Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a perennial fruit in the Rosaceae family. Though it is often referred to as a berry, botanically speaking it’s an aggregate accessory fruit. Human consumption of wild strawberries dates back to the Roman era when they were used medicinally.
The woodland (Fragaria vesca) strawberry was the first to be cultivated in the early 1600s. It was quickly replaced by Fragaria × ananassa, a hybrid developed during the 18th century in France. Fragaria × ananassa is a cross between Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis.
In this article, we’ll give you the ins and outs of companion planting with strawberries. We’ll start with an overview of the benefits, then go over the good and bad companion plants for strawberries.
Benefits Of Companion Gardening With Strawberries
Strawberries can be grown in most soil types but can require fertilization throughout the growing season. You can use companion plants to increase soil nitrogen. This will limit the need for extra applications of nitrogen.
Fungal and viral diseases can cause a variety of issues for strawberries. However, there are a few plants you can use to help.
Insects are yet another issue you’ll encounter when growing strawberries. They can feed on various parts of the plant and even transmit certain diseases. Insect pests of strawberries include:
- Cyclamen mites
- Fruit flies
- Strawberry aphids
- Strawberry bud weevils
- Strawberry crown borers
- Strawberry leafrollers
- Strawberry root weevils
- Strawberry sap beetles
- Strawberry thrips
- Tarnished plant bugs
- Two-spotted spider mites
- White grubs
Many of these insects can be repelled by companion planting with strawberries. Companion plants will also help protect strawberries from slugs and nematodes.
Things To Consider When Companion Planting With Strawberries
There are dozens of plants that are used for companion planting. However, not all of them will work well with strawberries.
When selecting plants for companion gardening, there are two important aspects to consider. You want companion plants that provide a benefit. They also need to be able to survive well alongside strawberries.
You want to find plants that do well under the same growing conditions as strawberries. Make sure they require similar soil pH, nutrients, sunlight, and watering schedule.
Avoid plants that will compete with your strawberries for resources or cause more pest issues.
The Best Strawberry Companion Plants
The following plants are great for companion planting with strawberries. They provide a variety of benefits and won’t compete with your strawberries.
Borage has multiple benefits as a companion plant for strawberries. It can add trace minerals to the soil and attract pollinators. It can also deter caterpillar pests like cutworms.
Crimson clover aids strawberries by increasing pest predators. It is highly attractive to minute pirate bugs. These bugs will feed on thrips and mites in the garden.
I wouldn’t plant clover directly in your garden because it can spread quite a bit. Instead, plant it around the edges.
Legumes (Beans And Peas)
Legumes like beans and peas are nitrogen-fixing plants. They pull nitrogen from the air into the soil where strawberries can use it. Additionally, bush beans can help hide your strawberries from the birds that eat them.
Like bush beans, lettuce can hide strawberries from hungry birds. They work best when planted around the edges of the garden.
The smell of marigolds can repel a variety of insects that feed on strawberries. They have also been shown to decrease nematode populations.
Onion Family (Onion, Garlic, And Chives)
Members of the onion family are known for their potent smells which are great at repelling various insect pests. They can also deter vertebrates like rabbits and moles. Onions and garlic can improve the soil by increasing good bacteria and decreasing fungi.
If you plant members of the onion family, don’t plant beans or peas. They don’t grow well together so choose one or the other.
Sage works well with strawberries because it will help deter slugs. Being an aromatic herb, it can also enhance the flavor of strawberries.
When spinach grows it releases the chemical saponin into the soil. Saponin can reduce fungi and bacteria in the soil.
Thyme is another plant that will deter caterpillars like cutworms from your garden. It can also attract a variety of insect pest predators.
The Worst Strawberry Companion Plants
The following plants shouldn’t be used as companion plants with strawberries. They can cause nutrient, pest, and disease issues for strawberry plants.
Brassicas (Cauliflower, Kale, Broccoli, And Cabbage)
Fennel is another plant that will steal nutrients from your strawberries. Keep them separated or they will both struggle to grow well.
Nightshade Family (Potato, Tomato, And Eggplant)
Many plants in the nightshade family are popular for backyard gardens. However, they attract a host of pests and diseases that can harm your strawberries.
Here’s a table you can use to help you plan out your strawberry companion garden.
|Beneficial Strawberry Companion Plants||Benefit||Detrimental Strawberry Companion Plants||Detriment|
|Borage||Increases soil nutrients, attracts pollinators, repels caterpillars||Brassicas (cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage)||Competes for nutrients|
|Clover||Increases insect pest predators||Fennel||Competes for nutrients|
|Legumes (beans and peas)||Increases soil nitrogen, bush beans provide protection from birds||Nightshade Family (potato, tomato, eggplant)||Attracts pests and diseases|
|Lettuce||Provides protection from birds|
|Marigold||Repels insect pests and nematodes|
|Onion Family (onion, garlic, chives)||Deters insects, rabbits, and moles, increases good soil bacteria, decreases fungi|
|Sage||Repels slug, enhances fruit flavor|
|Spinach||Reduces harmful bacteria and fungi|
|Thyme||Deters caterpillars, attracts insect predators|