According to Almanac, companion gardening is growing plants together for the benefit for one or both plants2. For example, those practicing this technique might plant flowers among crops to attract pollinators, benefiting the crops2.
Companion Planting Made Simple
What are the benefits of companion planting?
When grown in close proximity, there are a number of different interactions plants can have with one another. While some plants may support the growth of its neighbors, other plants may be detrimental to the growth of its neighbors by competing for resources, or attracting pests. For example, the Black Walnut tree releases a toxin, ‘hydrojuglone’, that inhibits the growth or kills surrounding plants1. Burpee describes the most important aspect of gardening with “friendly” plants is considering planting as “building good plant relationships1”. These plant relationships are supporting in ways such as adding nutrients to the soil, attracting beneficial insects, or confusing or deterring harmful pests1.
Overall, this gardening technique can be immensely beneficial in a number of ways. According to Alamanac2, there are six primary benefits to the practice:
- Deterring Pests2
- Attracting Beneficial Insects2
- Shade Regulation2
- Natural Supports2
- Improving Soil Fertility2
- Weed Suppression2
How does companion planting work?
This gardening technique utilizes combinations of plants that are beneficial for any or all the plants being grown. For example, crops may benefit from being grown alongside nectar-rich flowers, which attract pollinators that aid in the pollination of the crops2.
Sometimes, “friendly” planting may be used to ward off insects from a garden. When growing large numbers of a single crop, pests may be attracted to the garden. However, planting with herbs and flowers may protect vegetables from harmful insects as their scent and color distracts from that of the vegetables, confusing insects1.
One of the best and most well-known examples of companion gardening is ‘Three Sister Planting’1. Historically, Native Americans would grow corn, beans, and squash together. Beans are nitrogen-fixers, and alter the soil in a way that supports the growth and needs of the corn plants. While the corn grows, beans utilize the stalks as support as they climb upwards. Squash grows quickly, creating shade that prevents moisture loss2 and discourages weeds1.
Below is a Vegetable and Herb Chart from Garden Barn outlining specific beneficial combinations of plants for planting together.
- N.A. “Companion Planting Guide”. Burpee. 13 May 2021. https://www.burpee.com/blog/companion-planting-guide_article10888.html.
- N.A. “New Evidence for Which Vegetables Should Be Planted Together”. Almanac. 11 February 2022. https://www.almanac.com/companion-planting-guide-vegetables