Amaranth is far more than a grain. Its leaves are highly nutritious and a great addition to many backyards. But like most plants, amaranth can fall victim to its share of pests and soil issues.
By companion planting, amaranth can grow without being hindered from certain pests (such as nematodes), have its soil boosted with nitrogen, and have increased water retention from the extra shade.
So, to start getting these benefits for your amaranth plants, here are the top 5 companion plants to use alongside amaranth.
If you enjoy eggplant, then you might be excited to hear that eggplant makes for a good companion plant to amaranth. Eggplants grow as a bush, not a vine, so you can easily space them in-between your amaranth plants.
They require full sun, just as amaranth does, so there’s no need to treat them too differently. However, eggplant does have its fair share of pests, so growing marigolds or other flowers and herbs can help.
2. Beans and peas
Beans and peas make a great cover crop and companion to amaranth. This is because most other plants (including amaranth) require a good amount of nitrogen from the soil. Legumes like beans and peas are famous for taking nitrogen out of the air and putting it back into the ground.
Not only that, but they also repel certain pests such as the Colorado potato beetle from taking over the crop.
Another benefit of companion planting with beans and peas is amaranth’s sturdy stalk. It makes for a great living trellis for the vines from the legumes. They’ll naturally vine up the stalk, but just make sure the amaranth isn’t smothered by them.
Because you’ll want the stalk to be developed before vines start growing on them, it’s a good idea to start your amaranth indoors. Set your amaranth under grow-lights or in a greenhouse for around five weeks (or about two feet tall) to help them get a head start on the beans and peas.
The tall stalks of corn can help your amaranth plants by increasing shade and therefore, water retention in the ground. If you’re looking at growing amaranth, but want to save on your water bill, then corn is a great companion plant.
Corn is also useful for breaking into tough soil. So, once your corn crop is harvested, the soil is primed for growing other vegetables such as carrots.
4. Nightshade plants
Aside from eggplant, amaranth can also benefit from other plants from the nightshade family. Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers all have something to offer amaranth.
Tomatoes, especially indeterminate cherry tomatoes, can be trained to vine up the amaranth just like beans and peas.
Potatoes can provide a good amount of shade for the soil, but also is a good, calorie-dense food to grow if you’re planning a victory garden.
Peppers are a tasty addition to many gardens. Their roots release a chemical that helps repel pests and reduce the chances of root rot.
Marigolds are well known as a companion plant because of their pest control. These commonly include nematodes and whiteflies. Some varieties like Mexican marigolds can repel even more pests, including rabbits.
By planting marigolds in-between, or as a border to your amaranth, you can help its growth and repel harmful organisms.
Remember, there are many other flowers and herbs out there that can help deter even more pests.
Since amaranth is a summer crop and requires full sun, growing plants with similar needs is often a good idea. Plants from the nightshade family, corn, legumes, and marigolds complement the zone 7 and warmer climates that the amaranth prefers. Water retention, extra nitrogen, and pest control are some of the common benefits to companion planting with amaranth. Keep a steady eye on your garden, and you’ll have great amaranth harvests within 40 to 50 days.