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Companion planting is the best thing that you can do if you want your garden to improve its efficiency. One of those plants that can greatly benefit from companion planting is corn. You just have to pick the most beneficial companion plants for corn to ensure that everything that grows in your home garden can mutually benefit each other.
Quick Facts About Corn
- Botanical name: Dracaena Fragrans
- Common names: False palm, corn plant
- Type of plant: Evergreen, broadleaf, shrub, or tree
- Size once mature: 15 to 50 feet tall, 3 to 10 feet wide when outdoors; 6 feet tall when grown in containers
- Type of soil and pH level: Well-draining, moist, and loamy; Acidic with a pH level of around 6.1 to 6.5
- Sun exposure: Partial shade
- Color of flowers: Yellow and white
- Bloom time: Late fall and late spring
- Hardiness zones: USDA zones 10 to 12
Companion Planting Benefits
Companion planting is really something that you have to consider if you want your garden to thrive. Here are just some of the positive benefits of companion planting:
- Nourishes the soil – Some companion plants, such as pole beans and bush beans, can nourish the soil. They can even bring back nitrogen to the soil, thereby keeping the other plants well-fed and healthy.
- Encourages beneficial insects – You can also use companion planting as a means to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. These include pollinators such as ladybugs and bees. You can encourage them to visit your garden so they can pollinate your crops by growing attractive plants, such as borage flowers.
- Fights garden pests and insects – Note that there are also pests and insects that can be bad for your crops. These include cabbage moths, cucumber beetles, cabbage worms, carrot flies, and Mexican bean beetles. Several of the companion plants you can add to your garden, like marigold, rue, and catnip, can repel pests and insects, thereby making your garden free from them.
- Regulates shade – There are also large plants capable of providing shade for the smaller ones that require protection from the sun. An example would be corn, which can provide a beneficial shade for lettuce.
- Stimulates more rapid growth – Several of the companion plants that you can add to your garden, including chamomile, summer savory, and marjoram, are actually capable of releasing certain chemicals that stimulate the rapid growth of your plants. They can also improve their taste, which gives you more satisfying harvests.
Companion Planting Guide for Corns – The Three Sisters Method
One of the most traditional methods of doing companion planting is to use the ones that form part of the Three Sisters group – the corn, winter squash, and climbing or pole beans. With this planting technique, you can grow the mentioned components together for them to serve their individual purposes.
You can grow the three because they have complementary natures. The corn is tall enough that it can offer support to the climbing beans. The squash, on the other hand, has big and scratchy leaves that can shade the ground and prevent pests, like beetles, and weeds from invading the garden. The beans known for their rapid or fast growth can help provide and fix nitrogen in the soil.
To follow this method, you can plant the bush beans along with corn. You can alternate rows or mix the corn and beans throughout each row. However, if you are using pole beans, note that you will need to provide the corn with sufficient time for growth before the vines begin climbing the stalk.
Because of that, it is advisable to wait for the corn to be around four to six inches tall before you plant the pole beans. Once the corn reaches the mentioned height, put around four seeds of the green beans on every corn hill. It should be around an inch deep with 3-inch spacing from the corn.
Make sure to water the plants thoroughly. The goal is to maintain the even moisture in the soil until you notice the seedlings of the bean starting to emerge. This should take around 7 to 10 days. Once you notice the development of bean runners, begin training them in such a way that they can grow over corn stalks.
Corn Companion Plants
Now that you are already familiar with the Three Sisters method, which is a vital method when it comes to corn companion planting, it is time to get to know more about the specific plants that are appropriate and suitable to grow with corn. Here they are:
Nasturtiums refer to lovely flowers usually used as corn companion plants. This classification covers a wide range of plants – among which are Nasturtiums oregano. What’s so good about Nasturtiums is that they can effectively drive aphids out of your Zea mays or corn maize.
This is a good thing as aphids are known for being the major pests that can invade your corns. Nasturtiums attract aphids, thereby keeping your corn protected from them. It can definitely make your corn free from pests.
It will also be a good idea to plant corn along with pole beans in a similar patch. It is the reason why the pole beans also belong to the three sisters we mentioned earlier along with the corn and squash. The three can provide benefits to each other as you may have already known by now upon learning about the three sisters’ method.
As part of the three sisters, the vines of the winter squash also serve as among your traditional options when searching for good companion plants for corn. The reason is that they act as effective natural mulch.
The winter squash has that function as it provides sufficient ground cover for weed prevention. This can also retain the moisture in the soil. Moreover, the vines of the winter squash can repel raccoons, preventing them from invading your corn plants.
When searching for a reliable and safe companion plant for corn, marigolds are also perceived as fantastic options. One reason is that they have pest-repellant qualities. This means that they can repel pests, including aphids, that may infest and invade the stalks of corn.
French marigolds can even help in repelling whitefly. In addition to corns, beans, kale, basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes are also among the plants that can benefit from being planted near marigolds. It even contains chemicals that can deter pests, like beetles, keeping them away from your garden.
Squash, pumpkins, and other forms of cucurbits also belong to the sub-categories of the three sisters, making them amazing plants for companion planting. It is possible for you to even use squash vines and the vining cucurbits as a living mulch. This can cover your corn maize as well as the beans, resulting in minimal weeds and moist soil.
Certain root vegetables, like radish, can also help your crops in preventing corn borers. Have the radishes planted near corn to attain such benefits. With that, you have an assurance that cucumber beetles and squash borers will never invade your vegetable garden and feed off your crops.
Dill is an aromatic herb that can benefit corn as it can attract beneficial insects and pests, like certain pollinators and parasitic wasps. This makes it a highly recommended companion plant for corn. The parasitic worms are capable of killing garden insects, even the ones that can specifically infect corn, like the corn earworm, cutworms, and aphids.
Make sure, though, that you plant near corn only once the latter grows over four inches. This can assure you that the dill will not block the sunlight, causing your corn plants to not receive enough of it.
Similar to the squash vines, cucumbers are also vining plants. You can see them spreading across the ground, thereby supplying your corn with sufficient soil cover. With that, you can prevent weeds from invading your vegetable garden.
In addition, the soil will remain moist, making it appropriate for corns. The corn is also good for the cucumber so you should consider planting them together. While cucumber nourishes corn and protects it from pests, like corn earworm, corn, on the other hand, gives cucumbers the cover and shade it needs.
You can also choose to plant melons along with corn in your garden. It refers to another type of vine crop capable of spreading across the ground. This makes melons effective as they provide a cover for your corn.
Another advantage of melons is that they can retain the moisture of the oil while promoting effective weed prevention. This makes them a great addition to your garden if you wish to have healthy corn produce and eliminate weeds. You just have to plant a few melons together with your corn maize so you can enjoy such benefits.
Note, though, that corns are not the only ones that can benefit from melons. They are also among the best companion plants for peas, carrots, okra, leeks, chives, onions, bush beans and squash.
White cloves fall under the category of legumes and people love them because of their sweet scents. They work fantastically as cover crops for your corn. The reason is that white cloves have a thick spread that can help deter pests, including corn earworm, and harmful weeds.
As legumes, white cloves can fix nitrogen while enriching the soil. It can greatly benefit crops such as corn since it needs to consume plenty of nitrogen. In addition, white cloves can attract bees and pollinators, resulting in more crops.
It is also a great idea to plant borage in your vegetable garden that also has corns in it. One reason why borage is good for your corn is that it can repel cabbage and tomato worms. It also attracts beneficial insects, like bees and parasitic wasps.
It is actually good to plant borage not only with corn but also with cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, green beans, and squashes. What’s even better is that borage has edible and beautiful flowers.
There is also a great chance for sunflowers to achieve healthy growth with several flowers, herbs, like rosemary, sage, and mint, as well as vegetables. Growing beans, corn, squash or pumpkins, and sunflowers together can promote better yield and produce.
It is also a great idea to plant lettuce and corn together. The reason is that the lettuce can use corn as shade. The long corn stalks are the ones that can provide the lettuce the shade it specifically needs.
What Should You Not Plant with Corn?
While there are many plants that can benefit corn if you plant them close to each other, you still have to be extra careful as there are also certain plants that are bad for the crops. Among those you should avoid planting near corns are:
There are several plants that fall under the cabbage family and brassicas – among which are broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale. These plants are not good for the corn as they tend to take in a huge part of the nourishment in the soil.
That said, the plants, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale, can only stunt corn growth. An example is when you grow cabbage with corn. If you do that, the two may only compete for nutrients, leaving corn more deprived.
Tomatoes are not good companion plants for corn as they can only make the latter prone to pest infestation and infections. When planted together, there is a high chance for corn earworms and hornworms to attack both tomatoes and corn together. Tomatoes and corns may also only compete for nutrients, resulting in stunted growth in either of them.
Just like tomatoes, you can’t also expect eggplants to be good for corns. The reason is that once the tomato plant hornworms stop destroying the corn, their next target would be damaging the eggplants. It would never be a good idea to plant crops capable of attracting similar pests in just one garden.
Fennel is one of those crops in the garden that you can’t expect to grow well when planted next to the majority of vegetable garden plants. This means that it is not also an ideal choice for your corn.
Yes, it is also a good plant as it attracts beneficial insects but it also inhibits plant growth, so it would be best to avoid it altogether.
If you take a look at a companion planting chart, you will also realize that Swiss chard is not a great companion for corn. The reason is that the two may compete for nutrients, resulting in either of them being disadvantaged.
Companion Planting Guide: Some Tips to Achieve Success
If you want to make the most out of corn companion planting ensure that you keep in mind the following additional tips:
- Remove weeds, irrelevant materials, and stumps from the soil where you decide to plant the corn. Ensure that you are using neutral soil, too.
- If you want to plant indoors, use a biodegradable pot.
- Stick to the most appropriate soil temperature for corns. Note that corn plants will most likely thrive in soils with temperatures that are around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also possible to regulate the temperature, so you can meet the requirement by covering it with soil.
- Give your corn plants sufficient spacing. The recommended space is often at least 24 inches apart. Keep in mind that corn consumes a lot of nourishment from the soil so planting them too close to each other may only cause them to compete with each other.
- Pollinate corn plants. You can do that if you transfer to the female flower a few of the male pollen grains.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you plant carrots with corn?
Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, carrots are great neighbors of not only corn but also beets, cauliflower, strawberries, and cucumbers. In other words, carrot is a great companion plant for many crops.
What can you plant with sweet corn?
Beans are perfect companions for sweet corn. You can expect the two to grow well together. Beans also serve as cover crops that can replenish and fix nitrogen in the soil, thereby benefiting the sweet corn.
What plants grow well with corn?
Corn seems to be happier when grown along with plants that only consume just a small amount of nutrients. The best companions for them are also those that are effective in repelling pests and insects. Among these plants are green beans, radishes, sunflowers, and dill, among many others.
Through companion planting, you have a better chance of growing taller and healthier corn crops devoid of any pests. This is possible without the need to use additional fertilizers and pesticides.
All it takes is to plant beneficial crops and plants near your corn, including marigold, dill, radish, cucumber, and the other plants we have mentioned here.
Can plant with corn:
- Pole Beans
- Winter Squash
- White cloves
Can not plant with corn
- Brassicas/Cabbage family
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss Chard