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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.
8 Companion Plants to Grow With Parsley
Parsley’s potential as a companion plant is best realized when you allow it to flower. Like other members of the carrot family (such as fennel and parsnip), parsley’s flowers are attractive to pollinators like the black swallowtail butterfly. Parsley flowers also attract the braconid wasp—which preys on common pests like armyworms, cabbage worms, codling moths, and gypsy moths—and the tachinid fly—which preys on cutworms, sawflies, and cabbage loopers. Plants that make good companions for parsley include:
- Asparagus: Asparagus and parsley are great companions. When planted together, asparagus and parsley encourage each other’s growth, and parsley repels the asparagus beetle. Asparagus plants do not produce for most of the year, so planting parsley in between rows of asparagus makes good use of the space.
- Corn: Corn is vulnerable to corn earworms, cutworms, and armyworms. Flowering parsley will attract parasitic wasps and tachinid flies, which hunt these and other types of worms.
- Tomatoes: Parsley attracts hoverflies, which prey on aphids that can attack tomato plants. You can also use parsley as a trap crop to lure aphids away from your tomatoes. Not all varieties of tomatoes do well with parsley, so research your specific varieties carefully.
- Apples and pears: The fruits of both apple and pear trees are vulnerable to codling moths, and gypsy moths feed on the leaves of apple trees. Both types of moths are prey for the braconid wasp, which is attracted to parsley flowers.
- Beans: Like corn and other crops, pole beans and bush beans are vulnerable to cutworms. The tachinid fly, which is drawn to parsley, is a natural predator of these pests.
- Roses: Parsley repels rose beetles and attracts hoverflies, which prey on aphids that can overtake roses. Roses are also vulnerable to sawflies, which the tachinid fly attacks.
- Peppers: Peppers are vulnerable to corn earworms, aphids, armyworms, and beetles, all of which flowering parsley can help deter.
- Brassicas: Cabbage worms and cutworms can do major damage to brassicas (plants like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale). Parsley flower attracts beneficial insects that prey on these worms.
4 Plants to Keep Away From Parsley
There are a few plants that do not do well with parsley.
- Alliums: Garlic, onions, shallots, and other alliums can stunt the growth of parsley.
- Lettuce: When planted too close to lettuce, parsley can cause lettuce to bolt (go to seed) too early in the growing season.
- Mint: Mint has spreading roots that can overtake other plants, including parsley. Plant mint in an isolated area, away from other aromatic herbs.
- Carrots: Carrots and parsley are in the same family, and they both attract the carrot root flies. Parsley and carrots can also cross-pollinate, which can be an issue for seed-saving. Try planting carrots with leeks or sage instead.
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