In spring, arugula is one of the first vegetables to show up at the farmer’s market. This peppery green contains lots of vitamins and adds a pleasant bite to salads. If you would like to start growing this wonderfully healthy vegetable in your garden, plant it with some of the best companion plants for arugula for a healthy garden and a bountiful harvest.
Some of these companion plants help deter pests, some contribute to favorable growing conditions, and others benefit from growing near arugula. A few plants do not grow well with arugula and should be planted in another part of the garden; these are listed at the very end so you can be sure to avoid growing them near arugula.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is the practice of growing two or more plant species together for cultural benefits. To learn more about companion planting in general and to find additional plant lists like the one below, check out our handy Companion Planting Guide.
Best Companion Plants for Arugula
The tall, feathery foliage of asparagus provides much-appreciated shade to arugula, which prefers cooler temperatures. As this foliage begins to grow when arugula typically starts bolting, it can extend the growing season for arugula.
The strong scent of basil repels pests, including mosquitos, and basil may even improve the flavor of arugula.
Because beans fix nitrogen in the soil, they can improve the health as well as the flavor of arugula. Both bush and pole beans also provide cooling shade.
Also a cool-weather crop, beets grow well alongside arugula and provide shade with their foliage. Plus, beet roots occupy a different level of the soil than do those of arugula.
Borage provides shade for arugula, repels cabbage worms and other pests, and attracts beneficial insects. This underrated herb works wonders as a companion plant!
Carrots attract beneficial, predatory insects, and their feathery foliage offers dappled shade. In return, arugula acts as a living mulch, keeping weeds at a minimum.
Chamomile flowers welcome beneficial insects to the garden, and their fragrance helps conceal arugula and other nearby plants from pests.
Chives repel arugula pests like aphids, Japanese beetles, and even deer.
Cilantro, or coriander, can be sown at the same time as arugula, as it also appreciates cooler temperatures. This herb helps deter insect pests.
While the shade cast by tall corn plants is often not appreciated in the garden, arugula will benefit from the cool soil it provides.
Grow cucumbers up a trellis to provide shade for cool-season crops like arugula. Vertical trellises work well, or you can create an angled trellis under which to plant greens.
Dill is a wonderful companion for brassicas, like arugula, especially in the realm of pest control. Its bright yellow flowers attract beneficial insects.
Marigolds attract hoverflies, which eat aphids and deter pests like aphids and greenflies. Marigolds also produce a chemical that repels nematodes, especially when the plants are tilled into the soil.
Plants in the mint family deter garden pests, including cabbage moths and ants. Keep mint contained in a pot or designated raised bed, though, to prevent it from taking over.
Nasturtiums attract pollinators and other beneficials as well as pests. Use these flowers as a trap crop by growing them at a short distance from arugula and discarding them after pests lay eggs on them and before the eggs hatch.
16. Onions (alliums)
Onions and other alliums, like garlic, maximize space when grown with arugula by occupying different levels of the soil and mainly growing vertically. Their pungent aroma also repels pests.
Like beans, peas fix nitrogen in the soil for hungry arugula and provide shade, encouraging healthy growth and good flavor.
Some gardeners claim that radishes grown near arugula are less woody. These fast-growing root vegetables can also be used as a trap crop for flea beetles.
Sage repels pests like beetles and slugs. Since sage is a perennial, you may want to plant arugula with sage, in the herb garden, rather than the other way around.
Plant spinach, arugula, and leaf lettuce together and harvest the ingredients for a green salad all at once!
21. Swiss chard
Swiss chard can be added to the salad greens bed mentioned above and harvested young with the other greens, or let it grow large and provide shade for arugula.
Worst Companion Plants for Arugula
Despite the long list of good companion plants for arugula, a few plants should not be grown with arugula, as they may result in poor growth or increased pests or diseases.
Because arugula is a member of the brassica (cabbage) family, it should not be grown with other brassicas. A large swath of plants in the same family encourages the spread of shared diseases and pests. Similarly, avoid planting arugula where other brassicas grew the year before.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes prefer acidic soil (pH 5.5-6.5), while arugula thrives in neutral soil (pH 6.5-7). Although nightshades and arugula may not directly affect each other, these differing growing requirements mean they should occupy different beds.
Unfortunately, strawberries can impede the growth of arugula as well as other brassicas. But since strawberries are perennials, you may not want them in your vegetable garden anyway. Plant them instead in a perennial garden or in their own dedicated bed at the edge of the vegetable garden.
A flavorful, nutrient-dense salad green, arugula makes a wonderful addition to any spring vegetable garden. Try planting it near one or more of the companion plants listed above for a healthy, bountiful, flavorful crop, and enjoy home-grown salad all spring long – and maybe into summer!