26 Plants You Should Always Grow Side-By-Side

Companion planting uses one species' advantages to help another.

February 3, 2017
melon and marigold
PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLOWPIX/GETTY

Organic gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow. Scientific study of the process, called companion planting, has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those combinations—and practical experience has demonstrated to many gardeners how to mate certain plants for their mutual benefit. (Check out our handy Gardening For Beginners Guide if you're just starting out.)

Companions help each other grow—tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. And the technique uses garden space efficiently. Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up, allowing for two plants in the same patch. Companions also prevent pest problems. Plants like onions repel pests and other plants can lure pests away from more delicate plants; or one plant may even attract the predators of another plant's pests.

Here, 26 plants that are way better together. 

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

rose and garlic
Oleksandr Berezko/ Shutterstock; Denis and Yulia Pogostins/ Shutterstock
Roses + Garlic

Gardeners have been planting garlic with roses for eons. since garlic can help to repel rose pests. Garlic chives probably are just as repellent, and their small purple or white flowers in late spring looks great with rose flowers and foliage.

marigolds and melons
Irina Zholudeva/Shutterstock; tchara/Shutterstock
Marigolds + Melons

Certain marigold varieties control nematodes in the roots of melon as effectively as chemical treatments.

Related: 8 Steps To Growing The Best Melons In The Neighborhood

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tomatoes and cabbage
eugenegurkov/ Shutterstock; thanom/ Shutterstock
Tomatoes + Cabbage

Tomatoes are repellent to diamondback moth larvae, which are caterpillars that chew large holes in cabbage leaves.

cucumbers and nasturtiums
Africa Studio/ Shutterstock; Nadya N/ Shutterstock
Cucumbers + Nasturtiums

The nasturtium's vining stems make them a great companion rambling among your growing cucumbers and squash plants, suggests Sally Jean Cunningham, master gardener and author of Great Garden Companions. Nasturtiums "are reputed to repel cucumber beetles, but I depend on them more as habitat for predatory insects," such as spiders and ground beetles.

Related: The Best Way To Grow And Enjoy Cucumbers

peppers and pigweed
Yatra/ Shutterstock; pangcom/ Shutterstock
Peppers + Pigweed

Leafminers preferred both pigweed and ragweed to pepper plants in a study at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. Just be careful to remove the flowers before the weeds set seed.

 
 
cabbage and dill
thanom/ Shutterstock; Oksana Alekseeva/ Shutterstock
Cabbage + Dill

"Dill is a great companion for cabbage family plants, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts," Cunningham says. "The cabbages support the floppy dill," while the dill attracts the tiny beneficial wasps that control imported cabbageworms and other cabbage pests. (But, you should absolutely never grow carrots and dill side-by-side.)

Related: 7 Genius Ways To Use The Rest Of The Cabbage In The Fridge

corn and beans
Aedka Studio/ Shutterstock; Thomas Soellner/ Shutterstock
Corn + Beans

The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn pests such as leafhoppers, fall armyworms and leaf beetles. And bean vines climb up the corn stalks. (In addition to leafhoppers, here are 10 insects you should actually want around your plants.)

lettuce and tall flowers
januszt/ Shutterstock; tecphotoMaine/ Shutterstock
Lettuce + Tall Flowers

Nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and cleome (spider flower) give lettuce the light shade it grows best in.

Related: A Plan For Growing Lettuce All Season Long

 
 
radishes + spinach
Vitamin/ Shutterstock; Sarah Clark/ Shutterstock
Radishes + Spinach

Planting radishes among yor spinach will draw leafminers away from the spinach. The damage the leafminers do to radish leaves doesn't prevent the radishes from growing nicely underground. (Here are 3 easy ways to eat radishes.)

potatoes and sweet alyssum
nednapa/ Shutterstock; Thirteen/ Shutterstock
Potatoes + Sweet Alyssum

The sweet alyssum, which is one of these 81 border plants that are better than a fence, has tiny flowers that attract delicate beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps. Plant sweet alyssum alongside bushy crops like potatoes, or let it spread to form a living ground cover under arching plants like broccoli. Bonus: The alyssum's sweet fragrance will scent your garden all summer.

Related: 7 Ways To Grow Potatoes

cauliflower and dwarf zinnias
Esin Deniz/ Shutterstock; Armei studio/ Shutterstock
Cauliflower + Dwarf Zinnias

The nectar from the dwarf zinnias lures ladybugs and otherpredators that help protect cauliflower.

Related: How To Grow Bright, Beautiful Zinnias

 
 
collards and catnip
Elizabeth O. Weller/ Shutterstock; Katarzyna Mazurowska/ Shutterstock
Collards + Catnip

Studies have found that planting catnip (one of 8 plants that repel mosquitos naturally) alongside collards reduces flea-beetle damage on the collards.

Related: How To Grow Collard Greens

strawberries and love-in-a-mist
Sentelia/ Shutterstock; haraldmuc/ Shutterstock
Strawberries + Love-In-A-Mist

Tall, blue-flowered love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) "looks wonderful planted in the center of a wide row of strawberries," Cunningham says.

Related: 14 Plants You Should Never Grow Side-By-Side