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Plants need friends too: Consider companion gardening

By Phyllis Price Master Gardener

Companion gardening is very similar to the way individuals react with each other. Have you ever met someone to whom you knew you had an instant connection? Conversely, there are people that cause the sensation like scratching a blackboard or getting on your last nerve? Companion gardening is a great way to learn about plants that either work well together or cannot function and do more harm than good.

According to “Companion Planting Guide” published in the Feb. 10, 2019 issue of Farmer’s Almanac, there are multiple benefits for using companion planting. A few of those are “shade regulation, natural supports, improved plant health, healthy soil, and weed” control. While different plants can be beneficial, how does this symbiotic relationship work?

In vegetable gardens, “some plants, especially herbs act as natural insect repellents.” The odors they emit can confuse different insects. This can be beneficial since it will not encourage a host of harmful insects and will actually discourage their dinner parties on the plants they love. A few good companion plants can be flowers such as the marigold which are good for almost any vegetable grown. They are known to repel insects which are harmful to plants and when turned under into the soil, they are known to also repel other harmful pests such as nematodes.

In addition, herbs while grown for their addition to cooking, can also serve as a deterrent to pests. “Dill and basil planted among tomatoes can protect from tomato hornworms” which can decimate a tomato plant overnight and are camouflaged by their green color. The only way to find the culprit is by searching for stripped branches and/or their dropping trail.

Although there are many great pairings of flowers or herbs into your vegetable garden, there are several that simply do not work. One example is while “white onions and garlic repel [many] pests, they stunt the growth of beans and peas” according to the article.

Consider the benefits of companion gardening and consult the online article for more extensive suggestions for using companion gardening to benefit your production.

For more information, call the AgriLife office at 498-4071 in Odessa or at 686-4700 in Midland or visit or


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