Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves planting two or more species of plants near each other to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Gardeners can maximize yields, improve soil quality, and deter pests and diseases by choosing the right companion plants. In this article, we’ll explore the best companion plants for chili peppers and answer some common questions about companion planting.
Companion planting basics
Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves growing different plants close to each other to enhance each plant’s health and productivity. There are several benefits to companion planting, including saving space, deterring pests, providing physical support and shade, increasing biodiversity, and attracting pollinators to your garden.
When it comes to deterring pests, certain plants can be beneficial. For example, planting marigolds alongside chili peppers can help keep insects and rodents at bay. In addition to deterring pests, companion plants can also provide physical support and shade for each other, which is especially important for taller plants that may need extra support.
One of the most significant benefits of companion planting is that it can increase biodiversity in your garden. By growing various plants together, you can create a more diverse ecosystem to better support a wide range of plant and animal life.
Finally, companion planting can also help bring pollinators to your garden. In fact, research has shown that interplanting habanero peppers with cosmos, borage, and basil can significantly increase production due to improved pollination (Montoya et al., 2020). So, to get the most out of your chili pepper plants, consider planting them alongside complementary companion plants.
What are the best companion plants for peppers?
If you’re growing chili peppers, companion planting is a great way to increase your yield and improve the overall health of your garden. By planting certain plants alongside your peppers, you can deter pests, provide shade, and restore nutrients to the soil. Here are some of the best companion plants for chili peppers:
Onions, garlic, and scallions
Onions, garlic, and scallions deter rodents and fight aphids. I interplant almost everything in my garden with onions because it’s the most effective method I’ve found for deterring squirrels, which don’t like the scent.
I noticed that squirrels were digging in my garden bags and beds early in the season, and the only plants unaffected were those interplanted with onions. So since then, I’ve been planting onions with everything.
Leeks and chives
Leeks and chives are excellent for repelling aphids from sweet peppers. The odor of chives adheres to the leaves of sweet pepper, masking its odor and preventing sweet pepper identification by the aphid. Both plants can disrupt host finding by the aphid (Amarawardana et al. 2007).
Basil is a great companion plant for chili peppers because it has similar growing requirements and can help deter pests like mosquitoes and hornworms. It’s also highly fragrant, which is a deterrent for pests but pleasant for you!
Bush beans are also suitable for interplanting with chili peppers because they help restore nitrogen to the soil, while peppers use a lot of nitrogen. However, it’s important to avoid pole beans as they may try to use the pepper plant as physical support.
Hot cherry peppers
Hot cherry peppers are great for companion planting with chili peppers because they can help deter pepper maggots, which are attracted to bell peppers (Boucher, 2021).
Okra interplanted with sweet peppers
Sweet peppers can be brittle plants and may need some support to prevent them from breaking under windy conditions, making okra an excellent companion plant. As Riotte (1998) noted, okra grows much taller than sweet peppers and can act as a windbreak, shielding them from harsh winds.
Beets are another great companion plant for chili peppers. They can help prevent weeds by shading the soil and improving water retention. In addition, beets’ leaves act as natural mulch, keeping the area weed-free and making it easier to maintain the garden.
Eggplants are also part of the nightshade family, like chili peppers. Therefore, they require similar growing conditions, including well-drained soil and full sun. However, ensuring they are adequately spaced out is essential to prevent overcrowding.
Spinach and lettuce
Spinach and lettuce are low-growing plants that don’t interfere with chili peppers’ growth. Instead, they are great companion plants that act as a ground cover, preventing weed growth around the pepper plants. In addition, they thrive in the partial shade the pepper plants provide.
Borage and cosmos
Borage and cosmos are beautiful flowers that can also be great companion plants for chili peppers. They help bring in pollinators necessary for chili peppers to produce fruit. In one study, adding borage improved habaneros production (Montoya et al., 2020). Additionally, they add aesthetic value to your garden while providing beneficial services.
Rosemary is a herb that can deter aphids from chili peppers. Planting rosemary within 0.5 meters of chili peppers in greenhouse conditions effectively prevented aphids in one study (Ben Issa et al., 2016). Therefore, it might be a good companion plant for chili peppers to protect them from pest infestations.
Are perennial flowers good companion plants for peppers?
Most of the flowers and plants mentioned above are annuals, meaning they die out every winter. You might wonder — are perennials good companion plants as well?
When it comes to pollination, annuals do a better job of attracting pollinators.
In a study of habaneros, perennials, including salvia, sea oxeye daisy, and turkey tangle frogfruit, were not found to significantly improve production (Montoya et al., 2020). One possible explanation for this could be the timing of flowering. Initially, there was lower production, but after the perennial plots became more established, there were some improvements.
However, as mentioned above, rosemary was shown to be a good companion plant for deterring aphids from chili peppers in greenhouse situations (Issa et al., 2016). When planted within 0.5 meters of chili peppers, rosemary has been found to be effective in repelling aphids.
So, there’s no black-and-white answer, but perennials may be a good option depending on your specific purposes for companion planting and the exact companions you choose.
Should you grow peppers and tomatoes together?
When planning your vegetable garden, you may wonder whether to grow peppers and tomatoes together. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward, as some gardeners swear by this combination while others advise against it. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of growing these two plants together and offer tips for doing it right.
Benefits and downsides of growing peppers and tomatoes together
Peppers and tomatoes require similar growing conditions, making them compatible companions in the garden. Planting them together can help maximize yields in your square footage, optimize soil conditions, concentrate water and nutrient needs, and attract the same pollinators. Additionally, both plants can be trellised to improve production.
However, there are also downsides to growing peppers and tomatoes together. Both plants belong to the Nightshade or Solanaceae families, which means that growing them together can increase the risk of disease spreading among them.
Peppers and tomatoes are both susceptible to verticillium and fusarium wilt, so if one plant becomes infected, you can lose your entire crop of peppers and tomatoes. To prevent this, it’s best to rotate the crops and not grow them in the same bed year after year.
Another challenge when growing peppers and tomatoes together is that many types of tomato plants grow very large and can shade out peppers. This can lead to reduced yields and lower-quality peppers.
Best practices for growing peppers and tomatoes together
If you decide to plant peppers and tomatoes together, there are some best practices to follow to help ensure success.
First, avoid overcrowding the plants, which can increase the risk of disease and competition for nutrients. Second, be careful not to over or underwater the plants, as this can also lead to disease problems. Water the base of the plant (the soil), not the leaves, to prevent water splash and the spread of bacteria and fungi. Avoid working in the garden when wet, as this can increase the risk of disease transfer.
Finally, keep your peppers and tomatoes on a 4-year cycle, meaning that you should plant them in a different location than they were planted for at least 4 years.
Following these best practices, you can successfully grow peppers and tomatoes in your garden.
Is fennel a good or bad companion plant for peppers?
Many people claim that fennel is a harmful companion plant for most other plants because fennel seeds contain allelopathic chemicals that suppress the growth of neighboring plants by preventing germination and inhibiting nutrient uptake. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.
One scientific study showed that interplanting fennel with peppers inhibited soilborne pathogens, suppressing blight in peppers. This suggests that fennel may actually be a good companion plant for chili peppers (Yang et al., 2022).
So, whether fennel is a good or bad companion plant for chili peppers remains to be determined.
Note: When it comes to gardening (or anything really), ancestral knowledge and personal anecdotes are also valid evidence. In this case, many blogs and newspapers state that fennel is a poor companion plant for peppers without sharing personal anecdotes. There is simply no evidence provided for these claims.
If you have seen research articles on this companion match or tried it for yourself, please share in the comments or shoot me an email at email@example.com!
Can you grow sweet and hot peppers together, or will they cross?
If you’re new to growing peppers, you may wonder if hot and sweet peppers can be planted together. The good news is that most peppers require very similar conditions and care, so planting them together can reduce the work it takes to maintain them.
But will they cross and make your mild pepper hot or your hot pepper mild? If a bell pepper flower is pollinated by a habanero flower, the bell peppers will still be sweet and large. The effects of cross-breeding will not be noticeable until the next generation of peppers.
However, if you plan on saving seeds, the next generation of fruit can be unpredictable. To reduce the chance of cross-pollination, try covering the blossoms with a mesh cloth bag to isolate them so that they self-pollinate rather than cross-pollinate.
Companion planting is an effective way to improve the health and productivity of your chili pepper plants. By choosing the right companion plants, you can increase your yield, deter pests, and create a more vibrant and diverse garden.
Whether you’re planting tomatoes, fennel, or perennial flowers, it’s essential to do your research and choose plants that will thrive in your climate and soil conditions. With a little planning and experimentation, you can create a thriving garden with delicious and healthy produce all season long.
- Amarawardana, L., Bandara, P., Kumar, V., Pettersson, J., Ninkovic, V., & Glinwood, R. (2007). Olfactory response of Myzus Persicae (Homoptera: Aphididae) to volatiles from leek and chive: Potential for intercropping with Sweet Pepper. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B – Plant Soil Science, 57(1), 87–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/09064710500487721
- Ben Issa, R., Gautier, H., & Gomez, L. (2016). Influence of neighbouring companion plants on the performance of aphid populations on sweet pepper plants under greenhouse conditions. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 19(2), 181–191. https://doi.org/10.1111/afe.12199
- Boucher, J. (2021). When Pepper Maggots Invade Your Farm. Integrated Pest Management. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from https://ipm.cahnr.uconn.edu/when-pepper-maggots-invade-your-farm/
- Riotte, L. (1998). Carrots love tomatoes: Secrets of companion planting for Successful gardening. Storey Pub.
- Montoya, J. E., Arnold, M. A., Rangel, J., Stein, L. R., & Palma, M. A. (2020). Pollinator-attracting companion plantings increase crop yield of cucumbers and habanero peppers. HortScience, 55(2), 164–169. https://doi.org/10.21273/hortsci14468-19
- Yang, Y., Li, Y., Mei, X., Yang, M., Huang, H., Du, F., Wu, J., He, Y., Sun, J., Wang, H., He, X., Zhu, S., Li, Y., & Liu, Y. (2022). Antimicrobial terpenes suppressed the infection process of phytophthora in fennel-pepper intercropping system. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.890534