companion plants for kale

Top 11 Companion Plants for Kale for Organic Pest Control

Looking for a list of the best beneficial companion plants for kale? Look no further! This companion planting quick guide will help you determine the best kale companion plants for your garden beds this growing season! 

Growing crops that are members of the brassica family like kale in your vegetable garden is absolutely a exercise in patience! These crops have a host of issues that can often make growing them feel impossible! From insect pests to heat issues, sometimes it’s hard to see if these crops are worth the effort!

Companion planting is a great way to see the best results when growing kale in your vegetable garden, especially if you are an organic gardener! The goal of this post is not only to share a list of kale companion plants, but to also help you determine exactly which ones you should consider for your specific garden needs!

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Benefits of companion planting for Kale

When it comes to growing kale, teaming them up with other plants – aka companion planting – can do wonders for your garden. It’s like having your own little ecosystem that boosts productivity and keeps things healthy.

Here are just of a few of the numerous benefits you can expect when companion planting:

  1. Attracts beneficial insects like honeybees, vital for pollination, ensuring successful plant reproduction and fruit-bearing.
  2. Draws other predatory insects such as parasitic wasps or ladybugs, which naturally regulate pest populations through organic pest management techniques, reducing reliance on chemical pesticides.
  3. Improves soil fertility and health by collaborating with plants that either fix nitrogen or have deep roots, enriching neighboring plants with essential nutrients.
  4. Deters or captures pests by strategically positioning plants that pests dislike or use as bait, deterring them from kale crops.
  5. Suppresses weed growth by utilizing companion plants that cover the ground or compete with weeds for resources, thus decreasing the need for extensive weeding.
  6. Manages disease spread by enhancing air circulation around plants or incorporating disease-resistant companion plants, safeguarding plants from infections.

So, by putting a bit of thought into your garden lineup and embracing companion planting, you’re setting yourself up for a lush, productive garden that’s in sync with nature’s own pest control and fertilization tricks.

Common Kale pests

It is crucial that you understand what pests you are dealing with so that you can plan the proper way to manage them! Especially when it comes to companion planting! Brassica crops have some pretty gnarly pests which can wreak havoc on your crops quickly! Here are some of the common pests that you should be on the look-out for:

Cabbage Loopers are the larval form of the Cabbage Looper Moth. They are light green in color with a white stripe running down their backs.

Cabbage worms are the larvae of the cabbage moth which are the white butterflies you often see flitting around your garden! They eat a lot and can quickly consume your entire crop!

Aphids are tiny,  oval-shaped insects that can be found in a variety of colors like green, black, and yellow. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap, causing distortion and discoloration of leaves.

Cabbage maggots are the larvae of the cabbage root fly. They tunnel into the roots of your plants which causes wilting and eventual death.

Slugs/Snails can cause destruction to your kale plants by eating holes in the leaves or even completely consuming young seedlings.

Flea beetles are tiny, jumping insects that feed on the leaves of kale plants which results in small holes and defoliation.

Keeping records of your garden season can make choosing the right kale companion plants easier in the future as you will know which pests you want to plan against!

Best companion plants for Kale

Now that you have an idea of why you should use companion planting with kale and how to choose crops for kale companion planting, lets look at the best companions for your kale plants!


Marigolds make an excellent companion plant for most plants in the garden! Their strong scent help repel cabbage moths and other pests that can cause major damage to your cabbage plants! Now, Marigolds are a warmer weather crop, and by the time they go into the garden, pests are already present around your brassicas. Consider using insect netting, and starting marigolds from seed so that they can get a head start in your garden.


Beet leaves can add magnesium to the soil as they break down which can help kale grow! If you plant a fall crop of beets and then a spring crop of kale this succession can help improve the soil for your kale crop. 


Celery is another great crop to plant alongside your kale plants in your garden bed as it can help repel cabbage moths and minimize the damage of the cabbage worms.  Plus, it’s a delicious and nutritious vegetable to have in your garden. 


Nasturtiums not only add a pop of color to your garden but their strong scent can help attract pests like aphids to themselves and keep them from attacking your kale plants. This is the process called trap cropping and it essentially allows your nasturtium to be the sacrificial crop. You can remove the whole plant (trap crop) once pest damage occurs along with the pests! 

And this Nasturtium variety from Botanical interests is one of my favorite varieties!


Aromatic herbs like rosemary are not only beneficial companions to kale due to the fact that it can repel pests like cabbage loopers and slugs. Its strong scent confuses pests and keeps them away from your kale leaves.


Similar to rosemary, thyme also has a strong scent that can repel pests and keep them from damaging your kale plants. Plus, it’s a great herb to have in the kitchen for cooking and is an amazing medicinal herb.


Plants in the legume family like pole beans, spring peas, and clover make excellent companions to Kale crops because they are nitrogen fixers, meaning they help add nitrogen into the soil! This is especially helpful if you plant these crops as a cover crop prior to transplanting your kale. 


Dill is an excellent companion plant for kale as it attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings which feed on the pests that harm your kale plants.


Sage is a great companion plant for kale as it can repel pests like cabbage loopers and slugs. It also adds flavor to dishes in the kitchen.


The strong smell of alliums like leeks, garlic, and onion help to repel garden pests like aphids, cabbage worms, and moths.

Sweet alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is a low-growing plant that has a strong aroma that repels cabbage loving pests! It has the added benefit of acting as a living mulch and ground cover in your garden this helps maintain soil moisture. 

Crops to Avoid

Companion planting also includes crops that you want to avoid planting together to minimize nutrient loss, avoid spread of disease and decrease attracting pests! Here are a few crops that you should avoid planting near your kale plants. 


Strawberries and brassicas like kale share some of the same pests and are both heavy feeders.  Planting them together can lead to competition for nutrients and water as well as attract pests that can destroy both crops!

Members of the Nightshade Family

Crops that are members of the nightshade family such as peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are very heavy feeders like brassicas! It is recommended to avoid planting these crops in close proximity to each other for this reason! Consider instead succession sowing these crops after amending the soil. 

Other Brassicas*

Planting other brassicas like brussels sprouts and cabbage near your Kale is a controversial pairing at best, and one I will caution you with the caveat of, I plant them near each other! Brassicas all share the same pests and planting them near each other can cause significant issues where once they get infested, your entire crop can quickly get destroyed! 

If you choose to plant these together, consider using insect netting row cover to decrease issues from harmful pests. 

Additional Companion Planting Resources

Successful companion planting doesn’t have to be hard especially when you understand why you are doing it, but I do understand that as a beginner it can be quite confusing! That is why we created the Companion Planting series on our Podcast: Garden Things with Friends! 

In this series, instead of simply learning lists of crops you can plant together, you’ll get a better understanding of why certain plants work well together and others do not in this gardening technique. You’ll also learn about other factors that can affect companion planting, such as soil quality and garden layout. You can check out each of the videos in this three part series below:

Ep. 11 – What is Companion Planting + FREE Printable Companion Planting Chart

Ep. 12 – 12 Best Herbs for Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden

Ep 13 – 10 Best Flowers for Companion Planting with Your Vegetables

Don’t be afraid to experiment with companion planting in your garden. It’s a fascinating way to enhance plant growth and overall garden health. Remember, research is key! By studying which plants complement each other, you can create a harmonious garden ecosystem. With the right information and a bit of trial and error, you’ll discover the perfect companions for your onion plants and all the main crops in your garden. Happy planting!

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