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Broccoli is a well-loved cool-season vegetable because aside from being delicious and flavorful, it is also easy to grow. If you are planning to grow and cultivate broccoli in your vegetable garden, keep in mind that the plants may get quite large.
With that in mind, you need to grow it along with good broccoli companion plants. By doing that, you can maximize your garden space and ensure successful and bountiful growth and harvest.
An Overview of Broccoli Companion Planting
Broccoli, which belongs to the cabbage family called Brassica oleracea, can make any garden even more abundant. It is a prolific and productive vegetable that belongs to that same family that kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower are also a part of.
Broccoli features side shoots that you can expect to keep sprouting the entire growing season. This will continue even after you have harvested the crown or central head of these plants.
Broccoli companion planting can make this plant grow even more bountifully. This gardening technique provides several benefits to broccoli plants – among which are the following:
Repels insects and pests
Different kinds of pests may invade vegetable gardens and cause harm to them. Among these pests are cucumber beetles, cabbage worms, cabbage moths, carrot flies, and Mexican bean beetles. Several broccoli companion plants can repel insect pests, thereby promoting a healthier garden.
Attract beneficial insects and pollinators
Among them are ladybugs and bees that will surely visit your garden if you grow the best companion plants for broccoli. Expect these pollinators to pollinate your broccoli crop, which makes companion planting really advantageous for your garden.
Promotes rapid growth
Some companion plants also have the ability to release certain chemicals that aid in speeding up the growth of broccoli. You can also expect the taste to improve if you do companion planting, resulting in faster and more delicious harvests.
Nourishes the soil
As your broccoli crops grow, there is a high chance for them to absorb the nutrients in the soil, causing the need to renew and replenish the lost soil nutrients. With companion planting, you can prevent that from happening.
Some companion plants, including pole beans and bush beans, can nourish the soil once again. They can add nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil, thereby ensuring that your broccoli and other veggies and plants stay healthy.
Mentioned are just a few of the numerous benefits of companion planting for broccoli. It is now time to learn about the perfect companion plants for this vegetable, so you can start supporting its growth.
Best Companion Plants for Broccoli
So what can you grow alongside broccoli to make them flourish and grow bountifully and successfully? Here are a few great options to help you get started in companion planting broccoli:
#1 – Beets
One key fact about the plants that belong to the brassica family, such as broccoli, is that they heavily depend on calcium. Note, though, that this is not the case with beets. The reason is that beets do not need too much of this kind of nutrient.
With that, beets are definitely among the most beneficial companion plants for broccoli. When companion planting beets and the broccoli plant, stick to giving them a 15-inch space in between each row. This will prevent the roots of the broccoli from tangling with the beets.
#2 – Lettuce
The crunchy and fresh lettuce is also an incredible broccoli companion plant. The two benefit each other with broccoli leaves also providing shade for the lettuce. This is a good thing as it prevents lettuce from wilting and going through the flowering cycle even if it is still ahead of schedule.
#3 – Rosemary
Rosemary also serves as a beneficial companion plant for broccoli because of its natural pest-repellant capability. It has this scent that cabbage loppers and cabbage moths do not like, thereby preventing them from coming near your garden. You can also use rosemary in repelling slugs and snails.
One thing to note about rosemary, though, is that it tends to grow fast in the ground. Even minor pruning may cause it to grow into a huge bush. This makes it necessary to plant rosemary several feet from the broccoli.
#4 – Leafy Greens
Aside from lettuce, there are also other leafy greens that tend to be good companion plants for broccoli. Among them are spinach and Swiss chard. If you are growing broccoli plant close to these leafy greens, you can expect to extend their growing season.
The reason is that there will be a sufficient shade in the soil, allowing all the greens to produce for an extended period before bolting. One more thing that leafy greens can do is occupy some space near the ground.
This is a good thing as they can keep the soil cool by shading it. This can prevent the sprouting of weeds and promote open space.
#5 – Chamomile
Chamomile and other aromatic herbs are also good for broccoli. Planting them together can help improve broccoli’s flavor. Another thing that chamomile can do is attract beneficial insects and pollinators and bees to your garden.
Sow chamomile seeds around 8 to 12 inches from broccoli plants. This will give chamomile sufficient space to grow well. Aside from being good for broccoli, chamomile can also add some beauty to your garden with its delicate yellow and white blooms that tend to pop up among your growing broccoli and other veggies.
#6 – Potatoes
If you are planning to make potatoes a part of your garden, then you should know that there are plants that you can’t grow beside them, including onions, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. They are not even among the best carrots companion plants. The reason is that they require a lot of phosphate and magnesium, thereby competing for nutrients.
This is not the case when you grow potatoes with broccoli, though, as the two tend to be good companions. It is mainly because these two plants need different nutrients, so they will not compete with each other. To grow them together, just place young broccoli in the gaps that you can find in between each row of mounded earth for growing potatoes.
#7 – Shallot
Shallot has compounds that can benefit broccoli, which makes it a good companion plant for the vegetable. These are kaempferol, allicin, and quercetin that are also known as antioxidants capable of deterring pests. You can expect these compounds to be of help in repelling bugs, making shallots really good broccoli companions.
To take advantage of shallot as a broccoli companion, plant it in a row, which has a space of around 12 to 18 inches away from broccoli. The two can also benefit each other because you can’t expect them to compete and fight for the same nutrients.
#8 – Rhubarb
It is also a good idea to plant rhubarb around with a space of around 12 to 18 inches from broccoli. The reason is that this plant has properties capable of deterring cabbage whitefly and other leaf-eating bugs.
The leaves of rhubarb also have toxic oxalic acid, making it bad for leaf-eating bugs and whiteflies. Never plant them too close to broccoli, though, to prevent the two from competing for nutrients.
Stick to the recommended spacing. You may also plant it in one corner of your garden since the oxalic acid scent is already capable of spreading throughout your entire garden. This should be enough in chasing pests away.
#9 – Celery
Aside from being a great addition to salads, celery also makes a great companion plant for broccoli. It has tall stems that can help shade your broccoli, especially during those extremely damaging hot days.
Another advantage of celery is that it is capable of returning certain enzymes to the soil. This can improve the taste and flavor of broccoli, providing it with a sweeter profile in terms of taste. It also helps in getting rid of the bitterness derived from brassica.
#10 – Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are also among the best broccoli companion plants. They have a strong scent capable of repelling unwanted insect pests, such as cabbage worms. Geraniums, snapdragons, and marigolds also provide similar benefits as nasturtiums. All of them can give your broccoli garden beds a fantastic pop of beautiful colors.
What Can You Not Plant with Broccoli?
Now that you know some of the plants that can have favorable and positive benefits to broccoli, you should also learn about its worst possible companions. Avoid planting your broccoli with any of these poor companions as they can hamper each other’s growth:
Broccoli can’t be expected to flourish if you plant them close to plants in the nightshade family. Some examples of nightshades are peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. You should not also grow broccoli with hot peppers, such as habanero.
The reason behind this is that nightshade plants are heavy feeders. This may cause them to outcompete broccoli to get nutrients. The result would be weak broccoli crops.
You also have to avoid planting strawberries along with broccoli and other plants in the Brassica family, like kohl rabi, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. The reason is that strawberries may hamper their growth considering their heavy-feeding nature.
Moreover, strawberries may attract pests that can damage broccoli and its surrounding plants. This makes it necessary to plant them away from your vegetable garden.
Different kinds of beans, including pole beans, bush beans, snap beans, and lima beans are not good broccoli companions. The reason is that beans are capable of fixing nitrogen in the soil naturally. This is actually good as it means it nourishes the soil but the result is too rich for the plant.
The nitrogen-fixing properties of beans and other plants that are part of the legume family may overwhelm those in the cabbage family, including broccoli. With that said, you have to space these beans further away when planning to grow broccoli in your garden.
Cauliflower and cabbage
Growing brassica plant family members together is actually not a good idea, which means that you should not plant cauliflower and cabbage along with broccoli on the same surface. If you put these plants together in just one location, then they will directly compete to get similar resources and nutrients.
Planting these brassicas very close to each other may also attract insects and pests that may damage plants. Some of these insects and pests are the aphids that tend to suck out the juices from your broccoli shoots, cabbage loopers (tiny green caterpillars), flea beetles, maggots, and cabbage worms.
Other Heavy Feeders
There are also plants considered heavy feeders that you should never plant together with the broccoli. Among them are squash, pumpkins, sweet corn, asparagus, mustard plant, and grapes.
They have a very high demand for nutrients, so it is not a good idea to grow them along another heavy feeder, which is broccoli. They will only compete with each other, thereby negatively affecting their individual growth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you plant carrots near broccoli plants?
No. Carrots and broccoli are actually bad companions so you should not grow them together in one place. They may only compete for nutrients, specifically calcium.
Can I plant broccoli near tomatoes?
No. You should avoid planting broccoli near tomatoes, as well as other nightshades. The reason is that all of them are heavy feeders, resulting in heavy competition in terms of nutrients.
Can zucchini be planted with broccoli?
Zucchini is also one of the worst companions for broccoli. Again, they will compete for nutrients since they will most likely absorb a significant amount of those from the soil.
Companion planting can indeed benefit broccoli. However, you have to be clear about the specific plants that can have favorable effects on broccoli. Learn about the best broccoli companion plants and their worst companions.
That way, you will be able to grow the crop with great companions. Make sure that the plants you grow together also have mutual benefits so you can truly gain success from companion planting, which many gardeners also enjoy.