I’m growing strawberries this year and while I’m familiar with interplanting them with asparagus, I wanted to discover more of their companion plants. So, I did some research. Here’s what I found.
The best companion plants for strawberries are borage, asparagus, sage, thyme, and wildflowers. A recent study showed that borage interplanted with strawberries saw an increase in strawberry production, with 35% more fruits and 32% more yield by weight. Avoid planting strawberries with mint, cabbage, and melons.
So, while the above plants are great to plant alongside strawberries, what are some others, and what benefits do they provide? Let’s take a closer look.
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Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting is selecting specific plants to place together to achieve benefits, such as increasing pollination or repelling 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 a list of the benefits that gardens gain from companion planting:
- Boost Pollination
- Repel Pests
- Prevent Weeds
- Fix Nitrogen
- Amend the Soil
- Cover the Soil
- Reduce Evaporation
- Provide a Living Trellis
- Maximize Space
- Produce More Food
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of companion planting, check out my other post: The Top 10 Benefits of Companion Planting.
Borage is technically a wildflower (more on wildflowers later), but I thought it deserved a special mention. First, it’s incredibly useful for strawberry plants as it attracts pollinators, makes a great mulch, and prevents many pests and diseases (source).
Also known as starflower, borage is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean. As a result, this plant is fairly drought tolerant, especially once mature. After planting, borage is easy to grow as it self-seeds and its flowers are also edible.
As mentioned earlier, one study showed that planting borage with strawberries significantly increased the yield and market quality of the berries, with 35% more fruits and 32% more weight.
You can also interplant borage with blueberries and tomatoes for a similar disease-resistant effect (however, avoid planting tomatoes with strawberries!)
Asparagus is an interesting vegetable as it’s actually a perennial, meaning that one plant can continue living and provide asparagus shoots for 20 years or more. They’re great to plant alongside your strawberry plant and thrive in full sun. Like most plants, asparagus prefers a slightly acidic soil ph between 6.5-6.8.
Strawberries and asparagus are a well-known and effective pairing in the garden, with popular farmers and homesteaders including Justin Rhodes and Mark Shepard using these two plants together.
The main benefits asparagus provides gardens is that it amends soil and of course, provides food. In return, strawberry plants provide asparagus with ground cover—reducing evaporation and growing healthy soil.
Keep in mind that asparagus plants can grow 5-6 feet in diameter and 10-15 feet deep (yes, that’s feet and not inches, source). When planting asparagus, plant 18 inches apart and in rows 5 feet apart.
Aside from interplanting with strawberries, you can also plant asparagus with comfrey and nasturtiums. However, avoid planting asparagus with broccoli and onions.
Sage pairs amazingly well with strawberries. Because of this, planting a combination such as sage, strawberries, and wildflowers makes a great pollinator and ground cover mix for most fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Flowering sage is well known for attracting pollinators, offering many flowers for the pollinators to choose from.
Sage is also known to repel pests such as snails, slugs, beetles (such as black flea), as well as cabbage moths (source).
Other companion flowering plants that also repel snails and slugs are strongly scented, aromatic plants including rosemary, lavender, hydrangeas, California poppy, and nasturtium.
Sage is native to the drier regions of the Southwest US (source). As a result, it’s a drought-tolerant plant. Additionally, you can use sage for some culinary, fragrance, and cleansing applications (such as burning sage).
Some other companion plants that also pair well with sage include thyme, rosemary, and oregano. However, avoid planting sage near rue, cucumbers, or onions as they’re not compatible.
Thyme is native to Eurasia, with a history dating back to 2750 BC—noting that thyme can be dried and mixed with pears, figs, and water for a topical medical paste (source). It’s also a great drought-tolerant plant.
Like just about all of the flowers on this list, thyme’s flowers and scent are incredibly useful at attracting pollinators, specifically honey bees. You can expect thyme to flower from May to September.
Similar to nasturtiums, thyme is resistant to pests including cabbage worms, weevils, and cabbage loopers (source). It’s also said that thyme also reduces aphid populations by attracting ladybugs (an aphid predator).
Of course, thyme has a lot of other uses. At our home, we often use thyme in our bone broths and roasts. We’ve come to really appreciate thyme’s strong floral scent and taste, giving our dishes much more flavor.
Thyme is best planted with strawberries, brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc), rosemary, and lavender. Avoid planting thyme near basil.
Note: strawberries and brassicas don’t go together as they’ll compete!
So, 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 your strawberry plants. Ideally, this is no more than 50 feet away as it maximizes the chances pollinators will visit both the wildflowers as well as your strawberry plant’s flowers.
The wildflower’s variety of colors is visually appealing to pollinators and provides a good mix of nectar and pollen they can use as energy and food.
Not only do wildflowers greatly attract pollinators, but they also attract beneficial insect predators such as birds, ladybugs, and beneficial wasps.
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!
6. Fruit Trees
Fruit trees make a great over or midstory for strawberry plants, meaning they provide partial shade in times of hot weather, as well as mulch for temperature regulation, reduced evaporation, and fertilizer. The fruit tree’s roots also break up compact soils and hold groundwater, and their flowers attract pollinators who visit strawberry plants too.
In return, strawberries provide fruit trees with a ground cover, reducing even more evaporation and promoting healthy soil.
Since both fruit trees and strawberries are perennials, you can just plant them once and let them grow and fruit. As long as you have rich, moist soil, these plants will thrive.
To see more companion plants for fruit trees, just click the links below!
Note: avoid planting strawberries with stone fruits such as cherries, peaches, and plums!
Onions will grow in just about any hardiness zone, but do best in zones 5-6 (source). It takes about 100-175 days to grow onions, which is longer than most annual vegetables, so plan accordingly!
When planting, space the onions 6-8 inches from other plants to allow sufficient space for the bulb to grow. More compact planting can allow for 4-5 inches for each onion plant. Onions will still grow with fewer than 4 inches of space, but will mainly grow for their greens (green onions).
Interplant plant onions alongside strawberries, legumes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, and brassicas. Onions are also good at repelling pests, such as carrot flies. Avoid onions with asparagus and legumes.
Pro-tip: If you ever want to appear like you’re a better cook than you are, throw some onions and garlic on the stove! Onions and garlic are some of the most aromatic ingredients and will get anyone excited for your cooking.
Horseradish is a perennial root vegetable (and herb) that’s part of the brassica family and is closely related to mustard and wasabi. It’s thought to be native to southeastern Europe and western Asia and brings some disease-reducing properties to the garden.
For best results, plant horseradish in full sun, loamy soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5.
Specifically, interplant horseradish with strawberries, potatoes, asparagus, and rhubarb to boost their disease resistance. Horseradish also goes great with other brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Note: avoid interplanting strawberries with potatoes and brassicas (excluding horseradish) as they’ll compete.
For more pest-repelling companion plants, visit my other post: 7 Companion Plants That Repel Pests
Caraway is a biennial, bushy herb that’s part of the same family as celery, carrot, parsnips, fennel, and parsley. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4-10 and reaches 2-3 feet tall.
The benefits that caraway offers its companions are that it attracts pollinators and repels pests such as rice weevils and more (source). In this study, it was shown that the pests were repelled by an essential oil spray made from caraway.
Other cases mention that caraway flowers attract beneficial wasps, which help get rid of tomato hornworms.
Aside from strawberries, you can interplant caraway with peas and most vegetables. Avoid planting caraway with dill as they’ll compete.
You may be thinking, “How did a weed make this list?”. But what is a weed other than a plant we think we don’t want?
The reason why we see dandelions growing everywhere is that it’s one of the first plants in ecological succession. In other words, it grows because it’s taking advantage of damaged soils, and is trying to improve them. As a result, dandelions roots are great at fixing nitrogen in the soil, similar to comfrey.
Also like comfrey, dandelions naturally protect soil from erosion and extreme temperatures, and generally—are a highly effective mulch.
For all of these reasons, dandelions make a great companion plant for strawberry plants.
As a bonus, dandelions also have edible leaves and flowers and are commonly made into many homemade products.
To see more companion flowers, check out my other post: The Top 10 Companion Flowers for Gardens, Vegetables, & More.
What Not To Plant With Strawberry Plants
While strawberry plants have many companion friends, they also have many foes. Here’s what not to plant alongside strawberry plants:
- Brassicas (excluding horseradish)
- Nightshade (peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes)
- Stone fruits
It won’t be the end of the world if any of these plants are near strawberries, but they’ll often either compete for nutrients or have a higher likelihood of introducing disease. For example, planting mint and strawberries together leads to a greater chance of developing verticillium wilt.
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