Gardening tools and flowers

Planting With Purpose

Mix Flowers and Vegetables for Companion Planting

A harmonious mix of compatible flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs adds beauty and sustainability to your potager garden. There are many benefits to companion planting.

  • Attracting pollinating insects and birds
  • Protection against unwanted insects
  • Increased productivity with the right combinations
  • Improved flavor of edibles
  • Attractive landscaping

The diverse companion garden is based on plants that work well together in the same soil and weather conditions. Companion plants are generally grown close to each other, and they require about the same amount of water and sunlight. Companion plants may also include a shade or fruit tree that offers some coverage for plants that require partial sun. Taller plants may offer some protection to neighboring smaller plants from wind and rain.

Companion plants that grow close together may make different use of the minerals and other components in the soil. A flowering annual such as a zinnia may attract the birds and bees that are needed for pollination. Another plant may attract insects that are harmful to its neighbor but cannot harm the first plant. Other plants, especially herbs, may serve as complete deterrents to all harmful insects.

Plant Health and Support

Your diverse garden should have plants in different sizes. This can range from decorative trees and shrubs to fruit trees, vines, and grasses. You can plant tall, supporting plants and trees next to smaller plants that grow with a vine structure. These plants, such as peas or string beans, can use the taller plant for a trellis support. Legumes usually bring nitrogen in the soil closer to the top.

Root vegetables extend deeper into the soil and also bring more nutrient closer to the surface. This benefits vegetables with more shallow root systems. It also helps flowers.

Alternating large and small plants along with ground covering plants will help with weed control. Weeds are the unwanted plants that take root in ground that is not covered.

Popular Companion Plants

The U.S. and Southern Canada are divided into 11 planting zones based mainly on climate and winter temperature. The US Department of Agriculture has a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that serves as the standard for gardening and farming in different parts of the country.

Check this map to determine the best plants that can be grown in your region, including native plants. The data from this website will also explain about beneficial and harmful insects and plant infestations.  The next step is to determine the best companion plants for your individual garden. 

Ground covers such as mint, basil, and sage, will grow in most soils. Mint is a herb that can take over any empty ground. There are many varieties with wonderful odors. Many insects, including cabbage moths, are repelled by mint, basil, dill, and other herbs. These plants will protect other larger plants and vegetables from many harmful insects.

Beans, onions, peppers, and tomatoes make great companions to carrots. Rosemary planted nearby will discourage insects. This fragrant herb can also add flavor to neighboring plants. 

You can add bright color to the vegetable garden by adding nasturtiums, marigolds, or caper plants as companions. These plants attract troublesome nematodes and aphids away from other plants. Nasturtiums and caper flowers are edible. They also have seeds that can be pickled and used as flavorings.

Basil grown close to tomato and lettuce plants may increase the yield. Basil can improve the flavor of lettuce and leafy greens gown within a foot of the plant.

Garden Design

The potager garden can be designed in circles, rectangles, or any shape compatible with your landscaping. The companion plants can be combined anywhere in a front yard or backyard garden. Plant blossoming fruit trees and companion flowering vegetables to attract hummingbirds and other colorful birds where you can see them from your windows. You may also want to put feeders in certain areas to attract birds.

Potager gardens are created to beautify landscaping while providing organically grown edibles. Planning a garden with companion plants will combine healthy crops with aesthetic values.

Enjoy and have fun!

Katie Namet

The Potager

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