Companion plants


Does anyone have actual experience with any of the listed companion plants?

If no actual experience I throw this out there for review and comment


Garlic used in companion planting repels aphids, caterpillars, mites and Japanese beetles. Planted at the base of peach trees, garlic repels borers and prevents leaf curl. Planted near apple trees, garlic protects against apple scab. Herbs like garlic are considered beneficial nursery plants because they attract good insects by providing shelter, pollen and nectar. Beneficial insects includes lady beetles, lacewings, wasps and parasitic flies.

Comfrey is a beneficial companion plant for the avocado tree and most other fruit trees by serving as a trap crop for slugs. A trap crop pushes insects away from other essential plants with a disagreeable taste or a bad smell. The comfrey plant also accumulates phosphorus, calcium and potassium and helps keep surrounding soil moist and rich.

Chives help prevent apple scab when grown under apple trees. As a repellent for mites and nematodes, chives–along with garlic–is one of the most popular repellents because of their powerful ability to repel beetles and aphids, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website.

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When planted under fruit trees, nasturtiums deter squash bugs, white flies, cabbage moths, potato beetles and the striped pumpkin beetle, and act as a trap crop for aphids. When planted in a circle around apple trees, nasturtiums limit wooly aphid damage.

Lavender repels fleas, ticks and mice. Planted near and under fruit trees, lavender will deter the coding moth, while attracting beneficial insects such as butterflies.

Planted around fruit trees, tansy repels flying insects, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, moths and ants. Tansy also concentrates potassium into the soil.

Other Companion Plants
Planted around apple trees, clover has long been used as a companion plant and will attract predators of the woolly aphid. Onions will repel borers, slugs, cutworms and mites. Planting leeks will help improve fruit tree growth. Modern agriculture relies on chemicals and machinery to grow crops and control insects, while home gardeners can reap the benefits of companion planting to attract beneficial insects and avoid the use of insecticides on fruit trees.


“Companion Plants” is a heresay term, typically used by sellers of the plants but also popular among readers of “natural gardening” marketing magazines.

Some of the plants might work as advertised in very specific circumstances.

To me, that sounds a LOT like some of those claims about homeopathic/natural/holistic/ remedies and cures. I am NOT trying to put down natural medicine or say it has no benefit or potential. But even strong supporters and practitioners of natural medicine must surely admit than some companies and people tend to exaggerate the curative power of some items and the extent of what some things can help. For example, someone here was recently saying that pomegranate skin cures cancer. It probably does have some health benefits (most skins do if you can eat them) and may even have some properties or components that are known to be somewhat resistance to cancer growth in some situations. But I doubt it cures cancer, and I seriously doubt garlic plants would prevent leaf curl or that lavender would deter codling moth.

I have definately seen cutworms very close if not under my onions, and I have thick clover around some of my fruit trees and have certainly seen aphids on trees above them (not sure it was woolly ones). So I have a little experience with these claims.

But I also admit to not having a lot of experience and basing my doubts in large parts on my intuition, which isn’t very scientific and doesn’t help factually validate or debunk these claims- even though I think most are untrue!


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Rabbits hate to eat certain type of plants so I think bugs do. I would try garlic chives. I would believe that they can repel nematodes and trunk borers. They are very early eatable spring greens. Bees are crazy about them. The downside is they can be extremely weedy since they produce a lot of seeds.

I can’t say whether the alliums I grow around my apple trees help against bugs or disease, but they taste great in my breakfast scrambles and the bees seem to appreciate the blooms. I like chives, welsh onion, walking onion in the understory, all aRe perennials you only have to plant once. Garlic seems to do better in more sun, so I grow that in the garden. Comfrey really seems to perk up the soil life and provides food and cover for beneficial like bumblebees and spiders. I like that it can compete against the thatchy sod in my field. A few others I favor are mints, orphine, horseradish, tansy, nettle, sunchoke. Soft hardwoods like willow and alder. Also ‘lesser’ fruit like ribes species, blackberry, raspberries, aronia, cornelian cherry. Celebrate diversity!


I like a variety of herbage in the orchard and think that helps overall health so that’s my aim when I add things. It’s working for me. The pollinators definitely are happy with the plan and i like happy pollinators. Chives and comfrey are the workhorses – hardy, reliable, will grow most anywhere (and do). Great blooms. They can handle being walked on. I often cut comfrey when I need some extra mulch here or there. I like it a little away from the work area under a tree since it’s a large plant. Keeps me from tripping over it. Brushier herbs like lavender and hyssop and such are better for me between trees since they probably wouldn’t like being trampled on. Same for other shrubs/brambles. There’s quite a bit of natural/native diversity in most of my orchard grounds and I pretty much let grow what will (except body biting/clawing wild dewberries and blackberries). Since I harvest my garlic as food it’s grown in the garden. I’ve always had a variety of herbs in my garden and I’m slowly getting more of those around the orchard. Just seems to make sense to me, and I like them.


Thanx fort the responses and inputs.

As I said in a previous thread somewhere here, my main concern is that some of the companion plantings flower either throughout the summer or well after the fruit trees have flowered. The problem arises when the trees need to be sprayed with insecticides the bees and beneficials would get zapped.

I speculate that there is a “sweet spot” where the beneficials could keep enough of the pests in check so that, without insecticidal sprays, loses are kept to an “acceptable” level. That is what I was looking for and that is something that might not exist without going whole hog into the “food forest” concept that we can find on youtube.

Some of those are beautiful and inspiring and if I had the time and space to set it up… However, I trust that most of the orchards of our members here more resemble a mono-culture (of fruit trees) than any of the “food forests” on you tube; and those might be a little too impractical for most of us here.


nettles make good companion plants
the stinging variety