By growing strawberry companion plants alongside your fruit bushes you can help to boost the crop of these delicious soft fruits.
Try taking a lesson from nature and grow plants alongside your strawberries that will be beneficial for a great harvest. Companion planting is a great way of ensuring a bumper strawberry crop and has been used by gardeners and farmers for many years.
Read on for more details of the best strawberry companion plants to grow.
Why grow strawberry companion plants?
When you are planning a kitchen garden, companion planting is one of the factors to consider.
'Companion planting strawberries can enhance growing conditions, attract pollinators, control pests, and make good use of available space,' says Claire Ransom from Lazy Flora.
The benefits of companion planting strawberries can include improving their flavor, or increasing their resistance to pests, such as slugs. Sometimes the strawberry companion plant will do both. Select the right companion plants and you may also improve pollination and boost the nutrients in the soil. These are all excellent results for permaculture gardening and if you want to create a sustainable garden with less reliance on chemical pesticides and lots of soil maintenance.
'Strawberries, in particular, are prone to a number of pests. Strawberry companion plants will also provide shade in the afternoon light. In return, strawberry plants serve as a mulch, keep weeds at bay and keep the soil cool and moist,' adds Claire Ransom.
Strawberry companion plants include everything from vegetables to other fruits, and herbs, and can be used whether you are growing strawberries under cover in a greenhouse, as vegetable garden container ideas, or in a small vegetable garden. These are the best to grow side-by-side.
Strawberry companion plants – herbs
There are many herbs that can be grown as herb garden ideas that make useful strawberry companion plants.
Borage, in particular, is a long-established and much valued strawberry companion plant. The deep blue flowers of this plant for pollinators attract pollinating insects, which then draw in insects that prey upon them, such as predatory wasps. The predators also prey on insects that can damage the strawberry plants.
Borage adds trace minerals to the soil, which help strawberry growth. Some people also claim that borage improves the strawberries' flavor.
Vegetable companion plants for strawberries
Whether you are growing strawberries in raised garden beds, in containers or in the vegetable patch, there are many crops that make good strawberry companion plants to grow alongside them.
Try growing asparagus, beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, garlic, horseradish, and rhubarb – yes, strictly speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable. All work well planted alongside strawberries. Strawberries are good for onion companion planting.
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.
Flower companion plants for strawberries
Growing ornamentals among your edible crops not only looks lovely, adding color and scent, but also brings a number of benefits.
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 cucumber companion plants, for tomato companion planting, with beans, lettuce and many other popular 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 has written about 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.'
Marigolds are just one of the flowers useful as strawberry companion plants, with others including borage, lupins and white clover.
What should not be planted with strawberries
There a various crops you should not plant with strawberries. These include: cauliflower, cabbages, broccoli, fennel, potatoes, melons, peppers and mint.
Plants from the brassica family – cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli – would compete with the strawberry plants for nutrients.
Plants from the Nightshade family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, or aubergine, may spread fungal disease to strawberry plants.
What is good to plant with strawberries?
Onions are a great companion plant for strawberries. Their smell creates an unappealing deterrent to many garden pests, especially slugs and snails.
Bob Lawson from Kellogg Garden advises: 'These pungent vegetables make great strawberry companion plants. Their unappealing odor is a natural deterrent of many garden pests that feed on the leaves and fruits of the strawberry plant.'
Do tomatoes and strawberries grow well together?
Tomatoes are not the most productive companion plant you can choose for your strawberries.
According to Lawson, strawberry plants are prone to a disease called verticillum. 'Plants like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, melons, peppers, roses and okra may actually contribute to this deadly disease in strawberry plants. It is essential to note that strawberries should not even be planted in beds that have recently housed those plants on this list,' he explains.
Does basil grow well with strawberries?
It is a great choice to grow basil alongside strawberries. The plants work really well side by side. They also taste great together in a salad and are definitely something worth trying.
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Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.
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