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Native Plants as Companions for Vegetable Gardens

During the pandemic I started my vegetable garden journey and since joining Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, I have become an advocate for native plants.

I am excited about this upcoming spring season when I will be adding native plants to my vegetable garden. As I recall, I learned from my father’s garden, he always had flower companion to facilitate pollination of fruits and vegetables; this was in my childhood back in Argentina where I grew up, although the plants he used were different than the natives here in the American Northeast.

Pollinators, such as bumblebees and other insects, transfer pollen between flowers of the same species of vegetables and fruits, allowing fertilization to occur and making fruit and seed development possible.

I would like to share here a list of plants that I have personally selected from the Meadowscaping catalog, to plant near my vegetable garden this season.

This project will be experimental, and I will update the results during   the season.

I chose these particular flowers because I love purple and bees have excellent color vision, they flock to purple, violet, blue and yellow.

The anise hyssop has an herbal scent that helps repel pests; the sunflower is a food source for pollinators early on and the seeds will serve as food for birds.

  • Echinacea purpurea (full sun – bloom time July/September)
  • Wild bergamot (full sun – bloom time June/August)
  • Common milkweed (full sun/part sun – bloom time June/August)
  • Sunflower mammoth (full sun – bloom time July/September.)
  • Anise Hyssop (full sun/part shade – October/November)

The advantage of having these plants is that they are perennial, and you don’t have to spend more money each year. It is best to plant them separately from the vegetable beds, so that they do not take up space and the seeds do not spread around the area. You can make a separate bed in the ground or place it near the edges.  Don’t leave the plants in pots.

Bonus: Herbs are also good companion and will help to repel pests.

You may already know, marigold is the most popular flower for repelling pests in vegetable gardens, it is native to Mexico and there is no problem in mixing them, especially near tomatoes; just make sure you buy them from nurseries that don’t use pesticides.

 Chives: repel aphids and Japanese beetles. These are perennials and is best to plant separate or pinch the buds, so it won’t spread as much.

Dill: repel cabbage moths and spider mites. Dill is also a good plant for attracting beneficial insects and is a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies.

Basil: repels asparagus beetle, carrot fly, flies, mosquitoes, and whitefly. It’s the scent that deters the insects. I plant them next to tomatoes and peppers.

Garlic: repels aphids, cabbage moths, codling moths, Mexican bean beetles, peach borer, Japanese beetles, as well as rabbits.

Mint: The scent of mint repels aphids, cabbage moths, flea beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and even ants. To prevent this aggressive grower, I plant it in separate pots, tends to take over the space. Bees love it!

Rosemary: repels cabbage moths, carrot flies, Mexican bean beetles, slugs and snails.