15 Great Companion Plants For Potatoes

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Selecting the right companion plants for your potatoes can significantly streamline their cultivation process. Potatoes are known for their slow-growing nature, gradually maturing to perfection, and several issues can arise during this period. However, the right companions can enhance the soil, establish natural defenses, and potentially even improve the flavor of your potatoes!

The possibilities are abundant, so join us as we delve into this intriguing topic. Let’s uncover the best companion plants for potatoes!

The best companion plants for potatoes

In this section we’re going to share with you some of the best companion plants for your potatoes. To keep things interesting, we’ve divvied them up into the following categories:

  • Kitchen and Medicinal Herbs
  • Healthy Veggies and Delicious Fruits
  • Ornamental additions

This way, there will be a little something for everyone and once we’ve told you a little about each, we’ll tell you some plants to definitely avoid pairing with your potatoes. Now, if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the best companion plants for your potatoes (and what they bring to the table!).

Kitchen and medicinal herbs

1. Horseradish

Close up of horseradish plant leaves
Close up of horseradish plant leaves
  • Botanical name: Armoracia rusticana
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, Loamy soil

Horseradish is one of those spices that really packs a punch, so it might not surprise you much to learn that it’s also pretty powerful in the garden. Planted with your potatoes, the spicy might of Horseradish will repel a score of pests, such as caterpillars, aphids, flies, and potato bugs, but underground it’s also working a little weal, as well.

That’s because the roots of horseradish secrete an oil into the soil, at the same time that it is loosening it up and making it better overall. That oil helps to keep diseases at bay, so that your potatoes will grow up yummy and strong!

2. Tansy

Tansy in bloom.
Tansy in bloom.
  • Botanical name: Tanacetum vulgare
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Type: Tolerates many varieties of soils but prefers a moist humus soil

Tansy is a petite medicinal plant that brings a little color to your garden and may also be used to add some exotic flavor foods and drinks, as well. When grown with your potatoes, it will help to keep both Japanese and Potato beetles away and it won’t compete for resources.

This is because Tansy, considered a weed by many folks, doesn’t need much from the soil at all to thrive. Put in place like a pretty little fence for your potatoes, your growing spuds will reap the benefits and the whole patch will look a whole all the more lovely for it!

3. Sweet Alyssum

Purple and white Sweet Alyssum flowers
Purple and white Sweet Alyssum flowers
  • Botanical name: Lobularia maritima
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil, pH 6.0 to 7.0

Another popular addition to ‘Nature’s medicine cabinet’ is Sweet Alyssum and while we cannot attest to its efficacy in that regard, we can say that it makes a pretty good potato pal in your garden. First off, it can help to keep weeds from moving in and choking off your potatoes, as it makes an excellent ground cover for them. Once it starts flowering, it will also attract pollinators and the kind of hungry insects that you want in your garden, such as ladybugs, hoverflies, and other little buddies that like to eat the bugs that are eating your plants. 

Finally, if you have a problem with Colorado potato beetles, then it might interest you to know that some other beetles that like to eat them have a favorite place to hang out, and that place is under the cover of the lovely Sweet Alyssum. All in all, it’s a propitious pairing, indeed!

4. Sage

Sage close-up.
Sage close-up.
  • Botanical name: Salvia officinalis
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, loamy, sandy soil

Aside from tasting great when you put it on potatoes and potato dishes, Sage also happens to be a great companion plant for your growing spuds. The signature scent of Sage starts things off by luring in bees and other beneficial bugs who absolutely love it, but on the flipside those same scents help to keep flea beetles and many other pests away.

It’s a pretty good pairing and since these two won’t be fighting over resources, it’s also quite the practical one, so give it a try and see what you think! Sage and potatoes are practically made for each other!

Healthy Veggies and Delicious fruits 

5. Broccoli

Close up of broccoli plant with field out of focus in the background
Close up of broccoli plant with field out of focus in the background
  • Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. italica
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun to partial shade (6 hours sunlight daily is best)
  • Soil Type: Soil that falls between clay loam to sandy, well-drained 

As long as you fertilize them, Broccoli and Potatoes can get along like the best of friends in your garden. This space-saving companion option doesn’t come with a lot of extra perks, except that you’ll have more room for other plants and the broccoli and potatoes will not compete for resources.

The key to why this works is that your broccoli has a very shallow root system, so that it ‘taps the top’ of your soil for its resources, while the potatoes are digging down deeper for their own. It’s a practical pairing and a popular one, especially for folks who have a limited space to work with and want to make the most of every inch of it.

6. Onions

onions growing in ground about to be pulled out
Onions growing in ground about to be pulled out
  • Botanical name: Allium cepa
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, fertile soil, with a pH 6.0-7.0

Potatoes and onions are often keeping each other company in soups or frying pans across the nation, but they also do very well right there in your garden. When paired together, the onions will put out their signature scent to help keep away thrips and aphids that might otherwise munch down on your potatoes.

The potatoes, on their part, loosen up the soil where you grow them, creating little air pockets as they grow and dig down for the nutrients that they need. Overall, it’s a pretty good pairing and a practical one if you love onions and potatoes!

7. Garlic

Garlic growing in a garden.
Garlic growing in a garden.
  • Botanical name: Allium sativum
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Loamy and well-drained, with lots of organic matter

Like onions, Garlic sends out its signature sulfurous smell and can keep thrips, aphids, and a host of other pests away, but it brings a few other perks to the table that your potatoes will surely love. First, these two won’t compete – Garlic has shallow roots, while onions dig deeper for what they need – and secondly, some studies have shown that garlic acts as a fungicide for plants it is close to.

That means you can keep away pests on top, and potentially blunt any chances of blight coming from below – not a bad set of perks at ALL!

8. Lettuce

Romaine lettuce growing outside on the deck in a planter
Romaine lettuce growing outside on the deck in a planter
  • Botanical name: Lactuca sativa
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun or light shade  
  • Soil Type: Loose, well-drained soil with adequate nitrogen

Lettuce is easy to grow and since it springs up so quickly, it also makes for a great companion for your slower-growing potatoes. The reason for this is that these two won’t fight over resources and since the lettuce grows so swiftly, you can intersperse it with your slower spuds and basically get more food with less space. 

Potatoes really take their time, but if you make the most of the space with this pairing then you’ll hardly notice it. Try it sometime with lettuce or some other leafy greens and you can see the benefits firsthand – you’ll get a whole lot more of the veggies you love in the same space that was only your hosting potatoes before. 

9. Peas

Lots of peas close-up.
Lots of peas close-up.
  • Botanical name: Pisum sativum
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Fertile, well-draining, loamy soil

Pairing potatoes and peas is a really good idea in your garden. The main reasons for this have to do with a ‘defense pact’ that these two plants have, with potatoes keeping Mexican bean beetles at bay while those peas will do the same with Colorado potato beetles!

It’s a pretty sweet arrangement, but as an added perk your peas will also add a bit of nitrogen to the soil that can make your potatoes grow up nice and strong, and even develop some extra tubers on the way. As pairings go, this is a pretty awesome one, and well worth trying at home

10. Corn

Corn on stalk in husk in corn field
Corn on stalk in husk in corn field
  • Botanical name: Zea mays
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Loamy soil with lots of nitrogen

Planting corn with potatoes is a tradition that goes back a long way, indeed. Both of these crops are dietary staples and putting them together makes sense – after all, potatoes do most of their growing underground, while corn towers up to fill the space above.

Grown together, the potato’s flavor is even said to be enhanced, but really the biggest perk of this pairing is its practicality – they’ll get along and the space that you’ll save will let you add other desired plants to your garden to make the most of your space. 

Ornamental additions

11. Petunias

Petunia growing in a garden.
Petunia growing in a garden.
  • Botanical name: Petunia x hybrida
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Light, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil

Petunias really brighten up your garden. With colors like red, purple, yellow, pink, white, and even multicolored, you’ve got lots of decorative options, but what you might not know about this flower is that it’s amazing at knocking out pests and will be perfectly happy doing that job for your potatoes.

Petunias pull their weight by lookin’ good and by repelling hornworms, aphids, and potato bugs, and they’ll also attract pollinators and other useful insects to patrol your potato for signs of pests. It’s one of the best ornamental options and well-worth trying at home so that you can see it firsthand. You won’t regret it – trust us on this one!

12. Nasturtiums

Red yellow and purple Nasturtiums
Red yellow and purple Nasturtiums
  • Botanical name: Tropaeolum majus
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Fertile, well-drained soil

Nasturtiums come in yellow, orange, and red and every part of the plant, from root to the petals of the flowers, is 100% edible. That’s good news for people and also good news for your potatoes, as many a pest will flock over to your nasturtiums instead.

The Nasturtiums, however, are used to this sort of thing, and as they attract pollinators and hungry predator bugs to eat up these pests, the end result of this pairing will be a pretty, living nasturtium fence and a lot less pests for your potatoes!

13. Marigolds

Marigolds blooming
Marigolds blooming
  • Botanical name: Tagetes
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Loamy, well-drained

Marigolds look great and they pull a sort of ‘double-duty’ when it comes to pests in your garden that your potatoes will surely appreciate. At the root level, Marigolds secrete a chemical that helps to reduce and control root knot nematodes, while up above they will attract beneficial insects for pollination and for ‘potato patrol’, as many of these bugs like to eat aphids and other problematic insects.

It’s a pretty good setup and the aesthetics that it will add are just the icing on the cake!

14. Yarrow

Yarrow blooming.
Yarrow blooming.
  • Botanical name: Achillea millefolium
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, loamy soil

Yarrow is a fine ornamental option that can bring a few perks to the garden for your potatoes. The lovely and tiny white flowers that it produces certainly up the aesthetics, but at the soil level the yarrow will also break up compacted areas nicely. The long roots will then contribute more by helping to draw useful nutrients up to where your potatoes can reach them. 

It’s not a bad contribution at all, really, and your potatoes will be all the stronger for it.

15. Borage

Borage plant close-up.
Borage plant close-up.
  • Botanical name: Borago officinalis
  • Sun Requirements: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil Type: Will grow even in poor soil, but thrives in well-drained, moist soils

Borage is another ‘wild’ ornamental that can help to improve the soil and also give your potatoes some yummy nutrients in the process. Like yarrow, borage has deep-reaching roots that will help to break down compacted soil and siphon up nutrients to more accessible levels for your potatoes in the process.

Up above, the pretty blue flowers will brighten up the place and also attract pollinators and useful insects to help keep pests away from your potatoes. All in all, it’s a nice little pairing and your potatoes will be all the better for it!  

Bad companion plants for potatoes

Now that we’ve given you a sampling of some of the best companions for your potatoes, it’s time to flip the coin and take a look at some of the bad ones. All of the plants below are NOT recommended as companions for your potatoes and we’ll tell you a little about the ‘why’ of it as we go along.

Let’s take a look and you can see what we mean!

1. Sunflowers 

Sunflowers in bloom growing in the field.
Sunflowers in bloom growing in the field.

Sunflowers are certainly beautiful and you can get some yummy Sunflower seeds for your troubles, but they really don’t pair well with potatoes. The biggest problem, really, is going to be the shade. Sunflowers are proud, beautiful things, and as the name suggests they really love the sun.

That’s fine if they’re alone, but for your low-growing potatoes it’s a ticket to a full day of shadow, again and again until it finally takes its toll. As such, it’s much better to simply give your Sunflowers a space of their own, well away from your potatoes!

2. Squash 

Squash plant growing in a garden.
Squash plant growing in a garden.

Squash is delicious and definitely deserves a place in your garden, just not the space next to your potatoes! The problem with squash is that it’s aggressive enough that it will quickly overtake your potatoes and hog up all of the space and resources.

 This won’t do for your spuds, who take their time and can be there for months before they are ready to harvest. As such, squash and potatoes are a poor pairing and your best bet is to avoid it altogether. 

3. Fennel  

Three fennel bulbs partially grown coming out of the earth
Three fennel bulbs partially grown coming out of the earth

Fennel is fine, but spare your spuds by planting it somewhere else. While it may be grown with a handful of plants, potatoes are definitely not one of them, as fennel has allelopathic properties that extend into the soil. What this basically means from a practical standpoint is that you COULD grow them together, but they’ll probably stunt your potatoes growth.

It’s better to simply put that fennel somewhere it will be more useful.  

4. Fruit trees

Apple trees in an orchard
Apple trees in an orchard

Certain fruit trees, with good examples being cherry and peach trees, have a tendency to attract blight. While the tree itself has a fair bit of resistance, your potatoes will be getting an assault ‘fit for a fruit tree’ which can easily overwhelm your poor potato crop.

Your potatoes will be MUCH better off elsewhere and as for those fruit trees, you might want to grow some onions nearby – as they can sometimes help quite a bit with keeping blight at bay!

5. Raspberries

ripe-raspberries

Like fruit trees, raspberry bushes are blight magnets, and your potatoes simply aren’t equipped for that kind of assault on their own. You can still grow both, of course, but just keep them on their own sides of the garden for best results.

FAQs

We’ve just about run out of time for today but before we go, we always like to throw in a few frequently asked questions in hopes that you’ll find some useful tidbits that you can keep and test out on your own. Without further ado, let’s take a look and you can see what you think! 

Can I plant eggplant and potatoes together?

potatoes on the soil

While technically you COULD, we don’t really recommend it. The problem is that both potato and eggplant are members of the Nightshade family, so they are going to share a lot of vulnerabilities. When you put Nightshades together, then Nightshade-loving pests will be attracted and they’re going to have a FEAST.
 
As such, it’s really much better to separate them. You could certainly grow them together, but managing all of the pests you’ll attract will definitely make it more trouble than it’s worth.

What are some other ‘bad companions’ to avoid with potatoes?

Potatos pulled out of the ground with stalk still attached

Aggressive plants that tend to ‘take over’ an area, such as pumpkins or cucumbers which send out questing vines and like to hog up space, are best avoided where your potatoes are concerned. As potatoes grow very slowly, more aggressive plants can overtake them or at the very least, stunt their growth by monopolizing on the local nutrients. 

Are all alliums safe companion plants for potatoes?

Fresh potatoes in a basket

Yes, alliums are a great choice for raising with your potatoes, as they’ll provide a heft defense against pests that like to chow down on them. Some will even help to keep fungus at bay, as many alliums have evolved a natural defense for this that will be secreted into the soil where they are planted.

As companions go, alliums are a-okay and highly recommended for pairing with your potatoes. 

In Conclusion

In this article we have explored the best companion plants for potatoes and you’ve really got a whole lot of good options to choose from. Plants like garlic can help to keep blight at bay, while herbs like Tansy can keep away certain beetles that like the taste of your spuds. It’s really just a matter of deciding what kind of perks you want to target and then giving that plant a ‘test run’ with your potatoes.

Once you see how well it works, then be sure to experiment with 3 or even 4 companions and see what you can find.  Mother Nature has a lot of fantastic tricks that you can learn and the results are really out of this world when you do!

Until next time, we’d like to thank you for reading and we hope to see you again very soon!

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