31 Strawberry Companion Plants To Grow With Strawberries
Companion planting can be a critical part of any garden's success. So, if you are planting strawberries this season, luckily, you have plenty of options to companion plant with your strawberries. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey examines her favorite plants to plant with strawberries!
One of the most coveted summer berries, strawberries are decadent in breakfasts, smoothies, and desserts. But nothing can quite compare to the fragrant, juicy sweetness of a vibrant red berry picked straight from the garden.
There are few fruits as well-adapted to North American gardens as the classic strawberry. In spite of their high price tag at farmer’s markets and grocery stores, strawberries are actually one of the easiest fruits to grow yourself.
But in order to avoid the pesky pests and aggressive diseases that often bereft strawberries in commercial farm fields, the savvy organic gardener must use time-tested (and science-backed!) ecological growing methods. Among the most important is cultivating biodiversity.
Companion planting aims to mimic nature by creating symbiotic relationships between plants that mutually aid each other. It is one of the most reliable and fun ways to improve strawberry growth in your organic garden. If you’ve been wondering which companion plants are best for strawberries (and which to avoid), this complete guide will dig into all the details of our favorite strawberry companions.
Companion Planting Overview
Companion plants are herbs, flowers, and vegetables that improve the growth of your main garden crops. There is significant evidence that companion plants work synergistically to reduce pest pressure and keep your crops healthy.
The system of companion planting has been used for thousands of years to grow highly diverse garden ecosystems that are more resilient to threats like pests, pathogens, and foul weather.
Depending on the species and placement, companion plants can act in many different ways to protect crops from harm and/or enhance their growth. They offer a wide range of benefits to specific crops as well as your whole garden, including:
- Repel pests
- Attract beneficial (predator) insects
- Attract pollinators
- Protect plants from pathogens
- Prevent soil-borne diseases
- Fix nitrogen in the soil
- Make micronutrients available to your crop
- Provide shade
- Enhance flavor of the crop
- Act as living mulch
- Add biodiversity
- Beautify the landscape
- Utilize unused garden space
Some companions are used as symbiotic crop partners for one specific reason, such as the ability to fix nitrogen. Other plants offer multiple benefits for an all-in-one companion package.
Floral Strawberry Companions
Flowers are the most effective and beautiful ways to interplant in the garden. Fortunately, there are a number of different options you can plant, depending on your preferences. Here are our favorite floral comrades for strawberries:
We have to start off with the most essential companion plant of all. I have planted sweet alyssum on every organic farm and every garden I’ve ever grown. Why? Because it is the most tried-and-true flower for attracting beneficial insects (aka “good guy bugs”).
Benefits: Attract beneficial predators and pollinator insects
Sweet alyssum can benefit nearly every plant in your garden. But it is especially great for strawberries because it offers a double whammy: pest protection and pollinator habitat.
On the pest protection side, studies in organic Florida strawberry fields found that green lacewings (Chrysoperla spp.) consume more strawberry pests than any other insect predators. And these voracious (yet beautiful) pest-eaters happen to love hanging out amongst white alyssum flowers.
For pollination, the lovely little white blossoms of sweet alyssum are frequented by honeybees, native bees, and butterflies. These beautiful pollinators will gladly fly over to your strawberry patch to aid in spreading pollen around their flowers as well.
The result? Higher yields, sweeter fruits, and fully “filled-out” berries.
How to Plant It: White alyssum plants can grow about 6-12” wide. I like to plant them at the ends of rows, in the corner of strawberry raised beds, or scattered amongst the planting.
They are mat-forming and tend to stay relatively low, so they don’t pose a huge risk for shading out your berry plants.
Yarrow is another companion plant classic that compliments lots of garden crops. When grown near strawberries, yarrow magnifies pollinators and predator bugs to help you grow more quality berries.
As an added bonus, yarrow makes a lovely cut flower table center display and can be used in herbal remedies. The crushed leaves and dried blossoms smell like sweet honey.
Benefits: Attract beneficial predators and pollinator insects
Yarrow is another favorite of green lacewings, as well as ladybugs, hoverflies, and predatory wasps. The nectar of yarrow blossoms will attract these beneficial predators to the strawberry patch, where they will hopefully lay their eggs and get their larve feeding on berry pests like thrips and aphids ASAP.
How to Plant It: There are dozens of varieties of yarrow, but my favorite is the classic American native wildflower yarrow.
Whichever color or type you choose, be sure to plant it near the margin of your strawberry bed rather than within it. These plants can grow up to 4 feet tall when in full bloom and tend to spread 1-2 feet wide.
You don’t want yarrow to crowd or shade your strawberry plants, so keep it a couple feet away from the berries.
French Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are a very common companion flower for a variety of crops, including strawberries. You may recognize these vibrantly colored marigolds as the classic Dia De Los Muertos flowers. When planted alongside strawberries, they make a dazzling display. But the benefits aren’t only aesthetic!
They are well-researched for their pest-repellant properties in greenhouse settings. They are known to suppress nematodes below-ground while repelling insect pests above-ground.
Benefits: Repel root knot nematodes, whiteflies, and rabbits
With their pungent floral scent and unique root composition, marigolds are some of the best flowers for driving off strawberry pests.
Root knot nematodes are a particularly destructive pest of strawberries that can completely stunt and eat the plant roots. They can also open up the root zone to infestation from a variety of other pathogens. Marigolds produce a natural pesticide compound in their roots and spread it to the surrounding soil to repel nematodes.
The marigold flowers also have repellant properties that are particularly helpful for keeping whiteflies and rabbits away.
How to Plant It: French marigolds are great for planting around the four corners of a raised strawberry bed or interplanting a few plants every 3-4 feet between rows of berry plants.
Because French marigolds tend to stay fairly compact, you don’t have to worry about them competing with your strawberries for light or space.
Old gardener’s tales say that borage makes your strawberries taste sweeter. We don’t have any science on this, but we do know that borage is a beautiful deep-blue flower that attracts pollinators and beneficial insects while also protecting strawberries from disease.
Benefits: Attract pollinators and predators, prevent disease, and improve berry flavor
Borage can help defend strawberries from worm attacks while also attracting important predator insects like parasitic wasps.
Bees and butterflies also love borage. They will feast on its nectar all summer long and then bounce over to your strawberry flowers to help with pollination.
The link between borage interplanting and better strawberry flavor may be due to borage’s unique ability to draw up micronutrients from deep in the soil. Borage makes trace minerals more available to your strawberries and in turn improves their fruit set.
How to Plant It: Though the star-like blue flowers of borage are quite small, the plant itself can grow very large. Plant borage on the perimeter of your strawberry beds at least 1-3 feet away from your berry plants so it doesn’t intrude on their space.
One of the most beautiful and unique garden flowers, phacelia is becoming a common cover crop and border plant on commercial organic farms. Its elegantly curled fern-like foliage, lacy leaves, and mystical violet-colored blossoms are both ornamental and incredibly beneficial for strawberries.
Benefits: Improves soil quality, perfect mulch crop, attracts bees and predatory insects, and suppresses nematodes
We know that strawberries prefer loamy, well-drained soil. Phacelia is the perfect partner because it has a deep fibrous root system that digs down 30 inches or more. The roots accumulate excess nitrogen and micronutrients while simultaneously loosening the soil and adding organic matter.
When phacelia winter-kills around the first frost, its abundant biomass dries down to create the perfect fluffy mulch for your strawberries.
Phacelia could be considered a queen insectary plant. It is one of the top 20 crops for honey production because it provides incredibly high quality nectar and pollen.
Whether or not you have honey bees, this lovely flower is sure to draw pollinators and beneficial predators (like syrphid flies who eat caterpillars and aphids) to your strawberry patch.
This flower also releases compounds into the soil that suppress nematodes.
How to Plant It: Phacelia is super easy to direct-sow into your garden. It is quick to establish, but it can quickly grow 24-40” tall and wide. I prefer to plant phacelia in a bulk perimeter planting a few feet away from a strawberry patch. This lets it go a little more wild and makes it easy to rake the crop residue onto the strawberry beds as mulch once fall frosts arrive.
Known predominantly as a cover crop, white clover is a nitrogen-fixer and living mulch. It has pleasantly perfumed blossoms reminiscent of vanilla.
Benefits: Fixes nitrogen, attracts beneficial insects, and acts as living mulch
Clover is a member of the legume family, which means it makes nitrogen more available to your plants through a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria. At the same time, white clover is competitive enough to suppress weeds as a living mulch or groundcover plant.
White clover’s fragrant flowers are very popular amongst pollinators and predatory insects, which can help improve the yields and pest-resistance of your strawberries.
How to Plant It: Though it makes a great living mulch, clover can be fairly aggressive and quickly outcompete strawberries. I prefer to keep it out of the strawberry rows themselves and instead plant it in the pathways. This is especially beneficial if you have raised strawberry beds that prevent the clover from creeping in.
I recommend only planting clover as a walkway or aisle-covering plant if you have a lawn mower to keep it under control. Mow it every 1-3 weeks and it will continuously bloom without spreading too widely.
Another beautiful leguminous flower, lupines improve soil fertility and repel pests with their scent.
Benefits: Fix nitrogen, improve soil quality, and repel pests
Lupines have deep roots that loosen soil for strawberries while simultaneously pulling up valuable soil nutrients. Their leguminous nature means they make nitrogen available to strawberries, potentially improving their vigor and growth so you don’t have to fertilize (remember that too much nitrogen fertilizer can harm your strawberry yields anyhow).
How to Plant It: Lupines are fairly tall, so I often place them in ornamental beds surrounding my strawberries. Fortunately, they don’t tend to spread. So if you’d like to plant them in the bed for more nitrogen-fixing benefits, seed a lupine every 2-3 feet around the margin or within the row of strawberries itself. Don’t forget to keep 6-12” between each flower and your strawberry plants.
If you have dogs or livestock, be careful about planting lupines in areas where they can access them. This plant can be mildly toxic to animals.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) are edible flowers that come in yellow, orange, red, and cream colors. They have playful lily-pad shaped leaves and beautiful They bloom spring through fall and have a spicy fragrance that makes a dazzling garnish for summer salads and also attracts beneficial insects.
Benefits: Attracts beneficial insects and repels pests
Nasturtiums are magnets for hoverflies and pest-eating bugs. Their spicy aroma is known to repel (or at least distract) whiteflies, aphids, and various types of beetles that may want to eat your strawberries.
The jury is out as to whether nasturtiums actually repel these pests or act like a “trap crop” to lure them away from your crops. Either way, at least the bugs won’t be eating your strawberry plants!
How to Plant It: Nasturtiums can bush or vine up to 10 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide, so its best to keep these plants out of the strawberry bed itself. Instead, grow nasturtiums along a nearby fence or plant them in the perimeter of your berry patch.
Herbal Strawberry Companions
Culinary and medicinal herbs can aid you in the garden as well as the kitchen. While they do their work as a symbiotic companion plant, you can also enjoy harvests of deliciously fragrant herbs for seasonings, cocktails, and teas.
Dill is not only a perfect companion for pickling cucumbers! It also has vibrant flowers that lure predatory insects and pollinators to your strawberries.
Benefits: Attract predatory insects and pollinators
Dill leaves are delicious seasonings in the kitchen, but they really start to work their ecological magic when you let the plants flower. The giant yellow umbel blossoms draw in ladybugs, preying mantis, and wasps that keep strawberry pests in check.
How to Plant It: Dill is a laid back herb that can easily be integrated into your strawberry beds. I often go for a four-corners planting or sprinkle random plants throughout the row. Though its flower stalks grow quite tall, they are slender and not likely to shade out your crops.
Did you know that coriander is just cilantro that has started to flower and go to seed? Just like dill, cilantro is a versatile herb in the garden. But it becomes most beneficial for strawberries once it bolts.
Benefits: Attract beneficial insects and repels pests
Cilantro/coriander has a fairly strong scent that repels pests while attracting predatory insects. The umbel-shaped flowers attract hoverflies, parasitoid wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings.
How to Plant It: Coriander is compact and won’t spread unless you let it drop seeds. You can plant it in rows or clumps about 6” from your strawberry plants.
Mint has been used for millennia is a stomach-soothing tea or a pungent bug spray. But this quick-spreading herb needs to be contained so it doesn’t compete with your strawberries.
Benefits: Repel pests
The strong minty smell is very unattractive to pesky lygus bugs, aphids, and mites.
However, be careful if you have a problem with tarnished plant bug (TPB) in your strawberry patch, as mint can actually attract them to the area and provide a breeding ground.
How to Plant It: While it has a bad reputation for aggressively spreading, mint can make a great companion. Avoid planting mint in your strawberry bed or you may end up with no strawberries at all. Instead, consider mint as a ground cover or border crop nearby. Keep it contained within a raised bed or pot for best results.
Creeping thyme is a must for any companion planting gardener. One of my most successful garden experiments involved growing creeping thyme as a “living mulch” beneath my strawberry plants. This lowkey variety of thyme will vine along the soil surface and act like a weed-suppressing pillow for your berries to lay on.
Benefits: Repel pests, retain moisture, suppress weeds, and act as living mulch to keep strawberries off the dirt
Thyme has undeniably fragrant leaves that keep all sorts of pests at bay. But the creeping varieties are even more beneficial because they provide a low-growing soil cover. This layer of thyme leaves suppresses weeds and keeps strawberry fruits off the soil so they don’t rot or get eaten by slugs.
Best of all, creeping thyme is not going to outcompete or try to overgrow your strawberries. Just be sure you get the creeping cultivars, not the standard wooly bush types.
How to Plant It: Mat forming thyme (sometimes called mother-of-thyme) only grows 2-3 inches tall and comfortably snuggles beneath strawberry plants. Seed or transplant creeping thyme every 6” within your strawberry bed and allow it to form a weed-suppressing mat over the soil surface.
It is not super aggressive and can easily be ripped up. However, you may want to place your soaker hoses or drip lines before the thyme starts to vine. This will ensure that water goes straight into the soil and the thyme can protect the soil from drying out.
Catnip is popular with cats, but also with pollinators! When this mint-family herb begins to flower its purple blossoms you will notice an abundance of bees and butterlfies appearing in your garden.
Benefits: Attract beneficial insects and repel pests
Catnip’s delicious nectar is irrestable to pollinators and predatory wasps, yet its unique chemical composition is repulsive to insect pests. Some evidence even shows that it can be as effective as synthetic DEET for repelling mosquitoes and other pesky flying insects.
How to Plant It: Catnip is a hardy perennial that is best for perennial plantings of strawberries. You can grow it at the row-ends or corners of strawberry beds. It also does great as an ornamental flower along the margins of your garden.
Sage is a great herbal partner for strawberries. The musky smell repels pests and may improve strawberry flavor. It’s also a culinary delight for autumn roasts, soups, and drying.
Benefits: Repels pests and improves fruit flavor
Sage is most useful for keeping slugs away from your prized red fruits.
How to Plant It: There are many different varieties of sage, but most require at least 1-2 feet of growing space. Plant sage at the ends of strawberry rows or in a nearby perennial bed.
This lesser-known herb is a member of the parsley family, which means it produces lovely white umbel flowers that are very attractive to beneficial insects. The anise-flavored seeds are also widely used in baking and as a digestive herb.
Benefits: Attracts predator insects and conditions the soil
Strawberries are shallow-rooted and love well-drained, loose soil. Сaraway is the perfect compliment because it acts like a soil conditioner. Caraway has super long taproots that help break up heavy soils to make it easier for strawberries to grow.
When it flowers, caraway also attracts parasitic wasps and flies that eat strawberry pests.
How to Plant It: These herbaceous biennial plants are only about 8” in their first season and can grow up to 30” tall in their second season. For its soil conditioning properties, plant caraway in your strawberry beds about 2-3 feet away from your strawberry plants. For attracting beneficial insects, it can be sown in bordering floral or herbal beds.
Sometimes plants that go together in the kitchen also go together in the garden. If you’re craving strawberry-basil lemonade, mojitos, or a summer balsamic salad, you must plant basil in your strawberry patch!
Benefits: Improves strawberry growth, attracts pollinators, and repels pests
Planting basil directly next to strawberries is known to improve plant vigor while keeping pests at bay. The delightful fragrance of basil is surprisingly unattractive to certain insects. When it bolts and flowers, its beautiful (and edible) blossoms attract pollinators and other beneficials to the garden.
How to Plant It: Basil is an easy herb for sowing in annual strawberry beds. I like to keep things orderly with a row of basil between two rows of strawberries, but you can also scatter the plants about. For best results, give each basil plant at least 4-6” of space from its neighboring strawberry.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an extraordinary mint-family herb with a delicate lemony fragrance. It is another perfect partner for strawberries in the garden and in the kitchen.
Benefits: Repels pests, attracts pollinators, and suppresses weeds
The citrusy odor of lemon balm repels gnats, flies, and other pests from strawberries. When it flowers, the perennial herb also attracts many native bees to aid in berry pollination. It can also be great for suppressing weeds in pathways around strawberry raised beds.
How to Plant It: Lemon balm is a spreader, but not as aggressively as its mint cousin. Nonetheless, I would avoid planting lemon balm directly in your strawberry beds. Instead, keep it contained in a nearby planter or herbal border.
Alliums (onion-family crops) are well-known for their camaraderie with almost every garden plant. Chives are a delicate perennial cousin reminiscent of scallions that provide all the benefits of green onions without having to replant every year!
Benefits: Repel pests and attract pollinators
The pungent onion-like smell of chives keeps bad bugs away while the beautiful (and edible!) fuschia blossoms lure in all the best pollinators.
How to Plant It: Chives are great for sowing around the perimeter of perennial strawberry rows. They come back every year but spread fairly slowly. Keep them about 12” away from strawberry plants.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
If you haven’t tried tulsi basil, you are missing out! Not only is this herb an amazing insectary and companion plant, but it also tastes exquisitely refreshing in tea. Tulsi has a range of herbal benefits for humans and strawberries alike.
Benefits: Repel pests, improves growth, and attract pollinators and beneficial insects
Holy basil protects strawberries from pests by repelling beetles and promoting healthier growth. Its lovely long purple flowers also attract lots of beneficial hoverflies and bees.
How to Plant It: Tulsi basil is easy to direct sow or transplant directly in your strawberry patch without worrying about it spreading or outcompeting your berry plants. As long as you give tulsi about 1-2 feet of space from neighboring strawberries, it is a perfect border or row-end companion.
Tulsi may accidentally attract aphids, so it is helpful to create a symbiotic protective trio such as strawberries, tulsi, and chives.
Vegetable Strawberry Companions
If you have a small garden or you grow strawberries as annuals, you may want to interplant vegetable companions for greater diversity and maximum use of space. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite veggies to grow with strawberries.
Lowkey and easy to grow, lettuce can be tucked in just about anywhere in your garden. As a strawberry companion, lettuce grows low enough to enjoy a little shade from strawberries. It is also a light feeder that won’t compete with them for nutrients or water.
Benefits: Maximize space
Lettuce doesn’t technically improve or hinder the growth of strawberries. Instead, it just gives you an additional yield from a small space.
How to Plant It: Plant lettuce between strawberry rows at the time of transplanting your crowns or strawberry plugs. By the time strawberries are fully grown, the lettuce will be ready to harvest.
Spinach is a simple leafy green to interplant with strawberries in the spring for delicious salads or green smoothies. Spinach is easy to grow and has many garden benefits.
Benefits: Maximize space
Companion planting with spinach provides a bonus harvest from a small space. It is low-growing and eager to cooperate with strawberry plants.
How to Plant It: To start yielding from your strawberry beds before they fruit, plant a row or 2 of spinach alongside strawberries in the early spring. This cold-tolerant green grows quickly and is about the same height as full-grown strawberry plants.
Garlic is a slender, shallow-rooted plant that doesn’t pose a risk for shading out your berries or competing with them for water.
Benefits: Repel pests and maximize yields
The pungent smell of alliums like garlic is enough to keep a wide range of insect pests at bay. Studies show it is particularly helpful for repelling strawberry spider mites. It may even be useful in repelling rodents and deer!
How to Plant It: Fill openings in your strawberry beds with garlic or plant a widely-spaced double row of garlic with strawberries down the middle. In northern climates, you may plant garlic in the fall, mulch over it, and then incorporate the strawberries in the spring. Either way, provide at least 6” of space between each garlic bulb and the neighboring strawberry.
Another popular allium companion, scallions are even more slender and non-competitive than garlic. These fast-growing green onions can fit in practically any open space to repel pests and add another edible crop to the mix.
Benefits: Repel pests and maximize yields
Scallions may not smell as strong as onions and garlic, but they still keep aphids and beetles at a distance.
How to Plant It: Plant rows of scallions between your strawberry plants or tuck them into any open space. I prefer to start scallions from bulb sets in the spring for faster growth and easy planting.
Though they’re most commonly paired in pies, strawberries and rhubarb make great pals in the garden as well. Rhubarb may not be the best for small gardens, but it is certainly a fun perennial to have on hand if you have the space.
Benefits: Loosen soil and provide light shade during hot summer days
Rhubarb has ultra deep taproots that break up the soil for strawberries to grow more freely. Their broad flat leaves can also help suppress weeds.
If you live in an area with extra hot summers, strawberries can benefit from the light shade of rhubarb to keep them cool.
How to Plant It: Rhubarb grows into a massive plant (up to 4 feet wide and tall), so be sure you give it plenty of space away from your strawberries. Keep rhubarb on the perimeter of the patch.
Some sources suggest that brassicas are not good companions for strawberries due to their heavy-feeding, space-hogging tendencies. But broccoli may break that mold thanks to its disease-suppressing properties.
Benefits: Reduce disease susceptibility
Some research has shown that crop rotation with broccoli may help reduce fungal populations (charcoal rot). You can also plant a row of broccoli 2-3 feet away from your strawberries to keep pathogens away.
How to Plant It: Broccoli needs plenty of space (at least 18-24”) and grows fairly large leaves that may shade out strawberries. It’s best to keep it on the perimeter of strawberry beds.
As opposed to pole beans (which may shade out strawberries as they’re trellised upwards), bush beans are compact and non-competitive with strawberries.
Benefits: Fix nitrogen and maximize yields
Bush beans provide an extra edible crop harvest while simultaneously making nitrogen more available to your strawberries. They can improve strawberry vigor and eliminate the need for adding fertilizer. They are easy to direct sow in late spring alongside strawberry crowns.
How to Plant It: Keep bush beans about 3-4” apart from each other and 4-6” away from your strawberry plants.
Anyone who has dealt with weedy purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) may be appalled to find it on this list! However, this exotic salad plant can help repel destructive nematodes in your strawberry patch.
Benefits: Ground cover and salty soil aid
At its core, purslane is a ground-cover plant. It likes to creep and vine, creating a nice low-growing mat that retains water, conditions the soil, and suppresses taller weeds.
Interestingly, if you struggle with salty soils, purslane can be an extra beneficial companion in your garden. Strawberries are very salt-sensitive plants but research shows that the halophytic (salt-loving) companion purslane can improve strawberry yields and fruit quality!
How to Plant It: Purslane is considered a weed for a reason- it can take over quite quickly because it produces thousands of seeds at once. We don’t recommend outright planting purslane in your garden. However, if it is already present, consider leaving some of the purslane to condition the soil and desalinate any accumulation of salts.
Radishes are among the easiest vegetables for beginner gardeners. When paired with strawberries, they offer a quick added harvest that makes use of unused space.
Benefits: Maximize space
In small space gardens, radishes are the perfect edible crop to squeeze in just about anywhere. They are light feeders and won’t compete with strawberries for nutrients or water.
How to Plant It: Radishes can be directly sown at the same time as you plant strawberry crowns in the spring. Plant radish rows about 4-6” from your strawberry plants and they will be ready to harvest before the strawberries begin fruiting.
Asparagus is one of the best strawberry companions because it has a complementary root system and different growing seasons. They both love well-drained soils and full sun.
Benefits: Maximize space and yields
In contrast to strawberries’ shallow root zone, asparagus roots go deep into the ground. The asparagus will help condition the soil and maximize your yields from the space. You can harvest asparagus spears around early summer right around the time strawberries begin fruiting.
How to Plant It: Asparagus is a long-lived perennial that can grow for 20 or 30 years. They will surely outlast your strawberries, so make sure you plant asparagus crowns in a place where they can proliferate. Plant asparagus first at least a foot below the surface. Then plant the strawberry crowns 4-6” deep in the same rows.
Pro Tip: Interplant asparagus with an early June-bearing strawberry variety. By the time asparagus bolts up into its massive plants, the strawberries will already be done producing.
Carrots are a garden grown classic that fit seamlessly into strawberry beds thanks to their slender taproots and flowy foliage.
Benefits: Loosen soil and maximize yields
As carrots dig deep into the soil, they help loosen and aerate it for their strawberry companions. At the same time, you get the bonus of more food from a smaller space.
How to Plant It: Interplant carrots in rows 4-6” from strawberry plants.
This final root crop can complement your strawberries by aerating the soil and adding yet another diverse harvest to your garden beds.
Benefits: Loosen soil and maximize yields
How to Plant It: Beets can be direct sown 2-3” apart in rows 12-18” from strawberry plants.
Don’t Plant These With Strawberries
Due to shared pests, overbearing growth habits, or a tendency to shade out low-growing plants, some crops are best kept away from your strawberries.
Don’t plant these with strawberries:
Strawberry Companion Planting Science
Companion plants can enhance the growth of strawberries in many ways. Some of these benefits have held up to scientific experiments, while others are based on anecdotal experiences.
Thankfully, as organic growing methods become more popular, modern researchers continue to explore these old-time strategies for interplanting flowers, herbs, or vegetables with strawberries. Here’s what they’ve found so far:
About 75% of our global food supply relies on bees and pollinators to facilitate the growth of crops. Strawberries are no different.
A lack of pollination is one of the main reasons why your garden strawberries grow small or deformed.
Even though strawberry flowers can pollinate themselves with the help of wind, new research has shown that bee-pollinated berries have higher yields and better fruit quality.
Scientists in Germany discovered this by covering some strawberries with bee-eliminating mesh-bags while others were exposed to the pollinators. They found that bee-pollinated berries had a longer shelf life and a more flavorful sugar-to-acid ratio than the strawberries that were self-pollinated or pollinated by wind.
In botany, strawberries are considered “self-fertile”. This means that they can pollinate themselves. In other words, they have both the male and female parts in one flower. The male parts (stigma) form a ring on the outside of the flower, while the female parts (pistils) hang out in the center.
All complicated botanical jargon aside, it’s a lot easier to get the pollen into the center with the help of a bee. And that’s why companion plants, specifically pollinator-attractors, are so dang beneficial for your strawberry patch.
More beautiful flowers means more buzzing bees, which means more delicious fruit! It’s a win-win.
Symbiotic Plants Improve Ecological Resilience
The concept draws on the ecological processes we find in wild natural areas.
In the case of strawberries, symbiotic plantings mimic their natural habitat. These rambling fruits are domesticated cousins of the wild strawberries that vine along with the forest floors of North American forests.
As you can imagine, it’s very unlikely that wild strawberries have ever grown in large monocultures (single-plant fields) like we see in commercial production. Just like all plants, they evolved to work in symbiosis with the other plants around them.
When strawberries are planted in dead soils devoid of microbiology with no biodiversity of plants around them, troubles start to arise. Perhaps this is why there are dozens of modern plant diseases and detrimental pests that attack strawberries in both commercial and garden settings.
Symbiotic companion plantings can help us avoid these issues and cultivate a more resilient garden. There is significant scientific evidence that more biodiversity leads to greater resilience against insects, pathogens, and climatic threats.
Strawberry Pest Pressure & Companion Planting
Strawberry pests such as fruit flies, bud weevils, thrips, slugs, tarnished plant bugs, rodents, and birds can put a major damper on your summer berry harvests. Before you resort to pesticides, remember that companion plants are among the best preventative methods for keeping these pests away.
The main ways that companion plants work to reduce pest pressure and pesticide include:
- Releasing aromatic compounds that repel pests.
- Confusing pests so they can’t find their hosts.
- Attracting beneficial predators to eat pests.
This works because companion planting creates a polyculture (poly=multiple, culture=cultivation). In contrast to monoculture (growing lots of one species in a small space), polyculture plantings have been proven to reduce pest pressure by making it harder for them to find strawberry plants.
Research shows that certain species of companion plants simultaneously attract natural enemies of the pests, creating a built-in control method. Basically, you create a eco-system of checks-and-balances to protect your precious strawberries from multiple angles.
Companion planting is an easy way to incorporate more biodiversity into your garden while growing more robust strawberry plants. Different species aid strawberries in unique ways, but they all require a little planning to account for spacing, size, shade, and potential competition.
Companion planting is as much an art as it is a science. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your garden setup!