Broccoli seems like the plant that grows anywhere regardless of what it has around it. But sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
Plant it alongside the wrong plant, and it will struggle to grow. In the worst-case scenario, it won’t even sprout.
Either way, it is not something you’ll want to test. That’s why learning about the best broccoli companion plants can be so helpful.
Below, we’ll explain why planting broccoli alongside the right plants is essential, and then we’ll show you which plants to use or stay away from. Take a look!
Why Use Companion Plants with Broccoli?
While relatively easy to grow, the “Brassica oleracea var. italica,” or as we know it, broccoli, requires a lot of space and tons of nutrients. So, when it’s planted incorrectly, it doesn’t thrive.
Having that in mind, you could guess why the right companion plants can be so helpful. Here are a few benefits:
- More efficient use of space as broccoli plants are large and could overgrow others
- Superior growth by ensuring effective sharing of nutrients and soil
- Improved taste by the blend of chemicals some plants offer
- Fewer pests and diseases as other plants could prevent the spread
- Healthier growth by reducing sun and environmental damage
As you can see, there are tons of advantages to planting broccoli with the right partners. And you could enjoy all these benefits at once with the right ones.
Want to know what companions we’re talking about? Check them out below!
Best Companion Plants for Broccoli
We chose the plants that fared best alongside broccoli and at the same time made it a lot tastier, healthier, and grow faster. Take a look at what each of them offers:
1. Beets & Radishes
Many people tend to confuse beets and radishes, but they’re almost entirely different vegetables.
Both grow as root veggies, meaning the edible part grows underground. For that reason, they don’t need as much sun exposure as other plants. With a broccoli plant around, they can receive less of that sunlight and thrive.
Simultaneously, both beets and radishes consume various nutrients than broccoli and take little space. As you can figure out, broccolis thrive alongside these two vegetables because they don’t fight for nutrients or space. And that’s a huge advantage.
2. Onion Family
People think of the onion family as one of the most starving plants for vegetable gardens. But even then, they all thrive with broccolis around (and vice versa).
What makes every member of the onion family an exceptional companion for broccoli is the unique sharing of chemicals. In contrast with other plants, the sweetness of onions, shallots, and scallions often spreads in the soil. This is then absorbed by plants around, like broccoli.
When broccolis absorb these chemicals, they get a bit of a better flavor. And that makes the often-bitter taste of broccoli spicier and passable (hint for those who struggle to eat greens).
A go-to partner for your broccoli could also be the most modest of herbs, like rosemary. Others from the mint family like mint itself, sage, lavender, basil, oregano, and thyme also do well. But rosemary takes the throne.
The primary reason is the similar preference for climates. While other herbs may struggle if the temperatures go too low, rosemary will thrive alongside the broccoli regardless of where it goes.
In the process, the “Salvia Rosmarinus” will keep pests away. This includes cabbage moths, loopers, and whiteflies, helping broccoli grow healthier and pest-free for long.
We can go as far as to say that you don’t necessarily need to plant the rosemary alongside the broccoli. In some cases, gardeners recommend just spreading the leaves of the herb around. That sometimes suffices to keep snails, slugs, and other pests away.
And if all that wasn’t enough, the unique oils and chemicals that an herb like rosemary produces may also give a bit of taste boost to your broccoli. That’s why it’s a must-consider companion.
Like parsley, cilantro, and carrot, every member of the Apium family can make for a decent partner for your broccoli. But among the Apium, nothing beats the celery.
The benefit comes mainly from the flavor. Celery is said to produce a slight improvement in the taste of brassicas (mostly broccoli).
As an extra, celery takes little to no space. And because it typically grows shorter than broccoli, you’ll have no problem with them around.
Many flowering plants do well with broccoli. These include calendula, tarragon, and Dahlias, all grow perfectly well. But nothing beats chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).
Why is that so? Well, there are many reasons.
One because chamomile attracts pollinators, like bees, hoverflies, and wasps. These can be immensely helpful to broccoli.
Two because chamomile improves broccoli’s taste slightly. As a flowering herb, the aroma and oils it produces can be absorbed by the brassica.
And three because chamomile is not a starving plant in the slightest. More importantly, it produces gorgeous white-and-yellow flowers that boost your vegetable garden looks.
The “Lactuca sativa,” or more commonly known as the lettuce, loves being planted alongside brassicas. And that obviously includes the beloved broccoli.
What’s the advantage? Easy, lettuce appreciates the shade that broccolis give. While the plant requires some sun to thrive, it bolts a lot slower when it’s protected alongside broccoli.
The exciting part about broccoli and lettuce together is that they look almost the same. If you want to add a bit of symmetry to the garden, this plant would be an excellent partner for your broccoli.
Another leafy green that would go almost perfectly with your broccoli could be spinach. Not only is it a healthy vegetable that you can eat pretty much in any way, but it also helps your broccoli enormously.
It all comes down to spinach’s ability to consume completely different nutrients than broccoli, not taking much space, and still enjoying the shade the big leaves from the broccoli give when it’s sunny.
This combination of benefits is more than enough to say that you should give spinach a chance. Especially if you’ve had trouble growing spinach alone, putting it alongside your broccoli could be a huge advantage.
People often stay away from potatoes as a companion plant because it sucks out a lot of nutrients. But the “Solanum tuberosum” doesn’t affect the broccoli as much.
While nightshades like peppers and eggplants hate potatoes because it eats the same nutrients, and root plants like onions and carrots despise it because it takes their soil away – broccolis love it.
This mostly happens because potatoes suck away phosphate and magnesium. Broccoli, in contrast, prefer nitrogen and calcium. Similarly, broccolis grow overground while potatoes grow underground.
They’re pretty much the perfect companions for any garden. And what’s even better, they look fantastic when planted close.
The red-stalked plant “Rheum rhabarbarum” will give any vegetable garden a massive boost in protection against diseases and pests.
It is a bit counterintuitive because rhubarb contains a high amount of oxalic acid in its leaves. This oxalic acid is supposedly damaging to other plants, which could cause issues if planted too close to fragile species.
But precisely because rhubarbs are high in oxalic acid, they are often disease-free. And more importantly, they deter pests like the whitefly that preys on most of the brassica family (it loves broccoli!).
As said before, planted too close together could damage the broccoli due to the oxalic acid. But as long as you keep them at about 12 inches of distance or more, you shouldn’t have a problem. In fact, the rhubarb will help the broccoli grow healthier, safer, and quicker.
Among the most exciting companions you can get for broccoli, nasturtium flowering plants come with a wide array of benefits.
The first is the ability to repel pests like worms and loopers. Thanks to a unique astringent aroma and a peppery tone, nasturtiums keep them away. When flowering, they also attract bees and other pollinators that cabbages could benefit from.
But that’s not all. Nasturtiums are also a bit viny. Because of that, they tend to crawl around, protecting against the sun and maintain the soil moist. This ensures more sustainable growth for the broccoli, as nasturtiums end up acting like mulch.
When it comes to flowers to make your broccoli completely pest-free, nothing beats the quality of geraniums.
Planted around broccoli, geraniums protect against moths and worms. Interestingly, geraniums also consume little to none of the nutrients that broccoli needs, so it is also a super-safe neighbor underground.
Lastly, geraniums make any vegetable garden a lot more attractive. If you want to give the place a more appealing look, geraniums will always be there as a go-to alternative.
Similar to chamomile, marigolds produce pest-attracting flowers. This means your broccoli will stay free, as the pests will prefer feasting on the marigold blooms instead of vegetables.
Another advantage comes from the different nutrient consumption. Marigolds don’t need as much calcium like broccoli, so it doesn’t fight for it. In fact, even if the broccoli sucks it all away, the marigold plants will still thrive.
Worst Companion Plants for Broccoli
The plants above will thrive alongside your broccoli while keeping it healthy in one way or another. Meanwhile, the ones we’re going to describe below will be the total opposite. These plants will either harm your broccoli’s growth, bring pests, diseases, or simply not grow as they should. Check them out:
1. Other Brassicas
Regardless of what brassica it is, you shouldn’t plant it close to your broccoli. Among the ones you should stay away from include cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
Why? Simple: they consume all the same nutrients. If you plant them together, they will prevent each other from growing nicely, reducing the amount and size of the yields.
But apart from that, they also suffer from the same diseases and pests. With brassicas together, you’re more likely to experience maggots, beetles, loopers, worms, and everything in between.
In short, keep brassicas away from your broccoli.
If you’ve never heard of cucurbits, it’s okay. We’re referring to pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelons, melons, and calabash. All those plants consume an immense amount of nutrients (the same as broccoli), so they may cause severe malnutrition.
They go well separated by at least a few feet. Otherwise, the growth with either plant will be a bit limited.
Another family of plants you should stay away from is the nightshade. This time, we’re talking about peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.
Once again, nightshades are heavy feeders, so they may affect broccoli’s growth. But more importantly, they attract the same pests (mainly beetles) that feed on both species. When too close, nightshades and broccolis become a feast for pests.
Everyone knows how problematic corn can be. As a fast-growing and heavy-feeding crop, it will eat away all the nutrients from the soil before your broccoli can even sprout.
This is one of the worst enemies of broccoli, also because it grows tall and prevents any type of sun exposure to brassicas – stunting growth.
Not many people know this, but strawberries are another super-feeding species. They can suck away a lot of the nutrients that broccoli survives from. And that’s something you don’t want.
Also, strawberries are slightly intrusive viny plants that spread extra-quick. In the worst-case scenario, strawberries may completely prevent your broccoli from thriving.
Broccoli plants love nitrogen. But they may also drown in it. That’s why beans, especially pole and bush beans, can be such a wrong idea alongside your broccoli. Some types of peas are also slightly damaging, like snow peas.
This happens because they may increase the nitrogen amount so much that your broccoli can’t absorb nutrients properly. In some cases, they may even prevent your broccoli from sprouting. Stay away from them.
Ensuring a constant flow of healthy green broccoli into your kitchen doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you choose the ideal broccoli companion plants, you’ll have no problem.
So, are you ready to bring your broccoli crops to the next level? Then don’t hesitate and use one of the neighboring options we talk about above (and stay away from the worst ones!). You won’t regret giving your broccoli a proper partner to grow with – you won’t even believe how beneficial they are!