What vegetable grows in almost any garden, takes little effort to maintain, and still makes for an excellent salads ingredient? Few fit this description as the cabbage.
Sadly, alongside the wrong species, this seemingly easy-to-grow vegetable can become a huge problem in your garden. For a successful harvest, you’ll have to grow it alongside the ideal cabbage companion plants.
Here, we want to give you a closer look into the best species to grow alongside your cabbage and which ones to avoid. Check below!
Table of Contents
Cabbage Requirements for Companions
So, let’s start by teaching you the most critical demands of the cabbage. Understanding it will give you a hint of what companions to consider and which ones to overlook.
- Tons of food. Most species from the brassica family are heavy feeders. The cabbage is no exception. You need to ensure a lot of nutrients for the plant to thrive. If you plant it close to plants that suck away most of the nutrients in the soil, your cabbage will struggle.
- Sufficient moisture. Brassicas are moisture lovers. Cabbage can be planted in relatively warm environments, but it only thrives in humid places. Alongside plants that prefer dry areas, your cabbage may not grow well.
- Relatively cold environments. Similar to its humidity needs, cabbage demands temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher will make it struggle. And lower will stunt its growth rate. Plants that don’t like these cool areas will be the wrong companions.
- A lot of sun exposure. Despite their humidity needs and preference for cold areas, cabbages will only grow if you can ensure 6 hours of sunlight. Plants that block the sun or prefer shaded areas may not help your cabbage at all.
These are the general needs of the cabbage plant. Plants that share these needs will also work neatly with your cabbage and may even help it in the process. Below, we talk more about them.
Best Companions for Cabbage
So, with the above requirements in mind – what plants should you consider? Here we have 14 species and their benefits.
1. Aromatic Herbs
Herbs like sage, rosemary, and mints give tons of advantages to cabbages. For one, they deter cabbage moths and other pests. Second, they enhance the cabbage’s taste by improving potassium, calcium, and sulfur in the soil. And lastly, they control weeds if planted well.
In the right positions, aromatic herbs that don’t grow too high also use space more effectively. Your vegetable garden will be perfectly spaced and healthy.
Considering beans are often harvested when the cabbage is still growing, you can consider them excellent companions.
When just planted, cabbage needs a bit of shade to keep growing. Too much sun can scorch the sprouts and stunt the plant.
With a dense bean plant close, your cabbage will have a bit of shade to prevent this from happening. On top of that, partial shade keeps the cabbage disease-free and much more resistant to pests.
Among the many other herbs to consider, borage stands out as a pest-repelling alternative. Worms, for example, hate the smell of borage and will stay away if planted close to your cabbage.
At the same time, it attracts insects that will eat away other pests. So borage comes with twice the benefits as most other companions.
As a brassica itself, the cabbage plant appreciates growing alongside other brassicas. Given you space them out correctly, cabbage will love broccoli, kale, cauliflower, collard greens, and even Brussel sprouts.
It’s vital to know that this spacing is essential with other brassicas. Because these plants all consume similar nutrients, they will only thrive if you keep them from fighting.
Looks like a herb, is often confused with a vegetable, but it’s actually a grain. Buckwheat is one of those plants that are hard to figure out.
If you get to want it on your vegetable garden, for any reason, you’ll be happy to know it grows well alongside cabbage.
What sets it apart is the preference for the same kind of temperature and humidity and its ability to attract wasps that will eat away cabbage worms.
If that is not enough, you’ll be surprised at how effective buckwheat is at manuring the soil. It will keep the ground a lot more nutritious for your cabbage to feed incessantly.
Some herbs offer a large set of advantages to your cabbage. Chamomile, for example, grows in the same environments, making it an instant worthwhile companion.
It is known that chamomile, like some aromatic herbs, also improves soil richness. However, it comes with the extra ability to also improve the cabbage’s taste.
For even better results, chamomile manages to keep cabbage moths and worms. There’s almost no chance your cabbage won’t thrive with chamomile close.
While we could add it to the aromatic herb batch, cilantro comes with a few additional benefits worth talking about.
On top of repelling some insects, improving the soil nutrients, and working as a spacing aid, cilantro also improves your cabbage’s taste. In some cases, you may also use cilantro to control weeds and keep the cabbage healthier for long.
While not a common companion, dill also comes with a fantastic advantage: it attracts insects that kill cabbage moths and cabbage worms. For the same reason, loopers that can be life-threatening will also stay away.
And what’s even more interesting, dill loves similar humidity and temperature without eating away cabbage’s nutrients. You won’t have to worry about a thing.
Tons of gardeners tend to overlook hyssop on their garden. But the benefits are next-level.
The flowers, for example, bring tons of pollinators and pest-eating insects. With its scent and chemicals, it repels larvae and cabbage butterflies. And interestingly, it also repels lugs that love leafy vegetables.
Hyssop is an excellent companion because it also appreciates cold areas and can survive in humidity or drought.
Enough of herbs. Let’s now take a look at the flowers that your cabbage will love growing with. In the first place, we have marigolds, also known as calendula.
The attractive yellow and sometimes orange flowers will attract good insects. Therefore, it will repel the bad ones. This includes aphids and cabbage moths that love eating cabbage.
Other flowers you will love close to your vegetable garden will be nasturtiums. Perfect as edging flowers, they will deter pests and give the vegetable garden an excellent appearance.
Because they like the same environment as cabbage, they make almost perfect companions in nearly every sense. If you plant them well enough, nasturtiums will also space out the garden.
For big crops that look disorganized, you can use peas to give a bit of form. This includes cabbage crops, mainly because peas also increase nitrogen levels, helping other plants thrive.
Just like beans, peas can also work as shading plants when the cabbage is growing. And because peas appreciate similar soil and temperature conditions, they will grow ideally with your cabbage.
13. Root Vegetables
They aren’t precisely completely friendly, because in some cases they may battle with cabbage for nutrients. But given you place them sufficiently apart, there shouldn’t be a problem
Another herb that blooms, yarrow is one of the best companion plants for improving soil composition, making it ideal for the cabbage to thrive.
As an herb, however, it also repels undesirable insects and keeps the good ones. And as the last benefit, yarrow works wonders when it starts to decompose, making for an excellent addition to your manure.
Worst Companions for Cabbage
All the plants above will give your cabbage an almost perfect environment to thrive. The ones below are the opposite. These are plants that will either attract pests, eat away the soil’s nutrients, or provide too much shade. Here’s a break down of each:
Leafy vegetables are often too similar to cabbage, so they may not work perfectly well as companions. Among these leafy veggies, none provides as bad of a result as lettuce.
First, because they won’t grow well as they feed on the same nutrients. And second, because their pests are pretty much the same, so they end up swarmed by unwanted insects. This could also bring diseases.
A seemingly harmless herb but can actually make your cabbage struggle, rue is problematic when planted close. The reason is simple, rue attracts insects like whitefly. This can be damaging to the brassica, primarily when grown from a seedling.
Another reason to consider is the tons of chemicals that rue exerts. These chemicals affect many herb species and tend to be similarly damaging to cabbage.
One of the hungriest plants out there is the strawberry. When planted too close to your cabbage, the strawberry will fight for those nutrients. This could cause a bit of stunted growth in both species. Generally, though, it is the strawberry who will struggle the most. So don’t get your cabbage close.
In contrast to peas that give a lot of shade when it’s useful, tomatoes may produce too much shade when the brassica needs it the most. Simultaneously, the cabbage will stunt the growth of young tomatoes, as it consumes pretty much the same nutrients.
How to Get the Most Out of Cabbage Companion Planting
With a better idea of what plants to consider and which ones to overlook, here’s how you can get the most of companion planting with your cabbage:
- Spacing. It depends mostly on the size of your garden. But generally, you should leave at least 10 inches of space between cabbage and other species. This leaves enough space for the cabbage to grow.
- Rotate crops. Don’t grow cabbage in areas where other species were grown. The best thing to do is to select a location specifically for cabbage and grow it there. Place the companions close but not on the same exact spot.
- Fertilize consistently. Regardless of the companion you pick, make sure the soil is always rich. This will prevent any draining out of nutrients over time.
With these tips in mind, growing your cabbage with the right neighbors will be a lot easier.
There’s nothing else to know going forward. As long as you use the proper companions properly, growing your cabbage shouldn’t be a problem in the slightest.
Use our cabbage companion plants to decide what to plant. And follow our advice to figure out how to get the most out of each.
With all that said – it’s time to get to work. Those cabbages and companions won’t grow themselves!