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Companion Planting

Companion planting with tomatoes, etc.

Like people, some plants thrive surrounded by others. Companion planting is the practice of growing several types of crops near one another to enhance crop production. In general, plants with known positive relationships should be planted within two or three rows of each other. Plants that have negative or detrimental relationships, should be planted at least two to three rows apart. Infestation of pests or disease can occur more quickly if you plant all the same crop close together. Planting fruits and vegetables with flowers, herbs, or other vegetables can provide several valuable natural resources to your garden.

Utilizing companion planting is not only beneficial for your plants, but also helps maximize your space. Using different types of plants can help deter harmful insects, provide support for crops, offer shade to smaller plants, provide weed suppression, attract beneficial insects, as well as increase your overall soil health.

One of the most popular companion plantings is “The Three Sisters Garden,” which includes corn, beans and squash. Taller plants, such as corn, can provide a natural support trellis and shelter for beans, peas and other climbing crops. In return, beans and peas provide nitrogen to the soil for the corn and squash plants. Squash and pumpkin leaves shade the smaller bean and pea plants that need sun protection and provide weed suppression.

When planning your garden, you need to consider where you plant crops that may be in competition with one another. For instance, onions and beans should not be interplanted since onion plants stunt the growth of beans.

Soil Health Benefits

Companion planting allows you to tap into the benefits of having different root systems throughout your garden. Plants with taproots, such as carrots or radishes, can help alleviate soil compaction issues. Deep rooted crops like asparagus or watermelon can pull nutrients and water from deeper in the soil profile.

Saving Space

Interplanting, the practice of planting different crops between one another, works especially well to maximize space and improve productivity in small gardens. Maturity rate, nutrient requirements and size are important factors to consider when deciding what crops to interplant.

Interplant smaller cool season plants, such as spinach, beets, or lettuce, in between larger, slow-growing vegetables such as tomatoes or peppers. Once the smaller crops mature, the larger plants canopy will offer shade.

Companion planting can also be utilized in large container gardening to maximize space and crop yield. Consider planting a pizza garden or salad garden, which could include tomato, pepper, lettuce, oregano and/or basil plants all in the same large container.

Insect Management

The scents and bright colors of herbs and flowers repel and confuse harmful pests and can attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Trap cropping is the practice of planting something between the main crop to attract harmful insects to it instead, therefore saving your main crop. This practice, along with adding bright colors, can also be utilized to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. 

Plant Friend or Foe? 



Do NOT plant next to


Tomato, basil, parsley



Most vegetables and herbs

Onion, garlic, gladiolus

Cabbage family

(Cauliflower, kale, broccoli)

Sage, dill, beets, peppermint, rosemary, corn, onion family, chard, spinach, sunflowers, nasturtiums

Dill, fennel, strawberries, pole beans, tomatoes


Corn, sunflowers



Onion and cabbage families, tomatoes, bush beans, nasturtiums



Irish potatoes, beans, English peas, pumpkins, cucumber, squash



Beans, corn, English peas, sunflowers, radishes, cabbage family

Irish potatoes, aromatic herbs


Beans, marigolds



Carrot, radish, strawberries, cucumber, onions


Onion family

Beets, carrot, lettuce, cabbage family, tomatoes, strawberries, Summer Savory tomato, asparagus

Beans, English peas

Potato, Irish

Beans, corn, cabbage family, marigolds, horseradish, peas

Pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, cucumber, sunflowers, raspberries





Nasturtium, corn, radishes, marigolds



Bush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a boarder)



Herbs, such as parsley, dill, and basil

Irish potatoes, fennel, cabbage family

Companion planting is not an exact science, and successful companion plantings can vary in different areas. However, companion planting charts can offer a good starting point. Record observations and the results of your plant combinations from year to year of successful and failed companion plantings. Sharing your results can provide education and assistance to other gardeners! You can also contact your local WVU Extension office for suggestions on other companion crops.


Hoidal, N. (2021, February 25). Companion planting and trap cropping vegetables. UMN Extension.

Jeavons, J. (n.d.). Companion Planting Chart.

Authors: Natasha Harris, former WVU Extension Agent, and Jesica Streets, former WVU Extension Agent

Last Reviewed: March 2022