Been looking for the best potato companion plants? This guide sheds light not only on the best potato companion plants but also other specifics of this technique.
As a budding gardener, one could easily be gobsmacked with the number of available possibilities. There are innumerable plants and their varieties available today, that can easily be planted in your garden to ensure the maximum aesthetic and food-generation outcome. However, it is essential to beware of the effect of each plant on its neighboring plants.
To assure you have a healthy garden, it is important to plan it beforehand. This makes sure of the availability of enough space for each plant while also strategically placing them, so the neighboring ones can mutually benefit each other. One of the most famous techniques to do so is called companion planting.
Potatoes, just like any other plant can benefit from companion planting. They are great sources of carbohydrates while also being one of the most essential commercial crops.
In this article, we discuss some of the best and worst plants to plant in companionship with potatoes, one of the easiest-going vegetables.
Why Companion Planting?
It does not matter if you are just a gardening hobbyist or a farmer who relies on their plants to bring in money, growing just one crop throughout the available piece of land has never proven to be beneficial.
Known as monoculture, however careful you may be, your plant will be more susceptible to pests and diseases. Not only this, but growing the same plant throughout will render the soil completely unavailable of certain nutrients over time.
Yes, good-quality fertilizers can be opted for but at the end of the day, most of them are made of chemicals and they cost you overheads.
The most effortless solution is right there – companion planting. This method helps you with better yields, helps keep away harmful pests and insects, while also attracting the ones that can be beneficial.
Using the companionship method also ensures your soil stays healthy and is not completely deprived of certain nutrients.
Potatoes are one of the most inexpensive and easy to grow vegetables available to humans. Found in over 5000 varieties, they are all different in textures and tastes.
Potato Companion Plants: What to Plant
To assure your potatoes reap the maximum advantages from fellow potato companion plants, it is important to be aware of which plants are good to grow with potatoes. For your ease, we have divided these plants into three broad categories: vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
- Scientific name: Armoracia rusticana
- Used as a spice and a condiment
- Antibiotic properties
One of the best potato companion plants is horseradish. It provides potatoes with numerous benefits, including keeping certain caterpillars at bay.
As a potato plant beneficiary, it repels many pests like potato bugs, Colorado potato beetles, aphids, blister beetles, and whiteflies. It also makes your patch disease-resistant.
Since horseradish grows at a rapid speed, it is essential to remember to plant it at the corners of the potato patch, ideally in pots. Even a bit of the root left on the ground can quickly spread off.
- Scientific name: Zea mays
- Starchy vegetable and cereal grain
- High in fiber content
Potatoes are an underground plant but corn roots in the shallow plane, and this assists in maximizing your space.
Corn stalks also grow tall, in turn providing some shade to your potatoes while reducing the amount of water evaporated from the ground. Thus, assuring that the potatoes get enough water.
Besides its direct benefits, corn can also be used as green manure for your potato patch.
Using corn as green manure can drastically reduce the chances of verticillium wilt, which can destroy your potatoes before they can even mature.
- Scientific name: Lactuca sativa
- hree common types: red, green, and oak
- Good source of iron and other beneficial bioactive nutrients
Available in 23 different varieties, this potato companion plant does not fight for nutrients. It is another shallow-rooted plant that is usually planted in rows with potatoes to maximize yields and space.
This leafy green also provides great ground cover, thus preventing weeds and helping in retaining moisture.
These beneficial properties can also be found in other leafy greens like spinach.
- Scientific name: Pisum sativum
- Each peapod contains multiple peas, yellow or green in color
- Antioxidant properties
Legumes are mainly known for their nitrogen-fixing properties in the soil. Potatoes usually require a relatively higher amount of nitrogen, thus the nitrogen-fixing properties of legumes like peas or beans can be immensely helpful to potatoes.
Potatoes also help legumes by deterring the Mexican bean beetle, a pest many legumes are susceptible to.
There are different types of peas, but all of them good potato companion plants.
- Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris
- Used as incense and balms
- Have culinary and medicinal purposes
Thyme makes an excellent potato companion plant due to its properties like attracting beneficial predatory flies such as Syrphidae. They are prone to eating aphids, thus protecting your potato plantation.
These aromatic herbs not only provide great ground cover but also improve the flavor of potatoes. Other herbs that are known to improve the flavor of potatoes are – chamomile, parsley, yarrow, and basil.
Though thyme prefers drier conditions as compared to potatoes, it can still be planted on higher ground on the southern side of the potato mounds.
- Scientific name: Tanacetum vulgare
- Bitter tasting leaves
- Helps with digestive problems
Tansy is another herb that can attract beneficial insects. It also helps with keeping Colorado potato beetles at bay, besides ants, mites, and moths.
It can attract ladybirds in large quantities. They love laying eggs on tansy and usually stick around until the eggs hatch. During this time, they prey on many other harmful insects as well.
Another potato companion plant, or rather herb, with similar properties, is catmint.
- Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
- Commonly used as a spice
- Antioxidant properties
Cilantro, more commonly called coriander, comprises of umbrella-shaped green leaves that do wonders while attracting favorable insects like hoverflies for the potatoes. They feed on pests.
It also fights against potato beetles.
- Scientific name: Levisticum officinale
- Leaves are used as an herb, seeds as a spice, and roots as a vegetable
- Anti-inflammatory properties
When grown in companionship with other plants in general, Lovage aids their health thus providing better growth.
As a potato companion plant, it helps in attracting several advantageous insects and pollinators like bees due to its attractive flowers. It also attracts certain useful wasps and beetles.
- Scientific name: Tropaeolum
- Colorful, edible flowers
- Grown annually
Nasturtiums work as a good potato companion plant in a unique manner. In contrast to other plants, they rather attract aphids and potato beetles.
Gardeners usually plant them at a distance from their vegetable patch, to attract the harmful insects away from the crops. Thus, it acts as a trap crop.
- Scientific name: Trifolium
- Eaten raw, boiled, or sauteed
- High in proteins and vitamins
When in full bloom, the red and white varieties of clover attract beneficial pollinators like honeybees.
Clover also has nitrogen-fixing properties which is another bonus for the soil and your potato plantation.
3. Dead nettle
- Scientific name: Lamium
- Edible leaves
- Used as a sedative
Even though dead nettle is a weed, it is still a great potato companion plant.
It not only improves the taste of potatoes but also keeps many pests and bugs away. Additionally, dead nettle is also good for the growth of potatoes.
- Scientific name: Alyssum
- Sweet and subtle fragrance
- Easy to grow
By creating an amazing ground cover for your plants, alyssum helps to retain moisture. This property, as mentioned above, is extremely helpful as a potato companion plant.
The beautiful flowers also act as a magnet for predatory wasps that prey on harmful insects and pests.
Potato Companion Plants: Plants to avoid
Tomatoes belong to the same family as potatoes, that is, the nightshade family. Never grow the members of this family together as it can make them highly susceptible to dangerous pests and insects. Other common members of the nightshade family are peppers and eggplant.
Potatoes and carrots both require far different environmental conditions. Where potatoes require a slightly damp condition, carrots need a far drier condition.
They can both prove to be disadvantageous for each other. Remember, carrots can damage the growth and development of potatoes. Since they are both root crops, the carrot plantation can be ruined with the harvesting of potatoes.
Not only does asparagus stunt the growth of potatoes, but the roots of asparagus grow extensively, and they can easily be damaged by the earth movement required in the growth and harvest of the potato plant.
Other plants that can be harmful to potatoes include:
Tips For a Better Potato Harvest
- Buy seed potatoes from a reputable source. Seed potatoes bought from the grocery store can be risky as they are more susceptible to pests and diseases. Often, they are also covered with growth blockers to prevent them from sprouting.
- Choose the variety according to the climate conditions in your area.
- Plant early and late variety potatoes at the same time. This way you can harvest during the main season when the early variety is ready and even after the main season when the late variety is ready. Moreover, this extends your potato harvest season.
- The more sun, the better. Plant them when the sun is full but keep the potato tubers safe from the sun as they can quickly turn green. Use the hilling for this purpose (placing a mound of soil near the stem as it grows).
- Keep the soil neutral to acidic, irrespective of the potato companion plants you choose. The pH level should be between 5.0 to 6.0, a higher pH level can cause the potatoes to develop rough spots.
- Provide a steady water supply. Drought conditions can be sensitive to potatoes. Mulching around the plants usually helps by retaining moisture.
- Try to fertilize using liquid comfrey fertilizer during planting.
- Chit or pre-sprout your potatoes for a head start.
- Grow the potatoes in crop rotation with other plants to keep your soil healthy and nutrient-rich.
Bonus tip: Consider checking out these garden tool bags to get some much-needed organization in your gardening etiquettes.
Intercropping or interplanting with not only potato companion plants, but even other plant types, can help with maximizing and using your garden space to the most.
It also helps the soil stay nutrient-rich and gives you a harvest of multiple crops at once. Since there is no scientific evidence to back the companion planting theory, it is important to keep in mind that this process can include a lot of hits and a lot of fails.
It is not necessary that what has worked for others as companion plants, will work for you too. It might even be that one companion plant does well with your potato patch the first year, but does not the second.
This can likely be due to the heavy reliance of these plants on the atmospheric conditions. Remember to keep rotating crops to keep your soil healthy.