Companion planting in the garden can serve a number of purposes, ranging from maximizing garden space to attracting beneficial insects and pollinators to luring insect pests away from other food crops. Here are some great options for companion plants for peppers.
Companion planting, or grouping complementary plants together in the garden to benefit each other, can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to provide shade or a wind barrier to other plants, or to cover the surface of the soil with edible plants to crowd out weeds, or even to help boost the growth, flavor, or yields of food crops.
Ramon previously wrote a great guide to companion plants for tomatoes, and because both sweet and hot peppers are such popular vegetable garden plants that can also benefit from companion planting, here's a big list of herbs, flowers, and vegetables that might compliment your pepper patch.
[Some sources disagree on which plants should be grown together as companions (for instance, beans and peppers), and which companion plants for peppers are not compatible with each other, so if you're not sure, it's best to do some additional research before planting.]
1. Basil: Arguably one of the most popular summer herbs, basil is great on its own, but also has a place next to and around pepper plants. It's claimed that growing basil next to peppers boosts their flavor, and may help to repel some common garden pests, such as aphids, spider mites, thrips, mosquitoes, and flies. Plus, pesto!
2. Chives: Growing chives near peppers can help to deter aphids and other insects, and is said to improve the flavor and yields of plants nearby. Chives are also a handy and flavorful kitchen herb, and because it's a perennial, a single planting can come back year after year.
3. Carrots: Growing carrots around peppers can help to shade out some of the weeds, providing a living mulch, and are a great way to maximize space in the garden. Plus, who doesn't love a fresh carrot, straight from the soil?
4. Onions: Onions don't take up a lot of room above the ground, and are said to deter many common insect pests in the garden, such as aphids, slugs, and cabbage worms, making them a good companion plant for peppers. Besides the onion bulb itself, onion greens can be clipped throughout the season as an addition to salads and other fresh vegetable dishes.
5. Chard: Swiss chard is another incredibly useful plant in the garden, and interplanting it with peppers can offer partial shade and protection from winds, while also crowding out weeds. Chard also happens to be one of the easier veggies to grow, and can add some color to garden beds.
6. Lettuce: Growing lettuce as a companion planting to peppers is a great way to get an additional harvest in a small space, due to their lower growth habit, while also crowding out weeds.
7. Spinach: Spinach can be a compliment to peppers in the garden, for many of the same reasons that both lettuce and chard are, and because of their shorter stature, will not shade out peppers and other taller plants.
8. Okra: Growing okra near peppers can offer wind protection and partial shade for the peppers in the heat of summer, and may offer some protection from pests such as aphids.
9. Leeks: Although not quite as popular to grow as its family members, such as garlic and onions, are, leeks can be a good companion plant for peppers. They don't take up a lot of room, so growing leeks can help to fill in empty spots in the garden, and they are also thought to repel some insects, such carrot flies.
10. Radishes: Radishes are not only easy to grow, but are also one of the quickest (as little as 3 or 4 weeks from seed). Growing radishes around peppers allows you to get a fairly quick food crop in a small amount of space.
11. Beets: If you've only ever eaten canned beets, eating fresh beets from your garden is quite a treat. Growing beets near peppers is another method of filling in empty space in the garden and shading out weeds while helping to keep soil moist.
12. Corn: Besides being one of the most popular summer vegetables, corn is also a unique plant to have in the garden, as we don't often grow any other giant grasses in our beds (at least on purpose). Due to its tall growth habit, corn can serve as a windbreak or to cast shade on pepper plants during parts of the day. Corn is also said to also act as a trap crop for aphids, which may keep them off the pepper plants.
13. Beans: Besides fixing nitrogen in the soil and helping to feed other garden plants, beans can provide other benefits for pepper plants, including crowding out weeds and helping to block the winds or cast partial shade.
14. Tomatoes: Although it's usually recommended to not plant tomatoes and peppers right after each other in the same bed every year, they can be grown together in the same garden bed (and then rotated to another bed next season). Growing tomatoes near peppers helps to shade the soil, and can offer the peppers some protection from the sun in the hottest parts of the day. Plus, salsa!
15. Asparagus: Although asparagus is a perennial, and can't be planted for an instant crop in one season, pepper plants can be grown in the asparagus patch to optimize the use of that space during the summer, after the spring asparagus is picked and eaten.
16. Garlic: Growing garlic as a companion plant with peppers can help repel or deter aphids and certain beetles from taking over the peppers. Planting garlic around peppers, or peppers among garlic, is another way of maximizing garden space for better yields.
17. Squash: Both summer and winter squash can be grown near peppers, where their large leaves can help keep the sun off the bare soil and keep weeds down.
18. Oregano: Due to its shorter stature, oregano grows well around peppers without competing for space, covers bare soil, and is a great complement to many dishes that also include peppers.
19. Dill: Dill is said to attract beneficial insects and to help repel pests such as aphids, and may improve the flavors of vegetables grown nearby. Planting dill around peppers is a great use of space, while their feathery leaves offer some contrast and texture to the garden.
20. Parsley: Growing parsley around pepper plants not only helps you get a second edible from almost the same amount of space, but also serves to provide some shade and cover for bare soil.
21. Marjoram: Another lower-growing herb that won't compete for space with peppers, marjoram is said to improve the flavor of vegetables and herbs grown near it, while also providing a tasty culinary herb.
22. Buckwheat: Growing buckwheat around pepper plants can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, as well as serve as a green mulch (cut and chop the buckwheat and lay on the ground in garden beds).
23. Rosemary: Rosemary can be a great addition to your culinary herbs, while also serving as a groundcover plant to minimize bare soil and high evaporation rates.
24. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are another summer vegetable favorite, as great to eat fresh as they are pickled, and go well with many pepper dishes.
25. Eggplant: Also a relative of peppers, this member of the nightshade family enjoys the same soil conditions that peppers do, and can add some diversity to garden beds while providing another tasty summer vegetable.
26. Parsnip: Parsnips aren't usually one of the vegetables people name as their favorite, but growing this root vegetable around peppers can yield another food crop while helping to crowd out weeds and keep soil shaded.
27. Peas: Peas are a tasty treat in the spring and summer, and the pea plants help to fix nitrogen in the soil to benefit other plants growing nearby or afterward.
28. Geraniums: Growing geraniums as companion plants for peppers is said to help repel cabbage worms, Japanese beetles, and other pests, while also providing some colorful blossoms in the garden.
29. French Marigolds: When grown near other garden crops, French marigolds are claimed to stimulates their growth, while also repelling beetles, nematodes, aphids, potato bugs, and squash bugs.
30. Petunias: In addition to providing a splash of color in the garden, petunias can be a great companion plant for peppers due their ability to repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato worms, and aphids.
31. Lovage: Lovage, as a taller plant, can offer protection from drying winds and sun, and is said to improve both the health and the flavor of many garden vegetable plants.
32. Nasturtium: This edible flower is not only beautiful, and is claimed to benefit the flavor and growth of many other plants, but also is thought to deter aphids, beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and other common garden pests.
What do you grow as companion plants for your peppers?