Stepping out to your garden beds to harvest bell peppers for salsa, or padrón peppers to grill, will make all the garden labor worth it! Packed with antioxidants and other health benefits, this favorite summer plant adds color and spice to homemade meals. Peppers like full sun, but in cooler climates, peppers can be planted in pots in a greenhouse or placed indoors near a sunny window. Growing peppers in pots is a great option if you don’t have the conditions to grow a full crop of peppers outdoors. Finding the perfect pepper companion plants will maximize garden space and help you grow and harvest beautiful pepper crops.
When planted alongside the proper companions, peppers have a much better chance of success. Making companion planting a priority will produce the best overall results for your pepper plants. The right companion plant will lure in beneficial insects, fight against disease and pests, suppress weeds, draw in pollinators like bees for healthy growth, and contribute to the overall success of your entire garden. Choosing the right companion plants to grow near peppers can even improve their flavor.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the idea of companion planting and how it can contribute to your success in growing pepper plants.
What Is Companion Planting?
The idea of companion planting has been around for a long time and is a fan favorite amongst gardeners. Now, more scientific research is also showing the success of paying attention to companion plants for a thriving, biodiverse garden. When you plant the right companions near each other, you keep pests away, increase the yield of your growing season, and bring in more bees and pollinators to create a healthy ecosystem in your vegetable garden. This process is sometimes called intercropping.
With thoughtful companion planting, you can collaborate with nature to create a harmonious garden for flowers, vegetables, herbs, insects, and wildlife. For example, nasturtiums can lure aphids or cabbage worms away from other plants in an idea called trap cropping in which you sacrifice the nasturtium plant to the aphids or cabbage worms to keep other garden dwellers healthy. Alternatively, when looking to control certain diseases and unwanted guests like aphids, you can bring in a vegetable, flower, or herb to attract beneficial insects like predatory wasps or ladybugs. For instance, cosmos lure in ladybugs which will eat aphids, so they make a great companion plant!
Many plants make great companions for a variety of vegetables. For instance, the marigold is one of the most popular species for deterring unwanted garden guests with its strong fragrance. Basil and garlic are other popular companions. Onions can keep slugs, mites, and maggots away from their neighbors.
Another great use for companion planting in the garden is when you use one plant to help increase the health of the soil for another plant. For instance, beans and other legumes can fix nitrogen in the soil for other nitrogen-hungry plants.
Plants like corn can act as a trellis for vines, or taller plants can help shade, while groundcovers can suppress weeds by acting as a living mulch.
Another benefit of companion planting is enhancing flavor. This one has less science to back it up but marigold and basil plants are reputed to be flavor enhancers for several vegetables.
Companion planting, or intercropping as it is referred to in farming, is a thoughtful and preventative way to create a healthy vegetable garden! Now, let’s get into some specifics about how this method can help you grow healthy pepper plants in your garden space.
Good Pepper Companion Plants
Let’s look at the best flowers, herbs, and vegetables to plant near peppers. Increasing the plant variety in your garden and taking into consideration the role of each plant will help you to attract beneficial insects, pollinators, and, in turn, nurture a healthy crop of peppers.
Even though pepper plants require full sun, their roots like to stay a bit cooler, so incorporating ground covers for companions, like oregano, rosemary, or parsley can create a living mulch in addition to maximizing the space. When companion planting for peppers, you can also consider growing leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and chard which will enjoy the shaded location when planted under the pepper plants. This will also help keep weeds away. Both squash and cucumber make great companion plants for peppers because they grow low to the ground and will help shade the ground and shallow roots of peppers.
Planting low-growing plants can also help reduce weeds around the pepper plants in your garden. Think about adding some root crops like radish or beet underneath your peppers to control weeds. They will also be shaded by the peppers so it will create a great environment for these shade-loving companion plants. Parsnips and carrots are other options for pepper companion plants that will thrive underneath the shadow of the peppers. If carrots are left to flower, they will draw in lacewings.
Flowers can bring in bees and other pollinators, as well as beneficial insects, increasing your pepper yield and quality of fruit. Flowering basil has been shown to improve the quality and quantity of pepper production. Another benefit of planting basil near your peppers includes their ability to confuse some pests, by masking. Planting basil in your garden can help keep thrips away from your peppers because they emit a chemical that makes it hard for the pests to find the peppers they are attracted to. A basil plant will also deter spider mites and mosquitoes from the garden.
Other flowers that will benefit your peppers include yarrow, petunias, and alyssum which will deter aphids and lure in beneficial insects. Yarrow is easy to grow and brings in ladybugs which will help deter aphids. Alyssum can make a lovely underplanting and also attracts ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Chamomile is another underplanting that makes a great pepper companion and stays low to the ground for a living mulch. Sunflowers, will of course, bring the bees to the garden.
Plants in the allium family are also good companion plants for peppers. Try pairing chives, garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, or leeks with your peppers which will repel aphids. Garlic will also help to repel Japanese beetles which will attack peppers in some climates.
Other plants that can help keep your peppers healthy include umbel-shaped flowers like dill and cilantro which attract lacewings to take care of the green peach aphid which is known to attack peppers.
When it comes to creating a trap crop, also consider radish or pak choi which will lure flea beetles away from peppers and save you the damage to your pepper plant! Nasturtium can also be used as a trap crop for aphids tempted by the peppers, instead, luring them away from peppers and into the nasturtium.
Legumes like fava beans, pole beans, bush beans, and peas can act as nitrogen fixers, adding more nitrogen to the soil for the peppers. Lentils also fix nitrogen by capturing it from the air and delivering it to the soil.
Another pepper companion to consider is asparagus. Pepper plants have a shallow root system so they will not compete with each other. Maximize space by combining these vegetables in a garden bed, with harvests in different seasons, the peppers can shade the asparagus when their spring harvest is complete.
French marigolds and geranium are said to help repel nematodes which can be a huge problem for peppers. Marigolds are also said to help stimulate growth and production in peppers in addition to repelling many pests including the nematodes, potato bugs, and squash bugs.
Another flower that grows well alongside your pepper plant is buckwheat which has long been used as a cover crop. The flowers will attract pollinators and beneficial insects. After it flowers, cut and lay the buckwheat on the soil to use as a green mulch that will regenerate the nutrients in the soil as well as suppress weeds.
In terms of flavor, basil, lovage, and French marigold are all reputed to improve the flavor of peppers.
Now that you know what will thrive near peppers, let’s look at what to avoid planting.
What Not To Plant With Peppers
Know what to avoid when it comes to companion plants for peppers. Let’s look at some of the plants that can have adverse effects on your peppers.
Leave out any plants from the nightshade family like tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. Space them farther away or put them in a different garden space to deter pests from attacking these plants, as they all attract similar pests. All of these plants are susceptible to mosaic virus, blight, and different forms of leaf spot which can spread quickly among similar plants. Keep them spaced at least a few feet away with other plants in between.
Consider planting different varieties of peppers away from each other. It is not wrong to plant them near each other but you can have cross-pollination if they are in the same space.
Fennel is not one of the best companion plants for peppers because it tends to inhibit the growth of the other plants surrounding it.
Any plants in the brassica family do not make good companion plants for peppers. These include cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Napa cabbage, broccoli, and kale. They are heavy feeders, leaching nutrients from the soil that your peppers will need. Kohlrabi is another plant in this family that should not be planted near peppers.
This one is a bit obvious, but don’t place your pepper plant in a vegetable garden with plants that like different conditions. A pepper plant loves slightly acidic soil that drains well. Pepper plants prefer full-sun and hot weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you plant tomatoes and peppers together?
A: Yes, you can plant tomatoes and peppers together but be aware of a few things. Peppers can be planted closer together than tomatoes, which will like a bit more circulation and air. Tomatoes and peppers also share a lot of the same pests as they are both in the nightshade family so be careful and watch out for pests that might be attracted to both of these plants. Basil is a great option to plant alongside tomatoes and peppers.
Q: Can you plant peppers and marigolds together?
A: Yes! Marigolds are incredibly easy to grow and make great pepper companions! A great pest deterrent based on their strong fragrance, as well as their ability to repel nematodes through their roots, marigolds are a long-standing pest deterrent in the vegetable garden. The French marigold plants have also been reputed to increase the flavor of peppers and because they draw in pollinators can increase the yield of your pepper plants.