Watermelon growing next to marigolds

Everybody needs a friend, including plants!

The best plant-friends are the ones that keep pesky garden pests at bay. Putting these pest-repellent plants in your garden along with your favourites is known as companion planting.

July 9, 2020
Watermelon growing next to marigolds

Nature's little helpers

Companion plants control pests in a variety of ways. ‘Masking’ plants produce strong, volatile oils and scent that mask the plants the pests might be looking for. ‘Repellent’ plants produce a scent or taste that is so bitter that it drives unwanted garden pests away.

Pest-controlling plants include

Basil
This versatile plant is often used to repel aphids, and helps to keep flies and mosquitoes away from outdoor entertaining areas.

Petunia
A plant which also adds colour to your garden while repelling leafhoppers, various kinds of aphids and a variety of other pests.

Marigold
The roots of marigold plants produce natural chemicals that kill root-knot nematodes.

Rosemary
A hedge of rosemary around a vegetable garden will act as a general pest repellent.

Sweet marjoram
Planted near gardenias or roses, its strong scent will mask or confuse garden invaders.

Nasturtiums
A bright and colourful plant which repels white flies, aphids and many types of beetle.

Garlic
Garlic has the ability to repel airborne and soilborne pests such as beetles, spider mites and fruit flies.

Lavender
This will add a beautiful scent to your garden and protect nearby plants from white fly.

Pyrethrum
Planted in both vegetable and flower gardens, it impedes aphids, leafhoppers, and cabbage worms.

Other good companions

Companion planting isn’t just about repelling pests. Companion planting refers to the idea that certain plants can benefit others when grown in close proximity. The benefit can be in the form of pest control, attracting beneficial insects, providing shade, aerating the soil, fixing nitrogen, and many other ways. Creating biodiversity in your garden is always a good idea, especially in your veggie garden, and companion planting is a good way to achieve this.

Examples include:

  • Planting carrot seedlings underneath tomato plants - the tomato plants will shade the carrot seedlings, and the carrots will aerate the soil around the tomatoes.
  • Planting beans and corn together. The corn stalks provide a support for the beans to climb up, while the beans add nitrogen to the soil.

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