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Companion Planting with Herbs for a More Robust Garden

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Companion planting is a method of growing specific herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables in close proximity to each other, enhancing the growth of both plants and often controlling pests naturally.

For more natural pest control ideas, read this.

marigolds and peppers together in an edible front yard garden

Companion planting is a natural method that’s easy to adopt in a home garden. Adding specific combinations of vegetation can help your garden’s health.

By incorporating certain herbs, you can build an eco-system in your vegetable garden that will help your crops thrive naturally.

Companion planting with herbs can:

  • increase yields
  • repel pests
  • encourage pollination
  • provide shelter for beneficial insects
  • or otherwise provide support

Companion plants grow in a symbiotic relationship to each other, enhancing the growth and success of both plants.

You’ve probably heard of the “Three Sisters.” The indigenous people of North America planted corn, beans, and pumpkins or squash together. The corn gives the beans a trellis. The beans add nitrogen to the soil to feed the squash and the pumpkins, both considered heavy feeders. The squash blocks out weeds that would compete for soil nutrients and moisture. The three sisters are companion plants that are often grown together, even today.

dill flowers for companion planting

4 benefits of companion planting with herbs

  • While there are a lot of companion planting unions, like the three sisters, herbs are the easiest plants to intersperse between food plants, in order to increase yields.
  • Companion planting with herbs can be done within the rows or between the rows of vegetables without harming the vegetables.
  • Herbs are strongly scented to attract beneficial insects or repel and confuse the bad insects.
  • Herbs are generally light feeders, so they won’t deplete the soil, robbing nutrients that your vegetables need.

7 great options for companion planting with herbs

Here are seven easy to grow herbs that you can interplant in your vegetable garden. These aren’t the only herbs that you can use in a companion planting, but these are the ones that are the easiest to succeed with.

dill flowerhead with yellow flowers

Dill companion plants

This season I planted dill in the rows when I planted my cabbages, kale, and broccoli. The dill grew up with the brassica plants and attracted predatory wasps. The predatory wasps lay their eggs in the cabbage butterfly caterpillars, killing them. So even though I saw a lot of white cabbage butterflies in my garden in June, I hardly had cabbage worm damage in my garden, and very few broccoli worms to clean out of my broccoli. I didn’t need to hand pick green worms. I didn’t have to spray BT – a common insecticide used to kill caterpillars.

Dill attracted the predatory wasps and they took care of most of the green worms – companion planting with herbs works! Don’t plant dill near cilantro or fennel, though. They will cross pollinate and the flavors will be marred. The growth of carrots is inhibited when planted near dill.

Dill is an annual, but it will give you plenty of seeds in its first year. You can gather the seeds when they dry on the plant and replant it every year. It will self-sow, giving you a perpetual harvest of dill year after year, if you let the plants go to seed.

Companion planting is growing specific herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables in close proximity to each other, enhancing the growth of both plants. Here's how to get started companion planting with herbs. 

Marigold companion plants

I also planted marigolds (Tagetes erecta) near the carrots and beets. Marigolds are toxic to root nematodes. Nematodes feed on plant roots, killing the plant and reducing yields.

Growing marigolds next to vegetable crops removes root nematodes from the soil. Marigolds also feed pollinating insects, which help beans, melons, and squash. So if you plant marigolds you’ll encourage the native pollinators to stick close to your garden.

These marigolds are a different species than Calendula, which is also sometimes called, “marigold.” Marigolds are annual flowers. They are frost tender and will die after the first hard frost. The spent flower heads can be dried and the seed harvested from the base of the petals. Replant marigolds throughout your garden from your saved seed.

Companion planting with herbs: Chives grown near carrots repel the carrot rust fly. Grown near strawberries, chives help to keep the strawberries disease free.

Companion planting with chives

While garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots are all from the same allium family as chives and do the same job, I like to use chives as a companion plant. Chives are perennial, so you can keep dividing them every year to make more plants. They take up less space than other alliums.

Chives don’t require heavy fertilization. They are “cut and come again,” so they give you a prolific source of spicy greens for salads, baked potatoes, and even stir fries. The more you harvest chives, the more they will grow. And their strong spicy scent confuses butterflies and moths, looking for the plants they prefer to lay their eggs on.

Chives grown near carrots repel the carrot rust fly. Grown near strawberries, chives help to keep the strawberries disease free. Beans and peas are to be avoided when companion planting with herbs from the allium family.

Companion planting with herbs: Basil is often grown near tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

Basil companion plants

Basil is often grown near tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It increases the yield of these plants and encourages vigorous growth. It also improves the flavor of tomatoes. The scent of basil deters mosquitoes, flies, and horned worm caterpillars by masking the scent of the plants.

Avoid planting basil near common rue, rosemary, or sage. Basil is a tender annual. It flowers near the end of the season. If you have a long growing season you will be able to save seed from your own plants.

Companion planting with herbs: Plant parsley near tomatoes, corn, and asparagus.

Good companions for parsley

Plant parsley near tomatoes, corn, and asparagus. Avoid planting parsley near lettuce. It can cause the lettuce to bolt prematurely. Parsley is a biennial and will flower and set seed in its second year. Allow it to overwinter, for a continual source of parsley seed.

Note that it will cross pollinate with carrots and Queen Anne’s lace; for pure seed, create a barrier if you are letting parsley seed near carrots or if you have Queen Anne’s lace flowering nearby.

Companion planting is growing specific herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables in close proximity to each other, enhancing the growth of both plants. Here's how to get started companion planting with herbs. 

Lavender companion plants

Sweetly scented lavender plants repel a wide variety of flies and beetles, while attracting pollinating insects. Good companion plants in the veggie garden include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Companion planting with lavender also deters codling moths under apple trees. I’ve seen three-foot high and wide lavender plants growing at the ends of rows of apple trees in orchards in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.

Lavender is a hardy perennial. Plant it in the middle of your garden where it can thrive and do its job.

Companion planting with herbs: rosemary is a good companion for broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage because it confuses the cabbage butterfly.

Rosemary companion plants

Like lavender, rosemary is a good companion for broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage because it confuses the cabbage butterfly. It also repels a wide variety of beetles and flies. The flavor of sage improves when planted near rosemary.

Avoid planting rosemary with pumpkins, and squash. Rosemary is a tender perennial.

If you live in zone 8 or lower, plant rosemary in a pot and move it into a sheltered spot each winter, into an unheated garage or indoors, near a sunny window. Then you can move it around the garden as you rotate your brassica plants, the following spring.

Originally published November 2015; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Chris Dalziel

Chris is the author of The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms, and More. She is a teacher, author, gardener, and community herbalist with 30+ years of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles. She teaches workshops and writes extensively about gardening, crafts, and medicinal herbs on her blog at JoybileeFarm.com. Chris's other titles include The Beginner’s Book of Essential Oils: Learning to Use Your First 10 Essential Oils with Confidence and Homegrown Healing, From Seed to Apothecary. Chris lives with her husband Robin in the mountains of British Columbia on a 140 acre ranch, with sheep, dairy goats, llamas, and a few retired chickens. They have 3 adult children and 3 granddaughters. All photos courtesy of Chris.

21 comments… add one
  • Margaret @ Pure Pearl Homestead Nov 2, 2015, 6:07 pm

    How funny, I planted marigolds near my carrots by accident! I always saw native bees on them, I loved it! Definitely going to employ some more of these ideas for next year’s garden. How cool would it be to have a giant lavender bush in the middle of the garden!!

  • Candi Nov 3, 2015, 6:47 am

    Beautiful pics! I love herbs – easy to grow, hard to kill!

    The toughest part is keeping them from taking over! lol

  • Kathy Dec 7, 2015, 4:53 pm

    I tend to plant lots of flowering herbs in and around my garden to attract beneficial pollinators, like bees and hover flies. I also companion plant coriander with my brassicas to ward off the dreaded White Cabbage Moth, which works incredibly well! https://bit.ly/1lRYMoo

  • Bob Apr 12, 2016, 5:30 am

    I had a 6-8 year old Rosemary planted in the ground. I live in Zone 8 where we had temps in the 30’s and one night of 12. It was not bothered by the cols, but last spring we had RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, and it died from being water logged. I planted it on the South side of a storage building to protect it from the North winds. There is one in our neighborhood that is planted at the end of a driveway with no protection, and I bet it has been there 10-15 years.

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 12, 2016, 7:23 am

      Yep. My experience with rosemary is that it likes it hot and dry. Wet feet are problematic!

  • PATTI Jun 15, 2016, 4:18 am

    I am a beginner gardener. This article was very informative, and easy to understand. Boy, I thought I was just going to buy a few plants and keep them in pots to give me something to do being home disabled. But now, I will be plowing he North Forty soon.

    thank you for the great information…

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 15, 2016, 6:57 am

      LOL, it IS addictive!

  • Kris M. Jun 5, 2017, 8:53 am

    This is such an incredibly helpful post. I’ve found myself referring back to it numerous times. Thanks!

  • Laura martin Jul 19, 2017, 6:03 am

    Very interesting, I’m trying to learn more about this type of planting, don’t like using insecticides.

  • Melodie Aug 19, 2017, 5:29 am

    Wonderful article, very informative. I will definitely refer to your information when planting next year. Thank you!

  • Janet Sep 9, 2017, 8:40 am

    I also companion plant garlic around my roses to prevent black mold.
    Instead of pumpkins, I planted acorn squash with the corn and beans in my raised beds.
    I bury bait worms in the raised beds every spring before planting.
    Another hint, spread crushed egg shells around your cabbage to prevent slug infestation.
    Throw your used dishwater (Dawn) on gardens and roses to wash off aphids and worms
    Happy healthy gardening!

  • Carol L Feb 17, 2018, 5:32 pm

    Beans and peas are to be avoided when companion planting with herbs from the allium family.

    What, please, is the allium family?

    • bret Jun 2, 2018, 3:39 am

      The allium family onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, leeks and chives.

  • pat mott May 26, 2018, 10:14 pm

    In Spain we have lots of trouble with a small brown butterfly that attacks geraniums, can you suggest a cure for this?

    • Kris Bordessa May 30, 2018, 6:42 pm

      Perhaps plant more geraniums, as it must be a source of food for the caterpillars. It’s often a good idea to plant these things on the “fringe” of the garden to draw the caterpillars from the main garden.

  • Kate Apr 6, 2019, 1:20 am

    Great info! Thanks super much for sharing!

  • Marilee Bryant Jul 16, 2019, 8:09 am

    You said, “Beans and peas are to be avoided when companion planting with herbs from the allium family.” Why is that? (She asks after planting chive seeds near her beans.”

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 22, 2019, 2:55 pm

      Alliums can stunt the growth of beans, legumes, peas, etc.

  • SUZANNE Feb 26, 2020, 5:41 pm

    Hi Kris,
    I can’t thank you enough for your site. AND I can’t tell you how many of your articles I’ve copied and printed for future reference. I have two 3-ring binders that hold all kinds of information for gardening. I’ve gardened since I was a child, following my mom and helping her, of course. Except for 4 years in an apartment while my hubby attended college, I’ve had a garden in one form or another since then. I don’t think I could survive (emotionally) if I didn’t have the means to dig in the dirt, plant, care for and then harvest from a garden.
    I’m 82 and still going strong, thanks to the good Lord. I’m also a nurse. sometimes I think of my garden plants as my patients that I need to take good care of so that they stay well and prosper.
    Again, thanks so much for your efforts.

    Suzanne

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 26, 2020, 8:01 pm

      Well, what a nice comment! I’m glad you find this site helpful!

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