What herbs and vegetables grow well together in containers?
In a lot of ways, plants are just like people. That includes how they relate to neighbors.
Some human neighbors make life better with a smile and wave, keeping an eye on your place while you’re out of town, peace and quiet. Others put us on edge with endless leaf blowing, barking dogs …
Sounds annoying, right? Well veggies are just like us. Give them good neighbors and they’ll be a lot happier, healthier and productive.
While there isn’t a ton of scientific evidence behind companion planting theories, anecdotally farmers and gardeners have long believed some plants pair better than others.
Many believe that companion plants can:
- Help plants produce more
- Keep pests away
- Encourage pollination
- Maintain ideal moisture levels
- Enhance soil nutrients
There are no guaranteed outcomes, but companion planting is a space-saving way to enhance your plants’ environment.
Read on for companion planting ideas for your container vegetable garden!
6 veggie and herb combinations that grow well together in containers
Tomatoes, basil and parsley
Tomatoes and herbs like basil and parsley are a perfect example of companion plants:
- They like the same soil and water conditions.
- Their size and space needs make it possible to combine in tight spaces.
- Basil repels insects that commonly bother tomatoes, including flies, whiteflies, aphids and hornworms.
- Tall tomato plants can provide partial shade for basil, which the herb likes in the heat of summer.
Tomatoes and chives
This is another classic companion plant combination. Chive is a member of the allium family, related to garlic and onions (two more tomato besties).
- Same reasons as basil and parsley above …
- And chives repel aphids and can enhance the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.
Salad greens, chives and herbs
Lettuce, spinach and other salad greens generally do well with herbs.
- For one thing, their root systems are shallow and can thrive in smaller containers than larger vegetables.
- They also generally have similar nutrition, sun and water needs.
- Chives and herbs like thyme and oregano can also repel pests.
Beans and squash
Ever heard of the Three Sisters? Beans, corn and squash are three staple vegetables that have been grown together for thousands of years. Our friends at the Farmer’s Almanac tell the story really well.
While corn is not as commonly grown in containers, beans and squash can easily be grown together in large pots.
Squash includes summer squash like zucchini, crookneck and patty pan. Winter squash varieties include pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash.
Beans are nitrogen fixers, meaning they take nitrogen from the air and deposit it in the soil. This benefits the squash, which has heavy nitrogen needs for producing long vines and fruit.
- Squash serves as a natural mulch for beans, holding in moisture and nutrients.
- Both beans and squash are available in vining and bush varieties. Choose one of each, for example bush beans and a vining summer squash variety like little gem squash. This will make the most of your container and deck space.
Okra, lettuce and basil
If you’re in the south or another warm climate, you should really consider growing okra in your container garden. It’s a unique, highly productive addition to your other herbs and vegetables. Lettuce and herbs like basil make good neighbors for tall, lanky okra.
- Okra sets down a long taproot and grows as high as 4 to 6 feet tall, providing partial shade for lettuce and basil. They like full sun but can benefit from a breather mid-day in the hottest part of the summer.
- Lettuce and basil both have shallower root systems that don’t compete with okra.
- Basil, like other herbs, is known to repel many pests and is an all-around good companion plant for many vegetables.
Cucumbers, oregano and dill
While sprawling cucumber vines can make them a challenge in smaller container gardens, they’re possible to grow when trellised and can benefit from close planting to oregano and dill.
- Oregano repels many pests due to its pungent oil.
- Dill attracts beneficial insects.
- The root systems are complementary – cucumbers and oregano with more shallow roots, dill with a deeper taproot.
5 sets of veggies to AVOID planting together in containers
Just as there are good combinations, there are also some to avoid. So what veggies DON’T do well together?
Tomatoes and peppers
These two are part of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes and eggplant. That means they’re susceptible to the same diseases (like blight) and give common pests like hornworms an attractive place to set up shop.
Carrots, okra, and dill
All three produce a taproot, which makes for crowded containers and competition for nutrition.
Beans and onions
These tend to stunt each others’ growth when planted nearby.
Lettuce and cabbage
Members of the brassica family, such as cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts, produce a secretion from their roots that can inhibit lettuce growth.
To learn more about some of the herbs mentioned here, check out these related articles:
Companion planting can help your veggies grow well in pots and containers.
They can help boost production, repel pests and attract beneficial bugs. In those tight spaces, beneficial neighbors are a good thing to hav