Companion Planting Guide

Companion planting is a great way to repel insects, attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden, along with helping to improve soil fertility. It also offers spatial benefits, for example, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may share space with lower-growing, shade tolerant plants.

By grouping plants together they become mutually beneficial, creating an ecosystem within the garden for plants to thrive. 

COMMON COMPANION PLANTS:

Flowers

  • Some plants are grown as sacrificial plants. Nasturtium for example, attracts caterpillars, aphids and whitefly, so planting it alongside or around vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, beans and tomatoes will protect them. The adult insects will lay their eggs on the nasturtium leaves instead. The nasturtium plant can be pulled while the eggs are at a junior stage to rid the garden of this cycle, catching it before they become a problem.
  • Plant marigolds close to crops that suffer from aphids and greenfly. Marigolds emit a scent that repels aphids and attracts hoverflies, which are a predator of aphids.
  • Marigolds are also effective against soil nematodes, but need to be grown over a whole season to get a cumulative build-up in the soil.
  • Lavender, marigold, rosemary and feverfew (pyrethrum daisy) are good repellent plants for the flower and vege garden to deter mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks. 
  • Certain flowers can also be grown near edible crops to attract insects for pollination. Bee friendly plants include: calendula, marigolds, sunflowers, poppies, clover, nasturtiums, Queen Anne’s Lace, echinacea, borage and purple tansy (phaecelia).
  • Garlic planted among roses will help deter aphids.

Plant flowers in Tui Rose & Shrub mix, a specialty planting mix containing potassium to enhance flower production and seaweed extract to promote strong root development, prevent root disorders and encourage plant vigour. Feed with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser – a slow release fertiliser providing a sustained release of easy-to-absorb nitrogen, to keep your flowers blooming.

Herbs

Fragrant herbs are not only great to use fresh in cooking, but also great companion plants. Add them to your flower beds and vege patch between crops. 

  • Sage is a great herb to plant around celery crops as it helps keep aphids away.
  • Hyssop deters white cabbage butterfly from brassicas such as broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts.
  • Basil improves the flavour of tomatoes when planted alongside. Basil can also be planted alongside capsicums.
  • Basil, mint, spearmint, tansy and sweet woodruff help deter flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.
  • Borage attracts pollinators to the garden when flowering, it is also a natural source of potassium, calcium and minerals. Plant alongside strawberries.
  • Companion herbs can help improve soil structure and fertility. Comfrey has a deep penetrating tap-root that opens up the soil structure and improves drainage. Comfrey leaves are a natural source of potassium, when cut and laid on top of the soil, the leaves enrich the soil and so are beneficial to hearting, flowering and fruiting plants. The leaves can be steeped in water and used to make a comfrey tea, this can be applied as a liquid feed for garden plants.

Plant herbs in Tui Herb Mix a free draining planting mix, rich in nitrogen to promote green, leafy growth and continuous harvesting. Feed your herbs with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Vegetables

  • Celery keeps white cabbage butterfly away as they don't like the smell of it. Celery is a great companion for brassicas and beans, plant one celery plant to every six plants.
  • Grow carrots and leeks together. Both have strong scents that drive away each other’s pests.
  • Asparagus, basil, carrots, celery and parsley are ideal companion plants for tomatoes to help each other grow. Tomatoes are also compatible with chives and onion.
  • Nitrogen fixing peas and beans improve soil fertility. Plant brassicas and sweetcorn where beans have been growing the previous season.
  • Sweetcorn does well planted with potatoes, peas, beans and squash.

Plant vegetables in Tui Vegetable Mix, a high quality natural-based planting mix containing the right blend of nutrients to provide your veges with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season. Fertilise every four weeks during key growth periods with Tui Vegetable Food, a rich formulation of fertilisers including dolomite, blood and bone and powdered sheep manure designed to encourage healthy vegetable growth and improve soil structure.

Use plants to encourage good bugs which in turn eat the bad bugs. Plant a mixture of flowers and herbs amongst vegetables and fruit trees to encourage a healthy diversity of insects to move into the garden.

 

Top Tips

  • Crop rotation is important and goes hand in hand with companion planting. Avoid growing tomatoes and potatoes in the same space each season as they are from the same family and susceptible to the same pests and diseases.
  • Make sure companions are planted at the same time as your edible crops to prevent insects from taking over the vege patch.
  • Grow plants in the same conditions as they enjoy. Plants that enjoys hot and dry conditions and a free draining soil won't thrive in cool moist conditions with a moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter.

View a companion planting table here.

Excerpts taken with permission from The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden by Sally Cameron and The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden 3rd Ed. by Rachel Vogan. Published by Penguin Books. Copyright © Penguin Books 2009 & 2012

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Companion Planting Guide Comments

  • liked your guide on companion planting last season so i am using it this season to the max

    gavin northover

    • That's wonderful to hear Gavin. Thanks for your feedback and happy spring gardening!

      Tui Team

  • Thank you for the info on companion planting. Will give it a go in my vege patch. 👌🏽

    angela

  • Thanks for this useful and easy to follow companion planting guide. I'm going to try to more of this type of planting this season (:

    Cath Walker

    • Thanks for your feedback Cath! :)

      Tui Team

  • I am a beginner gardener and would like to start a veggie garden would like to know where to start, how to start and when to start

    Raewyn

    • Hi Raewyn, thanks for getting in touch. It's fantastic to hear you are interested in starting your own vege garden and discovering the joy of 'growing your own'. We can definitely help with that. Spring is the ideal time to start a vege patch as the soil warms and there are loads of vege options to choose from. Soil preparation, planting crops at the right time of year, and growing what you like to eat are key considerations. Then once your veges are planted, watering and feeding is important. To get you started we have a helpful guide here: Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening which is a great place to start, along with our handy Planting Calendar which tells you when to plant crops in your region of New Zealand. We also have a large range of crop specific guides to help you get growing. Feel free to touch base with any specific garden questions you have. Enjoy and happy gardening ^Tui Team

      Tui Team

  • fantastic guide, so excited to my new found knowledge to action

    Charisse Huntley

  • Planting Guide was very helpful. Will follow the guide carefully. Cheers

    Sue Truman

  • Your guide is full of useful information. Am growing some crocus sativus, can I grow anything on top of the bulbs, as they are dormant over summer? With Thanks.

    Erika

    • Hi Erika, it depends where your crocus sativus is planted, but you don't want anything that has deep penetrating roots that you need to dig up at the end of the season as crocus should be left undisturbed for 3-4 years, then dug up and the smaller corms replanted. Flowering starts to reduce after 3-4 years. You can plant anything that enjoys the same growing conditions as crocus - a free draining soil in full sun. Consider planting edible flowers such as violas, sweet peas or nasturtium which can easily be removed without disturbing the soil too much once flowering has finished. Place garden mulch over your crocus for winter.

      Lianne, Tui Team