Tag Archive | companion planting

Garden Buddies: Lavender and …

Beautiful roses and lavender at Pembroke  College, Cambridge, UK

Beautiful roses and lavender at Pembroke
College, Cambridge, UK

Fragrant, beautiful, and good garden buddies:  lavender and roses can make great companion plants. Roses tend to attract aphids, while ladybugs love lavender. When lavender attracts these aphid-eating insects, you create an organic pest control environment. Both plants love well-drained soil. Make sure you check the planting, spacing, and watering requirements of the rose you choose before planting with lavender. According to Rose Magazine, no modern hybrid roses can be considered drought tolerant. Certain tender varieties of roses may need to be watered more than others. That said, practice some techniques during hot months that will reduce the need to water: mulching roses with 3 to 4 inches of compost will provide increased water retention, allowing you to water less when warm weather hits.

Planting lavender with similar sun-loving and drought-tolerant plants makes it easy to care for your garden. Drought-tolerant plants come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, heights, and bloom times. Try some of these ornamental plants that complement lavender:

  • Yarrow (achillea millefolium) blooms in many colors (white, pink, yellow, and even red) and attracts insects such as ladybugs and hoverflies.
  • Artemisia adds a lovely silver foliage to your landscape, they bloom bright yellow in the summer.
  • Hen and chicks (echeveria) are succulents that are exceptionally easy to grow and multiply like crazy. The “hen” plant produces baby chicks that can be removed and placed elsewhere in the garden to make more plants. They come in reds, pinks, and bright green and flower in the summer.
  • Purple coneflower has large purple-pink daisylike flowers with 2- to 5-foot stems that will grow just about anywhere and seed freely.0068037abcc75059aa588beb8732effa
  • Black-eyed Susans, like coneflowers, grow 2- to 5-feet tall and sow freely. They resemble mini sunflowers and create a beautiful yellow sea in your garden when grown in masses.

Rock walls go hand in hand with lavender and a formal gazebo with lavender and roses makes a stunning focal point, and the combination of fragrances on a warm summer day is intoxicating. Just make sure your plants receive adequate sunshine, drainage, and room to grow.

Planting Companions

Companion-PlantingThe interactions between garden plants have not been extensively studied in carefully controlled trials, so there isn’t much hard scientific data on the abilities of different species to help (or hurt) each other when they’re grown close together. But over the years, gardeners’ observations have formed a body of advice that’s impressive enough to be worth some consideration.

A lot of the tried and true is just common sense. Plants with strong odors — such as basil, rue, marigold, scented-leaf geraniums, and garlic — repel or confuse many insects that rely on smells to find their targets. Herbs and flowers loved by bees — such as borage, thyme, and bee balm — help attract these pollinators and thus improve fruit-set on many vegetables, including summer and winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, and beans.

There are also many specific combinations that are famous, at least in folklore, though as the diet advertisements say, “results may vary.” Much will depend on climatic conditions, the nature of the soil, and the overall health of the plants in question. Nevertheless, more than a few gardeners swear by rules like these:

  • Plant parsley near asparagus to improve vigor
  • Radishes grown near lettuce are more tender
  • Petunias help repel bean beetles
  • Beets interplanted with onions will help stifle weeds
  • Carrots will grow larger if interplanted with chives
  • Dill or caraway will help repel cabbage moths
  • Tomatoes hate fennel; keep them apart
  • Beans don’t do well near alliums (garlic, onions, chives)
  • Nasturtiums attract aphids and deter cucumber and bean beetles

In nature plants are gregarious, living in complex communities. Short, early bloomers share space with tall species that leaf out and flower late; shallow-rooted types cozy up to deep-rooted neighbors. Heavy feeders benefit from association with plants that make more nutrients than they themselves need.

And because each piece of ground hosts a diversity of species, pests and diseases (which tend to target particular groups of plants) are naturally limited; there’s never enough of any one thing to support major infestation.

Vegetable gardens can’t be as intricate as the natural patchwork, but they can take a lesson from it, and the more diversity they support, the more productive they will be.

  • Plant vining crops like squash in the corn patch; the sprawling vines will provide a living mulch that conserves surface moisture (corn has shallow roots) and keeps down the weeds. Don’t plant the squash until the soil warms and the corn is about a foot tall. Corn likes toasty toes, and baby plants will be smothered unless they get a head start.
  • Plant heavy feeders like squash, cucumber, corn, and celery next to — or right after — peas and beans, which fix nitrogen through their roots, improving the fertility of the soil under and around them.
  • Once summer heat strikes, plant greens like lettuce and spinach on the shady side of tall pea and bean rows. The soil will be cooler there, and the extra nitrogen in the soil will help the leaves grow swiftly.
  • Instead of planting a large bed of one crop, consider planting alternate rows. Bush beans work well with members of the cabbage family, for instance, and carrots get along well with determinate (short-vined) tomatoes.