Are you eager to grow an herb garden? You may ask yourself some questions, like “Should I plant many herbs at the same time?” “What herbs grow well together?” “How do I choose the best combination of herbs?”
I’m here to help you with the answers.
Through years of experience, gardeners have made a discovery. Some plants grow better when coupled with other plants than they do on their own. That’s what we call “companion planting.”
Gardeners use companion planting in healthy organic gardening. Companion planting has proven to be successful in replacing pesticides.
We have yet to understand the science behind the method at this point. But professional gardeners are very aware of its practical results.
Many herbs are cooperative when grown together, but a few don’t do well and can be invasive. We’re going to explore these concepts at length in this guide.
Benefits of Growing Your Herbs Together
When thinking of growing herbs together, you can only focus on plants that don’t disrupt each other’s growth.
But you can take it a step further, and start thinking of herbs that can improve the growth and health of each other.
Consider the following benefits of planting certain herbs together:
The intense aroma of some herbs is a good repellent of pests and deviates them from their target plants.
Organic gardeners use different varieties of herbs, such as mint, to keep pests away from their plants. This way, they can avoid using chemicals.
Know that the pest-repulsive ability of herbs doesn’t emerge right away. You have to wait a few months before you’ll see any results.
Some plants have characteristics that improve the flavor of other plants. Science has not figured out how to prove it yet, but gardeners know it is true.
Basil, for example, is often used to enhance the flavor of tomatoes.
There isn’t a rule of thumb to this practice. You can decide what plants enhance the flavor of other plants to your liking. You should experiment and try different combinations of compatible herbs.
You’ll end up tasting many different herbs with every bite. With some practice, you can figure out which combinations are the best to boost flavor.
The Tall Shields the Small
Herbs have different light requirements, so too much sunlight can be harsh on some of your plants.
Shade-loving herbs need less light during the day. You can let them enjoy darkness by planting taller, light-loving herbs around them.
You will decrease the amount of light your smaller, shade-loving herbs receive. At the same time, you’ll ensure that the taller ones get the most light possible.
How to Choose Your Combination
You should consider these important factors when choosing the best combinations of herbs.
Light and Temperature
You can combine full-sun herbs with ones that prefer shade. But what if your herbs have similar light requirements or grow to a similar height? Or what if your garden receives extreme sunlight or shade during the day?
In this case, you can grow herbs that have the same sensitivity to light. For instance, coriander is a full-sun plant; hence, you can grow it with sage, which also loves the sun.
If you’re not growing them in a temperature-controlled space, combine the ones that can handle your climate.
Nutrient and Water Needs
Herbs that grow in the same pot or container should be able to thrive on the same amount of water.
As for nutrients, however, they shouldn’t have to compete.
In general, herbs don’t need a lot of nutrients because they don’t end up fruiting. So using rich soil, and often changing it often, will usually prevent your herbs from competing for food.
If you want to play it safe, you can:
- Grow herbs together that are moderate or slow-growing
- Grow each species of fast-growing herbs with slow-growing herbs
One way to do companion planting successfully is by growing herbs of the same family.
You can grow spearmint, peppermint, and catmint together in one container. These herbs have the same growth requirements and would never harm each other.
There is only one significant disadvantage here. Families are usually susceptible to the same type of pests. In this case, one herb can’t protect the other.
This point is of utmost importance. Since companion planting is all about practice, specificity is essential.
When combining plants, I usually search for “this plant plus this plant” in books and on the Internet. Most of the time, that’s the best way to grow herbs together.
But again, there is no scientific rule here to follow. Before you can grow herbs together, though, there is vital information to gather. Before growing any herbs together, you need to know the herbs’ temperature, nutrient, and light needs.
You have to experiment and check other gardeners’ practices. That is a sure way to find the best combinations.
What herbs grow well together according to earlier practices? Well, here are the best combinations:
1. Thyme with All
Thyme is known to be a good companion plant with almost all herbs. It’s kind and harmless to its nearby neighbors.
One of its known benefits is its ability to confuse pests by its powerful scent, thus acting as a repellent.
Thyme loves light, warm temperatures, and fast-draining soil. So, it’s best if you grow it with drought-loving plants, such as sage.
2. Rosemary and Sage
Rosemary and sage share the same characteristics. For this reason, they have an excellent relationship.
They both love the sun, and they both repel harmful insects. On top of that, rosemary boosts the flavor of sage.
I like to plant sage and rosemary in the same pot with other drought-loving herbs, such as thyme.
But remember, sage doesn’t do well with rue or basil.
3. Mint and Stinging Nettle
Many gardeners think stinging nettle is a weed, and that is incorrect. It is considered an herb, and this plant is quite beneficial.
You can us it to relieve arthritis, seasonal allergies, diabetes, and more.
Nettles strengthen the growth of mint. They also enhance its production of flavorful oils.
Mint, however, can be invasive. Except for stinging nettle, don’t plant mint with other herbs in the same container. It is best if you always keep it in your garden, though.
4. Basil and Oregano
Basil and oregano are two must-grow plants. They have fabulous flavors and health benefits and should always be in your kitchen.
When planted together, oregano and basil can grow healthy and strong. Oregano has a potent scent. It tends to keep pests away and will protect the nearby basil.
You can plant these herbs in the same container. But you always need to prune and harvest them to prevent the plants from invading each other’s space.
5. Aloe Vera with All
We all know aloe vera for its gel, used as a burn remedy and skin moisturizer. This herb loves light and requires only a tiny amount of water to grow.
Aloe vera doesn’t attract as many pests as other herbs do. The main benefit of growing it with other herbs is to repel harmful insects.
Aloe vera is also completely harmless to other plants. You don’t have to think twice before planting it in your garden. But it is drought-loving, so make sure to grow it with herbs that have similar watering needs.
Conclusion: Practice, Practice, and Practice
Now that you know what herbs grow well together, you should start practicing.
Remember, you can be creative. If you keep the essential principles in mind, you can combine your herbs the way you prefer.
Most herbs are safe to grow together, with some having a unique relationship. So, don’t be afraid to start innovating!