Something I’ve learned about companion planting is that comfrey is one of the best companion plants you can have in your garden. But, I wanted to find out more about what this herb does in depth to help other plants and some of the best plants to pair it with. Here’s what I found.
The best plants to pair comfrey with include fruit trees, berries, squash, tomatoes, and wildflowers. Comfrey is great at bringing soil nutrients to the surface such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. It’s also a fantastic herb to attract pollinators. Many prefer to plant Russian comfrey as it’s not invasive.
Let’s take a look at the benefits comfrey provides to gardens.
Companion Planting Pro Tips (Before You Start)
Companion planting is selecting specific plants to place together for benefits such as increasing pollination or controlling pests. Sometimes these benefits are one-sided, while others are mutual.
A famous example is The Three Sisters—planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides a trellis for the beans to climb, the squash provides a ground cover, and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil. Plus, all of them provide food!
Here’s how to get the most from companion planting:
- Find your USDA hardiness zone
- Select plants that do well in your zone
- Choose the plants that fit each niche or layer in the graphic above (canopy, understory, herb layer, etc.)
- Plant support species first to establish a microclimate and build the soil. For example, before planting fruit trees, grow nitrogen-fixing trees, shrubs, and flowers. Plant one nitrogen fixer for each productive plant (such as fruit trees or berry bushes).
Now, let’s take a look at the best companion plants, their benefits, and other tips to place them in your garden.
Comfrey is one of the most popular companion herbs because not only can it be used to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects but it grows incredibly fast and tall—eventually falling over.
This biomass can then be chopped and dropped and applied as mulch for other plants. This reduces evaporation, regulates soil temperature, prevents erosion, and adds nutrients to the soil.
Comfrey promotes more nutrients in the soil, as its deep roots bring valuable nutrients closer to the top of the soil, ready for other plants to use. This makes it quite obvious to me that comfrey really is one of the best companion plants you can have in your garden.
More specifically, comfrey is known to provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which happen to be the top 3 nutrients for plant growth!
Comfrey is a perennial and grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. However, it will grow pretty much anywhere. It also prefers a soil pH of 6.0-7.0.
Keep in mind that while comfrey doesn’t have any foes, it can grow and spread aggressively. Because of this, many gardeners prefer to grow Russian comfrey due to its sterile seeds.
So, if you need more pollination, mulch, or nutrients in your garden, grow comfrey!
Now, let’s see the top plants to grow alongside comfrey.
The Top 6 Plants To Grow With Comfrey
1. Fruit Trees
Plants that need pollinators (such as fruit trees and other flowers) are some of the best options to plant with comfrey. While most fruit trees are self-pollinating, they provide larger and more fruit when cross-pollinated.
Comfrey not only is great at attracting pollinators but their deep roots can bring up nutrients to the topsoil, which fruit trees greatly benefit from.
Here are some fruit trees that do exceptionally well with comfrey:
If you live in an area prone to droughts, growing young comfrey may be difficult. However, you can grow comfrey near fruit trees and in return, they’ll provide partial shade for comfrey. Just be sure not to completely shade them, as they like full sun once they are mature.
Some other companions for fruit trees include cover crops, lavender, wildflowers, and other fruit trees. For more information, visit my article on The 10 Best Companion Plants for Fruit Trees.
Tomatoes need either the wind or an outside pollinator, such as bees to release pollen to fertilize (source). As comfrey attracts pollinators extremely well, they’re a great herb to plant nearby. Ideally, keep comfrey within 25 feet of your tomato plants for optimal pollination.
Comfrey also provides nutrients that are helpful in the tomato’s plant growth and fruit production.
In return, tomatoes may benefit comfrey by breaking up clay soil, shading the soil, and retaining water. They also attract pollinators for comfrey when they begin to flower.
Other companion plants for tomatoes include marigolds, wildflowers, garlic, onion, and lavender.
3. Berry Bushes
Like fruit trees, berries require pollinators for proper fruit yields. Berries mainly benefit comfrey by attracting pollinators and beneficial insects (ladybugs, beneficial wasps, and the like). Their sweet smell and color contribute to this.
Not to mention, most berry plants prefer around the same pH soil that comfrey does.
Note: If you are looking to plant berries near tomatoes, make sure they are not foes of each other. For example, avoid planting tomatoes near raspberry and blackberry bushes as they can introduce Verticillium wilt.
More companion plants for berries include other types of berries, oak trees, fruit trees, and wildflowers.
There are many minerals and nutrients that comfrey provides that aid plants such as potatoes.
When comfrey’s biomass is chopped up from pruning or falling down, it’s made into mulch. As potatoes can be easily grown in mulch, growing in comfrey mulch is that much better.
Unlike typical mulch made from wood chips, comfrey’s mulch is one of the most nutritious. This is why it’s often called “green manure”.
This method of growing potatoes means little to no digging and simply requires covering the seed potatoes with mulch.
Here’s how you can do this:
Loosen a few inches of soil across the planting bed then lay seed potatoes on the soil cut side down about one foot apart. Each seed potato should have two or three eyes. Cover the seed potatoes with one foot of mulch.Harvest To Table
Other companions for potatoes are nasturtium, marigolds, basil, cabbage, and corn.
You can use this same mulch method to grow garlic. To see how to do this for both garlic and potatoes, check out the video below by Justin Rhodes.
There are countless plants that comfrey benefits. Wildflowers are one of the only companion plants that can return the favor.
Comfrey needs to be fertilized by pollinators too. And what better plant than wildflowers to help do the job?
Now, what exactly are wildflowers?
Wildflowers are defined as any flower that has not been genetically manipulated (source).
- Bee Balm
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Purple Coneflower
- Meadow Cranesbill
- Black-Eyed Susan
Wildflowers are an amazing addition to your garden, especially if they’re within range of comfrey (within 25-50 feet).
These varieties of wildflowers are especially appealing to pollinators and provide a good mix of nectar and pollen they can use as sugar and protein.
Wildflowers also attract beneficial insect predators such as birds, ladybugs, and beneficial wasps, which naturally keep pest populations down.
Any of the above wildflowers will work great as a companion plant for just about any fruit, vegetable, or herb plant. However, this isn’t an exhaustive list, so feel free to explore other wildflower varieties!
To see more companion flowers, check out my other post: The Top 10 Companion Flowers for Gardens, Vegetables, & More.
While these are some of the best pairing options for comfrey, remember comfrey will benefit almost every plant out there, so there’s no harm in planting it wherever you’d like. Just remember that some varieties of comfrey are invasive.
Russian comfrey is popular due to its sterile seeds, but its roots can grow back aggressively, so if removing it, make sure to remove the entire plant.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. See your local services.
- 7 Easy Steps to Grow Fruit Trees (Free Guide): Need more fruit tree help from the ground up? See our free guide to make growing fruit trees a breeze.
- Ask the Free Community: Join The Couch to Homestead Community and connect with other members discussing gardening, homesteading, and permaculture.
- 30-Day Permaculture Food Forest Course: Learn how to turn your backyard into a thriving food forest in just 30 days with our online course.