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.


  1. I have a garden in our backyard, but unfortunately, since I spend most of my days at my daughters’ in the city, a caretaker oversees it. This blog offers me reason to stay for a while and see how I may apply your companion planting, particularly of the plants I identify here for my temperate country. I’m going to rearrange anyway. This time of rainy season down here makes planting and gardening easy and enjoyable. Very informative and helpful! Thank you, TT!

    • Hello there,
      I’m pleased to meet you. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. Best wishes with finding companion plants that do well in your climate.

  2. I love all the info you have put into this! Excellent post!! ok, I know that reads like a spam comment but its really what I thought while reading this. :)

    • Hey there, I know you are no spammer. Thanks for the praise. I think we need to stop using chemicals revive and utilize what used to be common knowledge.

  3. Fascinating information and so glad to know about which veggies don’t like each other. I have a small garden and several containers with tomato plants. I made two of those self-watering containers for our cabin as we are there but a few days a week and it works great to keep the tomatoes watered. Thanks again TT for the useful post.

    • Hello Cindy,
      I’m glad you liked my post. It sounds like you have a good watering set up for your tomatoes. I could have one too but because I’m here and beacuse I like playing music and singing while I use my wateringcan I don’t have one.

  4. Some of the things I’ve planted are companion plants. I’m so new at all this I don’t want to stress out on it. I created a raised garden bed in my back yard that holds onions, lettuce, tomatoes, one pepper plant, and carrots. Under my mailbox are chives, basil, and a spaghetti squash that my kids seed bombed. So far we’ve eaten a lot of salad and sandwiches. My children have been involved from the get go and we are now learning to harvest our own seed.

    Next year I’ll add another raised garden and grow all of the things mentioned plus berries. and the year after that I plan a pergola and grapes over that. I will probably be busy for several years trying to get it all established exactly as I want it.

    I did not know bee balm was a herbal. I have some in my front yard.

    • Hi Shirley,
      It sounds like your garden is doing great and I love the fact your kids are part of it too. I think it’s really important for all of us to start raising some of our own food. It may be humble herbs on a windowsill if that’s all one can muster. It may be a garden with raised beds. it make be a balcony with container plants. Whatever we grow we know is no contaminated herbicides and insecticides. Berries are my favorite fruits. We have an amazing bounty of blackberries that grow native and we also grow strawberries and raspberries. See my other I Love Container Gardening post for more on culinary, and medicinal herbs and also edible flowers like Bee Balm.

  5. What I don’t understand, though, TiTi, is how do the excerpts from your previous posts (on the home page beneath the current post) show images? I’ve tried this on my test blog and they just won’t show at all!

    • When I first created those posts I copied the code from the HTML for the thumbnail image and the text teaser into the excerpt box below the editor box. When I switched from Inuit Types to this theme I chose that “concise” option and that’s how they appeared.

      I just did the same thing on my Garden Tours are Great (aside) post. The Chateau theme provides an excerpt automatically. The excerpt box is “live” so that means we can override it. I edited the post and I copied and pasted the HTML code for the thumbnail hummingbird image and the first two sentences into the excerpt box below the editor box and clicked “update”.

      • Wow, TiTi, I hadn’t realised one could put HTML code in the excerpt box, I must try that, thanks!

        Would it still work if, say, I did a draft post just to get the code for a thumbnail that’s not actually in the post I’m excerpting, though? Because my original posts don’t have thumbnails, they’re got full size images.

        I’m still thinking about this theme. I’ve changed my archive humour blog ‘Nearly A Pie’ to this theme now, to see how I do with it, but not yet sure about it for Absurd Old Bird as that blog might be a bit bereft without the full images and scroll down posts… I’ll see. Thanks an awful lot, TiTi (sorry I had to ask in your personal blog, hope you didn’t mind). :)

        • Yes indeed and I just explained that to another blogger on the forum. Open another tab and uplaod a thumnail into a draft that you are only going to use to obtain the code from and then delete after you have copied and psted the code into the excerpt box on post which is open in your fist tab. I don’t mind YOU asking here but I might that way about others. :D

  6. I can really identify with your poor foot pain! About a month ago one of my toes broke when I tried to walk to relieve a severe cramp in my foot. All the bones in the foot need surgery to realign them, and I have been in almost constant pain for quite a while. I wish you good luck with the healing of your stress fractures. Having foot issues are particularly worrisome and painful!

    • Hi Judie,
      I barely escaped having surgery on my foot and the main reason I did escape is because I’m a poor surgical risk. I’m so sorry to hear about you foot. I can easily imagine the pain by just remembering how my foot felt when I woke up in the middle of the night and stood up and felt the bones crumble. Among the most difficult, demoralizing and exhausting things I have ever coped with in my life is prolonged and/or continual pain. I hope you get the surgery you need soon so your foot can enter the healing stage.

      My best wishes to you and a cyber hug too.

      • Unfortunately, it would be sheer madness to have foot surgery in the middle of a Tucson summer. Wearing a heavy cast in this horrencous heat would probably be the death of me. The dr. thinks that I should wait until late fall to schedule. In the meantime I do ice and Tylenol and if the pain gets too bad, “the good drugs.” A glass of wine doesn’t hurt either!

  7. I miss planting and gardening. I grew up trained and being in love with planting anything in our farm back in my home country. I also miss the fun and enjoyment at harvest time.

    What I love most was the idea that we could have so much organic vegetables in our kitchen straight from the vegetable garden that we have. Oh that is nostalgia again.

    • Hello there,
      I can hear your nostalgia. Why don’t you try a little container gardening? One doesn’t need to have an in-ground garden patch outdoors to produce a little of their own food and the happiiness that cultivating it brings. You will be surprised how much you can grow in containers in very small spaces. Some herbs can be placed in little pots on a sunny windowsill. And having any edible plants growing in the spaces we live in lifts the spirits. I have a friend who has a little balcony no bigger than my bathroom that she grows and amazing amount of food on in a wide variety of containers. I have also visited other people who have used very small sunny spaces to produce quite a lot of food in as well. If you can’t do that then why not look for a community garden project that you can take part in?

  8. Hi Time Thief! The site looks GREAT and I hope you are well. How’s the foot? Your post is wonderful! What a terrific idea! I’ve never heard of companion plants. I feel like I can print your post and stick it on my refrigerator for next year’s garden (no garden this year).

    Take care and wonderful post – as always!

    P.S. I’ve been cooking like mad on my site with success, but I BURNED my chicken – a real towering inferno moment!

    • Hello Ann,
      My foot is very tired today. I’ve been doing a bit too much and I must now keep it up for part of the day and and try to stay off of it. That’s goig to be hard to do as I have company who aren’t leaving until Sunday evening. Companion planting works very well and it’s an altternative to using any poisons. I incuded a few extra tips in post but the majority is what I learned from my own family and form surrounding farmers as they all had huge gardens. Try it and I’ll bet you won’t go back to monospecies plantings beacuse it not only effective it also makes for a very beautiful garden too. I haven’t been visiting as I’m sure you noticed but I’ll be back on track again on Monday. I did stop in to read your flaming chicken pst though. I like hot wings too and my husband makes delicious ones. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Take good care.

      • You are very sweet…. I am very excited about next year. We hope to put in a kitchen garden for us and freeze or can the excess. Our only issue is I’m going to England for a month – possibly more next summer so it’ll be up to hubby to cultivate grow and – if needed – freeze! Can’t let all that effort go to waste!

        • You simply can’t beat the freshnness and flavor of the greens and other veggies you grow in a kitchen garden. It sounds like you will have to draft you husband into service while you are away in England.

          We freeze some, preserve some and others we dehydrate. We have had lots of success with dehyrdration and I recommend it. Sun is a great dehyrator but securing 4 days of hot temperatures in a row can be challenging as when the veggies are ready then sun can be behind clouds. You can easily make a degydrator unit with frames and screening you get from a bulding supply store.

          The oven method is okay but not great, you need to use temperatures of under 200 degree Fahrenheit and leave the oven door open and use a fan too. In the end foods that are oven dried aren’t as flavorful as they are when either sun or electric dehydrators are used. Fruit leather is easy to make if you have a blender of food processor and then dry it at 135 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s pliable and leathery.

          An electric dehydrator is energy efficient and can be operated at low temperatures needed to maintain nutritional values in the food. The electric food dehydrator will have a heat control and fan to maintain air circulation during the drying process. I think you ought to consider getting an electric dehydrator if you don’t already have one. Then your hubby will be kept very busy during your absence. ;)

  9. Hello timethief,

    I’ve always been a bit intimidated by companion planting because it seemed so complex. So I really appreciate this handy guide as well as the other tips you’ve offered in the comments. Your guide makes this far more manageable for me. Gardening is extra tricky in Hawai’i as we have double or triple the number of pests found on the mainland. Thanks!

    Your new look looks great. I’m glad you are so happy with it. I was really drawn to it at first myself, but twenty eleven is working very well for me so I will probably stay there.

    Lots of love!

    • Hi Sandra,
      I can only imagine that magnitude of insects a tropical environment has. I imagine there are unwelcome insects that aren’t covered in my list because I have never gardened in a tropical environment. It would be interesting for you to locate other organic gardeners in Hawaii and find out what they use to repel unwelcome insects that are different from the ones I have experienced here.

      Companion planting is not a formidable task, provided you start out with a garden plan. Rather than just arbitrarily planting rows of vegetables in the placement of your own choice, you can make the choices that encourage better growth by planting each vegetable row close to, or intermingled with only the vegetables, herbs, and flowers that they like. Please do let me know how my companion planting tips work out for you.

      I like this Chateau theme. I think it’s more in keeping with my content in this blog than other themes are. As I mentioned above I would like to chop the header height in half but I don’t think that’s worth purchasing a custom deisgn upgrade and renewing it every year just to reduce it. I don’t know what this fixation on tall headers is all about but I sure don’t have it.

      The markup HTML and the CSS on Chateau do not validate and I will be taking that up with Staff in a thread next week. They are upgrading themes to be compliant with HTML 5 and this is what the HTML validator results are: Errors found while checking this document as HTML5! Result: 34 Errors, 4 warning(s) None of those are my errors. They are all in the theme and template. These are the CSS validator results: W3C CSS Validator results for (CSS level 2.1)
      Sorry! We found the following errors (32) As I don’t have the CSS upgrade and haven’t touched the CSS those are all errors in the stylesheet Staff will have to correct. Granted these errors do not affect search engine access or pagerank but I’d like to see the HTML and CSS validate.

      I also changed themes to Twenty Ten on one cool site yesterday which was wearing Inuit Types and only had 1 HTML error. Well changing to Twenty Eleven produced these results: 48 HTML errors and 11 warnings. None of which are mine. They are all in the theme and/or template. Granted these errors do not affect search engine access or pagerank but I’d like to see the HTML and CSS validate.

      There’s also something odd going on when it comes to sidebar content in Twenty Eleven. I had a social networks HTML table in a text widget and when I used Twenty Eleven it all came undone, and worse still every time I put it in the sidebar rather than the footer area the background color bled into the whole theme where it was supposed to be white. Those issues in addition to the header that IMO is far to tall prompted me to switch back to Inuit Types. Now I have to make a new HTML table for my social networking icons when my company has left and I have some free time.

      I love what you have done with Twenty Eleven on your blog. The background is subtle and blends in a lovely way. The header is not a sky scraper and I do love the Lotus. The whole theme appears narrower to me on your blog than when I put it up on one cool site so I assume you have changed the width.
      You can use this service to locate the HTML validation errors and this site to locate the CSS errors

      My contracted work is tedious and I’d much rather blog and create art but I need the funds I derive from it so I’m plugging away at it. My foot is healing but it’s slower healing than what we expected. Worse still I now have to be super cautious as my whole skeletal structure is rated as “frail”. The personal situation that has been so emotionally draining still exists. I’m doing the best I can to remain in the present moment. It’s not easy but I many situations in life aren’t easy ones and we do learn from both the negative and the positive.

      With much love,

    • This is the new theme Chateau that was just made available yesterday. I have waited for over 5 years to see a theme like this one come down the pipe. I set it all up yesterday and I’m happy with it today. I won’t be purchasing a custom design upgrade. If I did then the header would only be half the height it is now.

      • I’m tempted by it myself. Particularly now that I see you’ve got images in the snippets on the front page below the main post (archive? Not sure what it is.)

        • Here’s are the details from the Themes Showcase>
          “Multiple Archive Page Styles
          You can choose to display your archive pages in either the “detail” or “concise” format (the archive pages show a list of posts from a particular month, category, or author). The “detail” format is the standard blog layout. The “concise” format displays only the title and the first 20 words from each post so that your readers may view your posts at a glance.”

          I choose “concise” and have no idea why people wish to display full posts on Categories and Archives and tags pages at all. I could get into a blah, blah, blah on best pracitices for SEO but I won’t on this blog as it’s my personal blog. Suffice to say I see bloggers creating multple pages directing to their posts. I have done some index pages as well but search engines don’t like duplicate content, and that’s why it’s a good idea to either
          (a) block them from searching /tags/ and /category/ directories via robots.txt (which we can’t alter on or
          (b) include only excerpts when listing posts by tag / category.
          I would love to be able to use (a) and use robot txt to block search engines from various index pages on my free hosted blogs as I could do on my install. However, we can’t as we cannot access the files in question due to the fact that we have shared templates. So I have made the (b) choice.

          Also note that unlike most themes, this theme has an except box that’s “live” and I used it.

  10. Wow, TiTi, I wish I could ‘like’ this post twice, as I would! I’m going to show it to my husband as he’s the main gardener here, but I love this post! So much helpful info… Thank you!

    Curiously, Nemesia, a plant that I bought recently (and wrote about in two of my blogs, including Val’s Nature) has a very highly scented flower that seems to be keeping slugs, of all things, away from two Marigolds near it! (I’m actually touching wood in between typing, to make sure that what I just said about slugs remains true…)

    And this year we’ve had so many bees… not sure what it is that’s bringing them here as we’ve always had lots of flowers, many of them scented ones, but they are so welcome. Their very favourite plant is a climbing Cotoneaster which, even when it’s not in flower, has them all over it. :)

    • I went over to see your Nemesia. What lovely photos you have Val. I have always planted Nemesia in rock gardens but never as a companion plant. with vegetables. Now I will be trying it out. I have had so few bees on my deck this year that I could weep. Between the two of us we have been watchful and have only counted 11 honey bee visitors so far. One lighted on a flower and we noticed the next day that it was still on the same flower. It was dead and I actually teared up when I saw that. I don’t want to live in a toxic world that lacks pollinators. On a more cheery note, the Mason bees and Orchard bees that are native have been visiting but also in very low numbers. We have Cootoneaster grows on one of our fencelines.

      • It’s such a shame, TiTi… I hope you can attract some more bees. Can you grow rhodedendrons there? And Magnolia? They love those, too.
        I’m glad you like my photos. The Nemesia is a Wisley Vanilla, not sure if you can get that variety outside of the UK, I hope so, as the scent is truly wonderful!

  11. This is a wonderful article! When I had a large garden and small children, I did practice organic gardening. Now that I live in the desert, I’m lucky to have the space for tomatoes.

    I loved your recent comment on Marty’s last post. I explored your blog a bit, and found your collages to be wonderful. I would love to see more of your work. Your photos are excellent.

    • Thank you so much for searching out my blog leaving me these kind words. I really appreciate them. I will be posting more of my collages and my Abstracts too. :)

  12. Even though I don’t garden, I am glad for this article. As someone who consumes fruits and veggies without moderation I want to know what’s happening to my supply. Thanks TT.

    • Hi there Bella,
      I’ve been wondering how you are. I’d like to see the whole world revert back to organic gardening — a far fetched dream I know. The planet is being toxified and that really grieves me. Unless each generation chooses to pass on this knowledge then I’m really worried about what kind of a world the next generations will inherit.

    • Luckily I did have this knowledge passed ont to me but so many like you didn’t get that legacy. It’s a darn shame. Family farming has gone the way of the dodo because people we elect bought into the BS that the mega corp factory farms spiel. :( From 1991 onward family farms were more or less abandoned by gov’t, while factory farms and all the negative effects they have on the environment became prolific. It galls me that corporations who pollute air, land, water and the food they sell get gov’t subsidies for poisoning our planet. It’s wrong and I want to see it stop.

  13. Great post TT! I love the idea of growing my own vegetables in an organic way and this post is filled with inspiration on the topic. Companion planting is the answer! I hate the idea of using insecticides.

  14. TT-Fascinating and invaluable information. Knowledge of plants and flowers and how they prosper and grow is as important to our survival and well-being as our knowledge of ourselves.

    • I’m glad to say that all I learned as a child is still valid. I was so encouraged to see so many people who are working harmoniously with nature while growing abundant gardens orchards and berry patches too. I hope that this important knowledge is put into practice by as many people as possible, and we turn away fromm poisoning the environment which we all depend on for supporting life.

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