Companion planting is a crucial gardening practice that gives critical support to neighboring plants so they can grow as optimally as possible. For centuries, gardeners studied the effects of growing different adjoining plants to see if they provided each other with mutual benefits. Over time, they learned certain ones helped others grow healthier, provided protection from pests, and produced higher yields.
Pepper growers know that to have a successful growing season, they need to choose the right companion plants for peppers. Knowing which companion plants to grow next to each other is an important step in planning and designing your garden.
We dive into the importance of having hot pepper companion plants, as well as list some of the best varieties that you need to add to your garden!
Why Do Peppers Need Companion Plants?
Pepper growers want to support and protect their plants in order to create natural harmony in their gardens. Using companion plants helps fortify the natural weaknesses and vulnerabilities of pepper plants and increase their growth and production. Some of the benefits of using these plants include:
- Repelling bad insects
- Attracting pollinators and other good insects
- Strengthening the pepper plant and increasing its growth
- Providing ground cover for soil protection
- Providing shade from the sun
- Enhancing soil nutrients for both pepper plants and companion plants
- Enhancing the flavor of peppers
It’s important to note that companion plants aren’t a substitute for important fertilizers and other pepper growing supplies. Gardeners must still follow through with the growing requirements for both pepper plants and their companion plants.
List of Companion Plants for Peppers
Basil is known for promoting beneficial nutrients and adding delicious flavor to all types of food when harvested. Growing this plant is very easy to do, and with different varieties like Anise Basil and Genovese Basil, there are many types with distinctive aromas and flavors to choose from.
With similar growing conditions required, basil makes for great tomato and bell pepper companion plants. Their leaves and foliage attract great pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, while their strong aroma masks the peppers’ aroma and repels insects like thrips and hornworms from destroying these plants. Basil also enhances the soil nutrients for pepper plants and has been suggested to enhance the flavors of the peppers themselves.
Growing Tips for Basil Companion Plants:
- Don’t plant next to certain herbs. While basil enhances the health, production, and flavor of most neighboring plants, some herbs like rue and sage compete with this plant for vital resources when positioned next to each other in your garden
- Keep soil moist. Basil plants flourish with moist soil. 1 inch of water every week at the base of these plants provides the moisture that they need. Too much water will cause these plants to wilt.
- Proper sunlight. Basil plants require 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Luckily, neighboring pepper plants will grow and provide a natural shade for them. Monitor these plants to ensure there is enough sun exposure for both.
Cilantro is another excellent companion pepper plant that’s fast-growing and is a staple in the kitchen, used for both its culinary and health benefits. Cilantro leaves can be harvested within two months of planting and are used mostly for traditional Mexican cuisines, but also for many other types of food.
Cilantro’s unique and pungent fragrance helps mask the smell coming from pepper plants to confuse garden pests. This aroma also attracts beneficial predator insects, like ladybugs and lacewings, to thwart these same pests.
Growing Tips for Cilantro Companion Plants:
- Grow in shady spots. Heat from the sun makes cilantro bolt, or start flowering and producing seed, early due to its short growing cycle. Growing these plants in slightly shadier spots will delay these plants from bolting.
- Pest control for the plant itself. Treat Cilantro with insecticidal soaps that do not affect the plant’s natural aroma. Pests like aphids and leafhoppers are still attracted to Cilantro itself.
Onions provide great pest control to your garden along with their signature use in fresh and cooked foods when harvested. Planting onions around pepper plants has been shown to keep small insects at bay. Their pungent scent confuses aphids, cabbage worms, and even rabbits from the pepper plant’s aroma. Growing onions next to pepper plants also doesn’t affect their growth or siphon away important nutrients that they need. Like basil, onions allegedly improve the peppers’ flavor and production.
Growing Onion Companion Plants:
- Use bolted onions right away. Onions will occasionally bolt, or flower, in stressful conditions. Harvest and use them right away if this happens – they will not store.
Rosemary is another great herb plant to use as a companion plant for peppers. Known for its therapeutic properties, growing rosemary in your garden provides great ground cover that reduces moisture evaporation from the soil. Rosemary also provides protection from the elements such as high winds and heavy rain when it grows tall enough.
Growing Rosemary Companion Plants:
- Needs lots of sun. Rosemary plants don’t perform well without enough sun. Plant them in areas where sun exposure is high.
- Prune for bushier plants. These plants can grow tall and bushy if you let them. Trimming dead or outlying branches will make them grow larger.
- Plant with carrots and onions. Carrots and onions are great companion plants to rosemary that, when planted in the same area, provide a natural barrier for pepper plants.
Carrots cover bare soil similarly to rosemary plants since their leaves grow straight out of the ground. This helps pepper plants retain the necessary moisture needed to grow properly. Since carrots are ground crops, they require different growing needs and won’t compete with pepper plants for nutrients. They also help by suppressing weeds that would take away vital soil nutrients and attract burrowing pests to pepper plants.
Growing Carrot Companion Plants:
- Thin carrot seedlings for larger carrots. After germination, carrot seedlings may grow touching each other. By thinning out any touching seedlings, you allow the remaining plants to grow larger than expected.
- Use lighter, looser soil. This promotes better root development for the carrots. Heavy, dense soil makes it harder for the roots to grow and expand.
Leafy parsley plants are a must-have for your pepper plants, let alone your garden. Harvested for their leaves’ culinary purposes, these plants provide ground cover for bare soil, reduce weed growth, and promote better pepper production from these plants. Harvest both pepper plants and parsley and use together for a spicy combination to any food you want!
Growing Parsley Companion Plants:
- Requires lots of water. Parsley grows the best with consistent moisture. For hearty plants and prolific leaf production, water the soil regularly when dry and add water-soluble plant food as you see fit.
- Beware of insects. Parsleyworms and whiteflies are the main culprits infesting your parsley plants with insects. Treat them with insecticides and watch for signs of burrowing from these pests.
Uses for chamomile date back thousands of years to when growers harvested these flowers for their healing properties. The same can be said for the plants themselves, which provide great nutrients and protection to their neighboring plants. Specifically for pepper plants, chamomile attracts pollinators and repels insects with its sweet scent and provides beneficial soil nutrients and anti-fungal properties that prevent disease from affecting the peppers. Its drought-tolerant nature allows little care on the gardener’s end.
Growing Chamomile Companion Plants:
- Harvest often. Chamomile flowers re-bloom once they’re harvested. Flowers are ready to harvest once the petals start drooping backward.
- Let them g(r)o(w). Don’t over-care these flowers. Too much water or too much fertilizer will weaken these plants and ruin flower production.
Growing thyme next to your pepper plants has a lot of benefits. The Mediterranean herb is known for its ability to attract many different pollinators with its aroma, as well as spread across the ground for great soil protection. Pepper plants near thyme will benefit from its ability to boost the peppers’ flavor and the plant’s defenses from disease.
Growing Thyme Companion Plants:
- Plant around edges of pepper plants. For the most optimal ground cover, planting thyme around the edges of your pepper plants will allow for maximum spread across any exposed soil.
- Drain well. Thyme doesn’t grow well when it has “wet feet.” Control the amount of water these plants receive or have them grow next to other drought-tolerant plants.
Bouquet dill are ground-covering plants harvested for their leaves that convert into a great-tasting spice. They mitigate any evaporation of moisture from nearby soil and produce an insect-repellant aroma that protects companion pepper plants. Like other herbs, dill is said to boost the flavors of the peppers by providing essential nutrients through the shared soil.
Growing Dill Companion Plants:
- Plant dill where it’s protected from wind. The whimsy, hollow stalks of dill plants will easily blow away if exposed to an area that receives the brunt of wind.
Many growers debate whether to use tomatoes as companion plants for peppers. The truth is that tomatoes and peppers are from the same genetic family (Solanaceae) and have similar growing requirements. This makes it a little easier for gardeners to manage these crops and grow neighboring companion plants nearby.
Growing Tomato Companion Plants:
- Give plants plenty of space to grow. Tomato plants typically grow taller than most pepper plants and require a lot of surface area in a garden to grow properly.
- Rotate crops each year. Changing up where you plant your tomatoes and peppers each year will keep your soil rich and prevent any harmful bacteria and other pathogens from developing.
- Plant disease-resistant plants nearby. Since tomatoes and peppers are genetically similar, they are susceptible to similar pests. Therefore, if you grow disease-resistant or pest-resistant plants near one of these plants, the other is more than likely to benefit from it as well.
Other Gardening Tips
Growing peppers doesn’t need to be too challenging. Our General Gardening Tips & Guides provide all the information you need when it comes to setting up your garden from start to finish. We also have our Gardening Tips FAQ page to answer any questions you come across when planting your pepper seeds.
Be sure to check out our Grow With Joe video series for how-to guides on growing and caring for pepper plants:
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