How Do I Companion Plant?

You don't need a larger garden to ensure a plentiful harvest ' planting techniques like companion planting can help even the smallest gardens produce an abundance of vegetables and fruit. 
One of the most important factors to consider when planting is garden companions. Garden companions benefit each other when they are planted together. They can enrich nutrients, repel pests, provide shade for each other and even enhance flavor. By placing these beneficial partners together, your garden can work toward its most productive harvest yet.    

Grow tall sun-loving plants with short shade lovers

Tall plants that reach for the sun are well paired with short shade-loving plants. For example, spinach and peppers make great plot partners. Peppers grow tall and create natural shade for spinach plants to thrive in. Another good tall-short pair is corn and potatoes. Some of the best-known veggie companions are corn, beans and squash. The corn is tall and creates a pole for bean vines to climb. Squash grows in the ground and can help soil retain moisture.

Consider plants that repel pests

Some plants naturally repel garden pests, like insects or even large animals like deer. These plants make good companions for plants that often attract pests. For example, aphids and ants don't like garlic and are likely to avoid the plants next to them as well. Thyme deters cabbageworm that is drawn to plants like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, and marigolds make a good partner for most plants as they repel beetles, nematodes and deer.

Mix herbs and flowers

Herbs are beneficial to other plants because their strong scents attract beneficial insects (ladybugs) and repel harmful insects (ants). They are usually light feeders, so they do not deplete the soil of nutrients. You can create a colorful and fragrant garden by planting herbs and flowers together. Chives and lavender bloom can be planted near Amsonia, bearded iris and peony for a burst of color and fragrance. Another fun color combination is tricolor sage and pale pink sweet alyssum. Try different combinations of colors and scents to see what pairing you like most.  

Be aware of plant enemies

Some plants do not get along and can harm one another if planted together. Pairings to avoid are onion, garlic or shallot with beans. The growth of beans can be stunted due to these plants draining nutrients beans need. Another issue is the type of pests plants attract. Tomatoes and corn should not be planted together because they both attract worms that can be harmful parasites. Also avoid placing plants from the same plant family together, as they attract similar pests and diseases that can easily be passed along from one harvest to the next and compete for nutrients, sunlight and water. For example, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and tomatillos are in the same plant family. If you're unsure whether plants should or should not be planted together, search online or check with your local garden store.