Plants That Play Well With Others, And Those That Can't Stand Their Neighbors


Just like humans, there are certain vegetable plants that are happy with the neighbors, and some who just can't stand them. 

The friendly plants share the burden of eliminating pests and disease, share their space, and protect one another. There are some plants that can't stand to be in the same neighborhood as others. Choosing wisely will assure that your garden plants are one big, happy family, and producing bumper crops. Many flowering and foliage plants can be good companions for vegetables, due to their abilities to repel or eliminate pests of all types.

It's A Trap!
What are
Sacrifice and Trap Crops?
Some plants are referred to as Trap or Sacrificial Crops. They are the garden heroes that will actually give up their lives to protect and save the garden from marauding insects. Trap crop species are highly attractive to pests species and are inter-planted with susceptible crops. This practice relies on the exploitation of insect preferences for certain host plants. Trap Crops serve as decoys to attract pest insects. They distract the destructive pests away from your fruits and vegetables. 

Nasturtium is a rock star of traps and decoys, and attracts both aphids and the cabbage worms, while creating a diversion away from nearby crops. When trap crop plants become infested and have accomplished their mission in the vegetable patch, they should be removed from the garden. They are very pretty plants, petals taste great in a salad, and they provide pollen and nectar for bees and hummingbirds to pollinate your garden. Have a few planted in pots ready to replace the ones in the vegetable garden that become casualties. This pretty flowering plant does away with aphids, whiteflies, cucumber beetles, squash beetles, Colorado potato beetles and Mexican bean beetles. 

A combination of two trap crop species can attract insect pests more effectively. Sunflowers and Nasturtium can be planted together to attract the stink bugs away from bell peppers. The successive planting of second trap crops can extend the period of attractiveness for insect pests. The more, the merrier.

If your trap crops are also being planted as a planned harvest crop, plant more of them in more places, so that the sacrificed plants won't make a dent in the intended crops.

Research and demonstration projects listed below have implemented 
trap cropping systems to attract insect pests away from ornamental and food crops.

After much searching, I found this chart that lists trap plants, protected plants, and the harmful 
bugs, using their scientific names. I wish the bug list also listed the bugs using their common names.

Trap Crops

Crops Protected

Insect Pest Species

African marigold, Tagetes erecta L. (Asteraceae)

Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum L. (Solanaceae)

Helicoverpa armigera Hübner (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

Alfalfa, Medicago sativa L. (Fabaceae)

Lettuce, Lactuca sativa L. (Asteraceae)

Lygus rugulipennis Hahn (Hemiptera: Miridae)

Arugula, Eruca sativa Mill. (Brassicaceae);

Tomato, S. lycopersicum

Lygus spp. (Hemiptera: Miridae)

Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum Moench (Polygonaceae)

Onion, Allium cepa L. (Amaryllidaceae)

Thrips tabaci Lindeman (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)

Buttercup squash, Cucurbita maxima Duchesne (Cucurbitaceae)

Athena muskmelon, Cucumis melo L. (Cucurbitaceae)

Acalymma vittatum (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae);
Diabrotica undecimpunctata L. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitaceae)

Acalymma vittatum
(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

Carrot, Daucus carota Hoffm. (Apiaceae)

Onion, A. cepa

Thrips tabaci Lindeman (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)

Chinese cabbage, Brassica rapa L. (Brassicaceae) White cabbage, Brassica oleracea L. (Brassicaceae) Phyllotreta spp. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

Collard cabbage, Brassica oleracea viridis (Brassicaceae)

Cabbage, B. oleracea Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)

Eggplant, Solanum melongena L. (Solanaceae);

Common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L. (Fabaceae) Bemisia argentifolii Gennadius (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)

Ethiopian mustard, Brassica carinata A.Braun (Brassicaceae)

Indian mustard, Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. (Brassicaceae) Pieris brassicae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae)
Indian mustard, B. juncea Cabbage, B. oleracea Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae);
Crocidolomia binotalis Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Crambidae)
Crucifer crops, Brassicaceae spp. (Brassicaceae) Plutella xylostella L.
(Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)
Marigold, Calendula officinalis L. (Asteraceae) Tomato, S. lycopersicum Helicoverpa armigera Hübner (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)
Mung bean, Vigna radiata L. (Fabaceae) Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton,
(Bt) Gossypium hirsutum L. (Malvaceae)
Apolygus lucorum Meyer-Dür (Hemiptera: Heteroptera )
Napier grass, Pennisetum purpureum Schumach (Poaceae) Sorghum, Sorghum bicolor L. (Poaceae) Busseola fusca Fuller
(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)
Non-flowering Barbarea, Barbarea spp. (Brassicaceae) Cabbage, B. oleracea Plutella xylostella L.
(Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)
Sorghum, S. bicolor Maize, Zea mays L. (Poaceae) Chilo partellus Swinhoe
(Lepidoptera: Crambidae)
Cotton, G. hirsutum Nezara viridula L.
(Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)
Summer squash, Cucurbita pepo L. (Cucurbitaceae) Bean, P. vulgaris Bemisia argentifolii Gennadius (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)
Sunflower, Helianthus annuus L. (Asteraceae);
grain sorghum, S. bicolor
Bell peppers, Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae) Halyomorpha halys Stål (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)
Yellow rocket, Barbarea vulgaris W. T. Aiton (Brassicaceae) Cabbage, B. oleracea Plutella xylostella L.
(Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)
Indian mustard, B. juncea;
white mustard, Sinapis alba L. (Brassicaceae)
Chinese Cabbage, B. rapa;
Oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae)
Ceutorhynchus obstrictus Marsham (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
Black mustard, Brassica nigra L. (Brassicaceae);
radish, Raphanus sativus Pers. (Brassicaceae);
arugula, E. sativa
Oilseed rape, B. napus Meligethes aeneus Fabricius (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae)

Oilseed rape, B. napus;
Chinese cabbage, B. rapa;
black mustard, B. nigra;
Indian mustard, B. juncea

White mustard, S. alba;
Radish, R. sativus
M. aeneus

Sources: Habitat management to suppress pest populations: Progress and prospects.  PubMed
Hatt S., Boeraeve F., Artru S., Dufrêne M., Francis F. Spatial diversification of agroecosystems to enhance biological control and other regulating services: An agroecological perspective. [PubMed]


Tomatoes are the Mean Girls of the vegetable patch.
Marjoram gets along with just about everybody.

Plants may co-habitate nicey in a salad bowl, but they don't always start out that way.

The following is a listing of some of the most popular plants in the vegetable garden that will and will not play well with others.

Visit our  Native American Three Sisters Garden page to learn about their ancient companion planting method.

Your tomatoes detest your cucumbers.
But they love your basil, garlic and onions.

You will find several references to Brassicas on lists of companion plants. If you're not familiar with the name, they are members of the family of vegetables that includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and turnips. These vegetables contain substances that have been proven, in many research studies, to protect humans against cancer. Also referred to as cruciferous vegetables.

should be planted with corn to shade the soil and retain water. It also helps attract predatory ground beetles that make short work of garden-damaging insects.

Asparagus gets along well with many plants, and can be planted with basil, cilantro, dill, marigolds, nasturtiums, oregano, parsley, peppers, sage, thyme and tomatoes. Asparagus repels nematodes that attack tomato plants, and tomato plants repel asparagus beetles. Give/Take.

Apples and Apricots - Both love garlic. Garlic helps repel pests. The tree roots also absorb the sulfur produced by the garlic, making the tree more resistant to fungus, mold and black spot. Apples and apricots also love Comfrey, nasturtium flowers, coriander, dill, fennel, basil, lemongrass.

loves living next to tomatoes, and it helps to improve their flavor. Those two plants are
a match made in heaven. 

Basil likes oregano and peppers. It's also a friend of asparagus.

The Basil plant repels aphids, asparagus beetles, mites, flies, mosquitoes and tomato horn worm. 

Beans are all nitrogen fixers of the soil, so they should be planted next to plants of the Brassica family, carrots, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, peas, potatoes, radish and strawberries. 
Avoid planting near marigolds, chives, garlic, leeks and onion. 
Beets and pole beans do not get along. 

Beets can be planted next to bush beans, Brassicas, corn, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mint and potatoes. Avoid planting beets next to pole beans. 

Borage repels tomato hornworm and cabbage moth caterpillars, and are great companions for those vegetables. The plant attracts pollinators, so planting it around plants that need pollen to produce, like squashes, melons, and cucumbers. It is also great for the soil and is a superstar in composting. 

Bok Choy may experience improved growth and health if it is planted alongside beets, bush beans, carrots, chamomile, chard, cucumbers, dill, kale, lettuce mint, nasturtiums, potatoes, sage and spinach.

Brassicas, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi and turnips, all benefit from hanging out with chamomile, cilantro, dill, mint, rosemary and sage. 

Broccoli particularly likes being planted next to potatoes. 

Cauliflower likes to be planted next to celery, because the strong scent of celery helps repel Brassica butterflies, which are very destructive.

Carrots plant well with beans, Brassicas, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, peppers, pole beans, radish, rosemary, sage, and tomatoes. Avoid planting next to dill, parsnips and potatoes, though. Tomatoes will bring out the flavor in carrots, but your carrots might be smaller as tomatoes and carrots compete for soil nutrients. 

Cherries love garlic just like apples and apricots do. Garlic helps repel pests like the fruit tree bore, aphids and mites. The tree roots also absorb sulfur produced by the garlic, making the tree more resistant to fungus, mold and black spot. Marigolds also live well with cherries, helping to attract pollinators.

Chives do great when planted next to tomatoes and carrots, and it helps bring out their flavors. Also works well when planted next to Brassicas. Chives repel aphids, carrot rust flies and Japanese beetles. They should not be planted next to beans and peas. 

Cilantro repels aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites.

Corn is a companion to beans, beets, cucumber, dill, melons, parsley, peas, potato, squash and sunflower. It should not be planted next to celery or tomatoes. Amaranth can also be planted between corn rows to increase mulching and reduce weeds.

Cucumbers love to be planted next to asparagus, beans, Brassicas, celery, corn, dill, kohlrabi, lettuce, onion, peas, and radishes. 

They shouldn’t be planted next to potatoes or sage.  

Corn and sunflowers act like a trellis for cucumbers to attach to. Just like the Native American The Three Sisters Method. 

Dill will help cucumbers by attracting predatory insects (Trap Crop), and nasturtiums repel insects, and improve the flavor and growth of the cucumbers.

Dill improves the health of cabbages and other Brassicas like cauliflower and kale. It is a great companion for corn, cucumbers, lettuce and onions. Avoid planting next to carrots and tomatoes. Dill attracts beneficial insects. 

Eggplant is a good companion for amaranth, beans, marigolds, peas, peppers, spinach and thyme. Do not plant next to fennel.

Garlic is a great companion plant for roses to help repel aphids. It is high in sulfur, so it also helps get rid of pests like whiteflies, Japanese beetles, root maggots, carrot rust fly and other non-beneficial bugs. It is a great companion for beets, Brassicas, celery, fruit trees (like apricots, apples and cherries), lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Do not plant next to peas.

Lettuce like arugula, radicchio, green leaf lettuce, romaine, like to be planted next to beets, Brassicas, carrots, celery, chervil, cucumbers, dill, garlic, onions, radish, spinach, squash and strawberries.

Marigolds produce bug-repellent chemicals. They make short work of  whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, and nematodes. No surprise to me... they pretty, but they smell downright awful, and i wouldn't go near them, either. 

They are great for planting around fruit trees.  Marigolds are bff's with  fruit trees. They help attract pollinators, like bees and butterflies. More pollination=bigger and more fruit.

The marigold discourages nematodes in the soil.
They shouldn't be planted around beans. 

Marjoram grows well next to all plants, and is believed to stimulate the growth of plants around it. Marjoram particularly loves asparagus. It is very attractive to bees and other pollinators, so it is great planted next to plants that need pollinating like cucumbers and squash. 

Mint helps attract earthworms, overflies, and predatory wasps. It also repels cabbage moths, aphids, and flea beetles. Mint is invasive, so it is best planted on its own in containers around a garden. Do not plant near parsley. 

Nasturtiums - It is a great companion flower for Brassicas, cucumbers, melons, radishes and tomatoes. 

Okra loves cucumbers, melons, eggplant, and peppers

Onions love the herbs chamomile and summer savory to improve their flavor. They also work great alongside beets, Brassicas, carrots, dill, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes. Do not plant near asparagus or peas. Onions help repel the carrot rust fly, hence why they should be planted next to carrots.

Parsley likes to be grown next to asparagus, carrots, chives, corn, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Allowing some parsley to go to bloom will help attract hoverflies and predatory wasps. 

Parsnips are great when grown next to green peas, bush beans, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, rosemary and sage. Some vegetables and herbs do not like parsnip, however, and that includes carrots, celery, dill and fennel. 

Peas are wonderful companions for beans, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, parsnip, peppers, potatoes, radish, spinach, strawberries and tulips. Avoid planting next to onions. 

Peppers make good companion plants for asparagus, basil, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, oregano, parsley, rosemary, squash, Swiss chard and tomatoes. Do not plant next to beans, Brassicas or fennel.

Potatoes like to be planted next to beets, bush beans, celery, corn, garlic, marigolds, onions, and peas. Avoid planting next to asparagus, cucumber, Kohlrabi, melons, parsnips, rutabaga, squash, sunflower and turnips.

Radishes make good neighbors for beans, beets, carrots, celeriac, chervil, cucumber, lettuce, mint, parsnip, peas, spinach, squash, and tomatoes. 

Avoid planting right next to potatoes.

Planting radishes among your squash will make them to grow better and encourage bloom, and they will also prevent most pests that affect squash and cucumber.

Root Crops- turnips, parsnips and beets, are good sweet potato and bush bean companions.

Rosemary loves to be planted next to beans, Brassicas, spinach and carrots. Rosemary helps repel cabbage moths, Mexican bean beetles, and carrot rust flies. 

Sage repels cabbage moths and carrot rust flies, and also helps improve the health of parsnips. Do not plant next to cucumbers, which dislike aromatic herbs. 

Spinach is a great companion for Brassicas, eggplants, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes and particularly strawberries. Do not plant near potatoes. 

Squash doesn’t only love to be planted next to corn, but it also works great next to lettuce, melons, peas and radish. Avoid planting next to Brassicas or potatoes. Borage is said to improve the growth and flavor of squash. Marigolds and nasturtium help repel many different squash pests. 

Strawberries respond well when coupled with beans, borage, garlic, lettuce, onions, peas, spinach and thyme. Avoid planting next to Brassicas, fennel and kohlrabi. 

Sunflowers are said to increase corn yields when planted next to corn rows. Use sunflowers as a means to attract pollinators to other crops, particularly squash and pumpkins, and any other crop that requires pollinating insects. 

What Can One Say About Tomatoes? This crabby plant is picky when it comes to companion planting, but they do benefit from asparagus, basil, beans, borage, carrots, celery, chives, collards, garlic, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley and peppers.
Do not plant next to dill, Brassicas, corn or kohlrabi. 
Potatoes may spread blight to tomatoes. Do not plant nearby. 
Tomatoes aren’t the best of friends with cucumbers either. They compete for nutrients.

are absolutely smitten with peas, pole beans, bush beans, onions, leeks, chives, and garlic.

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