companion plants for potatoes

10 Best Companion Plants for Potatoes + 4 Crops to Avoid

Learn which crops are the best companion plants for potatoes for organic pest control disease resistance and a productive potato harvest this season!

Growing potatoes in the garden is a great endeavor for beginner and veteran gardeners alike! Potatoes are a high calorie food, and very productive producers, so they are a great option for those who want to decrease their reliance on the food system, or those who just want to see success in the garden!

But growing potatoes isn’t without issues! There are pests and diseases that can ruin your harvest, but companion planting is a great organic option for protecting your crop and improving your garden success! 

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Benefits of Companion Planting for Potatoes

While there are so many benefits to companion planting in general, using the principles really only requires that you know how it benefits the particular crop you are companion planting for. 

Using companion planting when planning your potato patch comes down to accounting for three main issues, space, pest control, and soil health.

Maximizing space:

Potato plants do take up a significant amount of space under the soil surface. By companion planting , you can use the space above the soil to grow additional crops without competing with your potato plants.

Pest control:

Potato plants are susceptible to pests like potato beetles and diseases like blight. By companion planting, you can create a diverse ecosystem that will attract beneficial insects that will prey on these pests and help keep them under control.

Soil health:

Potato plants are notoriously heavy feeders  and can deplete the soil of nutrients. By companion planting, you can plant crops that will help replenish those nutrients, creating a healthier ecosystem for your potato plants to thrive in.

Other benefits of planting companions with potatoes include increasing crop productivity, providing a living mulch, and improving the flavor of your cooked potatoes! Knowing what benefits you want to capitilize on can help you choose the right companion plants for your garden.

Common Pests and Diseases of Potatoes

One of the primary motivations for beginner gardeners to practice companion planting is its role in organic pest control and management. By strategically planting certain combinations of crops together, gardeners can naturally deter pests and promote plant health. Understanding the specific pests that commonly affect crops like potatoes is crucial for effective pest management. 

Some common pests that gardeners may encounter when growing potatoes include:

  •  Aphids
  • Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Flea Beetles
  • Leafhoppers
  • Slugs/Snails
  • Spider Mites. 

By recognizing these potential threats, gardeners can implement proactive measures to protect their potato plants and maintain a thriving garden.

Best Companion Plants for Potatoes

So, what plants are good companions to potatoes? The following list has been compiled to help you decide how to make the most of your potato patch while accounting for the issues that are present in your garden! Remember, with companion planting you do not have to plant everything that is on this list, just those companions that help your garden thrive! Now, lets take a look at the 10 best 

Legumes

Crops in the legume family like peas and green beans make great companions for potatoes because  they can fix nitrogen in the soil, which is essential for plant growth. Additionally, legumes have shallow roots that do not compete with potatoes for nutrients. When considering crop rotation consider planting beans or peas in the bed or container prior to potatoes being planted as nitrogen fixation actually is more available after the plant has died. 

Horseradish

Although deep-rooted vegetables are generally contraindicated with potatoes, Horseradish is a great companion plant for potatoes. Horseradish has natural disease resistance which can help decrease the chance of your potato crop getting late blight! Additionally, it can repel the colorado potato beetle. 

Brassicas

Plants in the cabbage family can be planted alongside your potato plants mostly for space management. You can maximize the use of your space in the garden by planting shallow-rooted vegetables like brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli alongside your potatoes. As a note, these crops are heavy feeders so if you are planting them in close proximity, consider adjusting your fertilizer schedule to maintain optimal nutrients! 

Check out this fast growing Broccoli Variety: Kailaan/Chinese Broccoli

Sweet Corn

Corn is another crop that can be grown with your potatoes to maximize space. Corn has shallow roots and will not compete with potatoes for space as it grows up. This is another heavy feeder tho, so you will want to make allowances for that. 

Nasturtium

Nasturtium comes in an array of beautiful flowers and is a great companion for potatoes, although the reason is counterintuitive. Nasturtium is a favorite of many pests that plague our gardens, so it attracts these pests as a trap crop. But in attracting the pests, they can be localized either to attract predatory insects or to be removed with the plant. 

When planting nasturtium as a trap crop it can be beneficial to plant near your main crops but not within the same space for ease of removal. 

Check out this variety from Eden Brothers: Jewel Cherry Rose

Marigold

Marigolds are excellent companion plants for most crops in the garden. They are known to trap root-knot nematodes, a soil-borne pest that can harm potato plants. Nematodes are attracted to the marigold and enter the root system, but can not continue in their life cycle due to chemicals marigolds produce and die. 

Additionally, marigolds attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings which prey on common potato pests such as aphids and spider mites. Plant marigolds around your potato patch or interplant them between rows for maximum protection.

Calendula

Like marigold, calendula is another beneficial companion plant that has a scent that can repel harmful pests.  This vibrant flower also adds a pop of color to your garden which invites pollinators while providing natural pest control for your potatoes.

Check out this variety from Botanical Interests: Zeolights Calendula

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet  alyssum is a low-growing flower that acts as a living mulch and attracts pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden. It also a good choice near your potatoes because it attracts parasitic wasps, which prey on potato pests such as aphids and leafhoppers. Plant sweet alyssum near your potato patch to reap its benefits.

Chives

Aromatic herbs such as chives are excellent for naturally repelling unwanted pests in your garden. Additionally, chives have shallow root systems, ensuring they do not compete for space with plants like potatoes, allowing for harmonious growth in your garden.

Cilantro

Cilantro or coriander serves as an excellent companion plant, particularly when it blooms! The large white floral pads not only attract beneficial insects but also provide a food source for them. These insects can help control potato pests and their larvae, making it a valuable addition to any garden aiming for natural pest management.

Leeks

The last companion plant of potatoes we’ll discuss is leeks. Leeks are shallow-root vegetables  that can grow tall and thin, making them a great space-saving companion for potatoes. As they grow, leeks also release natural compounds that help deter harmful insects from attacking potato plants. Plant leeks alongside your potatoes to maximize productivity and pest control in your garden. As a bonus, many recipes use both leeks and potatoes so harvest together for a delicious treat!

Also read: Simple Guide for How to Plant Potatoes from Eyes

Companion Planting Precautions

Now that we know what the best companions for potatoes are, lets take a moment to discuss a few crops that should not be planted near potatoes. 

  1. Crops that are susceptible to developing blight

Members of the nightshade family, members of the curcubit family like squash, and raspberries can contract blight! It is advised to avoid planting these crops near your potatoes, and consider avoiding planting these crops in the area for up to 2 years. 

  1. Fennel

Fennel is a crop that doesn’t play nice with many plants in general because it releases chemicals that can stunt the growth of most other plants sometimes even killing them. It is advised to plant fennel alone or if using as a companion plant it in a container nearby, but not in the same soil as your main crop. 

  1. Cucumbe

Cucumber plants are heavy feeders and drinkers and can reduce the nutrients available for potato plants therefore they do not make a good potato companion plants. 

  1. Fruit trees

Fruit trees often attract blight which is a possible killer of your entire potato crop. Consider keeping your fruit trees away from your potato plants especially if your garden is in ground. 

Additional companion planting tips

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. You’ll also learn about other factors that can affect companion planting, such as soil health 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, but always remember to research and plan accordingly. With the right information and a little bit of trial and error, you can find the perfect companions for your potato plants and all the main crops of your garden! 

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