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Gardening and Companion Planting

Updated on December 5, 2008

Nasturtiums and Broccoli

Nasturtiums planted    with Broccoli
Nasturtiums planted with Broccoli

Attract Beneficial Insects

Many plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers, leaves, that can alternately repel, and/or attract insects depending on your needs.  

In some situations they can also enhance the growth and flavor of other vegetables and herbs.

Experience shows us that using companion planting throughout your garden is an important part of pest management. Companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your landscape, and nature 'does its job'.

By using companion planting, many gardeners find that they can discourage harmful pests without losing the beneficial insects. There are many varieties of herbs, flowers, etc. that can be used for companion plants.

Experiment and find what works for you.

You might use certain plants as a border or backdrop, or plant them in your vegetable beds where you have specific needs. Use plants that are native to your area so the insects you want to attract already know what to look for! Plants with open cup shaped flowers are the most popular with beneficial insects.

Companion planting can combine beauty and purpose to give you an enjoyable, healthy environment. Have fun and use your imagination. There are many ways you can find to incorporate these useful plants in your vegetable garden, orchard, and flower beds.

The following is a basic plant guide (with some tips) to help you "work in harmony with nature."

Pictures of a few Companions

Basil (Ocymum minimum)
Basil (Ocymum minimum)
Calendula Offinalis
Calendula Offinalis
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Echinacea Purpurea
Echinacea Purpurea
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Garden Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Garden Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena

Companion Plants

To the right are a few plants that can be used for pest control, enhancing the flavor of vegetables, improving soil conditions, and attracting beneficial insects. I have added many of these companions to my garden and have had some good results this year.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): Helps Tomatoes

Basil (Ocymum minimum): Plant near Tomatoes & Peppers; improves growth and flavor. Basil can be helpful in repelling thrips, flies & mosquitoes.

Bee Balm (Oswego, Monarda): Plant with tomatoes to improve growth and flavor. Great for attracting beneficial bees of course.

Borage (Borago officinalis): Plant near Tomatoes, Cabbage, deters cabbage worms

Calendula (C.officinalis): Repels insect pests, but do attract spider mites & slugs

Catmint (Walkers Low - Nepeta x faassenii): Repels Aphids, Colorado Potato Beetle, Squash bugs

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): Improves cukes, Onions & Cabbage

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Plant with tomatoes, cabbage

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Accumulates calcium, phosphorus and potassium, good trap crop for slugs

Cosmos: Attracts pollinators

Dill (Anethum graveolens): Improves cabbage, lettuce, onions, sweet corn. Good for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on. No to tomatoes or fennel.

Echinacea (E.Purpurea): Attracts butterflies & pollinators, grow with Lavender & Yarrow

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Plant near Nasturtiums, Sunflowers & Calendula. Fennel also deters cabbage worms. I tried it this year and it worked very well!

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium): Plant with anise hyssop, licorice & Monarda, it also deters insects

Flax (Linum usitatissimum): plant with carrots & potatoes, deters Colorado potato bug

Garlic (Allium sativum): offends codling moths, among many other pests, a natural fungicide helping with disease prevention

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana): Repels Colorado potato bugs & Blister Beetles

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Repels fleas & moths, nourishes many beneficial insects.

Parsley (Carum petroselinum): Plant near Asparagus, Carrots, Chives, Onions, Roses & Tomatoes. Repels asparagus beetles, attracts hoverflies.

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis): Repels many insects

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon ciatrus): Repels many insects, grow with Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena (Lippia citriodora): Grow with Lemon Grass

Mints: (Peppermint) Attracts pollinators, repel white cabbage moths, aphids & flea beetles. Bees love it.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus): Plant around tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, cukes, and under fruit trees. Trap crop for insect pests, aphids. Also attracts predatory insects.

Nicotiana (Nicotiana rustica): Trap crop for insect pests

Petunias: Repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato worms, Mexican Bean Beetle. Leaves make a good insect spray.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Companion plant to cabbage, beans, carrots & sage. Deters cabbage moths, bean bettles & carrot flies.

Sage (Salvia Officinalis): Plant near cabbage (deters cabbage worms), also beans (bean worms. Helps Rosemary & flowers attract beneficial insects.

I will update again as more plants are discovered as companions and will comment on my results.

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    • CindiSummers profile image

      CindiSummers 7 years ago

      Great information on starting a vegetable garden. I haven't had time to build a fence. Plus, I don’t want to enclose my yard. So I'm using deer off and it works great. Deer haven't eaten my shrubs yet and I only have to spray it about once every 3 months.

      Here's the repellent I'm talking about:

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 8 years ago from America

      Lots of good information. Never thought to put my bee balm near the tomato plants. Deer also won't eat bee balm. So maybe it would help keep them away from the vegetable garden.

      Great hub.

    • chermarie profile image

      chermarie 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I haven't been able to find Borage in the last couple of years. I love the little blue star shaped flowers, which are edible!They're good rolled in sugar. mmmmm

      Like anything that gets out of control, I try to dig and pot as many as I can to give away or sell. When I have enough, I just weed and hoe the rest. Kind of like Morning Glories and Poppies. They are everywhere too! Thanks for your comments.

    • Renegade Coach profile image

      Renegade Coach 8 years ago from Langley, BC

      Thanks for a great list! I have a geometric shaped potager so this wil be great fun! Any hints on keeping borage under control? I love the blue flowers but they are everywhere!

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      I used to think companion planting was having flora around the house to keep you from getting lonely! Well, I guess it still can be, but it's fascinating how some plants can get along better with other plants... just like people!

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      Companion planting is a great way to learn about the relarionships between plants.