Companion planting and vegetable groups

Companion planting and vegetable groups

When you’re growing veg, there’s a very helpful practice called “companion planting” which you can use to to deter pests and improve flavour.

Brassica: the cabbage family

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Calabrese/broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Kohl rabi
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard
  • Pak choi
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Swede
  • Turnip

Brassicas are helped by geraniums, dill, onions, rosemary nasturtium and borage. Geranium can repel cabbage root flies and beet leaf hopper, while alliums and nasturtiums repel blackfly. However, don’t plant brassicas alongside mustards, tomatoes or peppers.

Alliaceae: the onion family

  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Shallot
  • Welsh onion

Members of this family help fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbages and carrots, and they’re helped in turn by carrots, which repel slugs, aphids, carrot fly and cabbage worms. Avoid planting onions close to beans, peas and parsley.

Apiaceae – the carrot family

  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Parsnips

The carrot family helps tomatoes, onions and lettuce, and are helped by onions (alliums), rosemary, wormwood, sage, beans and flax. However, carrots attract lacewings and parasitic wasps, and you should avoid planting them near dill, parsley and radish.

Cucurbitaceae: the cucumber family

  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Marrow
  • Melon
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash

Cucumbers are assisted by nasturtiums, radishes, marigolds, sunflowers, peas, beets, carrots and dill, and they’re beneficial for ground beetles. Don’t plant them near tomatoes or sage.

Papilionacaeae: the pea and bean family

  • Alfalfa
  • Asparagus pea
  • Broad bean
  • French bean
  • Pea
  • Runner bean

Peas and beans are helped by summer savory, and they benefit corn (wheat crops), spinach, lettuce, rosemary, summer savory, dill, carrots, brassicas, beets, radish, strawberry and cucumbers. Avoid putting them near tomatoes, chilli, peppers, sunflowers, onions (alliums) cabbage, kale and broccoli.

Chenopodiaceae: the beet family

  • Beetroot
  • Chard or swiss chard
  • Leaf beet, perpetual spinach or spinach beet
  • Red orache
  • Spinach

Members of this family benefit lettuce, kohlrabi, onions and cabbage, and they’re helped by catnip, garlic and mint. Avoid proximity to runner beans – they stunt each other’s’ growth.

Asteraceae: the lettuce family

  • Cardoon
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Globe artichoke
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Lettuce
  • Salsify

Lettuces like to be near radishes, kohlrabi, beans and carrots, but not celery, cabbage, cress and parsley.

Solanaceae: the potato family

  • Aubergine
  • Pepper chilli
  • Pepper hot
  • Pepper sweet
  • Potato
  • Tomato

Potatoes benefit roses and asparagus, and they’re assisted by borage, onions (alliums), mints, basil, oregano, marigolds, celery, parsley, geraniums and nasturtiums. Avoid planting near beans, black walnuts, corn, fennel, dill, brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower etc), beetroot, rosemary and peas. It’s worth remembering that tomatoes don’t like being close to potatoes either.

Other vegetables don’t fit into any of these groups, so they can be added almost anywhere into your rotation plan:

  • Chinese artichoke
  • Corn salad
  • New Zealand spinach
  • Sweetcorn

There are also perennial vegetables that are not included in crop rotation, which do fall into the families above, such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Globe artichoke
  • Cardoons
  • Nine star broccoli
  • Rhubarb
  • Seakale
  • Sorrel

Green manures

The most commonly-used green manures come from the brassica (cabbage) or legume (pea/bean) families. Buckwheat, grazing rye, clover and vetch make excellent green manures too.