So what are the main points to be considered combining different plants? What are criteria for making decision if plants will successfully grow near each other?
Water. Some plants are thirsty while other not
Proper watering is essential to your plants. Please note that it doesn’t mean the more water, the better it is for plants. Conversely, if over watered, the plant it can even die.
Basically, there are 3 types of plants regarding water needs and consumption.
– Plants that love moisture. These plants should be watered frequently and with a big amount of water (in average 1.5 gallons a week). Among them are:
Plants that are drought tolerant:
These plants will be healthy if you sometimes overwater them and also they can deal with some drought for a short period of time.
– Desiccation-tolerant plants. These plants have an extreme degree of drought tolerance. Cacti, most of the succulents and even pineapple (if you have one in your garden) can live without water for an extended period of time and if you overwater them their roots will start to rot.
In order to plan a proper watering and to make it easier try to avoid growing plants from the first group close to plants from the last group.
Also, the shape of your garden also matters. If your garden is not flat and there are places higher than other you should place water-lovers below and those that are drought tolerant above them so when watering the drained excess water will be consumed by plants below and they will receive their extra moisture.
Sun. Differentiate sunny and shaded places in a garden
Most plants do love sun. If they consume not enough sunlight for good photosynthesis, they will grow slower and leaves won’t be that green as on Instagram pictures.
Why did I mention that obvious fact? Some plants like salad and cabbage will stay close to ground and some will be tall with big leaves creating shadow for smaller plants depriving them the much needed sunlight. This issue can be resolved by putting shortest plants either in enough distance from tall so they could get enough shine during the day or plant them on the edge of the garden as a border planting
Not always plants share same vital resources but those that do should be placed in a distance or in different areas otherwise they will compete for major resources and nutritious. Sure, if you are some mad scientist and you want to see which plant is stronger and can survive in a competition, you can do that but in general, it is better to avoid planting such plants like asparagus next to fennel, garlic or onion. Lettuce also doesn’t do well next to allium family plants (like garlic and onion). If your soil is not reach enough then tomatoes and corn should be separated as they are both heavy feeders. And broccoli leaves residues that salad doesn’t tolerate (maybe that’s why broccoli is so hated by kids)
Basically, on one hand, there are plant companions and allies that co-exist well and even can help each other to grow. And on another hand, there are plant antagonists (enemies). They can weaken and compete their neighbours.
When planting taller and shorter plants together, make sure that the shorter plants are spaced far enough away and orientated so the sun will shine on them during the day. Many gardeners solve this problem by putting the shortest plants in their own row on the edge of the garden or planted as a border planting.
Looks like out of 4 main elements (earth, fire, water, air) I have already mentioned 3 so now I definitely have to mention the last one.
Air. How it influences on plants placement
Even if you do everything right, you are still not insured against diseases and pests. Plants are vulnerable to infections and they can even infect each other. Here is an example: tomatoes and potatoes are vulnerable to the verticillium fungus infections. Also, tomatoes and corn are affected by the same pest like tomato fruit worm (also referred to as corn earthworm or tomato hornworm). Another example is strawberry, squash and cabbage. Due to their soft nature, they attract a large number of pests.
To reduce risk infecting from another plant it is recommended to keep plants that share same diseases and pests away one from another. This doesn’t guarantee that your plants won’t get infected but at least you can minimize the risk.
There is one more thing you can do to mitigate such risk. As it has mentioned before same as antagonists and companions, there are plants that will attract pests and plants that will repel them. Aromatic herbs such as celery, dill, rosemary, onion mints and thyme as well as onion family plants will assist in keeping the pest away. So you can mix your plants with herbs and allium family plants like garlic and onion to increase protection.
And same as in movie “5th Element” with Bruce Willis I have to mention the last element, do you remember what was that?) I’m talking about LOVE. If you love your plants, somehow they can feel it and can thank you with their beauty and tasty fruits.
Did you faced same issues? Did we miss something? Please help us to improve this article, share your thoughts commenting this article. Also please check out basic gardening tools for proper setup of your garden.