strawberry-companion-plants

Companion Plants for Strawberries

Companion planting has been used by gardeners for hundreds of years to improve the growth of vegetables and fruits, deter insects and make better use of garden space. Strawberries lend themselves to this sort of technique. They can be interplanted with herbs, flowers, other fruits and vegetables. The key is proper planning and care.

What’s Companion Planting?

The concept of companion planting is that certain plants will do better – or more poorly – if planted near one another. The principles of this practice arose from hundreds of years of observations by gardeners in many climates. Companion planting may have different effects; while some gardeners swear by it, others don’t find it makes an observable difference. In some cases, scientific testing has confirmed the benefits of companion planting.

Benefits of Companion Plants

Companion plants are typically used for the following specific purposes:

  • As insect repellents, such as French marigolds to repel nematodes.
  • To attract beneficial insects by proving food sources.
  • To increase nutrients in the soil, as when nitrogen-fixing legumes are used.
  • To provide cover for the young of beneficial insects or protect plants from birds.

Growing Strawberries

The strawberry is a perennial plant that is typically grown in the same place for three or four years, after which the bed is renovated. Strawberries must have full sun. They need adequate water while growing but soggy soil encourages rot. Soil should be fertile and drain well. The berries prefer a slightly acid soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0. Strawberries can be grown in USDA Zones 3 to 11.

Choosing Companion Plants

The factors to consider in choosing companions plants are soil and water needs, growth habits and expected maturity. Tall plants that would shade the strawberries are not a good choice. Plants that need much wetter soil will not do well. However, if you give them extra water, the strawberries may rot. Since strawberries spread by runnersrunners, companion plants should be strong or fast growers.

Best Companion Plants for Strawberries

Strawberries do well with beans and peas, especially bush varieties. They also grow happily alongside lettuce, which is often harvested before the plants begin to send out runners. Members of the onion family, such as globe or green onions, shallots, leeks and chives, are all good strawberry companions. Radishes – another quick-growing, early harvest crop – are good companions, as is spinach. Herb companions include sage and thyme.

Strawberry Antagonists

Antagonists are plants that impede or can potentially harm strawberries’ growth. Some can carry diseases to which the berries are susceptible. The two major groups of antagonists are cole crops and solanaceous crops.

Avoid planting strawberries with cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. You should also avoid tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers in the strawberry bed. Melons, okra, mint and roses are also antagonistic to strawberries.