The Q&A Archives: Grouping Plants

Question: I am looking for the appropriate phrase in gardening which refers to selecting plants that help or compliment each other. That is to say, by planting corn and watermelon together, they help each other grow. I wish to plant several kinds of vegetables in a small plot and would like a list of vegetables that help each other grow. Could you tell me the phrase or word that decribes this kind of planting?

Answer: Companion planting is the term generally used when you mix plants with similar cultural needs. Companion plants can have different leaf textures, growth habits, and flower colors, but they will all have similar sunlight and water needs. When you choose plants that help each other grow, it's called a 'symbiotic' relationship. Examples include Marigolds to repel nematodes, and mint plants near cabbage to repel cabbage worms. Other examples are: basil among tomatoes to repel tomato hornworm, thyme with cabbage to control flea beetles, horseradish with potatoes to repel Colorado potato beetles, radishes or nasturtiums with cucumbers to control cucumber beetles, or alternating rows of corn with snap beans to enhance the growth of corn. There are a number of suggestions in the book "Organic Gardening", published by Rodale Press. ISBN# 0-87857-999-0 Your library may have a copy.

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