Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) is an annual, cool-season crop in the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). Though they aren’t particularly hard to grow, they need a lot of nutrients. Broccoli companion plants can help improve its growth and reduce nutrient and pest issues.
Broccoli was created by carefully crossbreeding other brassica crops. It was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region during the 6th century BC. As it gained popularity it spread and by the 18th century had made its way to Northern Europe.
Italians brought broccoli to North America with them sometime in the 19th century. Research in both the United States and China increased in the late 1940s. This led to the development of many popular cultivars that are still grown today.
Keep reading to learn all about how to successfully use companion plants to improve the growth of broccoli. We’ve included details about the benefits of companion planting as well as the best and worst plants to grow near broccoli.
Benefits Of Companion Gardening With Broccoli
Soil is an important component for healthy plant growth. You can use companion gardening with broccoli to ensure it gets the nutrients it needs.
Broccoli also needs well-draining soil that retains moisture well. While mulch can help the soil retain moisture, so can broccoli companion plants.
You can also use companion plants to maximize the use of the space in your garden. By combining plants that have non-competitive growth habits, you can grow more plants in a smaller space.
Insects can cause problems for broccoli and decrease its growth. The most damaging broccoli insect pests include flea beetles, imported cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, diamondback moths, and cabbage maggots.
Luckily, most of these pests can be repelled by using companion planting with broccoli. Broccoli companion plants can reduce insects and the amount of insecticide you have to apply.
Things To Consider When Companion Planting With Broccoli
When considering which plants will grow well together, it’s best to choose plants that have similar requirements. They should require similar soil types, pH, watering, and sunlight. This will allow all of the plants in your companion garden to grow well together.
Broccoli plants are considered to be heavy feeders. That means they use a lot of nutrients in the soil. You should avoid growing other heavy feeders nearby or they will compete with each other.
While broccoli does need a steady flow of nitrogen, too much can be a bad thing. Excessive nitrogen can cause broccoli to develop hollow stems. This often leads to stem rotting which can sometimes lead to the plant’s demise.
Broccoli uses a lot of calcium from the soil as it grows. Avoid planting other calcium-loving plants with broccoli or they will compete with each other.
The Best Broccoli Companion Plants
Below are some of the best plants you can grow with your broccoli. They can improve taste, decrease pests, and won’t compete with your broccoli for nutrients.
Beets grow well with broccoli because they don’t need much calcium. That means they won’t compete with your broccoli for calcium in the soil.
Celery has been reported to make broccoli taste better. It grows well with broccoli and won’t compete for nutrients.
Chard works really well as a companion plant for broccoli. The two can cross-pollinate with each other which increases their yield.
Nasturtiums work well with broccoli because of their growth habit. Their vines will grow along the ground as a living mulch. They will help decrease weeds and help the soil retain moisture.
Herbs (Chamomile, Dill, Peppermint, Rosemary, & Sage)
Several herbs make great broccoli companion plants. For example, chamomile can improve the taste of your broccoli.
Herbs like dill, peppermint, rosemary, and sage produce strong smells that can reduce broccoli pests. For example, rosemary can help to deter cabbage flies, cabbage moths, and cabbage loopers. They will help reduce the need for you to spray insecticides on your broccoli.
Onion Family (Amaryllidaceae)
Members of the onion family like chives and onions will improve the taste of your broccoli.
Spinach grows well with broccoli because it is low-growing and won’t mind a little shade from your broccoli plants. It also won’t compete with your broccoli for nutrients. Spinach can help you maximize the planting space in your garden.
The Worst Broccoli Companion Plants
While many plants improve the health of broccoli, others can inhibit its growth. The following plants shouldn’t be grown alongside your broccoli.
Legumes (Beans & Peas)
Beans are nitrogen fixers that can increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil. Normally increasing nitrogen is a good thing. When it comes to broccoli though, too much nitrogen can actually be harmful.
Strawberries are considered to be heavy feeders that need lots of nutrients. They will compete with your broccoli and reduce its growth.
Tomatoes are another heavy feeder that will reduce the growth of broccoli.
This table summarizes the best and worst plants to companion plant with broccoli. You can use this to help you plan out your broccoli garden.
|Beneficial Broccoli Companion Plants
|Detrimental Broccoli Companion Plants
|Low calcium feeders
|Legumes (Beans & Peas)
|Produce too much nitrogen
|Compete for nutrients
|Compete for nutrients
|Reduces weeds, helps retain soil moisture
|Herbs (Chamomile, Dill, Peppermint, Rosemary, & Sage)
|Improve taste, decrease insect pests
|Onion Family (Amaryllidaceae)