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Rhubarb Companion Plants: Good & Bad Companions

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Rhubarb or Rheum Rhabarbarum is a perennial edible herb that is used in several dishes, including soups, desserts, and so on. Rhubarb can last for decades if planted and cared for properly. That said, rhubarb companion plants play a big role in the survival of rhubarbs. So, if you have these plants in your garden and are wondering what plants to pair them with, you are in luck today!

Rhubarb Companion Plants Good & Bad Companions
Image Credit:  Rhubarb leaves with stalks from Pxhere

Several plants can grow happily with rhubarb, while there are some varieties if grown with these plants may result in disasters. Want to learn more about which plants work fine with rhubarb and which don’t? Stick with this article till the end.

Why Grow Companion Plants?

Have you ever wondered why on earth you should be thinking of growing companion plants in your garden? Do these plants help in any way?

The answer is, Yes. These plants help in multiple ways.

The foremost benefit of companion plants is that they can help other plants in the garden in harsh climates. Experts believe that rather than competing with each other, plants can actually help one another to survive. Companion planting is also an ideal way to discourage the degeneration of land. Furthermore, these plants can attract good insects and bees for pollination, manuring lands, enhancing the decorative aspect of the garden, and so on.

Below are some points that will help you understand why you must think of companion planting in your garden.

  • Enhancing the soil condition
  • Attracting pollinators
  • Providing shade to smaller plants
  • Nursing damaged plants
  • Making gardens greener
  • Improving the environmental conditions
  • Creating harmony and balance
  • Increasing productivity of edible plants
  • Decreasing soil erosion 
  • Reducing harmful pests

However, while choosing companion planting, the most crucial thing to remember is that companion planting is about creating a balance. There should be a harmonious ambiance prevailing in the garden without any notion of domination.

Roles of Companion Plants

Roles of Companion Plants
Image Credit: Cabbage paired with marigold plants from Pixino

To make the most of companion plants in your garden, you must first grasp their function. So, before you go out and buy the companion plants you want, here are the five key responsibilities these plants play.

It will assist you in determining the purpose(s) it serves in your garden and allows you to select the most appropriate plants.

1. Nurturing

As previously indicated, certain companion plants aid in the recovery of damaged plants. In other words, by attracting nutrients to the soil, they function as nurse or doctor plants. They also aid in the recovery of plants by eliminating harmful insects and diseases.

2. Camouflaging

Some companion plants drive out insects by disseminating strong odors. They also sometimes mask the smell of surrounding plants that might attract pests and insects.

3. Stimulation

If you plant good companion plants, you can reap the benefit of enhanced productivity, taste, mineral content, etc. For instance, planting strawberries with borage can help the former to produce juicer, tastier, and more flavorful fruits.

4. Sacrificial

By attracting pests and insects to themselves, sacrificial companion plants aid the growth of other plants in the garden. Planting nasturtiums with vegetable plants, for example, will keep aphids away from the veggies, allowing them to thrive.

5. Sheltering

Tall plants like corn or sunflower can act as natural shelters for smaller plants that require full or partial shade to grow. Also, taller plants offering support for climbers can be an excellent way to provide natural shade or canopy in your garden.

The Good Companions for Rhubarb

There are multiple reasons why planting companion plants with rhubarb is a good idea. However, to reap the benefits of companion planting, one must be aware of the plants that are good for rhubarb.

The following is the list of good rhubarb companion plants that you should think of planting in your garden.

#1. Beet

Beet
Image Credit: Beet from Maxpixel

Beet can be grown in almost any place. Although a root crop, one can eat any part of this plant. These edible plants are not only packed with nutrients but also act as pest repellers. Also, you can plant beet plants with rhubarb to help rhubarb grow healthy, without getting woody. This combination will also give your garden a beautiful greenish-purple look.

#2. Cauliflower

Cauliflower
Image Credit: Cauliflower from Maxpixel

One of the species of Brassica oleracea, i.e., cauliflower, also helps rhubarbs to grow well by helping them to repel whiteflies. Apart from cauliflower plants, other members of the brassica family, like kale, broccoli, and onion, can also be paired with rhubarbs.

#3. Catnip

Catnip
Image Credit: Catnip from Pxhere

Catnips are not only for cats; they are useful for other garden plants too.

Catnip repels insects and rodents while also attracting helpful pollinators such as butterflies and bees. These plants also serve as a cover by emitting a strong aroma that repels insects.

#4. Dill

Dill
Image Credit: Dill in a container from Pinterest

Dill, a celery-family annual herb, is a good companion for rhubarb plants that deters pests and reduces soil congestion. Dill’s roots are deep and help break up thick soils, allowing rhubarb to spread more easily. These plants also assist in the eradication of aphids and the attraction of pollinators.

#5. Marigolds

Marigolds
Image Credit: gilmour.com/growing-marigold

Insect repellent properties are thought to be present in marigold plants. However, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back this up. Despite this, many expert gardeners rely on these plants to keep pests and insects away from their gardens and to reduce worms in the soil. You can certainly try with different marigold species to see which one is best for planting with rhubarbs.

#6. Garlic

Garlic
Image Credit: www.india.com

Garlic cloves tossed in olive oil may smell divine to humans, but garlic plants aren’t particularly appealing to pests. In fact, the stench of garlic is repulsive to many bugs and pests. Garlic’s antifungal effects can protect rhubarbs against infestations of aphids, leaf beetles, and mites.

#7. Bean

Bean
Image Credit: www.britannica.com

Leguminous plants, such as beans, release nitrogen into the soil, which can prove beneficial as a catalyst for the growth of rhubarb plants.  Also, bean plant leaves have small hooked hair that acts as traps for aphids and other insects. Hence, you can plant beans in your garden to solve the issues of pest and weed attacks apart from providing rhubarb plants an ideal ambiance to thrive.

#8. Onion

Onion
Image Credit: www.slashgear.com

In addition to repelling insects, onion roots can aerate the soil by breaking up thick and hard topsoil. As a result, rhubarb roots can develop and spread more easily. Additionally, the antifungal properties of onion keep aphids, whiteflies, and other pests at bay from the garden.

#9. Strawberry

Strawberry
Image Credit: Strawberry fruit plant from Maxpixel

Strawberry plants, like onion plants, have deep taproots that help break down the dry and stiff topsoil crust. As a result, if you plant strawberries near rhubarbs, the latter will thrive by spreading its roots widely. Furthermore, strawberry plants act as shelter for the rhubarbs by providing shade during the hot summertime.

#10. Columbines

Columbines
Image Credit: www.thespruce.com

Columbines or Aquilegia is a perennial flowing plant that can easily be used as a rhubarb companion plant to save rhubarbs from red spider mites.

#11. Thyme

Thyme
Image Credit: Thyme from Pxhere

Thyme can be planted around the perimeter of rhubarb plants to keep insects at bay. Thyme plants also aid in the prevention of root rot in damp soil and attract bees to rhubarb plants.

#12. Chives

Chives
Image Credit: Purple chive by HansLinde from Pixabay

If you have rhubarbs in your garden, you should have chives to pair with them. We say so because chives will deter insects along with adding chlorophyll to rhubarb plants, making them healthy, greener, and nutritious.

The Bad Companions for Rhubarb

Moving on, after learning about the good rhubarb companion plants, it’s time to explore the ones that are an absolute NO in this context.

Here are some ‌plants that do not pair well with rhubarbs, and, as a result, you should avoid them.

1. Cucumber

Cucumber
Image Credit: gardenerspath.com

Cucumber is a refreshing vegetable, but it’s not so refreshing for rhubarb plants. Cucumbers are infamous for trapping soil nutrients, which is one of the major reasons you shouldn’t grow them with rhubarbs. Cucumber plants will absorb all the essential nutrients from the soil, leaving rhubarbs weak.

2. Melon

Melon
Image Credit: Melon plant by katerinavulcova from Pixabay

Melons are popular among gardeners. They are high in dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals and offer many health benefits. However, if you want to cultivate rhubarb, don’t plant melons in your garden.

Why? Because melons compete for all the available sunlight. Since they require a bright sunny ambiance, your rhubarbs will not get enough light. Melons are creepers, so they’ll wrap themselves around your rhubarb plants and spread their leaves above them. As a result, rhubarbs will have almost no access to sunlight, making them susceptible to diseases and pest infestations.

3. Pumpkin

Pumpkin
Image Credit: Pumpkin plant from Pinterest

Pumpkins, a cousin of melons, will cause a similar problem if grown together with rhubarb. The pumpkin’s phototropic potential may end up sickening your rhubarb plants.

4. Dock

Dock
Image Credit: www.youtube.com

Dock leaves are excellent for relieving nettle stings. They are, however, a poor rhubarb companion plant. The Rhubarb Curculio, a bug that bores into the rhubarb stalk, makes it less appetizing and is attracted by docks. Other bugs that this crop attracts include weevils, beetles, spiders, capsids, etc.

5. Sunflower

Sunflower
Image Credit: www.gardeningknowhow.com

Sunflowers, like docks, attract the Rhubarb Curculio. As a result, grow your sunflowers in a special location to ensure good rhubarb cultivation.

Another flowering plant that attracts the Rhubarb Curculio is the thistle. So, it is not a good idea to pair thistles with rhubarbs.

6. Black Walnut 

Black Walnut
Image Credit: kb.jniplants.com

Black walnuts can act as allelopathic. They produce a biochemical (juglone) that adversely affects the growth, development, and survival of rhubarbs. Hence, black walnuts are not good rhubarb companion plants to think of.

Affects of Pairing Wrong Plants with Rhubarb

Mono-cropping with rhubarb may not be the finest approach, and planting other plants with this crop can be a great way to ensure healthier crops harvest every time. As a result, gardeners often look to grow at least two plants to enhance the overall growth and development of the plants. But however hard you try, sometimes some pairing does not go well, and you end up with more bad than good. The same can be stated for rhubarbs as well. If you diversify your garden by pairing rhubarb plants with the wrong companion plants, you can end up hurting the former.

It’s advisable to be aware of the possible implications of planting rhubarb with incorrect plants. The following are, therefore, some of the common disadvantages of growing rhubarb with unsuitable crops.

1. Pest Attack

If we plant rhubarbs with improper plants, one of the first problems they will experience is pest infestation. Bugs, such as the Rhubarb Curculio, are attracted to plants including sunflower, dock, and thistle. You can be certain that if you cultivate these plants near rhubarbs, the latter will develop holes in their stalks.

Also, if you pair these plants with rhubarbs, you will face issues with other bugs as well, including beetles, spiders, etc.

2. Lack of Soil Nutrients

Nutrients in the soil are essential for plant growth. But soil nutrients are exhaustive.  Plants with an enhanced root system may respond aggressively in sucking up all of the soil nutrients. Although the roots of rhubarb are rather lengthy, plants with stronger roots can compete and win against them. As a result, you should avoid pairing these with rhubarbs.

3. Allelopathy

Allelopathy is a condition in which a plant releases biochemicals into the soil that interfere with the health, reproduction, and flavor of nearby plants. Allelopathic plants do this to establish their monopoly by discouraging other plants from growing nearby.

As a result, planting an allelopathic plant near your rhubarb will reduce growth and make it less palatable.

4. Lack of Sunlight

Plants require sunlight for growth and development. However, there are certain plants, like melons, that are phototropic, and can re-orient their shoot growth in the sunlight’s direction. Hence, if you put these plants near rhubarbs, the latter will probably receive little sunshine and will be shaded by the phototropic plants. The rhubarb plants’ growth may be hampered as a result of this.

Conclusion

The concept of combining plants is brilliant. And growing companion plants near your rhubarb plant is a simple technique that can help your plant thrive. However, it is highly essential to choose the right rhubarb companion plants to reap their benefits. So, we hope that after reading this post, you got a good idea of plants that combine well with rhubarbs and that don’t.

Do you have any experience with companion planting? If so, don’t forget to express your thoughts on the subject. Also, if you have any other plants in mind that pair well rhubarbs, don’t be shy about sharing them as well.

Companion Plants
VegetablesFruitsHerbsFlowersSpices
CucumberWatermelonBasilSunflowerGarlic
EggplantStrawberryCilantroRosePepper
OkraKale
OnionRhubarb
PotatoSpinach
Pumpkin
Tomato
Zucchini
Carrot
Cabbage
Broccoli

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