Outdoors

Strawberry companion plants – the best crops to grow with strawberries

Choose the best strawberry companion plants to boost and protect your homegrown harvest of these delicious soft fruits

strawberry companions plants
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For a bumper crop of deliciously sweet strawberries, try companion planting. Companion planting strawberries means growing beneficial plants alongside them to improve your crop. 

If you want to give strawberry companion planting a try this year, take a lesson from nature and replicate what grows naturally next to wild strawberries. Farmers producing strawberries on a large scale will also adopt this approach. 

Read on for more details of the best plants to grow alongside strawberries and how to go about it. 

See: Companion planting – your ultimate guide

Why grow strawberry companion plants?

strawberry companions plants

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Claire Ransom from Lazy Flora says: 'Companion planting can enhance growing conditions, attract pollinators, control pests, and make good use of available space.' 

The benefits of companion planting strawberries can include improving their flavor, or increasing their resistance to pests such as slugs. Sometimes the companion plant will do both. Select the right companion plants and you may also improve pollination and boost the nutrients in the soil. 

'Strawberries in particular are prone to a number of pests. Companion plants will also provide shade in the afternoon light. In return, strawberries plants serve as a mulch, keep weeds at bay and keep the soil cool and moist,' adds Claire Ransom.  

What companion plants go with strawberries?

Strawberry companion plants include everything from vegetables to other fruits, and herbs. These are the best to grow side-by-side.

Herb companion plants for strawberries

strawberry companions plants

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Asparagus, beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, garlic, onion and horseradish, and rhubarb (yes, strictly speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable!) all work well planted alongside strawberries. 

Legumes – beans and peas – grown next to strawberries will improve the soil, fixing nitrogen and thus feeding the strawberry plants.

Asparagus and strawberries are compatible neighbors as their roots spread in different ways, so they don't compete for space or nutrients. 

Herb companion plants for strawberries

strawberry companions plants - borage

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Chives, borage (above) and thyme are all excellent companion plants for strawberries. 

Borage in particular is a long-established and much valued strawberry companion plant. The herb's deep blue flowers attract pollinating insects, which then draw in insects that prey upon them, such as predatory wasps. The predators prey on insects that can damage the strawberry plants. 

Borage also adds trace minerals to the soil, which help strawberry growth. Some people claim that borage improves the strawberries' flavor. 

See: Starting a herb garden – a beginner's guide

Flower companion plants for strawberries

strawberry companions plants

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The humble marigold (tagetes) is valued by gardeners just as much for its pest repellant properties as for its cheery blooms. Strawberries and marigolds are a classic combination in many mixed garden planting schemes. 

You'll often find marigolds used as companion plants alongside cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, lettuce and many other common vegetables. Many gardeners swear by the marigold's ability to keep pests, bugs, and even invasive weeds at bay. 

'Although there is limited scientific research surrounding companion gardening, many gardeners find it extremely beneficial,' says Sue Sanderson of Thompson & Morgan.

Indeed, Sarah Raven reports in her blog on the success she's had in her own garden with Tagetes minuta, the Mexican marigold, which she says 'is effective against perennial weeds such as bindweed, couch grass and ground elder as it gives out a chemical from its roots that is toxic to them. It sounds far-fetched,' she continues, 'but I can vouch for its efficacy: it cleared ground elder from my rose garden and yet had no effect on my roses. They’ve gone from strength to strength, yet the ground beneath them is now clean.'

What should not be planted with strawberries

See: Tomato companion planting - the best crops to grow with tomatoes

AVOID planting any of the following alongside strawberries: cauliflower, cabbages, broccoli, fennel, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, peppers and mint. 

Plants from the brassica family – cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli would compete with the strawberry plants for nutrients. 

While tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant (aubergine) may spread fungal disease to strawberry plants.