Growing vegetables in containers means you have limited space for your plants. The space limitations make it tempting for gardeners to plant several different vegetables in the same container. Making the most of the container space means having an understanding of which vegetables will grow well together in the same space.
Companion planting vegetables in containers is a way of maximizing the growth and yield potential of the plants. Plants that benefit each other maximize the container space and produce more than one crop from the same space. Some plants are bad companions and should not be grown together.
Certain vegetables grow well together in the same soil and others that actively benefit each other when planted together. On the opposing end of the scale, certain plants suppress the development of other plants when grown in the same space. Getting the right plants growing together is important to maximize your vegetable harvest!
Can You Grow Any Vegetables Together in A Container?
Gardeners have learned that certain plants, including vegetables, thrive when grown in close proximity to each other, and others do not grow well when planted with certain plants.
The technique of managing your vegetable growing by pairing plants together that benefit each other is known as companion planting.
Implementing companion planting when growing vegetables in containers is another way to maximize the crop yield and get the most out of your containers.
Companion planting guidelines are not always based on scientific experiment results but rather on observation by gardeners over many generations of experience. However, if you try this method yourself, you will find that there is.
What Are The Benefits Of Companion Planting?
Several benefits are offered by companion planting. Each of the benefits can be beneficial to other plants growing in the same container by providing a better soil environment or simply providing support.
The following are some of the main benefits of companion planting.
- Shade. Vegetables that prefer growing in semi-shade or that struggle in hot environments can be planted where they will receive partial shade during the heat of the day from taller plants.
- Repelling pests. Certain plants repel insect pests, which can protect other plants susceptible to those pests.
- Attracting pollinators. Certain plants are better at attracting pollinators than others, which benefits all the plants.
- Structural support. Some sturdy plants offer great structural support for creeping or vining vegetables that need to be supported during their growing cycle.
- Improved soil fertility. Certain plants make soil nutrients more readily available for other plants, improving their nutrient uptake and, therefore, their growth and yield.
As much as some plants benefit others, it is also useful to know which plants do not grow well together. Some vegetable combinations do not work well when grown together in the same container, limiting one or both plants’ growth and yield potential.
What Vegetables Grow Well Together in Containers?
The list of plants that grow well with some plants but not with others is an extensive list, so you will need to research each vegetable you want to grow in your containers to find out which other vegetables work well as companions.
We will cover the most common container plants and what you should and shouldn’t grow with these plants.
|Container Vegetable||Good Companion Plant||Bad Companion Plant|
|Spinach and swiss chard||Onions|
|Beans||Swiss Chard and Spinach|
Aspects To Consider Companion Planting In Containers
The success of growing vegetables in containers can be enhanced by using companion planting methods, but there are some common inter-planting mistakes you should avoid.
Overcrowding The Companion Vegetables In The Container
The temptation to plant too many vegetables in the container can be great and is a common mistake when companion planting in containers.
People new to companion planting vegetables in containers sometimes try to plant multiple companion plants in the same space. Even though certain plants complement each other when grown in the same space, you still need to respect their spacing and minimum planting distances.
Maintaining these distances will prevent the plants from competing for root space, sunlight, and nutrients in the container.
Feed Your Companion Plants Frequently
Companion planting and inter-planting multiple crops in a container will deplete the resources in the potting soil faster than planting a single crop.
Expect to increase the frequency of feeding your inter-crop plants in the container. Monitor the plants regularly for signs of lacking nutrients and make adjustments to the feeding cycle.
Water Container Companion Vegetables Regularly
The higher density of plants in the container will cause the moisture in the soil to be used up faster than with fewer plants.
Companion planting vegetables in containers will require more frequent watering to maintain the required moisture level in the soil for the plants’ health.
Plant Density Ratios When Companion Planting Vegetables
Even though certain plants grow well together, you also need to consider plant density ratios. As an example, planting 3 tomato plants with a single companion basil plant will likely be detrimental to the basil.
The tomato plants grow faster than the basil and will out-compete the basil for nutrients, moisture, and sunlight. Consequently, you may only want to plant a single tomato plant with a basil plant in the container. The ratio will depend on the size of the container and the space you can leave between the plants.
Timing for the planting is also a crucial factor. Plant the basil in the container first, and when it is about 6-inches tall, plant the tomato plant in the same container. This allows the basil to become established in the container soil and gives it a better chance to compete against the faster-growing tomato pant.
Companion Vegetables Competing For Sunlight
If your containers cannot be moved to adjust the position for best sunlight distribution, you need to consider where you plant each crop in the container.
Plant shorter or smaller plants at the front of the container where they do not get shaded out, and plant taller plants at the back of the container. This strategy ensures that the plants will all receive enough sunlight to thrive together in the container.
Companion planting is a good strategy to use when growing vegetables in a container, but it requires some planning to ensure success.
Plan the size of the companion plants and match them to the size of your containers. Sometimes this requires a bit of experimentation to establish which companion plant works best in your containers and their location.
Put the companion planting and inter-crop planting strategy into practice in your container vegetable growing operation, and watch your yields increase!