Pepper Plant Companions
Posted on 02 March 2019
Wondering what to plant with your chile peppers to help them thrive?
Flowers, chives, carrots, radishes, squash, Basil, Parsley, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, cucumbers, eggplant, and onions all do well when grown in close proximity to peppers. Spinach and lettuce are suitable pepper companions because they are low-growing with shallow roots, providing an edible ground cover that helps control weeds. Make sure not to plant things to close to your peppers, so as not to shade or inhibit air circulation – but including lots of flowers, herbs and other vegetables in your garden will help increase your pepper harvest and create a pollinator habitat and healthy ecosystem.
Here are some of our favorite Pepper Plant Companions:
1. Flowers: Planting annual and perennial flowers near your pepper patch is a sure way to invite pollinators to your garden, which, in turn, help boost your pepper harvest. Think: Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Lavender, Golden Rod, Black-Eyed Susans, Alliums, and Geraniums (Geraniums are known to repel Japanese Beetles!) Of course, make sure not to plant them so close to your peppers that these flowers shade your peppers, as peppers like full sun! If you have them nearby, that will be enough.
Attracting Beneficial Insects:
Flowers and herbs also attract beneficial insects like Lacewigs, Ladybugs, and Hoverflies, resulting in their incredible pest-eating larvae that devour aphids, catepillars and other pests of your vegetables.
Learn more about Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects
We like to keep a patch of Nasturtium growing (it reseeds every year if you leave the large seedpods). It's great as the leaves and flowers are edible, it self-sows, and it looks beautiful in the vegetable garden. The bees love Nasturtium, too!
This slightly over-planted pepper garden (yes, we do it, too!) still provides an abundant harvest. Note the Nasturtium growing in the top of the photo.
2. Basil: Basil is a wonderful herb for using in all sorts of recipes, and some people say that it boosts peppers flavor if grown nearby, and it also repels pests such as aphids and spider mites. It's beautiful too, and the pollinators love the blooms! We usually let a few basil plants bloom for the pollinators, and trim and harvest our other basil plants to keep them growing vegetation. Basil is also super easy to grow from seed, we even collected seeds from our basil last year and started them with great success indoors in our seed starter trays.
3. Chives: Chives are great to grow as they come back every year (perennial), and they are also said to improve the flavor and boost pepper yields. They are also super charming in the garden with their edible purple blossoms, which the bees also adore!
5. Coriander and Cilantro: These herbs are great to grow next to Pepper plants, cilantro attracts beneficial insects to gardens while simultaneously it discourages pests such as aphids. Planting cilantro in the shade of pepper plants helps cilantro grow into a lush and bushy plant. Plus, don't worry if it bolts and flowers, the flowers are a huge attractant for pollinators and other beneficial insects, plus, you can save the dried seeds and replant for a never-ending source of Cilantro for your salsas and recipes.
7. Onions: Onions are easy to interplant with other vegetables as they don't take up a lot of room, and they help deter common pests such as aphids, slugs, cabbage worms. Plus, they're great for using the greens and bulbs in salsas, green chile stews, and other recipes.
8. Lettuce: You can grow lettuce in small spaces as an edible living mulch. Lettuce can thrive in the shade of pepper plants in the summer.
12. Squash: You can grow squash near peppers, though make sure not to grow them too close or the large squash leaves could shade your peppers. Squash is great to shade and cut down on weeds in the garden.
16. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are also good companion plants to grow with peppers, and who doesn't like spicy pickles? Hot Peppers and cucumbers can combine to make the best pickles you'll ever eat.
18. Thyme: Thyme is a super easy to grow herb that is low-growing and is perennial (so it comes back better every year!) It also blooms and attracts pollinators out the wazoo. Plus, it's great with all sorts of recipes! You can even harvest Thyme in the winter months, which makes it's a great winter herb.
19. Rosemary Deters Aphids: Which companion plants affect the performance of green peach aphid on host plants? French researchers tested 12 candidate plants under laboratory conditions, and found Rosemary to be one of the best deterrants! Did you know it's super-easy to propogate Rosemary? Just take a snipping of a young stem and put in water, and it will grow roots within a week or two, then plant in soil! Easy peasy. Read more about their study below:
Want to deter aphids? Plant some rosemary throughout the garden, African and French marigolds work well too. A group of French researchers designed an experiment that tested how effective 12 different companion plants were at deterring aphids from infesting a garden. The researchers set up two rows of pepper plants inside 13 individual growing chambers (there were 12 companion plants treatments and one control treatment with no companion plant), and then placed adult female aphids on each plant. Then, the various companion plants were set in between the two rows of pepper plants and allowed to grow alongside each other. Each day, the scientists would count the number of adult females remaining on the pepper plants, and also the number of neonate nymphs (baby aphids) that were produced by the adult female.
During the 12 day experiment, the scientists found that the aphids were more likely to flee from the pepper plants that were near companion plants. The control pepper plants did not lose any aphids, as the bugs were happy in their companion-plant-free environment. They also found that rosemary, lavender, geranium, African marigold, and French marigold significantly decreased the numbers of aphids being reproduced on the pepper leaves. In the end, rosemary outperformed the other companion plants in both deterring aphids, and lowering their reproduction numbers. The scientists attribute this effect to the VOC, or volatile organic compounds, produced by the plants. The VOCs signal to the aphids that the vegetation in a certain area near companion plants is not suitable for rearing young, so encourages the bugs to search on for more reproduction friendly fields.
It looks like a flat of rosemary will be on the planting list for this spring.
Shrubs & Trees for Bees:
You can also plant flowering trees to help the pollinators, early spring-blooming fruit trees are a wonderful first meal for hungry bees when not much else is blooming yet. You can also plant fruiting shrubs such as raspberries, grapes, elderberries, and other flowering plants. Of course, make sure not to plant them too close to your peppers so as not to block the necessary 6+ hours of sun that peppers require to be most productive.
Leave the Leaves!
Rather than strip your garden and flower beds to bare soil over the winter, leave the leaves and even the perennial plant stalks and leaves. By doing this, you create a native bee habitat (most bees nest underground, and mulch helps keep them warm and insulated). Leaving leaves and grass clippings on your garden beds also helps to feed and insulate the soil during the winter months. You'll find that the soil will be rich and moist come spring if you give it a nice thick blanket of mulched leaves and grass clippings. By spring, you'll find that most of the leaves have reduced to near nothing, and you can dig them into the soil to continue to feed for the year. Note: we do usually clear out vegetable plant leaves and stalks at the end of the season, especially if there is any powdery mildew or other diseases or pests.
PLANTS TO AVOID PLANTING WITH PEPPERS:
Use Companion Plants to grow more Peppers
Growing companion plants with Chile Peppers ensures a great harvest! The more different types of plants and flowers you have growing in and around your vegetable and pepper garden, the better your garden will be! While peppers can self-pollinate with wind, having bumblebees, honeybees and other native pollinators give them an extra "buzz" boosts the likelihood of pollination.
Have you heard of Hatch Chiles?
Get some Hatch Green Chile seeds
and grow some New Mexico to your garden.
All of the above companion plants will help your green chiles thrive!