Better together: tips on companion planting

Companion planting is the practice of growing plants together to benefit each other, whether by attracting pollinating insects, deterring pests like aphids or slugs, or improving plant health and flavour. Although the jury’s still out on the science behind companion planting, there’s no doubt that it improves biodiversity, and it’s fun to do. Try it for yourself and see what works for you.


Poached Eggplant and beePlants that deter pests

While companion planting isn’t a magic solution to garden pests and diseases, plants with a strong scent do seem to help deter pests that find plants by smell.

  • Spring onions, leeks or mint planted near carrots can help throw carrot fly off the scent
  • Chives planted under roses help to deter aphids
  • The scent of French marigolds can deter whitefly

Sometimes just the physical presence of a plant helps to distract pests. Nasturtiums are often planted as a sacrificial crop, drawing aphids and slugs away from other plants. They’re also good at attracting cabbage white butterflies to lay eggs on them, rather than on brassicas like broccoli and kale.


Helping hands

Sometimes it’s just better to be together, and it’s true for plants as well as people. A good example of this is the classic planting combination of sweetcorn, climbing beans and courgettes. The big courgette leaves shade the roots of the sweetcorn, reducing water loss from the soil and discouraging weeds. The beans use the stems of the corn as supports to climb up, and like all beans, they fix nitrogen into the soil where the other plants can make use of it.

A clump of tall sturdy Jerusalem artichokes makes an excellent windbreak to protect smaller plants, as well as providing shade for crops like lettuce that do best out of the full glare of the sun. (But do dig up Jerusalem artichoke tubers each autumn, otherwise, they can spread and become invasive)


What to plant together

Planting pollinator-friendly flowering plants among your vegetables is one of the easiest ways to improve your crop. The fabulously-named Poached Eggplant (Limnanthes douglasii) attracts bees to pollinate flowers, plus ladybirds and hoverflies to tackle aphids – and it looks gorgeous too. Calendula, lavender, candytuft and coriander are also very popular with pollinators.

Basil is said to improve the flavour of tomatoes, peppers and lettuce when planted nearby, and the scent of the leaves attracts aphids away from other plants.  Planting the annual herb summer savory together with green beans is another companion gardening classic – the scent of the summer savory deters blackfly, and the two plants make a great mealtime combination too.

Companion planting is well worth trying, no matter how big or small your garden.  And with plenty of advice and plants available at our garden centre, now’s the perfect time to try some combinations of your own!

You might also be interested in:

Top 5 things to store for your winter supply

When the colder days approach, along with harsher weather conditions and the garden goes to sleep for a short time, you may want to stay home some days in the warm with your feet up and watch a movie. It does mean, however, that you will need to think ahead to what food you will need over the winter months that you can gather from the garden or allotment now. This is a great time of year to start storing lots of fresh food to use up the produce you’ve grown and still enjoy it all winter long. 

How to make a bee-friendly garden?

Bees are big news these days, and we all know how much we need them. But what with climate change, pesticide use, disease and loss of habitat, bees face a lot of challenges at the moment. Luckily, there are plenty of things we can do as gardeners to make life better for our bees.

Home trend: growing Ivy indoors

It’s so easy growing Ivy indoors with little care needs and so many varieties to choose from, you can really play with where you grow Ivy in the home and also the different pots and ways to display it. Since Ivy is so versatile, it can be grown in any room indoors and in plenty of fun ways to soften room decor and be aesthetically very pleasing. Whilst some people prefer not to grow it outside as it can take over, Ivy is actually a great source of food and shelter for wildlife so it’s an essential plant for both inside and outside. 

3 x cosy summer night DIY ideas

We have some cool DIY ideas for cosy summer nights. If it has been really hot outside, it is great to cool down during the evening or if the weather has taken a turn for the worse there is nothing like being indoors and creating something fun for yourself or your family and friends to enjoy outside when the weather warms up. From Hygge methods in the garden and soothing lights and accessories, there is always something fun to create with a little cosy twist. We hope you enjoy these great ideas.