Companion Plants For Potatoes – Plant This Not That!
What would a vegetable garden be without potatoes? Potatoes are incredibly easy to grow but take a bit of finesse to grow well. Unfortunately, potato crops are also susceptible to a few crop-killing diseases and pests that will want your crops for themselves. There are many ways to help prevent insects in the garden, but one organic way is to add a few companion plants for potatoes.
What are some of the best companion plants to grow alongside potatoes?
The best companion plants for potatoes will help deter pesky insects and grow in unison with the potato crop without competing for water and nutrients. Some of the best potato companion plants are corn, garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, peas, beans (of all kinds), leafy greens, basil, thyme, and flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds.
The Best Potato Companion Plants
See these vegetables, herbs, and flower crops for good companions to add to your potato patch:
Potatoes grow down, and corn grows up. The two plants can share garden space without stepping on each other’s toes (or, in this case, roots). Planting potatoes with corn is a great way to maximize garden space. The two plants will not compete for nutrients either as their roots grow at different levels.
The pungent aroma of garlic can help confuse and deter many insects and pests, including fungus gnats, Colorado potato beetles, spider mites, cabbage loopers, coddling moths, Japanese beetles, and even ants.
Potatoes are prone to late potato blight, along with potato scab. Garlic has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help reduce the occurrence of blight and potato scab.
- Learn More: Garlic is one of the best companion plants in the garden for all the reasons listed above. We always plant more garlic than we will ever need because it is a great companion. See our guide on using garlic in the garden and start benefiting from this powerful companion plant.
Onions, Leeks, Chives, and Shallots
All allium family members, such as onions, leeks, chives, and shallots, are known to be insect-repelling, making them good companion plants for potatoes.
The heady aromas from these plants both confuse and repel harmful insects.
Alliums are generally shallow-rooted and will not use the same space as potatoes in the garden.
Chives in bloom can help attract beneficial insects.
Peas, Green Beans, Bush Beans, and Pole Beans
Members of the legume family, like bean crops and peas, make good companion plants for potatoes.
Their relationship is symbiotic; the legumes will provide much-needed nitrogen for the potatoes, and potato plants deter Mexican bean beetles.
Legumes are also generally shallow-rooted and will not interfere with the growing potato crop.
Bush beans interplanted with rows of potatoes will drastically decrease the number of Colorado potato beetles on the plants.
All leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce are shallow-rooted and won’t compete for nutrients or water making them good potato companion plants.
Green leaf crops, planted densely, will help shade out weeds and help keep the soil cool and moist around the potato plants.
The tall potato plants can help shade the lettuce preventing leaf burn and early bolting.
Basil is an aromatic herb that makes a great companion for potatoes. Planted densely, it can act as a living mulch providing shade for the soil, which will keep it cool and moist.
Basil will also deter common pests such as thrips, flies, and hornworms.
Thyme is a good companion for potatoes because it will attract beneficial predatory insects like hoverflies, which will help drastically reduce aphid populations.
Nasturtiums are pretty flowers that attract harmful insects like aphids and potato beetles. While this may seem counterintuitive, many gardeners plant nasturtiums as a trap crop a short distance away from their potato crops.
In addition, the brightly colored flowers help attract beneficial insects to the garden.
Marigolds are an essential companion plant that you can add through the vegetable patch.
French marigolds help deter pests, are helpful in attracting beneficial insects and pollinators, and help prevent root-knot nematodes.
But their claim to fame as a potato companion plant is their ability to repel potato beetles. As a result, we consider marigolds a must-have companion in our potato beds every year.
- Learn more: See how to use marigolds as companion plants. In addition, we have an entire post about marigold companion planting you should check out before you plan your garden this year.
Avoid These Poor Potato Companion Plants
Bad companions for potatoes will share similar diseases and pests and compete aggressively for water and nutrients. When planted alongside potatoes, these plants will cause stunted growth of your potato crop.
Avoid planting cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and root crops such as turnip, carrots, and parsnips and any member of the nightshade family such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.
Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, and Kohlrabi
We often see brassicas listed as companions for potatoes, but we’ve never had success with the two, and for an excellent reason.
Potatoes require slightly acidic soil, whereas brassicas want the pH to be slightly alkaline. Unfortunately, there is no way to grow this pairing without negatively impacting at least one of the crops.
Cucumbers make poor companion plants for potatoes. Cukes require lots of water, are heavy feeders, and compete aggressively with potatoes.
Additionally, cucumbers can increase the chance of late blight.
Pumpkins and Squash
Pumpkins and squash are both susceptible to blight and, like cucumbers, can increase your potato crop’s chance of becoming infected.
Big growers like squash and pumpkins are also heavy feeders with roots that will compete with potatoes for both water and nutrients.
Fennel does not play well with others. It will inhibit the growth of your potato crop, causing the plants to be stunted, with a significantly reduced yield. It is best to plant fennel on its own away from your potatoes.
Raspberries are another crop that is susceptible to late blight. Therefore, it’s best to keep raspberries away from your potato crop.
Turnips, Parsnips, and Carrots
Root crops like turnips, carrots, and parsnips will cause competition for space and decrease the growth potential for both crops.
Tomatoes, Eggplants, and Peppers
Members of the nightshade family like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers should never be grown alongside potatoes. All plants will compete for water and nutrients. In addition, nightshades share similar pests and diseases like late blight.
Keep your potato plants away from fruit trees. Like many plants listed here, fruit trees like peach, apple, and cherry trees can attract blight. Plant potatoes far away from fruiting trees.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting has many benefits for the home garden. All plants have beneficial partners who can help improve growth, taste, yield, deal with pests and disease problems, and can help in attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
Attract pollinators: Plants with bright flowers and food sources like pollen and nectar attract pollinators like bees. We all want pollinators in our gardens to increase our yields!
Attract beneficial insects: Many plants will help attract helpful insects like parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and ladybugs to the garden to help reduce populations of pests.
Repel harmful insects: Some plants have intense scents that control common garden pests, like squash bugs and tomato worms. Or they attract harmful pests and work as a trap crop to keep these pests away from your precious crops.
Help improve the soil: Flowers like marigolds help destroy root-knot nematodes that live in the ground and destroy roots from below. While other plants like spinach and lettuce can act as a living mulch to help control moisture and provide shade.
Help control weeds: Densely underplanting with vegetables like spinach or lettuce will help choke out weeds.
Companion planting can help with disease issues. Diseases are spread more quickly through your garden when plants of the same type are grouped. Adding different species throughout the garden plan can help break up families and slow the spread of diseases.
Tips for Growing Healthy Potato Plants
Season: Warm season
Soil: Well-drained loamy soil with lots of organic matter. The ideal pH level is slightly acidic at 5.5-6.5.
Potato Plant Timing
Plant potatoes out two weeks before your last predicted frost date. The minimum soil temperature should be 6 degrees C ( 45 degrees F). You will see shoots emerge in 2-3 weeks.
Planting Out Potatoes
Set your potato tubers approximately 3-4 inches deep and at least 12 inches apart. Spacing is important. If you want many small potatoes, plant your seed potatos closer, but if you want a heavy larger crop, give your potatoes plenty of space to grow.
Potato Growing Care
When young potato plants are 12 inches tall, you will want to hill up the soil about 6 inches around the plants and should be repeated 2-3 times during the growing season for best results.
Potato Harvest & Storage
You can harvest new potatoes about 7-8 weeks after planting.
Harvest late storage potatoes two weeks after the plants die back in fall.
Store in a cool dark location with relatively high humidity. Be sure to check your potato supply often to remove any soft potatoes, or ones that are going “off.”
Late blight is a problem for potato plants.
Symptoms will appear as water-soaked gray to white spots on the margins of potato leaves and stems. If blight is left unchecked, it will destroy the entire plant.
You can help control or stave off blight by spraying copper regularly through the growing season. Copper spray can be effective if applied regularly through the growing season.
It is also crucial that you not water your potato seeds before shoots emerge.
Start with fresh potato seeds from a verified vendor to ensure a healthy crop.
The most common pests for potatoes are wireworms and are mainly a concern in areas that have been converted from lawns to gardens.
If your seeds don’t appear to sprout, or the plants wilt and die suddenly, your soil may have wireworms.
Wireworm larvae are orange to brown in color, shiny, slender, and hard-bodied.
To find out if you have wireworms before planting:
- Create bait made of carrot and potato pieces.
- Bury the bait 4 inches into the soil and mark the location.
- Check the bait in 4-5 days to see if you have a wireworm problem. You can identify wireworm larvae by the shiny rigid bodies that are orange to brown.
Wireworms are challenging to control, but crop rotation can help. Cultivation of the soil by tilling can also help reduce populations. Predatory nematodes will also help reduce populations.
Potato Companions – So Many Choices, How do you choose?
There are many excellent potato companions to choose from, so how do you decide what will be best for your garden?
You do not need to grow all the companions with your potato plants; you only need to grow for potential problems or increased benefit.
For example, if potato beetles are a problem, try interplanting with marigolds. If drought is a problem, try planting basil or leafy greens around your potato plants as a living mulch. Or plant thyme and nasturtiums to attract beneficial insects to help you manage the overpopulation of harmful pests.
If you want to learn more about companion planting, we have many articles to help you get started:
See our category of companion planting ideas for inspiration!