When properly cared for, strawberry plants will provide you with plump, juicy berries for several years. Plant them with other perennials for a diversified garden that produces food year after year with little maintenance, or grow them alongside annuals, perhaps as a border plant. They will even thrive in containers!
Before interplanting different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, though, it is helpful to know which get along and which don’t. Some plants provide benefits to each other, such as pest control, while others have negative effects. Below we have compiled some of the best companion plants for strawberries to help you on your companion planting journey.
Best Companion Plants for Strawberries
When choosing and planting strawberry companion plants, keep in mind the space, maintenance, and other growing needs of each plant. For example, strawberry plants produce runners and sprawl, which means they should be given sufficient space. Additionally, each plant produces berries for about four years before needing to be replaced, and the digging may disturb any other perennials planted too closely.
Here is an example of growing perennials together. Because asparagus has a vertical growing habit, it complements the low, sprawling growth of strawberry plants. The roots of these two plants similarly won’t compete, especially if the asparagus is planted 12 inches deep.
Here’s how to grow asparagus.
2. Bush beans
Beans and other legumes fix nitrogen in the soil, making it readily available for strawberries to absorb. Plant bush beans in rows among your strawberry plants or as a border around them. Trellised pole beans or peas will also work, but make sure to plant them on the north side so they don’t shade the strawberries.
Check out the best plants to grow next to beans.
Borage deserves more attention as a companion plant. It deters many pests while attracting beneficial insects, and its deep roots pull up minerals from the soil. When the leaves drop or are cut and decompose, these minerals return to the upper levels of the soil, where they are more accessible to plants like strawberries. Plus, borage is rumored to improve the flavor of strawberries.
Here are some tips for growing borage.
Another lesser-known herb, caraway attracts beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps and flies, that prey on mites, aphids, and other damaging insect pests. If your strawberries suffer from an overwhelming number of pests, caraway might be a good companion plant to consider.
Catnip repels damaging insects like mites and aphids, two common strawberry pests. Its strong scent can even deter larger pests, like deer or mice. But if you have struggled with cats using your garden as a giant litterbox, you might want to skip this one, as catnip can attract cats.
Another perennial, chives have a small footprint, growing upward rather than outward, and thus will not compete with strawberries for space. This herb deters insect pests and attracts pollinators. Some gardeners claim that chives also enhance the flavor of strawberries grown nearby.
The pungent odor of onions will discourage many types of pests from visiting your strawberry patch. Garlic, shallots, leeks, and other alliums also act as a natural pest deterrent. As with chives, each plant takes up little horizontal space, but keep in mind that these root vegetables will have to be dug up, an act that may disturb the roots of any strawberries growing too close.
If you love strawberry rhubarb pie as much as my family and I do, you’ll want to consider this perfect perennial pairing. Strawberry and rhubarb roots grow in different levels of the soil, so they won’t compete with each other for underground space or nutrients. Plus, a dense planting of strawberries can help reduce weeds and retain soil moisture around rhubarb plants.
Insect pests often dislike the scent of herbs that we find pleasantly fragrant. The strong, earthy smell of sage, for example, helps mask the sweet scent of strawberries and keep them safe from pests. And when it is allowed to flower, sage can attract some beneficial insects as well.
Strawberry spinach salad, anyone? These leafy spring greens pair perfectly with strawberries in the garden as well as in the salad bowl, adding extra soil cover in gaps between strawberry plants and helping to hide sweet berries from hungry pests. Spinach might even improve the flavor of your berries.
Here are 9 delicious ways to use spinach.
Yet another pleasantly aromatic herb, thyme helps deter insect pests from desirable crops like strawberries. Acting double duty, its lovely little flowers attract pollinators and other tiny friends who provide additional benefits to strawberry plants.
Worst Companion Plants for Strawberries
Despite their many friends, strawberries do have a list of plants they would rather keep at a distance.
Members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts, tend to be heavy feeders, which means they will compete with strawberry plants for nutrients that are essential for healthy growth. As such, brassicas and strawberries may impede each other’s growth.
Poor fennel almost always ends up on the list of “worst companion plants,” regardless of the plant in question. But this designation is well deserved, as fennel hinders the growth of most other plants growing too near, and may even kill them — sweet strawberries included.
Strawberries are prone to the soil-borne fungal disease verticillium wilt, and thus should not be planted near other crops that tend to harbor and spread the disease as well. Melons are one of these plants. Plus, with their vining habit, melons may compete with strawberries for space.
Mint also harbors verticillium wilt. And with its weedy nature, mint is best grown in its own well-contained bed or container anyway.
Nightshades — tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, etc. — share verticillium wilt as well. As a root vegetable, potatoes should probably not be grown near strawberries anyway, and tomatoes and peppers might produce too much shade for strawberries.
Okra is yet another vegetable prone to verticillium wilt. And as with tomatoes, this large plant might shade out sun-loving strawberries, reducing their yield.
Given sufficient space, strawberry plants grow happily alongside many different companion plants. Just remember to keep other verticillium wilt-prone plants (and a few other poor companions) at a distance. Whether you choose to grow your strawberries in a raised bed, containers, or directly in the ground, a few friends can help give them an extra boost.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.