Companions in the Garden

vegeatbles Gardening is close to the soul and we are heart-sick at the prospect of a world without bees,  so gardeners are focusing on companion planting vegetables with herbs and flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Companion planting is strategically positioning  plants in a garden to improve the soil, enhance growth and provide maximum ground cover.   By companion planting you attract beneficial insects, and you repel pest insect communities and strains of disease reliant on different plants from invading your garden. Companion planting works well because the scent of one plant confuses the common insect pests of the other.

Flowers for attracting bees and butterflies- Bachelor’s Button, Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Bush, Clematis, Coreopsis, Dame’s Rocket, Foxglove, Goldenrod, Heliotrope, Hydrangea, Lantana, Larkspur, Mexican Hat, Plumbago, Rose of Sharon, Salvia, Sweet William, Zinnia
butterflyHerbs for attracting bees and butterflies- Basil, Bee Balm, Borage, Catnip, Cornflower, Dill, Echinacea, Evening Primrose, Fennel, Goldenrod, Horehound, Hyssop, Lavender, Parsley, Poppy, Thyme, Sage. Other beneficial plants to have around the vegetable garden are Wild Rose, Elderberry,  Privet, and Mustard.
hummingbirdFlowers for attracting hummingbirds - American or Wild Columbine, Bee Balm, Cardinal Flower, Coralbells, Cypress Vine, Fire Pink, Fuschia, Lupins, Jewelweed, Penstenmon, Red Buckeye, Scarlet Paintbrush, Texas Sage, Trumpet Creeper, Trumpet Honeysuckle

Tomatoes like asparagus, Basil, Bee Balm, Borage, carrots, cucumbers, onions, Parsley and Petunias.  They don’t like potatoes and members of the cabbage family.

Basil repels flies and mosquitoes. Bee Balm (Bergamot)  improves tomato growth and flavor and attracts bees.  Bee Balm is edible and medicinal and  is also used as a flavoring in cooked foods. Borage tends to strengthen growth and flavor in vegetables and discourages tomato  hornworms and cabbage worms.   Petunias repel the asparagus beetle, leafhoppers, certain aphids and tomato worms. (Plant them near tomatoes and throughout the garden.)

vegetablesThe cabbage family (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale) like beets,  Borage, celery, cucumber, lettuce, Mints, Nasturtiums, onions, potatoes,  Sage,  spinach and Thyme.  Cabbage family members don’t like pole beans, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Nasturtiums deter aphids,  squash bugs and whiteflies. The Mints (Peppermint, Spearmint and Catnip) repel flea beetles and keep egg laying moths away from cabbage family plants. Rosemary deters bean beetles,  carrot flies and cabbage moths.  Thyme repels cabbage worms.

Potatoes do well near bush beans, corn, Flax and members of the cabbage family. Keep them distant from tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.

Garlic will deter pests of all kinds and should be planted throughout the garden.

Peas like beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, and turnips but keep them distant from onions and potatoes.

Chamomile (the plant doctor) should be planted throughout the garden to improve the general health of all plants.

vegetablesBush beans like Caraway, Coriander, Marigold, Rosemary, Summer Savory, potatoes, cucumber, corn, celery, and strawberries.  They don’t like onions. Pole beans can be planted with corn and radishes but they don’t do well near beets and onions.

Caraway loosens heavy soils, does not thrive when crowded, and discourages cabbage moths.  Marigold discourages many garden pests particularly bean beetles and nematodes.  Rosemary and Summer Savory deter bean beetles.  Bees love Summer Savory.

Celery gets on well with bush beans, the cabbage family, tomatoes and onions.

Chrysanthemums, Dahlias and French Marigold kill root nematodes.

Carrots don’t like Dill, but they do very well with chives, peas, lettuce, Parsley, Rosemary, onions, Sage and tomatoes.

Corn does not like tomatoes, but does very well with beans, peas, cucumber, Lavender, potatoes, pumpkins and squash.

Lavender deters corn wireworms. Flowering Lavender nourishes many nectar feeding and beneficial insects, and deters fleas and moths.

vegetablesCucumbers like beans, corn or peas but keep them away from potatoes.

Radishes do best when inter-planted with Parsley and Chervil (the gourmet’s parsley).

Lettuce does very well near carrots, Chervil, cucumbers, and strawberries.

Sage brings vigor to carrots and deters beetles, black flea beetles and carrot flies. Chervil likes shade and keeps aphids off lettuce.

Onions do well near beets, carrots, lettuce, the cabbage family and Parsley, but keep them distant from beans and peas.

Tarragon planted throughout the garden deters almost all pests and enhances the  growth and flavor of vegetables.

vegetablesWhen we were in ground gardeners my husband and I spent many companionable hours together in the garden. When I took up container gardening on my deck I primarily gardened alone. There are fewer plants to care for and less work to do. But weeks ago we began to spend a companionable hour after supper together in the deck garden, and we are enjoying this time so much we may make this a tradition.


Last week our friends who are planning to start a new garden next spring came to spend some vacation time with us. Since then we have been touring gardens and taking advantage of these opportunities to chat with other organic gardeners about companion planting.  As we chatted I took notes and enhanced my knowledge about companion planting.  We do not have to use chemicals that kill (pesticdes and herbicides) to have healthy and abundant gardens.  There are are companion herbs and flowers we can cultivate to discourage unwelcome insects, and encourage bees, butterflies, and humming birds to visit our gardens.

Are your an organic gardener? Do you have any companion planting tips to share? If so, I’d love to hear them.