There are 38 great companion plants for lettuce in this list, as well as 5 you should avoid. Looking to cultivate the best tasting and hefty-looking lettuce for your salads? Here’s a guide to choosing the right companion plants for lettuce to help you do so.
Lettuce, whether iceberg, leaf, or romaine, is a foundation for delicious salads. So, growing some in your own garden can make a difference, allowing you to enjoy the best meals daily. But, knowing the right companion plants to pair with your growing lettuce can make a difference.
Pairing the right plants with these leafy vegetables doesn’t only ward off insects that can damage the plants. The ideal companion plant promotes healthier and bulky growth and even improves the flavor of lettuce.
Before you add lettuce to your garden, check out the guide below. We’ve taken the time to pick the 38 best plants to pair with lettuce during the next planting season.
Table of Contents
What Should I Plant Lettuce With?
You should plant lettuce with the alliums plant family and their close relatives. These include plants such as chives and garlic. These vegetables do particularly well with lettuce because they repel unwanted pests like aphids.
Aphids are a big and common problem to lettuce, easily leading to damaging your entire leafy garden. But, it’s not only alliums and their close relatives that grow well with lettuce. There’s a myriad of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowering plants that you can pair successfully with lettuce.
Here’s a complete list of the best plants to grow with lettuce:
38 Best Plants To Pair With Lettuce
Lettuce is a fairly easy-to-grow vegetable. It thrives in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours a day). But, it needs to be placed in a shaded area for afternoon shielding, especially if you live in a warm climate. The vegetable grows really well in loose, cool, and moist soil with good drainage – although adding some manure helps with optimizing nutrients and improving its growing conditions.
While lettuce tolerates USDA zones of 2 to 11, it’s important to note that lettuce is a cool season vegetable. So, it does well in temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anywhere over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, means your lettuce grows.
If it was already growing, it would begin to bolt and halt leaf production, ultimately turning its leaves bitter. This explains why it’s a good idea to plant lettuce seeds from spring to fall when it’s cooler to ensure they germinate.
Now, when picking the right companion plants for lettuce, you want to look out for an option that somewhat meets these growing conditions without competing with lettuce for growing essentials.
Like other close relatives of alliums, onions and shallots are root crops and take up growing space underground. This means that they really don’t interfere with the surface growing or shallower roots of lettuce. In addition to the no-space or resource competing growth, onions and shallots help to deter unwanted and damage-causing pests, ensuring the lettuce thrives well and remain healthy.
Like onions, shallots, and other alliums, garlic is effective at providing a protective barrier to lettuce against aphids. To get the best results, plant your garlic between the lettuce rows to ensure each lettuce head is sufficiently protected from unwanted pests.
Like fellow alliums, leeks are great for lettuce because they repel unwanted, damaging pests. Pairing leeks and lettuce helps to particularly repel carrot flies.
Turnips are similar to lettuce when it comes to their growing conditions. The cool weather-loving root crops, like alliums, are one of the best lettuce companion plants. Turnips naturally repel aphids which tend to commonly cause serious damage to lettuce. So, growing turnips near lettuce help to keep your produce safe.
Like alliums, beets are classic lettuce companion plants. While they share growing condition needs, they have varying root structures to make them excellent companions. Lettuce develops shallow roots, growing its crop on the surface. On the other hand, beets have slightly deeper roots, growing their crop underground. This allows the two plants to grow together without having to compete for space or resources.
Like beets, carrots usually produce their crop underground. So, it typically utilizes underground space. Pairing it with the surface-growing lettuce means that the two plants complement each other pretty well. Plus, you don’t have to worry about them competing for resources or space.
A close relative of carrots, celery resembles the growing style of carrots. So, just like carrots, growing it with lettuce means you don’t have to worry about space or resource competition.
Another excellent root vegetable, parsnips pair well with lettuce as they don’t compete for space or resources.
Unlike lettuce, radish grows pretty fast. So, you can use the fast-growing radish as row markers for the slower-growing lettuce. Because radish will grow quickly, you can plant the two together, with radish seeds circumventing the lettuce rows.
This allows you to know exactly where your lettuce rows will appear since the radish will grow faster and outline the path clearly. But, this is not a one-sided growing advantage. Pairing radish and lettuce is also beneficial for the former.
The lettuce helps to keep radishes softer and more delicious, especially during summer. So, you don’t have to worry about the typical woody taste you usually get from radishes during the summer season.
Asparagus grows well with lettuce to provide shade for when the crop needs it. The asparagus plant can grow and spread to form extensive leaves that can sufficiently shield lettuce. Asparagus spreads to form this imposing profile when little of the crop is left behind to collect energy for the following year’s harvest.
Sweet corn and popcorn usually grow tall and like to be grown in clusters on the field. The bulk growing and tall height allow the corn crop to provide ample shade to the lettuce, especially during the warmer period.
The corn offers sufficient shade, meaning cooler temperatures for your lettuce and no bolting which imparts bitterness on the lettuce and stunts its growth. The longer you let the lettuce grow on the ground, the fuller it becomes – so you will have more salad on your plate!
Cucumbers grow as a creeping vine. So, when positioned properly, they can offer the much-needed shade to lettuce. Many growers tend to let them grow onto supportive frames, trellis, or climbing sticks. Like corn, the shade they offer also keeps the temperatures lower – an ideal growing environment for lettuce.
But, keep in mind, cucumbers can easily take over space. When you grow them with lettuce, always keep an eye on them to prevent them from overshadowing the lettuce.
Melon and squash are slow growers. In fact, they grow slower than lettuce. But, they are more useful in planning for garden space usage. Further, you can pair lettuce with melons or squash as successive crops.
Think of it this way – first, you plant lettuce with melons or squash around the same period. As you begin to harvest the leafy lettuce, it’s around this time that squash or melon begins to grow at the pace of taking over the vacant space. So, it’s a win-win for you!
Eggplants operate nearly similarly to squash and melons. However, this crop is particularly a summer vegetable. So, it may not be the best option to plant when you put up your lettuce. However, you can get your timing ready – plant them so they begin to take over the space right when you harvest your lettuce during summer. Since eggplants are summer plants, they will thrive exceptionally well during this time.
Most types of peas, including regular and snow peas, grow pretty well with lettuce. Peas are known for their nitrogen-fixing ability. This helps to restore the nitrogen content of the soil. So, growing lettuce near peas comes with its perks – keeping your lettuce happy and thriving.
Tip: Planting peas with lettuce comes with benefits. After harvesting your lettuce and peas, you will still have well prepped soil with adequate nutrients to add new plants!
Arugula is pretty similar to lettuce. Both crops are cool weather plants and bear the same growing needs. So, when paired, they can complement each other and even provide supplemental shade to retain the cool temperatures.
During harvest season, you will have a complete leafy green garden for your summer salads – saving you bucks during grocery shopping. Plus, you will have a more diverse salad bowl on your table every day.
Just like arugula, spinach grows well with lettuce and boasts similar growing needs. Further, spinach and lettuce are excellent for intercropping. Pairing the two leafy greens can help boost both their yields as opposed to growing them individually.
Pairing lettuce with peppers helps to improve the integrity of your garden. Peppers will crowd out weeds to create a cleaner garden space.
Tip: Peppers are among lettuce companion plants that pair well with other lettuce companion crops. To make the most of their ability to push out weeds and create extra space, pair peppers with lettuce and add beets and parsnips to fill up the empty space. This means you will be using a smaller portion of your garden to yield more crops.
Growing lettuce near tomatoes allows the slightly taller tomatoes held by climbing sticks to provide sufficient shade. This, in turn, doesn’t only shield the lettuce from the sun but helps to maintain the low temperatures the lettuce needs. Tomatoes also benefit from growing near the lettuce.
Lettuce provides good mulch for tomatoes to grow bigger and healthier as the mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil.
Tip: Tomatoes are slower growing than lettuce. So, for the best results, plant the lettuce later after the tomatoes have achieved at least 6 inches in height.
Okra grows in clusters for medium-height plants. So, they offer reasonable shade to lettuce, ensuring it maintains a cool temperature environment to prevent bolting.
Like a few excellent select herbs, cilantro emanates an aroma that repels unwanted insects and pests. However, this same aroma attracts beneficial insects that help lettuce grow better.
Mint is perhaps one of the most important companion plants for lettuce. Its strong aroma helps to deter slugs which can be extremely detrimental to the growth of your lettuce.
The aromatic sage herb functions just like mint when planted near the lettuce. With this herb next to your prized leafy greens, you don’t have to worry about pesky pests, such as slugs.
The aromatic hyssop herb is also effective at deterring pests from lettuce. In fact, you can pair lettuce with sage and hyssop to create a mini aromatic herb garden. At the end of the day, you will not only have lettuce for your salads. You will also have adequate herbs to flavor the protein that goes with the salad.
25. French Parsley
Also known as chervil, French parsley is effective at repelling slugs – lettuce’s number one enemy. So, planting them near lettuce leaves your leafy greens safe.
Adding catnip to your lettuce garden keeps slugs and beetles out!
Dill boasts a scent that is effective at deterring multiple pests, including spider mites, cabbage worms, and cabbage loopers, to name a few. The fact that dill naturally repels a selection of pests means you can grow your produce free of pesticides. This also means you will be enjoying truly natural and toxic-free food.
Unlike most aromatic herbs, basil boasts a pretty different advantage when grown near the lettuce. Pairing lettuce and basil help to improve the former’s overall taste.
Like basil, marjoram helps to improve the flavor of your lettuce so you can enjoy more delicious salads. The herbs also help to boost the overall growth of the leafy vegetables.
Herbs like oregano and thyme boast a different advantage when growing near the lettuce. These smaller clusters of herbs provide thick ground cover for lettuce, helping to lower the soil temperature and to protect lettuce from intense sunlight.
Fruits and berries like strawberries go pretty well with lettuce. You will get the best results if you combine this pairing with alliums, such as garlic, onions, shallots, or chives. This “threesome” comes with a variety of benefits. These include improving flavors, deterring unwanted pests, and boosting fertilization.
While watermelons shouldn’t necessarily be grown at the same time as lettuce, they complement each other like the way you plant lettuce and eggplant. You can plant the watermelons slightly later next to the lettuce and let them take over as they grow bigger during the lettuce harvest period.
These beautiful bright yellow to orange blooms don’t just enhance the aesthetic look of your garden. Adding marigolds to your herb garden keeps some of the most dangerous pests away from the growing lettuce.
Calendula is most certainly a good and special lettuce companion plant. While they may resemble each other, calendula is in no way related to marigolds. Yet, like marigolds, these showy flowering plants make great lettuce companion plants. But, it doesn’t work like how you would expect a regular companion plant to work.
See, calendula helps lettuce grow healthier by leading slugs away from the lettuce. However, to do so effectively, you have to plant it away from the lettuce. Because calendula naturally attracts slugs, they will certainly crawl toward the direction of the flowers and away from the lettuce.
Sunflowers grow to be hefty yet, showy with their beautiful bright yellow blooms. So, in addition to their ornamental use and rich source of cooking oil, they are a fantastic companion plant for lettuce. Planting lettuce underneath the sunflowers gives it the much-needed shade and helps maintain a lower temperature the lettuce needs to grow and develop its clean and crisp flavors.
Nasturtiums are beautiful showy flowers that add character to your garden while protecting the lettuce. They do so by protecting the lettuce from aphids, but they do so in a special way. Like calendula, you have to plant nasturtiums a few feet away from lettuce so they can attract the aphids, leaving the lettuce safe from attacks.
Borage grows well planted with lettuce. In fact, it even pairs well with other lettuce companion plants, such as strawberries, squash, and tomatoes. This means that you can combine them in your garden. Borage is pretty effective at repelling a wide range of pests that may affect these crops, including tomato hornworms and cabbage worms.
As a result, borage increases these plants’ resistance to diseases and pests. On the other hand, they also attract beneficial insects to promote pollination, such as tiny wasps and bees.
Lavender doesn’t just pair well with lettuce due to its showy and fragrance blooms. Pairing it with lettuce improves the flavors of lettuce while boosting its growth.
5 Notoriously Bad Lettuce Companion Plants
Undoubtedly lettuce is among the most loved plants, with more than three dozen companion plants to choose from. But, this doesn’t mean that it can pair with just about any plant. So, we’ve shared the 5 key notorious plants to keep out of your lettuce garden to keep it safe and healthy.
Plants in the Brassicaceae family, such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi should never be paired with lettuce. While lettuce falls under the same family, it doesn’t particularly grow well with these plants around.
In fact, most plants in the Brassica family create secretions in their roots that prevent lettuce seeds from germinating. If the lettuce germinates successfully, it may still struggle. Remember, these plants are from the same family.
So, they both attract the same types of pests that neither one can fight off. Brassicas are also heavy feeders – so pairing them together creates competition for resources and space.
Fennel doesn’t grow well with a number of crops, including lettuce. Sure, it does a great job of attracting beneficial insects and pollinators. But, when planted with lettuce, it stunts its growth and in some situations, even kills it.
While most herbs work perfectly with lettuce, there’s one particular herb that doesn’t necessarily grow well with the leafy green. You should avoid planting lettuce with parsley at all costs. Parsley is more likely to grow into a pushy plant. This means it can easily crowd the lettuce and affect its overall growth and health.
Blueberries and lettuce don’t grow well together because they have completely different growth needs. For one, the two have different soil pH needs. While blueberries thrive in acidic soils, lettuce prefers slightly alkaline soils.
Foxglove is a beautiful biennial with showy purple blooms to make it an excellent ornamental plant. However, it doesn’t grow so well with lettuce. Foxglove tends to attract aphids which may easily infest your lettuce.
Why Is It A Good Idea to Pair Lettuce With Companion Plants?
Pairing lettuce with other compatible plants comes with a wide selection of benefits. These include;
Enriching the soil – companion plants such as peas fix the soil’s nitrogen to provide a fair share of nutrients to your lettuce. In turn, you get a bigger, fuller, more delicious and more nutritious harvest.
Promotes rapid growth – companion plants like marjoram boost the growth rate of the leafy green
Flavor enhancement – Some companion plants for lettuce help boost its overall flavors, eliminating potential bitterness and blandness.
Ground cover – Herbs like oregano and thyme offer thick ground cover which helps to keep the soil temperature low – a condition lettuce loves!
Provide shade: upright, medium-sized to tall plants, such as cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, and corn offers the much-needed shade to help keep the lettuce growing temperature low. This is one of the most important characteristics of lettuce companionship. This is because high temperatures are detrimental to lettuce, causing it to bolt, develop a bitter taste, stunt its growth, and even die.
Stunts weed growth – Weed can be a nuisance. But, the good news is many companion plants for lettuce provide thick ground cover to prevent the weeds from growing. This is a natural way to deal with weeds –eliminating the need for using chemicals that absorb into the food. The ground cover, if edible, is extra food for you.
Increasing resistance to pests and attracting pollinators – many companion plants for lettuce help deter various types of pests that can attack lettuce and prevent its growth. Others even attract beneficial insects to promote pollination.
How Long Does It Take For Lettuce to Grow And Be Ready For Harvest?
It takes about 30 days for lettuce to reach full maturity. But, you should only begin to harvest it after 45 to 60 days.
Do I Have to Move My Lettuce Planting Location Every Year?
You can plant your lettuce in the same location every year. But, this increases your crop’s susceptibility to pest infestation and limited nutrients. The best way to ensure the best harvest, with ample nutrients, is to rotate the lettuce to different locations in your garden every year.
How Do I Choose The Best Lettuce Companion Plants?
Here are key characteristics to look out for when picking the ideal companion plant for lettuce;
– Similar growth needs to lettuce, e.g. thrives best in cool temperatures, moist and well-drained slightly alkaline soils, etc.
– The same planting and harvesting period (with a few exceptions)
– How the plant benefits lettuce
– How they make use of your garden space
Can You Grow Lettuce With Beans?
You can grow lettuce with beans. Beans and their closely related legumes are good companion plants for lettuce. But, it’s the beans that benefit from this pairing. Growing beans with lettuce can boost your bean yield by up to 50%. However, this pairing comes with some risks.
When planted near crops like lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes, beans become susceptible to plant fungal attacks. So, while companionship has the potential to boost your bean production, it can also impact it – leading to a complete loss of your bean and lettuce crops.
Can I Plant Lettuce With Potatoes?
Lettuce can be planted with potatoes. However, there’s a catch! Lettuce grows shallow roots, meaning it doesn’t compete with the deeper roots of potatoes. Now, potatoes typically grow on trenches and hills. This means that your lettuce may end up with a score of soil on it, affecting its growth. So, while potatoes will come out healthy and abundant, you may end up with not-so-healthy lettuce.
Lettuce is one of the easiest but most rewarding leafy greens to grow. With over three dozen companion plants to choose from (or even pair), the plant gives you a pretty versatile setup for your garden. It all depends on what you want to grow, whether vegetables, herbs, fruits, or showy flowering plants for a more ornamental look for your garden.
In addition to knowing which companion plants for lettuce to choose, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the growing needs of this vegetable to achieve the best results.
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