The Q&A Archives: Planting Strawberries with Onions

Question: My father-in-law insists that in Flordia, he sees strawberries that are planted alongside of onions. He asked me to "type this question on my thing-a-ma-jig" to you. Why do they plant strawberries with onions, is it for insect control? Would this method work in mid-Michigan?

Answer: Strawberries and onions are said by some garden exerts to be good companions. Your suggestion of pest control may be one reason. Another is that strawberries are tap-rooted plants, and onions have very shallow roots, so they don't compete much for nutrients and moisture. I'm not sure why the particular growers in Florida use this technique, but could ask our regional expert from the area to get back to you.

If you are trying to protect your strawberries from pests, you can try planting onions to repel them. Generally, though, once insects locate plants, onion and garlic scent won't deter them. They must be in place before the pests find the plants. You can try to protect your strawberries with fabric row covers supported on wire hoops, but be sure to lift the cover in the early morning for pollinators to get access to the blooms. Best of luck!

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