Companion planting is a skill that I was taught by my maternal Grandmother who raised me. It is not new to older gardeners and has been taught in universities to food crop growers for decades. I’ve always used the skill in my organic ornamental designs as well. * The art of good companion planting is very important to the success of my organic program that I teach in my classes.

Strong Scented Repellant Plants——Any plant that has a strong scent will repel bad bugs [bugs that eat plants]. Many herbs fall into this category. Below I have listed some of my favorite repellant plants that I like to include in my designs. I call these my favorite because as well as being useful they are also beautiful.

*Powis Castle Artemisia [small 2’x3’ silver evergreen shrub-like perennial herb] it repels aphids and other pests. I like to add it under hybrid roses to both repel aphids and add winter interest to the naked trunks and branches.

Rosemary for a companion plant


* Rosemary [4’x4’evergreen with blue blooms in late winter-spring] it repels mosquitoes – plant it by all sitting areas.

*Society Garlic [tufts of garlic scented grass with lavender flowers that last spring – fall] it repels all plant-chewing insects. [Also systemic]

*Salvia Greggii [Texas native shrub that comes in many colors and blooms spring-fall] It repels scale.

*Copper Canyon Daisy [3’x4’ mound of green scented leaves with gold daisy like flowers in late fall] This plant has an intense fragrance that you can’t get enough of. It repels flies and most other plant pests.

*African Blue Basil [3’x3’ shrub like herb with wonderful blue blooms on purple-green leaves] it repels flies. [Also systemic] Trap Plants—–to trap and hold insect pests and keep them off of other plants. Put a bird feeder close to these plants so the birds will spot the bugs and eat them. Beneficial insects will find and control the smaller insects. To follow are
a few of the many plants that are used as trap plants that I find most effective.

*Sunflower [any variety–native multi stem sunflower-my favorite] # one trap plant for all sucking rasping insects. Sunflowers [any variety] are irresistible to grasshoppers and leafhoppers. Sunflowers are full of juice and seldom damaged

Companion planting cabbages and marigolds

Companion planting cabbages and marigolds

*Marigold [good summer annual — my favorite is French marigold]. Spider mite trap. Plant them around your tomatoes or any other problem areas.

*Oleander –Large evergreen shrub [red is the best in terms of cold damage]. The Oleander is a trap plant for all aphids including and especially the large yellow Mexican aphids. Hang a bird feeder by them.

*Tropical Milk Weed [large annual with tall red and yellow flowers] Aphid trap.

* Mint [any variety–chocolate mint is a less aggressive one]. I allow it to flourish during the spring to trap the four-lined plant bug. In early June, when the heat ends this insect’s stay, I rip out the mint–the heat keeps it from growing and it returns in the early spring to do its job.

Larval plants—-to attract adult butterflies to lay their eggs on You will need to plan for these plants to be eaten back when the caterpillars populate them. They will grow back. Here are some of my favorite ones.

*Bronze Fennel [3’x3’ bronze-purple hairy like foliage that smells like licorice] this will be up spring-fall. Plant *Parsley in the fall to fill in as a larval plant over the winter. Eastern Black Swallowtail. *Dill in the Spring

* Passionflower Vine [Large vine with blue and green flowers and passion fruit] Gulf Fritillary.

*Rue [2’x2’ perennial-Blue-green} Swallowtail and Painted Lady.
Host Plants—to attract and hold beneficial insects in the garden. These plants provide habitat, or pollen for different beneficial insects. Note–trap plants that attract the most favorite food of beneficial insects–bad bugs are also host plants to the beneficial insects. Here are some of the ones that I use most.

Lambs ears companion planting hedge*Big Ear Lambs Ear [Large fuzzy silver leaf groundcover] Host to Mealybug predator * Sunflower [Any variety] * Wildflowers *See the list of trap plants

Systemic Companion Plants—To provide fungal control to plants that are prone to fungal diseases such as black spot, powdery mildew and rust. These plants must be planted within six feet of the plant that you are protecting-this puts it in the root zone. To follow is a good list of these systemic plants.

*Tomatoes {any variety–Wonderful companion plant for roses–will make them much healthier.

*African Blue Basil or any basil will help tomatoes be less watery and have a deeper color and keep them from damping off. Basil will also help roses to hold a dark color longer and is good for the overall health of the rose.

*All of these will provide systemic fungal control ——————————

*Thyme, * Oregano, * Dittany Of Crete, *Society Garlic (* Garlic and * Onion Chives work too but reseed freely), * *White Yarrow. ( White Yarrow is the only systemic yarrow –it is invasive so I plant it with edging for control.

Love and Luck, Lucy Harrell

By Lucy Harrell T.C.N.P. A Specialist On Demanding Environments

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