12 Reasons You Need To Companion Plant In Your Garden
One of the most natural ways to grow well-maintain and sustainable gardens is to try companion planting. Organic gardeners around the world are rediscovering the wisdom behind companion planting and finding out new combinations through trial and error.
Here are some very good reasons to try companion planting in your garden:
1. Physical support at no extra cost
Climbers need support, however, if other crops can offer support and bring some mutual benefit, then you should go for it. You can save time, effort and resources. Taller plants like corn, sunflower and okra can offer support to cucumbers and peas.
2. Improve the flavor and yield of vegetables/fruits
Some plant companions do much better when they are grown together, than individually. Different plants have different nutritional requirements. When one plant absorbs certain substances from the soil, it may change the soil biochemistry in favor of its companions. For example, planting nasturtiums near radishes improves the flavor of the root crop. Lettuce as a companion makes radishes more tender in summer.
3. Repel pests and parasites
Many herbs that contain certain fragrance act as an insect repellants. Mint is a deterrent to ants and cabbage moth. Lavender can repel ticks. Marigold repels aphids and beetles, etc.
4. Lure pests away from their target plants
Some plants protect their companions from pests by attracting them. Other do the same by attracting predators that help keep pest populations under control. Zinnias and cauliflower are planted together because they attract ladybugs.
5. Regulates shade
Some large plants provide shade to smaller plants growing next to them. Not only shade-loving plants, but young seedlings also appreciate some shade, especially during the hottest part of the day. Radishes and spinach are a great alternative for growing together.
6. Aid pollination
Plants that attract bees and butterflies, when planted in the vegetable and fruit gardens, bring in more pollinators. This ensures better fruit set and good yield. Asters, bee balm, zinnia and yarrow are good companions.
7. Better utilization of space
Companion plants for optimum utilization of available space should be chosen with plants’ cultural requirements as well as their harvest times in mind. You should take constant care to avoid plants that compete at the root zone for nutrients.
8. Improves soil health
Leguminous plants like beans and peas have root nodules and they improve soil health by increasing nitrogen availability. Plants with high nitrogen requirement benefit from having bean family plants as companions.
9. Hide unattractive areas
Companion planting in ornamental gardens can help mask many sore spots. For instance try planting marigold around roses. Marigold plants hide the leggy base of the roses, but at the same time they add extra interest with their flowers.
10. Suppress weeds
You can suppress weeds with companion planting. For example, Sweet potato vines and pumpkins are often planted in between bush beans. They can spread over a large area, not giving even a fighting chance to weeds. They will grow well without having to fight weeds, or fight over nutrients.
11. Visual appeal and biological diversity
Plants with delicate leaves look great when grown against bolder foliage in the background. Plant diversity increases animal diversity in the garden, contributing to the overall health of the garden ecosystem. It naturally reduces diseases and pests and the need for chemical controls.
12. Perennial interest
If you do companion planting with plants that develop and complete their life cycle at different times, there won’t be any bare spots in your garden. You can plant a mix of perennials and annuals and a good selection of ornamental plants and vegetables together. By doing so, you will make a year long interest in the garden.