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What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a time-tested gardening method that enriches and protects vulnerable crops. Farmers and gardeners plant specific crops near each other in order to deter pests, attract beneficial insects, and stimulate growth.
What Are the Benefits of Companion Planting?
Companion plants will either help a specific crop grow or will grow better beside a specific crop, and can do many support jobs in the garden:
- Repel insect pests. Cabbage worms, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, carrot flies, cabbage moths—all kinds of pests can plague vegetable gardens. Many companion plants (like marigold flowers, catnip, and rue) repel specific pests and should be planted near certain crops to keep them pest-free.
- Attract beneficial insects. Pollinators like bees and ladybugs can use a little encouragement to visit vegetable gardens and pollinate the crops. Gardeners often plant attractive plants like borage flowers to encourage pollinators to visit.
- Improve soil nutrients. When crops grow, they take up valuable nutrients from the soil—leaving the gardener to do a lot of work at the end of the season to renew the soil’s nutrients. However, there are many companion plants (like bush beans and pole beans) that add nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil, helping keep other plants healthy.
- Encourage faster growth and better taste. Many companion plants (like marjoram, chamomile, and summer savory) release specific chemicals that encourage faster growth or better taste in the plants around them.
- Provide ground cover. Plants that spread low across the ground (like oregano) serve as a blanket over the soil, protecting it from the sun and keeping it cooler for plants that benefit from lower temperatures.
- Provide necessary shade. Plants that grow tall and leafy (like zucchini and asparagus) can provide welcome shade for sun-sensitive plants beneath them.
- Serve as markers. When growing slow-growing plants, it can be difficult to tell where the rows will be while you’re waiting for the seeds to sprout. Gardeners often use fast-growing plants (like radishes) interspersed with the slow growers in their rows to delineate where the slow growers will be.
5 Companion Plants to Grow With Lavender
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common variety of lavender plant. This variety is widely cultivated for its lavender oil. Mediterranean varietals like Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and French lavender (Lavandula dentata) are less common lavender varieties that are widely cultivated for potpourri and essential oils. Lavender prefers full sun and has many companion plants that can protect it from pests and stimulate its growth. Plants that are particularly good companion plants for lavender include:
- Herbs: Basil and oregano increase the vitality and growth of nearby lavender plants by repelling aphids and various species of flies.
- Brassicas: Edging cabbage and cauliflower patches with lavender is one way to repel harmful insects like moths, which like to lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.
- Echinacea: Echinacea is even more drought-tolerant than lavender, making it an excellent draw for pollinators when planted alongside lavender.
- Alliums: Like lavender, the strong scent of alliums has a distracting effect on insects and pests, making them natural companion plants in any garden.
- Fruit trees: Lavender bushes attract the populations of bees that fruit trees require for pollination, but it also repels pests like the codling moth, which targets apple trees.
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