Pairing plants isn’t just for looks.

By Southern Living
May 03, 2019
Barbara Peacock/Getty Images

We'll say it: If you’re only pairing plants together for design purposes, you’re missing an opportunity. While juxtaposing plants of different colors, textures, and sizes can create visual interest in your garden, the art of companion planting isn’t just for looks; it has more potential than that. For one, companion planting can help you make the most of your garden. Pairing plants that thrive in similar conditions and planting them in close proximity to each other can make your garden more efficient.

When done well, companion planting can maximize your garden’s square footage, protect plants from pests, create healthier environments for plants to thrive, and ensure that you’re using the nutrients in your soil in smart ways. Some companion plants repel the pests that feed on their neighbors; others can provide shade for plants that require it. Some use up lots of nutrients in the soil; others allow the earth to rest and revive between seasons. Each plant brings something different to the garden, and a few turn out to be the best of neighbors. Read on for a list of plants that you should be planting together and the reasons for their pairings.

Catnip + Collards

The essential oil found in the leaves of catnip is said to repel mosquitos as well as cockroaches, small rodents, and flea beetles (which are notorious for terrorizing collard crops).

Marigolds + Melons

Marigolds are thought to repel a variety of pests, including bugs and beetles that prey on melons and other garden fruits and vegetables. They’re also known to repel root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne sp.) that are found in the soil and can be harmful to your harvest.

Nasturtiums + Cucumbers

It’s said that nasturtiums repel pests including the cucumber beetle, but they also invite in beneficial garden visitors, such as spiders and other species of beetles, that then prey on harmful garden pests.

Peppermint + Broccoli

Peppermint repels unwanted insects in the garden, including aphids, flea beetles, and assorted species of flies, which can do harm to a broccoli crop.

Roses + Garlic

Roses and garlic have long been planted together in the garden. The garlic acts as a deterrent for pests that like to take up residence in rose bushes.

Roses + Geraniums

Geraniums deter Japanese beetles and aphids from invading the garden and your rose bushes. They also repel several other species of pests known to damage roses.

Strawberries + Onions

It’s said that the strong smell of onions will deter the pests that love to feed on sweet strawberries in the garden, which is why these two are often planted together. Onions and other members of the allium family are known to repel various vegetable pests too.

Sunflowers + Lettuce

Lettuce thrives with a bit of shade, and tall, towering sunflowers can provide a welcome shadow when planted near low-growers like lettuce and other related veggies.

Zinnias + Cauliflower

Zinnias lure beneficial insects (i.e. ladybugs) into the garden. When they arrive, ladybugs will prey on the garden pests, beetles, and flies that are harmful to your vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli plants.

WATCH: 5 Critter-Proof Bulbs I’m Planting Now

Which plants do you pair together in the garden? Have you ever tried companion planting, and do you plan to put it into practice during the next planting season?

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