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11 Best Companion Plants for Corn (And 4 to Avoid)

Late summer tastes like heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, and sweetcorn. Corn is a popular vegetable garden crop, though pests can make it difficult to grow. Whether you’re trying to fit many plants into a small space or would like to interplant for the numerous benefits companion planting provides, it is helpful to know which plants get along well with corn and which do not. The best companion plants for corn will deter pests, attract beneficial insects, improve the growth of the plants, and otherwise help you get a sweet, bountiful harvest.

corn and beans interplanted in the garden

Best Companion Plants for Corn

Plant the following plants alongside corn for the many wonderful benefits they provide — as well as receive from — corn to help your garden grow strong and healthy.

1. Beans

Survival Garden Seeds - Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean Seed for Planting - Packet with Instructions to Plant and Grow Delicious Snap Beans in Your Home Vegetable Garden - Non-GMO Heirloom Variety

When planted with or even the season before corn, beans provide the essential nutrient nitrogen, contributing to the healthy growth of the corn. Pole beans in turn benefit from growing with corn, as these climbing vegetables can use the stalks for vertical support.

2. Borage

Borage Seeds (Borago officinalis) 500 Seeds (10 Grams) - Edible Flowers - Pollinator Friendly

Borage deters insect pests that might damage your corn crop, and the lovely blue flowers of this herb also attract beneficial insects, like pollinators and predators.

3. Cucumber

Grown in USA! 30+ Muncher Burpless Sweet Cucumber Seeds, Heirloom Non-GMO, Non-Bitter and Acid Free, Crispy and Sweet, Fragrant and Delicious, Cucumis sativus

Because it sprawls and climbs, cucumber acts as a living mulch under corn, shading out weeds and improving soil moisture retention with its broad leaves. Like beans, cucumber vines also will use the cornstalks as living trellises.

Love cucumbers? Check out my guide to growing cucumbers and enjoy a boutiful harvest.

4. Dill

Sow Right Seeds - Dill Seed for Planting - All Non-GMO Heirloom Dill Seeds with Full Instructions for Easy Planting and Growing Your Kitchen Herb Garden, Indoor or Outdoor; Great Gift

With its strong aroma and large umbels of yellow flowers, dill attracts beneficial insects, like parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and ladybugs, that prey on corn pests. It also acts as a magnet for pollinators, which will help your other fruiting crops (corn is pollinated by wind).

5. Marigold

SEEDS4SPRING 200 Pcs Mixed Marigold Seeds Flower Plant Bonsai Home Decor

In addition to adding a lovely pop of bright color to the garden, marigolds deter a wide range of insect pests that plague the garden, such as aphids and Japanese beetles. These cheerful classic flowers deserve a spot (or several!) in every vegetable garden. Here’s how to grow marigolds.

6. Melon

5 Variety Melon Fruit Seeds for Planting, Hami Melon, Yellow Canary Melon, Green Flesh Honeydew Melon, Sweet Watermelon, Sugar Baby Watermelon, Non-GMO Heirloom Easy to Grow

Melons, like cucumbers, have sprawling vines with large leaves that suppress weed growth and help keep moisture in the soil. As a bonus, you get two classic summer foods from one garden bed, so you’ll be ready for garden-fresh backyard cookouts. Yum!

7. Mint

Sow Right Seeds - Mint Seed for Planting - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds - Instructions to Plant and Grow an Herbal Tea Garden, Indoors or Outdoor; Great Gardening Gift (1)

Deer and other grazing animals that tend to mow down entire stands of corn are often repelled by the strong fragrance of mint and members of the mint family, like sage and hyssop. Keep in mind, though, that mint spreads aggressively and will be best planted in pots set around the corn patch instead of interplanted with the corn.

8. Nasturtium

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Nasturtiums are another lovely flower that deters insect pests, from tiny aphids and whiteflies to beetles. Traditional vining varieties also offer some ground cover, while dwarf types can be tucked into smaller spaces. Here’s how to grow nasturtiums.

9. Peas

Earthcare Seeds Pea Alaska Early Spring Bush 100 Seeds (Pisum sativum) - Heirloom - Open Pollinated - Non GMO - Earthcare Seeds

Like beans, peas fix nitrogen in the soil, providing an essential nutrient for healthy corn growth. I’ve also found that corn, planted a month or two after spring peas, grows up to provide cooling shade that allows the well-established peas to continue growing lushly and producing for several weeks past their usual season end. Learn more about growing peas.

10. Thyme

Thyme Seeds for Planting is A Heirloom, Non-GMO Herb Variety- Thymus Vulgaris Herb Seeds Great for Indoor and Outdoor Gardening by Gardeners Basics

Another aromatic herb, thyme discourages insect pests like corn earworms from attacking corn planted nearby. While you can plant this perennial herb directly in the ground with the corn, you might want to keep it in a container so you can enjoy it for several seasons.

11. Winter squash

The Old Farmer's Almanac Winter Squash Seeds (Waltham Butternut) - Approx 50 Seeds

Winter squash provides the same benefits as cucumbers and melons, vining between the cornstalks to smother weeds and improve soil moisture retention with its large leaves. Some gardeners claim that the prickly squash vines also discourage raccoons from wading through them to get to the corn.

Worst Companion Plants for Corn

Some plants just don’t get along. While many plants will grow harmoniously alongside corn, the following four vegetables should be planted in a different part of the garden. Some share the same pests, while others will compete for nutrients or even inhibit the growth of corn.

1. Cabbage

Cabbage and other brassicas — broccoli, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, etc. — are heavy feeders and thus will compete with corn for the nutrients in the soil. In addition, corn might provide a bit too much shade for brassicas, which like full sun despite being cool-season crops.

2. Eggplant

eggplants

Corn and eggplant often suffer from some of the same pests, such as tomato hornworm. Growing these two vegetables together might attract larger populations of such pests and allow them to spread more easily from one crop to the other, so make sure to keep them apart.

3. Fennel

fennel plant growing in the garden

Fennel is the hermit of vegetable crops. It stunts the growth of plants growing too near, sometimes even to the point of killing them, to ensure that it maintains sufficient personal space. While it does attract beneficial insects, fennel should be planted in its own separate bed, away from corn and other crops.

4. Tomato

Like eggplants, tomatoes share some pests with corn. Tomato hornworms and corn earworms, despite their crop-specific names, enjoy munching on both tomatoes and corn. Planting these two vegetables in different sections of the garden will help prevent the spread of these pests from one to the other. Plus, tomatoes and corn will compete with each other for nutrients and sunlight.

Interplanting companion plants with corn will help ensure you harvest a bounty of sweet, juicy corn to enjoy on late-summer evenings. Try one or two from the list above, and see for yourself!

11 Best Companion Plants for Corn - And 4 to Avoid

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