What you're learning
Eggplant is a tasty vegetable capable of growing with ease in several climates. Expect these vegetables to be easy to grow as they can survive well during hot and humid summers while also having the ability to produce several pounds of eggplants within just one season.
Note that companion planting further improves its ability to grow better and that is what you will learn in this article.
Quick Facts About Eggplant
- Botanical name: Solanum melongena
- Type of plant: Vegetable; perennial
- Soil pH and type: Slightly acidic to neutral (5.5 to 7.5 pH level); loamy and well-drained
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Flower color: White, purple
- Bloom time: Summer
- Hardiness USDA zones: 9 to 12
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a technique that you can use in your garden. It serves both as modern science and ancient art form that provides several benefits to certain plants.
For one, there are those that serve as trap crops, allowing them to draw pests that will feed on their leaves, thereby keeping the primary plant protected.
Basically, companion planting involves grouping at least one species of plant together, which can benefit the group in its entirety instead of individually. To make it easily understandable, the gardening technique involves growing multiple plants, combining them to benefit the whole.
You can also take advantage of certain companion plants that can improve the flavor and health of certain plants through the release of natural chemicals that will be absorbed and spread to the soil.
Another advantage of good companion plants is that they will act as ground cover. This is good when it comes to reducing weeds and preventing nutrient competition.
Some plants, such as legumes, are even recognized for their ability to fix the nitrogen content in the soil. This makes them beneficial and valuable companions to plants categorized as heavy feeders.
Benefits of Companion Planting for Eggplants
Growing and planting eggplant on their own is actually okay. However, there are also positive benefits if you grow them along with amazing eggplant companion plants. One benefit is that excellent eggplant companion plants work on loosening the soil and retaining soil moisture.
They can also help deter pests while ensuring that they also attract pollinators along the process. All these benefits can encourage eggplants to develop impressive growth behaviors. Other positive effects of allowing these plants to grow in your garden include:
- Fertilizes soil
- Improves the taste or flavor of eggplants
- Prevents weed from growing
- Offers a shade from the harsh effects of the sun (when needed)
- Increases NPK content of the soil
- Improves substrate nutrition
- Assures gardeners of a high yield
Choosing the Best Eggplant Companion Plant
When it comes to choosing the best eggplant companion plants, you should remember that the perennial vegetable’s primary concern is nitrogen. This means that the eggplant is in favor of soil that has a higher nitrogen percentage compared to potassium and phosphate.
With that said, it is no longer surprising to find every guide about growing eggplants recommending the supplementation of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, often in the NPK ratio of 15-5-10. The same principle should be applied when picking a companion plant or two for the eggplant.
Pick one capable of benefiting the eggplant by increasing the soil’s nitrogen content. One more tip is to choose a companion, which can prevent bug infestation.
Best Companion Plants for Eggplants
Now that you know a bit about companion planting for eggplants, let’s tackle some of the best plants to grow along with the vegetable.
Being part of the nightshade family, the eggplant is easy to grow and thrives well when grown along with other plants that are part of the group. All of them have the same requirements in terms of soil, sunlight, watering, fertilizer, and pH level so growing them together can benefit them.
Among the members of the nightshade family classified as perfect companions for eggplants are tomatoes, chili peppers, and potatoes. Since they belong to the same family, expect them to be supportive and compatible companion plants capable of commingling with eggplants.
Tomatoes are examples of nightshade plants that serve as fantastic eggplant companion plants. It is even possible for you to harvest and grow the two plants together. Just make sure to observe for large and tall leaves as they may prevent the eggplant from getting the sunlight they need.
Most cultivars of peppers are also safe to plant near your eggplant. You can choose to grow your favorite mild or hot peppers along with the eggplant. The good thing about the peppers is that they work in keeping bugs away from the garden bed.
Another advantage of both mild and hot peppers is that they support the plant’s root system by supplying it with a chemical capable of preventing fungus and rot beneath the soil. Just make sure to practice crop rotation often every one to three growing seasons.
By rotating crops, you can prevent pests from reoccurring. It can also prevent nightshade family members from competing with the nutrients in the soil.
Legumes and Peas
Legumes and peas are also great additions to your garden bed if you plan on planting eggplant. The reason is that peas are effective in increasing the nitrogen content of the soil as they can get it from the air – after which, they integrate it into the substrate.
A soil rich in potassium or lacking in nitrogen naturally can benefit from peas. You can grow them as a means of fertilizing the growing medium where you are growing eggplant and cultivating it.
Bush and Pole Beans
Pole beans are beneficial companion plants as they provide the veggies with a sort of natural trellis where they can climb. Note that vines can produce runners with the ability to wrap around taller and bigger objects naturally regardless of whether they are plants or not.
Pole beans are good companions for eggplants but be extra careful as they have a height that may tower over the latter. This may block the sun from penetrating the low-riding eggplants.
You can also use bush beans as companion plants for your eggplants. The good thing about them is that they work on repelling the nasty Colorado potato beetles. It is beneficial especially if there are potato beetles that continue to eat your vegetables.
With the pole and bush varieties of beans around, you can prevent them from infesting your eggplant and other vegetables. Some gardeners experience problems with Colorado potato beetles, especially because they tend to eat the eggplant foliage. You can use the pole and bush beans to help repel them.
These types of beans are also among the easiest and least expensive plants you can grow along with eggplants. You will also find green beans extremely profitable if you propagate them every growing season in your own yard.
Green beans are also famous for their natural ability to repel aphids and pests. Just like the bush and pole beans, the green beans also work in preventing the infestation of Colorado beetles.
You will also find spinach, a leafy green, useful when looking for the best companion plants for eggplants. You can use spinach because of the long foliage it possesses.
With its large leaflets, spinach helps in protecting your eggplant from getting negatively affected by the harsh effects of extreme sunlight during the sunny or summer season. It offers a shade that prevents your harvest from getting burned by the sun.
Moreover, it can protect the soil as it prevents water from evaporating. This ensures that you will not have to water your eggplant too often.
Many also find cabbage useful as a trap crop because of its ability to lure away insects from the eggplant. What they do, instead, is go directly to the leafy greens, which is good when it comes to protecting your eggplants from the flea beetles.
One cabbage variety you should give a try when planning to find excellent companion plants for eggplant is the Chinese cabbage. This variety works on attracting flea beetles while taking them out of the eggplants. You can also use the cabbage as a decoy plant, which is a big help if you want to deter pest attacks in their entirety.
If you are searching for an eggplant companion plant that falls under the classification of herbs, then the Greek oregano is the ideal choice. What’s great about it is that it is capable of attracting overlies that are among the most reliable predators of flea beetles, among many other types of it. With that, you have a chance to lessen the population of Colorado beetles.
Another effective herb that can help deter pests is cilantro. What cilantro does is encourage the coming of natural predators to your garden, specifically those that thrive in eating beetles.
With that, you can protect your eggplants from being devoured by insects and pests, including aphids, beetles, and spider mites. Aside from repelling pests, cilantro can also make your garden bring out a fresh and great smell.
Another herb that you will never regret including in your garden is the lemon balm. With its natural citrus scent, lemon balm is one of those herbs that can keep away bugs, such as slugs, snails, pill bugs, and spiders.
You can plant squash with the plot where the eggplant can be found as it can gain benefits from full sun. By receiving sufficient sunlight, it can produce large fruits similar to eggplants.
Both eggplants and squash also love at least 6-hour sunlight daily. The two can, therefore, be sunlight hardy, allowing you to plant them together. Make sure to observe for organic matter, though, as squash is famous for being a hungry plant.
Another good eggplant companion is the radish. This is perfect for your eggplant especially if the space you consider as their garden bed is kind of compact. The reason is that they can grow even in a very compact space as they only require minimal space to grow along with eggplants.
Nasturtiums are incredible companion plants if you intend to grow flowers near eggplants. These attractive flowers are compatible with eggplants plus they offer the benefit of helping deter aphids.
Several gardeners make it a point to plant the nasturtium flower with just minimal distance away from the eggplant. This should help in drawing aphids away.
What’s great about borage is that it works in keeping the worms and larvae of beetles away. It also attracts beneficial insects, including bees and birds. You can, therefore, use it in case there are caterpillars and worms around that tend to eat your plant.
Different types and variations of mint are also compatible with eggplants. Planting them near eggplants is an advantage as they can repel pests and ensure that they are away. Among the best mints that you should grow near your eggplants are peppermint, spearmint, and winter mints.
What’s even better about these mints is that you can easily grow them while having a sort of defense for your eggplant. The reason is that they can keep bugs and other insects and pests away.
Okra is also great for eggplants as it can help in raising the concentration of nitrogen in the soil. The two also have the same watering requirements.
With that said, you are allowed to feed, water, and plant the two at the same time and place. They have very similar needs and requirements, so it is possible to care for the two at the same time.
Worst Companions for Eggplants
While having the ability to produce the most appealing crops in your vegetable gardens is possible with the eggplant alone, take note that improperly planning everything can still ruin the results. You have to know exactly what are bad for the eggplant to prevent yourself from planting them in the meantime.
Some plants to avoid in eggplant companion planting are the following:
You can’t expect corn to be friendly when planted near eggplants. The reason is that it has the ability to stunt eggplant growth. It may also attract negative and unfavorable insects to the plant.
Fennel is also one of those crops that can stunt eggplant growth if you plant the two together. The reason is that fennel tends to compete with eggplants for nutrition. It is also not compatible with any food plant grown and cultivated in your garden.
While geranium is an effective insect repellent when planted along with some crops, it is not always recommended as a companion for eggplant. The reason is that geranium is also a host to certain ailments that it can quickly and easily spread and pass on to your eggplants. It would be best to avoid it altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should you not plant next to eggplant?
Avoid planting fennel close to eggplant. The reason is that it will most likely inhibit eggplant growth. Geraniums have to be avoided, too, as they can carry diseases that may only affect the eggplant, including root rot and leaf blight.
Moreover, you should not plant heavy feeding plants, like corn, next to eggplant. You should put them away from your eggplant as they may only compete for nutrients.
What can I grow and cultivate with eggplant?
There are actually several plants that you can grow along with eggplants. These include those that form part of the nightshade family, including sweet and hot peppers. The reason is that eggplant needs are quite similar to them.
You can also grow tomatoes, any type of bean, spinach, some herbs, nasturtium, okra, and mint, along with eggplant. Just make sure to choose those that will not shade the eggplant from the sun that they need.
Can I plant strawberries with eggplant?
No, you should avoid planting strawberries and make them grow with eggplant. The reason is that they are among those plants that are not designed to be interplanted. Planting them as companions may only cause their demise.
Strawberry may be at risk of developing a disease known as verticillium when planted next to eggplant. The two may also compete for nutrients. That said, you should avoid planting them as companions. Planting strawberries in garden beds that recently house eggplants or vice versa should also be avoided.
Can you plant lettuce with eggplant?
Yes, you can plant lettuce and grow with eggplants. You can even expect lettuce to act as an incredible ground cover for the eggplant. It is also okay to grow lettuce in the eggplant’s shadow, though, there is no proof that it is as efficient since eggplant is incapable of growing as tall as some cultivars of tomatoes.
Eggplants are definitely among the most interesting and prosperous vegetables you can grow. You will never have a difficult time planting, growing, and caring for them.
You can even further improve the ability of eggplants to give you an abundant harvest through companion planting – that is planting and cultivating certain plants guaranteed to support their healthy growth, so they can grow with eggplant.