Companion planting is like having a team of plants that work together to make your garden thrive, but you have to find those companions that get along with your plants and bring out the best in them.
When it comes to potatoes, having the right companions can make a real difference, as they serve multiple purposes; it’s like having a squad that’s got your back, protecting and supporting your precious potato patch.
No, you don’t need a degree in botany to figure out which plants will get the job done; it’s pretty simple.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some valuable plants that will make wonderful pals for your potatoes.
- What Are Potatoes?
- Why Is Companion Planting Important for Potatoes?
- Companion Plants for Potatoes
What Are Potatoes?
Potatoes, scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum, are a cool-season, underground tuber crop belonging to the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes and eggplants.
Potatoes are common to the Andes region of South America but are grown worldwide and are primarily cultivated for their starchy tubers, which serve as a valuable source of sustenance and income.
But potatoes are so much more than just an agricultural crop.
They’re a staple in countless cuisines worldwide and integral to diverse culinary traditions.
They are also a great source of essential nutrients, providing carbohydrates for energy, dietary fiber for digestion, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium.
Potatoes are a common comfort food due to their versatility and comforting textures. From crispy french fries to creamy mashed potatoes and everything in between, there’s a potato preparation to satisfy every craving.
Why Is Companion Planting Important for Potatoes?
When it comes it growing potatoes, companion planting offers numerous benefits.
Here are some reasons why you should practice companion planting with potatoes.
Reason #1: Soil Improvement
Different companion plants have various root structures and growth habits, which can improve soil structure, aeration, and nutrient cycling.
For example, deep-rooted plants like horseradish can help break up compacted soil, while shallow-rooted plants like basil contribute to the organic matter in the upper soil layers.
Reason #2: Pest Control
Certain companion plants help repel or deter pests commonly affecting potatoes, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
For instance, marigolds repel aphids and nematodes, while plants like tansy and catnip can deter potato beetles and other harmful insects.
Reason #3: Increased Biodiversity
By growing a variety of plant species together, you create a more balanced ecosystem.
This diverse environment attracts beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which help control pests and enhance soil health and fertility.
Reason #4: Nutrient Enhancement
Certain companion plants, like beans and peas, are nitrogen-fixing. They can convert atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form for plants.
Intercropping potatoes with nitrogen-fixing companions helps increase nitrogen availability in the soil, promoting healthier potato growth and development.
Reason #5: Weed Suppression
Companion plants can act as living mulch, helping to suppress weeds around your potato plants and minimize competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
Ground-covering companions like a dense planting of radishes can shade the soil, reducing weed germination and growth.
Companion Plants for Potatoes
Here are the best companion plants for potatoes.
Companion Plant #1: Marigolds
Marigolds are vibrant flowers that add a pop of color to your garden and act as natural pest repellents.
Marigolds emit a scent that deters many common pests that can harm your potatoes, such as aphids and nematodes.
Companion Plant #2: Horseradish
Planting horseradish near your potatoes can provide them with a natural defense against fungal diseases.
Horseradish contains compounds that suppress the growth of harmful fungi, such as late blight, a common potato disease.
Companion Plant #3: Beans
Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants, meaning they can convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use.
This enriches the soil with nitrogen, a vital nutrient for potato plants.
Additionally, their leafy growth can help prevent excessive sun exposure on the potatoes.
Companion Plant #4: Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are lovely, edible flowers that add beauty to your garden and serve as a natural pest deterrent.
They repel pests like aphids, Colorado potato beetles, and whiteflies and can act as a trap crop, drawing pests away from your potatoes.
Companion Plant #5: Chives
Chives are small but flavorful herbs that add a delicious culinary element to your garden and can help repel harmful insects like aphids and potato beetles.
Companion Plant #6: Corn
Corn provides vertical growth, which creates shade for the potato plants and helps reduce weed growth.
Potatoes act as a natural support system for the corn, helping to stabilize the tall stalks during windy conditions.
Companion Plant #7: Tansy
Tansy is a herbaceous perennial plant known for its ability to repel various pests, including Colorado potato beetles.
You can plant tansies near your potatoes to deter these beetles.
Companion Plant #8: Radishes
Radishes are quick-growing and can be interplanted with potatoes.
They can help break up compacted soil with their root systems and deter pests like flea beetles.
Companion Plant #9: Basil
Basil helps repel pests like aphids, mosquitoes, and flies.
Planting basil near your potato plants can help keep these unwanted visitors away while adding a delightful aroma to your garden.
Companion Plant #10: Catnip
If you have issues with pests like aphids, squash bugs, or flea beetles in your potato garden, then catnip should be your go-to guy.
Its strong scent repels these pests, keeping them away from your potato plants.
The beauty of companion planting is not just about enhancing yields or deterring pests; it lies in its simplicity and the many other benefits it brings to your garden.
So, let your garden be a testament to the wonders of companion planting and its advantages to your potato-growing adventure.