Of course we all want our gardens to look the part, and choose plant varieties that look good together in terms of their colour, shape and texture. That said, function is just important as form and grouping specific plants together – a common practice in organic gardening known as companion planting – has a number of practical benefits.
The first is that it physically boosts the growth of certain flowers, veggies and herbs. Marigold and tomatoes, for one, are great mates and will flourish when grown alongside each other. That said, pairing up could also stunt the growth of some plants. Sunflowers and beans, for example, are more foe than friend, as they’re both competing for light and space.
Secondly, companion plants can help attract beneficial insects like bees that encourage pollination and also prevent nasty bugs and pests from feasting on your crops before you do! They contain volatile oils that deter destructive insects, and some of them also attract good bugs to one plant, which then kill any bugs that attack their companion. Some plants also have ‘camouflage-like’ shapes that make it hard for pests to identify them.
Another important function of companion plants is that they interact spacially in each other’s favour. So tall, sun-loving plants, for example, like to share their space with lower-growing, shade-tolerant species, thereby maximising the growth area for all parties.
So let’s have a look at the plants that are set to make ‘besties’ in your garden…
Handy hint: Planting flowers in a potassium-rich planting mix will boost the growth of their petals, while Acadian seaweed can be added to strengthen the roots and other parts of the plant. It’s also a good idea to feed the plants a slow-release fertiliser that gradually releases nitrogen in order to keep the flowers in bloom.
Handy hint: Plant herbs in a free-draining, nitrogen-rich planting mix – this will encourage green, leafy growth and an ongoing crop.
Handy hint: Plant your companion plants at the same time as your fruit and vegetables in order to prevent insects from going rampant in your garden.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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