe how companion plants interact with your vegetables to find the combinations that work best for your garden.

Happy gardening!

potager garden with outdoor dining space on beautiful day

More Companion Plant Ideas

Do you have companion plants you regularly use? What companion pairings work well for you? I would love to know more in the comments below.

Stacy Ling
zinnias and borage with arbor in potager garden
10 easy care companion plant ideas with borage

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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6 Comments

  1. I’m huge fan of companion planting. I love using natural solutions for pest control. Thanks for sharing. Hugs to you.

  2. Just a comment to ask about the upside down pots on sticks placed throughout your gardens. Warding off hungry birds??

    1. Hi! 1) they help me see the green garden stakes when I’m working in the garden 2) you can collect earwigs in them as an organic method of caring for your garden 3) they look cute!