When yard space is limited yet the desire for homegrown herbs is strong, the temptation might be to plant them all in together.
Much like most living things, each plant must be compatible with the next for them to thrive and flourish.
Companion planting is when you plant herbs that complement each other in the same part of the garden or container. This method of planting not only controls pests but also aids pollination. It also harbors beneficial insects and produces healthy yields.
Herbs to Plant Together
There are three main criteria involved in matching herbs and their requirements:
- Soil Type – acidic, clay, or sandy
- The amount of water they receive
- Temperature and hours of direct sunlight
Herbs that have similar needs in each of these departments happily co-exist with no conflict.
Basil -Ocimum basilicum
Soil Type – They prefer rich, loose soil, with a light covering of mulch. They are versatile and grow just about anywhere but thrive in moist soil. If planting basil in containers, plastic ones do the best job as the soil won't dry out too fast.
Sun Exposure – All basil types love the heat and require 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Hardiness Zone –Basil is an annual plant that fades after the first frost. They grow in USAD zones 2-11, and you will need to replant new seedlings early each spring.
Ideal growing companions – Many other annual herbs happily grow alongside basil. These include cilantro, chervil, parsley, French tarragon, and borage.
Sage – Salvia officinalis
Soil Type – Sage is a resilient, woody plant that thrives well in average soil. Although it enjoys occasional water, it flourishes more when left to dry out. If using containers to grow sage, terracotta or clay pots are ideal as they absorb excess moisture.
Sun Exposure – Sage enjoys at least 6 hours of full sun a day. It still grows in exceptionally hot regions, as long as it spends some time in the shade. Left there for too long, the plants become leggy and wilts.
Hardiness Zone – As an evergreen perennial, sage plants are easily grown in USDA zones 4 through 8.
Ideal Growing Companions – Rosemary or bay are good buddies for sage; they also tolerate hot and sunny conditions.
Thyme – Thymus vulgaris
Soil Type – Thyme is another woody, hardy plant that demands well-drained soil. They are smaller, and as such, have a shorter root network, thus needing less water. Thyme tolerates drought; if left in saturated soil throughout the winter, it will rot.
Sun Exposure – They need partial sun for 6-8 hours of the day. Full sun provides the heat that dries out the soil and prevents root rot.
Hardiness zone – As a tough and adaptable herb, the perennial, evergreen thyme withstands all temperatures in growing zones 5 through 9.
The heat of zone 10 may be too much for it; however, gardeners successfully grow thyme in these regions, but only as an annual.
Ideal Growing Companions – Other herbs that thrive in warm, dry conditions with lots of direct sunlight are oregano and marjoram.
Chives – Allium schoenoprasum
Soil Type – Chives are adaptable and grow in harmony alongside almost any other herb.
They grow best in fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Sandy soil is a good match, as it retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. They grow voraciously in most soils; they are ideal for planting in areas where it varies between moist and dry.
Sun Exposure – Chives flourish in most conditions but love lots of direct sunlight. Plant them in a south-facing direction to receive at least 6-hours daily.
Hardiness Zone – As perennial herbs, chives will return every early spring when planted in zones 3-10. They are cold, hardy, and resilient.
Ideal growing companions – Chives grow happily alongside all other herbs. Their onion-like aroma repels aphids and Japanese beetles, so not only are they perfect for protecting rose bushes, they also prevent harm to delicate crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, celery, and peas.
Rosemary – Rosemary Officinalis
Soil Type - Rosemary is a rugged, low maintenance herb that grows in poor quality, rocky soil. When planting in pots, it thrives in soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.
During winter, take the pots indoors and mist occasionally to keep the soil moist.
Sun Exposure – Rosemary loves the heat and needs 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
For indoor pots, ensure they are south facing to make the most of any natural light.
Hardiness Zone – It survives in wintering zones 6 – 10 but needs protection through a frost; otherwise, it wilts and dies.
Ideal Growing Companions – The only herbs suitable to grow with rosemary are sage and lavender; their combined aroma is beautiful.
Although it complements many vegetables, including broccoli, beans, cabbage, and hot peppers, rosemary's growing requirements don't suit many other herbs.
Cilantro – Coriandrum
Soil Type – Cilantro is relatively tolerant and will grow in most rich soils with a neutral pH. If the soil is moist yet well-drained, the herb will thrive.
Sun Exposure – It enjoys full sun but also thrives in cooler weather conditions.
Hardiness Zone – Due to its ability to grow in most conditions, outdoors cilantro is plant-able in zones 2 – 12.
Ideal Growing Companions – It is a great companion to many herbs and plants. It attracts beneficial insects and encourages plants to grow faster.
Cilantro, dill, and anise complement each other perfectly. It also co-exists well with other water-loving herbs such as parsley, chervil, and basil.
Herbs Not Recommended to Plant Together
Mint has an instantly recognizable, unmistakable aroma. It is a wonderful accompaniment to many dishes and drinks, but if you have ever grown it, you might know that it spreads like wildfire. It spreads prolifically and, with no intervention, intertwines with other herbs and roots, culminating in their death.
Plant mint in a separate area of the yard or alone in a large container, away from other herbs.
Mint isn't the enemy of every plant; the heavy aroma prevents flea beetles from chewing holes in the leaves of any brassica.
It keeps flies away from carrots and onions and repels aphids from attacking roses and tomato plants.
Growing fresh mint is a must for Mojito lovers; remember to cut it back regularly and never plant it anywhere near parsley. Should they come into contact, parsley withers and dies.
Herbs to Plant Together – With Caution
Oregano is as invasive as mint if not regularly thinned out. Not only might it overpower the roots of other herbs, but it might also taint their flavor.
It is hardy, and if controlled, grows well alongside thyme and marjoram.
Fennel has a pungent aroma that might affect the taste of other herbs.
Rosemary thrives in dry soil, much like sage and bay. Herbs such as cilantro that need moist soil can't grow alongside rosemary.
Herbs with similar growing condition requirements usually thrive when planted alongside each other.
Sun-loving herbs mostly used in Mediterranean cooking co-exist in dry, sunny conditions where the soil is poor.
- Herbs, basil, borage, dill, and fennel, are some of the most compatible.
- Perennial herbs that enjoy full sun include oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, aloe, and echinacea.
Reference the herb guide above for finding out if these herbs complement each other in the same pot or grow better in the same conditions but kept apart.
- Marigold, cilantro, ginger, and parsley thrive in partially sunny conditions, whether that is diluted sunlight filtered through the leaves of a tree or 2 - 4hours of direct sun each day.
- Chives, lovage, mint, and lemon balm flourish in full shade, where they receive less than 2-hours of direct sunlight daily.
Herbs are the difference between a meal tasting bland or bringing a recipe to life.
Dried herbs are a useful option; however, nothing beats the full-flavor of fresh herbs straight from the garden.
Knowing which herbs to plant together ensures a rich and varied crop to enhance your culinary delights.
Or maybe just a constant batch of fresh mint for the best Mojitos in town.