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Take Your Garden To The Next Level With Companion Planting

By Nomvelo Soni


Companion planting is a gardening practice that involves growing different plant species in close proximity to one another for their mutual benefit. It is based on the concept that certain plants can enhance each other's growth, health, and productivity when planted together. Companion planting takes advantage of the interactions between plants, such as nutrient exchange, pest control, pollination, and microclimate modification.

During companion planting, plants are chosen and paired according to their compatibility and the advantages they offer to one another. The desired effects can include various things like better pest control, increased soil fertility, higher yields, effective space utilisation, and general garden health. It is important to keep in mind that not all plant pairings have advantageous effects; in fact, some combinations may result in unfavourable interactions, such as allelopathy, in which some plants release substances that stunt the growth of nearby plants.

Companion planting is based on ecological principles and established agricultural methods. It is based on observations of plant relationships in nature and on traditional farming practices. Farmers and gardeners have created specific companion planting methods and combinations over time that have been successful. The benefits of companion planting can include:

Pest Control

Some plants emit natural compounds that repel pests, while others attract beneficial insects or predators that prey on common garden pests, creating a more balanced ecosystem.

Nutrient Enhancement

Certain plants have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air or accumulate specific nutrients in their roots, benefiting neighbouring plants by improving soil fertility.

Space Optimisation

Companion planting can make efficient use of space by pairing plants with different growth habits. For example, taller plants can provide shade or support for climbing plants, maximising the use of vertical space.


Certain plant combinations can attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, increasing the likelihood of successful pollination and fruit set.

Weed Suppression

Some plant combinations can help suppress weeds by shading the soil or releasing substances that inhibit weed growth.

It's worth mentioning that while companion planting has been practiced for centuries, scientific research on its effectiveness is ongoing. Factors such as specific plant varieties, environmental conditions, and individual garden dynamics can influence the outcomes of companion planting.

For beginners in gardening, companion planting can be a useful method. It provides a number of advantages and can help a garden be successful and healthy overall. Results can vary depending on the local climate, the soil, and the types of plants used. To learn about the best companion plant combinations for a given region or plant species, it is always advisable to do some research and speak to your local gardening experts.

We've gathered examples of some of the best companion planting combinations for your vegetable garden:

- Tansy draws pest-eating bugs such as ladybirds, and predatory wasps. Tansy is a perennial, which means you only have to plant it once.

- Basil repels thrips, the moths which lay tomato hornworms, and egg-laying by army worms. Basil also attracts bees, which improves pollination and flavour of the tomato.

- Dill attracts pest-eating ladybirds, which are known to eat aphids and spider mites.

- Borage attracts pollinating bees. Borage pairs well with strawberries and tomatoes.

- Garlic has a strong scent and deters many insects. Plant garlic close to potatoes lettuces and cabbages and near fruit trees, together with alyssum to attract aphid-eating hoverflies.

- Mint deters aphids, ants, and flea beetles. Plant mint nearby in its own pot or bed, as it spreads fast.

- Sunflowers pair well with climbing plants like beans and cucumber. They help provide support for climbing plants, as well as shade in hotter climates.

- Nasturtiums deter caterpillars away from crops. Nasturtium also lure black fly away from fava beans.

- Parsley attracts beneficial insects to protect and pollinate tomatoes.

- Sage is a useful herb that repels carrot fly.

- Sunflowers pair well with climbing plants like beans and cucumber. They help provide support for climbing plants, as well as shade in hotter climates.

Starting small, observing plant interactions, and keeping a gardening journal can help beginners track the outcomes of companion planting experiments and make adjustments over time. As with any gardening practice, learning from experience and adapting techniques based on individual circumstances will contribute to developing confidence and proficiency in companion planting.

Gardeners can take advantage of the potential advantages of plant interactions and build more durable and fruitful gardens by understanding the companion planting principles and methods.


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