My attempts at growing brassicas, or members of the cabbage family, have been all but thwarted by pests like cabbage loopers, cabbageworms, and harlequin beetles. And when the ravaged plants have finally had time to recover and begin producing, they bolt instead, because the summer heat has set in.
While any of a slew of pest management measures can help reduce insect damage, companion planting offers not only pest control but numerous other benefits as well. The following companion plants for cabbage help deter pests, attract beneficial insects, provide cooling shade, and much more!
Best Companion Plants for Cabbage
Plant one or more of the following companion plants near cabbage to enjoy the benefits they provide.
Plant pole beans on the south side of cabbage plants to provide cooling shade and possibly extend your growing season a bit. Both bush and pole beans of all varieties fix nitrogen in the soil, which hungry cabbage plants appreciate since they consume a large amount of that essential nutrient.
Being a root vegetable, beets occupy a deeper level of soil than cabbage does. This enables beets to pull nutrients to the top layer of soil, where cabbage plants can benefit from them as well. Additionally, beet leaves are high in magnesium. Return any discarded beet leaves to the soil of the cabbage bed so the cabbage can absorb the magnesium as the leaves break down.
Planting cabbage and beets together (here’s how to grow beets) also keep your borscht ingredients all in one place!
Much like beetroots, the taproots of carrots plunge deep into the soil, pulling up nutrients to within reach of shallow-rooted plants like cabbage. The tall, ferny foliage and long, narrow roots of carrots also fit well between cabbage plants, making this combination an efficient use of space.
Read about how to grow carrots.
Plant chives with your cabbage to help deter a range of devastating insect pests, including cabbage loopers, cabbageworms, flea beetles, and snails. With their vertical growth habit, chives are easy to tuck in among cabbages, and the two also look lovely when combined with dill and wormwood. Who says a vegetable garden can’t be beautiful as well as functional?
Dill is one of those wonderful herbs that repel pests while attracting beneficial insects. In the case of cabbage, dill deters cabbage moths and encourages lacewings to visit the garden. It has also been said to improve the overall growth and health of cabbage plants.
What vegetable garden is complete without marigolds? These bold, magical flowers repel numerous pests, including whiteflies, Japanese beetles, nematodes, and aphids. Additionally, marigolds attract parasitic wasps, ladybugs, hoverflies, and other beneficial insects. Here’s how to grow marigolds.
Although less popular than the classic marigold, nasturtiums deserve more attention. With a vining habit, they provide groundcover, while their bright blossoms deter aphids, beetles, and other pests. As an added bonus, the peppery leaves and flowers are edible.
Check out our nasturtium growing guide.
Like beans, peas fix nitrogen in the soil, making this important nutrient available to hungry crops like cabbage. Trellis peas to the south of your cabbage to provide some shade and keep the shorter vegetables cool on warm, sunny afternoons.
Here’s how to grow peas.
Aromatic herbs often make great companion plants due to their pest-repelling qualities. Rosemary deters cabbage moths, among other pests, and can even improve the flavor of cabbage. Since it is a perennial, you may want to plant rosemary in a container to place near your cabbage or plant cabbage in the herb bed.
Another wonderful, aromatic herb, sage also repels cabbage moths, as well as flea beetles and other damaging insects. Again, plant this perennial herb in a pot to set in the vegetable garden or grow cabbage in the herb garden.
Wormwood — both southern wormwood and wild wormwood — repels insect pests and can even improve the growth and flavor of cabbage. Among other pests, this herb deters cabbage moths, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, and snails. Its silvery foliage looks lovely in the vegetable garden, but take care not to let it spread, as it is considered invasive in some areas.
Another pretty cabbage companion, yarrow features feathery foliage and beautiful blossoms in shades of yellow, white, or pink. It helps keep cabbage moths away while also attracting beneficial lacewings to the vegetable garden.
Worst Companion Plants for Cabbage
Some plants unfortunately do not get along well with cabbage. Plant these in a different section of the garden for best results.
While cabbage appreciates a bit of cooling shade in the afternoon, a dense stand of corn planted too close can actually block too much sun, stunting the growth of the cabbage. Too much of a good thing, I suppose!
Although not in the same family as cabbage, lettuce suffers from many of the same pests. When the two grow together, they can attract pests to each other.
Rue deters many pests, but it attracts whiteflies, making it a good trap crop but a bad cabbage companion plant. Some sources claim that rue also stunts the growth of cabbage because it produces certain chemicals and sucks all of the calcium out of the soil.
Cabbages and strawberries both have shallow roots that inhabit the same layer of soil. When grown too close together, their roots entwine and they compete for nutrients.
Although tomato and cabbage seasons rarely overlap, you still want to take care not to plant them near each other. Tomatoes outcompete cabbages, and cabbages return the favor by stunting the growth of tomato plants.
If, like me, you struggle to grow a pretty crop of brassicas due to overwhelming pests and other issues, try planting a few friends alongside your cabbage plants to help solve some of these problems. There are plenty to choose from!
8 Best Companion Plants For Garlic (And The 1 To Avoid)
Thursday 10th of November 2022
[…] Here are the best cabbage companion plants. […]
Companion Planting Guide (Including 7 Benefits Of Polyculture)
Thursday 9th of June 2022
[…] Companion plants for cabbage […]