As gardeners, we’re always experimenting with new ways to provide our plants with the best growing conditions. We are constantly on the lookout to ensure they are healthy and find new ways to prevent diseases and pests that can severely compromise their growth.
One common method used by growers and home gardeners is called companion planting. This refers to the practise of planting different crops in proximity of each other with the intention to improve growth or protect each other from pests. Finding the right combination is important so that the properties of companion plants are beneficial for each other resulting in healthier and less disease prone plants.
In a vegetable garden, successful companion planting improves productivity of plants compared to yield if they were grown separately. Whereas, in an ornamental garden, it’s success can be measured in terms of better appearance of flowers, more vibrant leaves and low chance of disease.
Benefits of Companion Planting
There are 5 main benefits often observed by growers and gardeners.
1. Risk reduction
Companion planting increases odds of higher yields. Even if one plant fails due to pests, disease or unfavourable weather, the other will have a higher chance of survival.
2. Crop Protection
Delicate plants often get shelter from weather such as wind or sun when grown beside stronger plants which have a natural defence against the harsher conditions. Other plants even provide physical support to their companion climbers.
3. Trap Cropping
Some plants helps repel unwanted pests, while others can be used to lure pests away from their companions. It is the best pest management system and will significantly reduce the use of pesticides.
4. Positive Hosting and Pest Management
When plants that produce surplus nectar and pollen are planted next to others, they attract beneficial insects such as bees and improve pollination.
5. Optimal Space Utilization
While one type plant takes up a lot of space, the other can neatly be tucked in between them!
Some home growers have even claimed that companion planting improves the flavour of some vegetables!
Every garden has a unique and has a varied set of factors effecting plant growth such as availability of sunlight, exposure to adverse or favourable weather, soil structure, water supply, and the general ecology. As a result, it is important to note that unfavourable conditions may adversely affect all companion plants similarly.
Some plants when grown together show excellent results. Common companion plants are:
1. Tomatoes and Basil
Both of them are warm weather plants that need a lot of sunlight. They’re a great match not just on the plate, but also when grown together! This pairing is beneficial to tomatoes as basil is known to repel thrips, white flies, mosquitoes and tomato hornworms which are often known to create problems for tomato plants. Basil also attracts bees which improves pollination resulting in healthier and tastier tomatoes.
2. Cabbage and Dill
Dill is a great companion plant for cabbages and other plants in the cabbage family such as broccoli and brussels sprouts. The cabbages help support the dill while the latter helps to attract helpful wasps and keep unwanted pests such as cabbage worms and cabbage loopers away.
Oregano is also an ideal companion plant for cabbage because of its insecticidal properties.
3. Beets and Lettuce
Lettuce are perfect companion plants for beets. With their shallow roots, they do not compete with resources in the soil which allows healthy beets growth. They are also used to fill the open spaces in the beets patch.
4. Cucumbers and Beans
Beans which are leguminous plants that help to fertilize cucumbers. They have nitrogen fixing abilities which means that they draw up nitrogen in the soil and make it readily available. Thus, beans work as natural fertilizers for fertilizer hungry cucumbers!
There are just a few examples of the many combinations of plants that can be successfully grown together. Just like good companions, there are bad companions as well. Avoid planting together plants that have the potential to compete for resources. Some of them even attract insects and pests which can harm other plants.
Follow us on @nugrowbio to learn more about other examples of companion planting.
Feel free to write to us on email@example.com if you have any questions. We also invite you to join us for our end-of-the-month webinar series every 4th Thursday and Saturday to learn more about new trends and gardening tips!
Elizabeth hails from India, grew up in Dubai and travelled to more than 20 countries before settling down in Canada in 2018. The majority of her working life was spent in Advertising, assisting clients with executing successful brand launches and ad campaigns across industries such as CPG, fashion and real estate. At present, she is working on building up her skills in Digital Marketing and learning about new markets and processes. She loves animals and enjoys spending time with her cat Twinkie.