Companion Planting: 11 Herbs to Help Your Garden Grow

Maybe you’re just starting to think about gardening, getting an early start on new spring additions to your garden, or debating how to best nurture your herbs through the winter months. Perhaps you’re frustrated with how things turned out this year or worried about future threats to your healthy plants. Whatever your state of mind or the state of your garden, you may want to consider the benefits of companion planting in the future. I don’t even have a garden in my tiny apartment, and I find the concept fascinating.

Companion planting can be an efficient and natural way to protect your garden from pests and promote healthy, glowing growth in all your herbs, vegetables and flowers. Some plants benefit the soil, while others may deter specific pests and diseases or enhance the flavors of fruits and vegetables. Herbs are particularly valuable in the context of trap planting because they can both discourage pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, bees and butterflies.

10-21-2010-2Tomatoes grow alongside basil and purple-podded peas.
Photo by Cpt. Obvious/courtesy Flickr

When designing your garden, be sure to keep the specific needs of each plant in mind. Often, companion planting is a composition of opposites in terms of shade needs, soil nutrient absorption, depth of root growth, aroma, and speed of growth. Also know that depending on conditions and climate, the following combinations may not be entirely successful. Spacing, relative plant ratios and manner of planting can be very important, and some plants should not be grown near each other. Also, the effects of companion planting are often subtle, and a major pest problem is likely to require other methods. As most companion pairings are not scientifically supported experimentation is the only way to find the best companion herbs for your gardening needs.  Here are some general traditional guidelines to get you started.

Basil: Basil can benefit the growth petunias and the flavors of tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and oregano; it should not be planted near common rue or sage. To increase the essential oils in your basil, plant chamomile or anise.

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