Pepper companion planting is an age-old method for getting the most out of your vegetable plot. Although there is limited scientific evidence surrounding companion planting, many gardeners swear by it.
See: Companion planting – your ultimate guide
'Companion planting can be an organic way to protect your crops from pests or it could help improve pollination of fruit and vegetable crops,' says Sue Sanderson, horticultural executive at Thompson & Morgan.
When it comes to companion planting peppers, you have two things to think about. First, what sort of pepper are you planting – is it a sweet bell pepper or a spicy jalapeño? Each of these will offer different benefits and pest fighting qualities to different companions – so it's important to bear this in mind when planning your plot.
Secondly, it is key to consider the climate. In some regions, peppers can be planted outside but for the majority of places, pepper plants will need to be grown in a greenhouse to mimic the temperatures they would enjoy in the hot climates from which they originate. It is therefore vital that any companion plants will thrive in the same hotter conditions, so pick your plants with this in mind.
What are good companion plants for peppers?
Vegetables including, carrots and eggplant, and flowers, including nasturtiums and geraniums, are all good pepper companion plants.
Whatever companion plants you choose, 'make sure not to plant them too close to your peppers so that the companions don't shade them, as peppers like sun!' says Idelle Fisher, garden blogger at Sandia Seed.
If you're specifically wondering 'what can I plant next to jalapeño peppers?' then we've got lots of ideas. You can plant basil next to jalapeño peppers to – supposedly – improve their flavor or you can plant chamomile and marigolds next to jalapeño peppers to deter pests.
You can even plant jalapeño peppers next to sweet peppers as they both thrive in similar warm environments. Companion planting peppers next to jalapeños will also make both plants easier to look after since they need nearly identical care. This will reduce your workload while increasing your harvest.
Pepper companion planting with vegetables
Beets are a common choice when companion planting peppers. This pairing is particularly recommended if you are growing your peppers outdoors and don't want to use up valuable greenhouse space on hardy veg. The root vegetable helps to prevent weeds while its low-level leaves help to keep the soil shaded, reducing evaporation. This creates a cool and moist environment in which the peppers can then thrive.
Carrots grow deep in the ground with minimal foliage above the ground. Pepper companion planting with carrots disturbs the soil, helping to control weeds. The carrots also provide a living mulch that improves the growth of the pepper.
See: Carrot companion planting – what to grow alongside carrots
Eggplant requires the same growing conditions as peppers so thrive when planted together. Rob Velseboer from Organic Edible Garden recommends 'companion planting peppers and chillis with eggplants for biodiversity pairing with nasturtium and marigolds in and around them to attract beneficial insects'.
Onions don’t take up much room which is at a premium when it comes to pepper companion planting. 'Their strong smell means that they naturally deter aphids, rabbits and other pests – plus when harvested, they taste great with peppers!' says Sandia Seed's Idelle Fisher.
See: Onion companion planting – what to grow alongside onions
Asparagus is a great for saving space when pepper companion planting. When the peppers are small they do not compete with the asparagus, then once the asparagus is harvested in the spring, the growing peppers can commandeer the space. That's two crops for the price of one.
Dwarf French beans are highly beneficial as pepper companion plants. 'Planting dwarf French beans in front of peppers in a greenhouse will fix nitrogen into the soil and feed the peppers giving better harvests' says Rob Smith horticultural expert at Organic Garden Catalogue.
Spinach and lettuce are great as pepper companion plants as they're low growing. This means they don't shade peppers, letting them enjoy most of the sunshine, but will also provide ground cover and keep out weeds that will compete with the peppers for nutrients.
Can I plant tomatoes and peppers together?
Yes, you can grow tomatoes and peppers together – although it's important to bear in mind that growing plant members of the Nightshade or Solacaceae families together can increase the risk that disease will spread amongst them, especially if they are grown in the same bed after each other.
So, if you have little space, plant them together, allowing the peppers to enjoy the dappled humidity and shade that peppers can offer them, and both to enjoy the similar growing conditions, then rotate next season.
See: Tomato companion planting – the best crops to grow with tomatoes
Can peppers be planted together?
Yes, peppers can be planted together – in fact, planting peppers with other peppers will still produce very successful harvests. However, since they are self-pollinating you don't necessarily need more than one plant if you're short of space. Peppers can also be planted with chilli jalapeño peppers.
Pepper companion planting with herbs
Just like with vegetables, there are lots of herbs that are great pepper companion plants.
Basil is a favorite pick. 'In Crete, every veg patch is packed with basil, yet they hardly eat it; gardeners there are convinced that basil ups the productivity of aubergines and peppers so they leave it where it is,' says Sarah Raven in a recent blog post. Planting peppers with basil is easy to replicate in your own garden.
'It's worth remembering that basil is not a Mediterranean herb,' says Monty Don in this Gardener's World video, 'so it likes heat and moisture'. Thankfully, these conditions are very similar to those which enable peppers to flourish, making them great companions. Planting peppers with basil has also been reported to improve the flavor of the peppers come harvest.
Dill is another popular choice for planting alongside peppers as it will 'attract beneficial insects' says Rob Smith horticultural expert at Organic Garden Catalogue.
When planting peppers with herbs, think about next year too. 'Let some of them bloom to feed the native bees and beneficial insects, then you can save the seed for replanting,' advises Idelle Fisher.
What flowers grow well with peppers?
Mountain marigold or Tagetes lemmonii is organic gardening expert Jekka McVicar's top companion plant for peppers as it 'will attract the white fly in the glasshouse to itself keeping other plants clean'.
Petunias (below) make great pepper companion plants. Not only do petunias add a splash of color to the hardest working area of the garden but they also repel pests, like aphids, as well as attracting pollinators such as bees and hoverflies to your vegetable patch.
Nasturtiums are brilliant pepper companion plants as it acts as a trap crop, luring aphids to feast on the nasturtium rather than your precious peppers.
Geraniums are another trap crop and are also believed to repel Japanese beetles which when companion planted with peppers helps to protect your crop too.
- See: Cucumber companion planting – the best plants to grow with cucumbers
What can you not plant next to peppers?
Fennel – 'Florence fennel is allelopathic to other plants which means it gives off a chemical that inhibits the growth of neighboring vegetables,' says Thomas Asche, editor of the Organic Edible Garden. 'We recommend giving the crop a buffer zone of flowers on either side – low-growing varieties though so they don’t shade the plants.'
Strawberries are susceptible to a fungus called verticillium which will cause the strawberries to wilt and fail. 'Do not plant susceptible strawberry cultivars in soil where peppers, as well as other plants, have grown for the past five years.' says Michael A. Ellis from the Department of Plant Pathology at Ohio University. These plants can encourage verticillium which will destroy strawberries.
Apricot trees should never be companion planted with peppers as apricots are susceptible to diseases that pass from peppers. These diseases can stunt the apricot tree's growth, reduce its fruit and ultimately kill the tree.
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