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Companion planting is an inexact science. There are plenty of unknowns in this arena. Surprisingly, we still have a patchy knowledge of the interactions between different plants.
But what experienced organic gardeners do know is that there are certain combinations of plants that seem, at least anecdotally, to work better together than others. And there are certain plants that do not thrive when grown close to one another.
In this article, we will explore a range of companion plants for peppers – whether they be hot peppers or sweet peppers – so you have a clearer idea of what might work well in your garden.
We’ll also explore what to avoid planting close to your pepper plants. Finally, we’ll take a look at some polyculture schemes including peppers, to give you inspiration for your own diverse planting schemes.
About Companion Planting
When planning an organic garden, companion planting is a great idea. Experimentation can help you come up with diverse polyculture planting schemes and plant combinations that work well where you live. Understanding the characteristics and requirements of different plants will help you to work out which ones are the best combinations to grow together.
In general, you will choose companion plants for a range of reasons. You might choose companion plants because they:
- Enjoy the same (or similar environmental conditions) as the plants you are growing with. And therefore allow you to make the most of time and space in a growing area.
- Enhance the environmental conditions for their neighbours. (They might create shade, increase humidity, or create a ground cover, for example).
- Gather nutrients and enrich the soil. (As with nitrogen-fixing plants, for example.)
- Repel, confuse or distract pests.
- Attract pollinators or other beneficial wildlife.
Without further ado then, let’s take a look at what you should consider growing alongside peppers in your garden:
4 Plants To Grow Nowhere Near Peppers
The above can all work well when planted near peppers. But there are also plenty of other plants to consider and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
There is no harm in experimenting a little if there is an untried combination you would like to try. There are plenty of other weeds, herbs and ornamental plants that could be grown alongside peppers for neutral, or even positive, results.
However, there are certain crops you should definitely avoid growing near pepper plants, and here are some of the main ones to avoid:
Though potatoes are another member of the same plant family as peppers and tomatoes, they should definitely not be grown close by. This can cause a number of pest and disease problems. Also, you can disrupt your peppers when you harvest your potato crop.
Fennel can have a detrimental effect on many different fruits and vegetables, and so is always best kept out of an annual kitchen garden. It can be a useful herb to grow – but you do have to be careful where you place it and it should not be grown close to pepper plants.
3. Apricot Trees
One other final thing to consider is that it is not a good idea to plant peppers close to an apricot tree. A common fungal disease of peppers can spread to this and other similar fruit trees and cause a range of problems.
Companion planting, as mentioned above, is little understood, and often not an exact science. But choosing (or avoiding) the plants mentioned above to grow alongside peppers can help you create a healthy, productive and biodiverse garden.
So whether you are growing hot peppers or sweet peppers, don’t grow them alone. Make the most of beneficial plant combinations.
Peppers and brassicas (members of the cabbage family) do not make good neighbours. So avoid planting peppers alongside cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi etc…
For one thing – they will do best in different conditions. Peppers will do best in soils which are slightly acidic, while brassicas tend to do best in neutral or slightly alkaline soil. The two crop types may each have a negative effect on the growth of the other, and they may be too much in competition with one another for nutrients and water.
Fruits and Vegetables to Grow Alongside Peppers
First of all, let’s take a look at the other fruits and vegetables that you could consider growing alongside peppers in your garden:
Peppers are Solanaceae – also known as nightshades. This means they are in the same plant family as tomatoes and eggplant. Since they are in the same plant family, they share a number of common pests and diseases. This means that it is often recommended that you do not grow them together.
However, the benefits of grouping these familial plants can sometimes outweigh the potential negatives of doing so.
It is usually more problematic if you grow members of the nightshade family after one another in the same bed than it is to grow them together. Growing them as companion crops means that it will be easier to implement a crop rotation scheme, so you do not grow them in the same bed without a break of a few years.
Another thing to consider is that tomato plants can aid peppers by sheltering and shading them somewhat. Their foliage can help to keep humidity levels high, which can allow peppers to thrive.
Tomatoes and peppers also benefit from many of the same other companion plants. So if you are planning companion planting for tomatoes, peppers can fit well into the mix.
Eggplant, another member of the same plant family, also likes similar conditions to peppers and can work relatively well when grown alongside them.
Again, as with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can share certain pests and diseases. But growing them together makes it easier to implement a crop rotation scheme – especially in a relatively small garden.
Beans, as nitrogen-fixing plants, can help give pepper plants and other crops the essential nutrients they need to grow. Climbing beans can be planted to climb corn, aiding in conferring the other environmental benefits mentioned above.
Bush beans of various types could also help in casting shade, blocking wind, or helping to crowd out weeds with denser planting that brings benefits without depleting soil nutrients too much.
Cucumbers are another sprawling plant that can help shade the soil and retain moisture for peppers in a larger garden bed. In smaller growing areas, cucumbers can also be grown on a trellis or another support, which can also provide peppers with partial shade and shelter, and improve water retention.
Peas can usefully be grown early in the year in a growing area where peppers are later to be grown. They can go in the ground much earlier and will fix nitrogen before peppers are planted out. Peas can then be cut off at the base, leaving roots in place, to give peppers and other plants room to grow.
Alternatively, they can be sown successionally between peppers over summer where the climate allows. Peas grown on a trellis or support could also provide environmental benefits for peppers grown close by.