Eggplant is a delicious vegetable that grows easily in many different climates. It thrives in hot, humid summers, and can produce dozens of pounds of eggplants in a single season. The fruit is sometimes prone to pest attacks, so it’s an excellent candidate to use companion plant methods on. Let’s talk more about eggplant companion plants that will help it grow better.
There are many different benefits from planting different crops near eggplant. Some herbs can repel pests, while other plants benefit from the same care as eggplant. By attracting pollinators, you may get more fruit. Growing eggplant is easy when you let companion plants help you.
Let’s explore the benefits of companion planting, and which plants you might want to plant or avoid planting around your eggplant!
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting in the garden is both an ancient art form and a modern science. Some plants emit chemicals or signals that may interfere with or increase the growth of their neighbor. Others act as “trap” crops, drawing in pests to feed on their leaves, while protecting your main plant. Some companion plants can help improve the health or flavor of the plants by releasing natural chemicals into the soil.
Other reasons for companion planting include low lying or groundcover plants that reduce weeds and nutrient competition and shade the soil, plants that use other plants as a trellis to grow on, and tall plants that can provide shade for other more tender plants. Specific plants like legumes are known for fixing nitrogen in the soil, and are beneficial companions to heavy feeders.
Some companion plants can attract pollinators that help pollinate the plants in the garden. This creates a better habitat that helps crops produce more fruit. It also conserves space and helps maximize production. As science continues to demonstrate why companion planting works, many of these benefits continue to assist gardeners in growing their best harvests.
Good Eggplant Companion Plants
Now let’s talk about which plants make good companion plants for eggplant!
First, there are herbs which can improve the flavor of eggplant and protect it from pests. Oregano can repel aphids, cabbage moths, and spider mites because it has a strong smell. It also attracts beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs. You should plant thyme to deter garden moths with its scent, and protect your eggplant from aphids. French tarragon will draw away pests that will otherwise attack eggplant.
Many strongly scented herbs will repel insect attacks and make great companions for eggplant, including rosemary, chamomile, lavender, sage, dill, marjoram, and catnip. When planting catnip with eggplant, be sure to avoid planting it by peas and green beans, since catnip negatively affects their growth and development.
Mints like peppermint and spearmint are both good companion plant types to plant around eggplants because they reduce the numbers of flea beetles. Just remember that all mints can rapidly become invasive if not kept in check!
Flowers can also be beneficial companions to eggplant. Marigolds attract many pollinators, and their scent can deter some harmful pests, such as flea beetles. Marigolds, nasturtium, snapdragons, and sunflowers will all deter aphids, white flies, flea beetles, and ants, while adding beauty to your garden.
Nasturtium can be planted around eggplant both as a groundcover to block weeds from germinating, and as a trap crop, since it can be sacrificed to the insects instead of the eggplant itself. Aphids love nasturtiums, so growing nasturtium flowers with your eggplants can attract aphids away from your eggplant and towards the Nasturtiums. Another flower, borage, is a useful companion plant that attracts beneficial insects and deters worms.
Many leafy greens make excellent companion plants for eggplant, since eggplants are tall plants that can provide shade during hot days. Spinach will benefit from the shade of eggplant and can create a groundcover to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
Edible ground cover is another way to grow more crops in a smaller space. Kohlrabi can deter aphids, flea and cabbage beetles. Swiss chard and most low-growing leafy greens, like radishes, can be planted near eggplants as a companion vegetable.
Amaranth also makes a great eggplant companion because they have similar growing conditions, but make sure to give them plenty of space to grow and avoid casting shade on each other. Eggplant needs full sun for optimal growth and flowering.
Growing cabbage with eggplant will attract the flea beetle to the cabbage, since they prefer the taste of the leaves over eggplants.
In addition to adding fertility to your garden soil, planting green beans (either bush beans or pole, your choice) in the garden can repel Colorado potato beetles. Colorado potato beetles can feed on the leaves of your eggplant and make it difficult to grow. The potato beetle can also become tolerant of insecticides, so plants that help deter this pest can make your eggplant crop more successful. Just be sure that your green beans won’t shade out the eggplant, which requires full sun, since pole beans can become quite tall.
Lentils and peas are also helpful to grow with eggplants, as they’re members of the legume family with similar nutrient-fixing skills as beans. All nitrogen improvers are good companions for your N-loving eggplants!
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, and can also be planted with other nightshades, since they have similar requirements. Popular nightshades to grow with eggplant include peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. It doesn’t matter if they’re hot peppers or mild peppers, both can grow nearby.
One downside to growing members of the same family together is that pests attracted to one member of the family will likely attack all other members of the family as well, so plants may be more vulnerable to an insect attack when planted with other members of the same family in the garden. Plants of the same family, such as tomatoes, will also require similar nutrients from the soil, so be sure to practice good crop rotation or fertilize regularly so you don’t deplete your soil over time.
What Not To Plant With Eggplant
Do not plant fennel near your eggplant. Fennel inhibits growth in many plants, including eggplant.
Geraniums can host diseases that also affect eggplant such as leaf blight and root rot, so it is best to avoid planting them with eggplant.
You should also avoid heavy feeding plants that will compete with eggplant for nutrients. For example, corn and eggplant are both vegetables that need a lot of fertilizer. Corn is not specifically harmful to eggplant, but you might not want to deplete the soil near your eggplant.
Additionally, avoid planting eggplant near allelopathic trees, such as black walnut, which inhibits growth and germination underneath it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I plant tomatoes and eggplant together?
A: Yes! Tomatoes and eggplant are both members of the nightshade family and have similar growing requirements. Just be sure to give them both plenty of room, and lots of compost or organic matter.
Q: Can I plant zucchini and eggplant together?
A: No. Eggplant and zucchini are heavy feeders, and will compete for nutrients in the soil. Although zucchini isn’t a specifically harmful vegetable, it could shade out the plant and isn’t the best choice.