In my home landscape, you won’t find a dedicated vegetable garden, herb garden or cut flower garden. My entire landscape is a demonstration of interplanting different types of plants and the beauty and utility you can gain from such a gardening technique.
Interplanting flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits creates some benefits that enhance the overall success of my garden. Here are reasons to interplant your garden:
Interplanting Attracts Pollinators
Vegetables don’t always have the showiest flowers. To make sure the bees and butterflies find your veggies, interplant flowers with high nectar concentrations such as mint, sweet peas, cosmos, zinnias, larkspurs and marigolds. Flowers that are blue, yellow or white are the most attractive to pollinators.
A diverse garden creates a complex environment that helps attract beneficial insects and natural enemies to insect pests. Lady beetles are a fascinating example. They eat insect pests in both their immature and adult stages. Lesser known insects such as lacewings, syrphid flies and parasitic wasps eat other insects when they are immature, and then benefit the garden by acting as pollinators as adults. Parsley, dill, coriander (cilantro) and flowers from the aster family are especially good for attracting beneficial insects.
Be careful about planting vegetables that belong to the same family together, as they make for an easy target for plant-specific pests. For example, don’t pair up tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. The Colorado potato beetle finds all of these delicious. Plant tomatoes and corn away from one another, because the tomato fruitworm is also known as a corn earworm. And squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and melons share the same enemy: the pickleworm. Also, fewer diseases occur when the garden contains a mixture of plants.
The same goes for weeds, as mixed plantings capture a greater share of available resources than sole crops, leaving fewer resources for weeds. Interplanting typically provides greater soil coverage while shading and crowding out unwanted weeds.
The method of companion gardening takes advantage of every inch of garden real estate. A handy method for anyone, interplanting is especially popular with those who have limited space.
Instead of planting in rows with wide open spaces, select plants that can grow in between and around each other without competing or crowding. Make sure the plants thrive in the same conditions with similar light, water and soil preferences.