Companion plants not only add a zing of colour to your vegetable patch, they also help to improve its overall health and yield. By including companion plants you are working with nature, creating a natural eco-system in your vegetable garden.
Why companion plants are good for your vegetable patch
- Attract beneficial insects such as ladybirds and lacewings that will naturally feast on pests.
- Attract more pollinators that will also visit your vegetable flowers, increasing yield.
- Deter pests such as aphids and whitefly away from your crops.
- Stop the need for harmful, chemical sprays.
- Help wildlife.
Our favourite companion plants for the vegetable garden
There are many companion plants that you can include in your vegetable garden that will help to improve its overall health, below are our favourites and the reasons why.
Calendula, Calendula officinalis. French name: Le souci officinal.
Both pollinators and aphids find Calendula flowers highly attractive which means they can be used in your vegetable plot in two different ways. Planted close to the likes of your courgette plants, Calendula will help to attract bees to the area to pollinate their flowers. Planted near to your peas and beans, Calendula will help to attract aphids away from these crops. As a bonus, Calendula is also highly attractive to hoverflies, who in turn love to feast on aphids. It’s an all round perfect flower for the vegetable garden!
Bright yellow or orange in colour, Calendula grow to about 45cm in height, and flower from June – October.
You can read more about Calendula is our earlier blog
French Marigold, Tagetes patula. French name: L’œillet d’Inde
Whilst great for attracting pollinators to your vegetable flowers, the strong scent of Marigolds will also deter many damaging pests such as greenfly and blackfly away from your vegetables.
Available in vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, Tagetes patula reach a height of about 25cm. They flower from spring through to the first frosts.
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus. French name: La Capucine
Nasturtium can be grown as both an edible and sacrificial crop. Having wonderful, peppery tasting flowers, Nasturtium can be grown and added to salads. They are equally wonderful at keeping caterpillars away from your cabbages. Plant them next to cabbages and cabbage white butterflies will lay their eggs on the Nasturtium plants rather than your cabbages. As aphids and blackfly equally love Nasturtium they are a great plant to attract these pests away from your peas and beans.
Nasturtium are available in various shades of cream, yellow, orange, red and burgundy. They can either be left to creep through your borders or trained to climb up a trellis or garden obelisk.
Borage, Borago officinalis. French name: Bourrache
Both the leaves and the beautiful bright blue flowers of the Borage plant are edible. They have a subtle cucumber flavour. Bees adore Borage flowers. Plant this in your potager and you’ll have pollinators galore visiting your vegetables.
Borage flowers from April to November and grows to a height of 90cm. You can read more about Borage in our earlier blog.
Cosmos, Cosmos bipinnatus. French name: Cosmos
Cosmos are loved not only by bees but also by lacewings. Lacewings, particularly during their larvae stage, are very beneficial for your vegetable plot as they will feast on mountains of aphids and other soft-bodied pests. If you can attract lacewings to your vegetable plot, you’re well on your way to having happy, healthy vegetables!
Available in white, pink, red, yellow and orange, Cosmos flowers profusely from June to November. They grow to a height of about 60cm.
Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. French name: Lavande
You’re led to believe that everyone loves the scent of lavender, well apparently not! Ticks, mice, fleas and whitefly are among those who find lavender quite repellent! Whilst lavender will attract butterflies and bees to your vegetable plot it is equally the perfect plant to act as a general pest repellent.
Lavender flowers during the summer months and grows to a height of 30cm.
Sunflower, Helianthus. French name: Tournesol
Big, bright, bold and full of pollen for bees and other pollinators. Plant sunflowers in your vegetable plot and they will add height, structure, and attract pollinators to your vegetable flowers. At the end of the season, the heads can be dried and hung out for the birds to feed on during the autumn months. Sunflowers are the perfect wildlife feeding station!
Sunflowers flower from July to September, and grow to a height of, well…30cm – 3m! The choice is yours!
Sweet Pea, Lathyrus odoratus. French name: Pois de Senteur
Bursting with fragrance, Sweet Peas are a great way to attract pollinators to your vegetable garden. Plant them among your peas and beans to help attract pollinators to your crops and to add a zing of continual colour.
With regular picking Sweet Peas will flower from late spring until the first frosts.
For more information about growing Sweet Peas, please read our earlier blog
Zinnia, Zinnia elegans. French name: Zinnia
Bursting with colour, Zinnia are fabulously rich in nectar and are a magnet for bees and other pollinators.
Available is just about every colour under the sun, Zinnia will flower endlessly from July through to autumn. They grow to a height of about 60cm.
Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima. French name: L’Alysson Maritime or Corbeille d’Argent
Sweet Alyssum has a lovely, sweet fragrance and produces masses of flowers. It will attract not only pollinators to the vegetable plot but also ladybirds and lacewings who will devour aphids.
A low growing, bushy annual or perennial, Sweet Alyssum is available in white, pale pink or purple and grows to about 25cm. It would look stunning around the borders of your vegetable plot.
We’re delighted that Sweet Alyssum is one of the types of seeds included in our plantable greeting cards!
These are our favourite companion plants for the vegetable garden. The question now is, if we grow all these, will we actually have any space left for vegetables?!
We’d love to know which flowers you grow in your vegetable garden and why. Please do share by adding your comments to the box below