Companion Planting Made Easy

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Companion planting in a small raised bed

In a recent survey users of our Garden Planner told us the feature they’d most like to see was one to help them with companion planting. So we’ve spent many months diligently researching exactly that, so you can spend mere seconds selecting the best companion planting combinations for your garden. Here are the results...

Planning Your Companion Planting

The new companion planting feature in our Garden Planner makes it easier than ever for you to find perfect matches for your plants. Simply select a crop, then click on the heart-shaped Companion Planting button. The selection bar will then show only those plants that your chosen crop will love. Select one and drop it into place.

If you’re looking for a companion plant to fit between two crops, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on each crop. Click the Companion Plants button and the plants in the selection bar are filtered to show companions suitable for either of the selected crops. To remove the filter, just click on the heart again. When you select companions for more than one plant, the selection bar will show all the possible companion plants for each of the individual crops selected. Using an ‘add-on’ approach like this keeps the selection process simple, while giving you a wider range of companions to choose from.

Companion planting in the Garden Planner

Choosing Companion Plants

With many thousands of possible companion planting combinations we decided, right from the start, to include only those backed up by scientific evidence. Research must have proved why they’re good companion plants – we wanted proven associations, not just hearsay! So let’s look at a few examples of companion plant pairings that made the grade.

Insectary Plants

Many flowering plants attract pest-eating insects. Poached egg plants draw in hoverflies which control aphids on nearby lettuce. Borage attracts bees and tiny pest-eating wasps, making it a great companion for tomatoes. Another scientific study found that crimson clover grown with broccoli expanded the local spider population, which in turn controlled pests.

Some companion plants, such as nasturtium, lure insect pests away from crops. Nasturtiums can be planted close to broad beans so that blackfly will gorge themselves on the nasturtiums while ignoring the beans. The same companion also attracts hungry caterpillars away from brassicas like cabbage.

Some plants have a very strong smell, confusing pests by masking the scent of its host plant. Garlic, for example, has been found to deter the green peach aphid, so we’ve included it as a perfect companion to vulnerable fruits such as peaches and nectarines.

Growing flowers and vegetables together for companion planting

Other Benefits of Companion Planting

In many instances plants make suitable companions because they offer some sort of physical advantage. Tall-growing sunflowers offer shade and support for scrambling cucumbers and climbing beans, which in hotter climates can become sun-stressed.

The Three Sisters method of growing beans, corn and squash together works because the large leaves of sprawling squash help to smother weeds, and the beans use the corn as a support to scramble up while fixing nitrogen at their roots to the benefit of the other sisters.

Legumes such as beans and peas are also used to aid other crops with their nitrogen-fixing abilities. One experiment saw the size of potato tubers increase when potatoes were planted with beans.

Similarly, borage has been shown to add trace minerals to the soil, which in turn improves the flavour and growth of strawberries.

Companion planting can help improve your growing, but it’s important not to get too fixated by it. Crop rotation, correct spacing and good soil management are the most important influences on your growing – think of companion planting as a bonus! If you have any tried-and-tested companion planting combinations you know and trust, tell us what they are by dropping a comment below.

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Show Comments


"I've had good luck planting four radish plants around each cucumber plant and then planting a row of turtle beans about ten inches from the cucumbers. I have gotten amazing yields from straight-eights with little pest problems, good yields of dried beans, and the cukes and beans share the same trellis. I don't harvest the radishes."
Ken on Thursday 19 January 2017
"Hi Ken. It sounds like you've got a really good system going there. Many thanks for sharing it with us."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 19 January 2017
"What a garden. I'm very envy of how you take care of it. More luck on your garden. "
Jessice on Wednesday 1 February 2017
"Thanks Jessice. I hope you get a chance to enjoy companion planting this year. Good luck."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 2 February 2017
"Hi! :) I’ve read a lot about companion planting but can’t seem to find out how close plants that attract beneficial insects should be to any vegetable; and how far away plants that attract the bad insects should be planted away from vegetables. Also, I have 3 raised beds about 3 feet apart from each other within about a 25 foot square-ish area. Would companion plants and/or flowers “work” from bed to bed or would it be best to plant companion plants together w/ each vegetable in each individual bed? Thank you for your time! "
Jenifer on Friday 16 April 2021
"Hi Jenifer. It's hard to give a precise answer to this. Basically, plants that are there to attract beneficial insects, including pollinators, should be fairly close, but this can be right next to them to probably within about 6 feet. Close enough for the attracted insects to 'notice' the item you want them to act on - whether that's potential pests or crop flowers. Plants that are there to lure pests away from crop plants should probably be right next to the crop, or within a few feet of it - for example nasturtiums next to fava/broad beans or other brassicas."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 19 April 2021
"Thank you!!! Very Helpful!"
Jenifer on Monday 19 April 2021
"One of my new favourite buttons on the Garden Planner. Very useful in our commuinity garden when trying to decide; 'What goes in next ?' "
Andrew Benson on Friday 10 September 2021
"Hi Andrew. The Companion Planting button is wonderful isn't it - it really does help to narrow choices down a bit."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 13 September 2021
"Hi Ben, I’ve been reading up info on Companion Planting including your site, but I’m still a bit concerned about how to go about it. For instance with Nasturtiums which lures bad insects away from your crop plants, can I plant them right next to my vegetables in the SAME garden bed, i.e they are literally only 1 inch or less away from the veggies. I have limited land space that’s why I can’t do many garden beds. Will the bad insects not only feast on the Nasturtiums but also on my veggie crops in the end since they are so near to each other? That would be a disaster! Looking forward to your advice. Thanks very much! "
Emmeline Yeo on Tuesday 14 September 2021

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