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Broccoli Companion Plants
Fresh broccoli is generally a joy to grow in the garden. It’s easy to care for and produces little broccoli spears to enjoy with your meals long after the initial head is cut. That said, they’re rather large and prone to those nasty little green broccoli worms – so you may wonder what herbs, flowers, and vegetables will make good companion plants for broccoli.
Full List of Broccoli Companion Plants
The following plants can help with general health and pest control for your broccoli. Most require interplanting, which means a row of the companion in between rows of broccoli, or a mixed row of both broccoli and the companion plant. Remember to give a reasonable amount of space between the rows: broccoli generally need 18 inches of space around them since they grow so large.
Vegetables to Plant with Broccoli
• Beets – Broccoli uses a great deal of calcium from the soil, while beets use very little. They also utilize alternate growing spaces in the garden (most beet growth happens underground, while broccoli concentrate above ground).
• Celery – Planting celery near broccoli is said to improve the broccoli’s flavor.
• Chinese Mustard and Other Mustard Greens – Mustard greens are excellent for keeping harlequin beetles away. For flea beetles, try Chinese mustard.
• Collards – If you struggle with the diamondback moth on broccoli or other brassicas, planting a few sacrificial collards as a trap crop can help. While collards are also part of the brassicas family, the moths prefer laying their eggs on collards as opposed to other varieties, and will thus be more likely to leave your broccoli alone.
• Lettuce, Spinach, and Swiss Chard – Broccoli can help shade leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard, which keeps them from bolting as quickly. Simply plant them 6-8 inches from your broccoli bases.
• Onions, Garlic, and Shallots – Smelly alliums, like onions, garlic, and shallots, make excellent broccoli companion plants! It’s thought that they improve the flavor of broccoli. This is actually my favorite broccoli pairing, and I often plant two rows of onions on either side of a row of broccoli in one bed.
• Potatoes – Potatoes and broccoli don’t compete for nutrients and take up different soil levels in the garden. (Here are a few other potato companions.)
• Radishes – Flea beetles are a common problem for young broccoli, as well as many other garden favorites. Interplanting radishes several weeks before your broccoli can keep them away, since the radish acts as an excellent trap crop.
• Rhubarb – If you have an established rhubarb crop growing, consider planting broccoli nearby. The leafy perennial can deter whiteflies and other brassicas pests. Just be sure to give both plenty of room!
Flowers to Plant Near Broccoli
• Black-Eyed Susans, Cosmos, Zinnias, and other Aster Family Members – Flowers from the aster family can decrease aphid numbers on broccoli by drawing in beneficial insects who eat them.
• Geraniums – Geraniums can help deter cabbageworms and other bad bugs.
• Marigolds – Like many vegetables, broccoli benefit from having pest-defying marigolds nearby.
• Nasturtiums – Nasturtiums are light feeders that provide ground cover without harming your broccoli.
• Snapdragons – Planting bright and cheery snapdragons near your broccoli can keep pests away.
Herbs to Plant Near Broccoli
• Basil – The strong scent of basil can defend against broccoli pests.
• Catnip – Whether you have a cat or not, catnip makes a great broccoli companion plant. Its scent keeps bugs at bay.
• Chamomile – Fragrant chamomile is said to improve the flavor of your broccoli, in addition to attracting pollinators and other helpful insects.
• Dill – Planting dill and broccoli together can prevent cabbageworm buildup.
• Mint – Mint family members can prevent pests.
• Rosemary – Rosemary can help deter cabbage moths and cabbage loopers, two of the most common green broccoli worms.
• Sage – Planting sage near a broccoli crop can keep flea beetles at bay.
• Thyme – Thyme can decrease the number of eggs laid by cabbage moths and cabbage loopers.
What NOT to Plant Next to Broccoli
Some plants should be placed far away from broccoli. Common reasons are because they’re in the same family and can share pests, will compete for nutrients or growing space, or will otherwise stunt your broccoli’s growth.
Vegetables to Avoid with Broccoli
• Asparagus – Asparagus competes for nutrients and sunlight, while broccoli disturbs the asparagus’ delicate root system.
• Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower – Both brussels sprouts and cauliflower are fellow brassicas family members, but unlike a few of the others, they will only attract the same pests and are more likely to share them with each other than act as a trap crop.
• Corn – Corn will take nutrients away from the broccoli, as well as allow too little space and light for the much smaller broccoli to grow.
• Pumpkins and Other Squashes – Pumpkins, along with all their squashy relatives, will compete with broccoli for soil nutrients.
• Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants – These nightshades can harm broccoli growth.
Fruits to Keep Away from Broccoli
• Strawberries – Strawberry plants feed heavily on the same nutrients as broccoli and may share pests with your broccoli plants.
Happy Broccoli Companion Planting!
You now have plenty of great broccoli companion plants to add to your garden roster this spring. Let me know which ones you chose, and how it went, in the comments below!