Companion Planting With Cilantro – What Is Cilantro A Companion Plant Of?
By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
You may be familiar with cilantro as a pungent herb that flavors salsa or pico de gallo. That same fragrance, used throughout the garden, can attract beneficial insects and encourage growth of some crops, such as spinach.
The Companion Plant Cilantro
Cilantro, as a companion plant in the garden, is an excellent means of attracting beneficial insects. Beneficial insects in the garden use various means of destroying the bad bugs that exist to maim and mutilate your crops. Often, tiny beneficials lay eggs on your garden plants, which feed on pests after hatching. Plant a few seeds of cilantro for companion planting with various other crops.
Tiny flowers of cilantro as a companion plant accommodate beneficial bugs and encourage them to maintain residence in your gardens. As a companion plant, cilantro may be planted throughout the garden in well-placed locations, tucked in near tomato and spinach plants or planted in rows bordering fruits and vegetables. Choose varieties of cilantro which bolt easily, producing flowers quickly. Cilantro is a short-lived flowering herb which may be re-seeded every few weeks to maintain its potent effect.
Cilantro for companion planting will produce flowers by late spring or early summer, depending on location and when it is planted. Other small flowered plants such as sweet alyssum and creeping thyme may be planted for pest control earlier in the season.
Companion Planting with Cilantro
Late blooming plants to accompany cilantro as a companion plant include fern leaf lavender and dill. Cilantro may be reseeded in late summer for autumn fragrance and pest control. Do not plant fennel in the area where you are using cilantro as a companion.
Basil, mint, yarrow and tansy are good choices for companion planting with cilantro. This cool season herb, sometimes called Mexican parsley, may experience warm season growth when planted under and shaded by tomatoes. Include jalapeno peppers and onion nearby by for everything you need for a salsa garden. Leaves of cilantro that become infested with bugs should be discarded.
Parasitoid wasps and hover flies are just two of the beneficial insects attracted to the garden with cilantro for companion planting. Use of cilantro as a companion in the garden, in combination with other small flowering pungent herbs, may provide a pest-free garden or at least keep bad bugs to an acceptable minimum that does not allow for damage to your crops.
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Read more about Cilantro / Coriander
Okra Companion Plants: Pals For Your Pods
Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is one of the hardiest plants in the mallow family. It is thought to have originated in Africa and Asia but today it is grown across the United States, especially in temperate zones and mild seasons. But did you know that there are great okra companion plants that will enhance your garden efforts?
Growing okra plants is not hard if you have full sun and good soil in your garden. They need plenty of space for good vegetable production. Each okra plant will need at least two feet between itself and the next one. And because they are tall, they will create patches of shade. Any full sun needs in your garden should go to the south of your okra crops.
An okra plant’s accompanying blossoms are striking in color and give off an aroma so lovely, it has been used historically as a base in perfumes. Sow some seeds and in a few months tall stalks tower up to 6 or 7 feet over you and the rest of your garden. Okra is defensive and releases spines when harvested into gardeners’ hands. Spines are much smaller than cactus spines and can be irritating to the skin. Still, consuming okra is worth the effort and the slight pain here and there.
If you’ve ever seen a row or two of okra growing in the summer, you know it can withstand the intense heat of even the deep south. But it thrives well in mild climates too. Nutritionally, okra is a great source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. It is high in vitamin and nutrient content too. Be sure to harvest the pods at the right time. Overripe pods are often too fibrous to eat.
If you want to grow okra and provide its soil with a healthy system in which to proliferate, try companion planting! Okra is tall and can provide shade for lower-lying greenery that covers the ground when they grow in your garden. Before we talk about which okra companions are best, let’s get into the basics of what companion planting is.
They Act as Trap Crops
If you can't repel a pest, throw it in a sacrificial plant. This is often accomplished with another vegetable crop, such as surrounding cabbage with a trap crop (or catch crop) of collards to draw the diamondback moth. The pest insect will congregate on the trap crop, which is eventually pulled and disposed of. The most famous flower trap crop is probably nasturtiums, which attract aphids. Nicotiana is also good for this. Chervil keeps slugs away from your leafy greens, and mustard attracts lygus bugs (tarnish bugs) away from your apples and strawberries.
Before you plant trap crops, weigh the risk of attracting more of the pest to your garden than before. The technique is generally used the year after a pest has done significant damage to your plants. Time it so that the trap crop is a little more mature than the plant it's protecting if you can.
Companion Planting: 11 Herbs to Help Your Garden Grow
Maybe you’re just starting to think about gardening, getting an early start on new spring additions to your garden, or debating how to best nurture your herbs through the winter months. Perhaps you’re frustrated with how things turned out this year or worried about future threats to your healthy plants. Whatever your state of mind or the state of your garden, you may want to consider the benefits of companion planting in the future. I don’t even have a garden in my tiny apartment, and I find the concept fascinating.
Companion planting can be an efficient and natural way to protect your garden from pests and promote healthy, glowing growth in all your herbs, vegetables and flowers. Some plants benefit the soil, while others may deter specific pests and diseases or enhance the flavors of fruits and vegetables. Herbs are particularly valuable in the context of trap planting because they can both discourage pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, bees and butterflies.
Tomatoes grow alongside basil and purple-podded peas.
Photo by Cpt. Obvious/courtesy Flickr
When designing your garden, be sure to keep the specific needs of each plant in mind. Often, companion planting is a composition of opposites in terms of shade needs, soil nutrient absorption, depth of root growth, aroma, and speed of growth. Also know that depending on conditions and climate, the following combinations may not be entirely successful. Spacing, relative plant ratios and manner of planting can be very important, and some plants should not be grown near each other. Also, the effects of companion planting are often subtle, and a major pest problem is likely to require other methods. As most companion pairings are not scientifically supported experimentation is the only way to find the best companion herbs for your gardening needs. Here are some general traditional guidelines to get you started.
Basil: Basil can benefit the growth petunias and the flavors of tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and oregano it should not be planted near common rue or sage. To increase the essential oils in your basil, plant chamomile or anise.
Borage: Borage acts as a deterrent to tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and is known to attract bees and wasps. It also improves soil composition and helps any plants near it be more resistant to both pests and disease. Plant borage with strawberries, tomatoes or squash to enhance both the flavor and amount of your fruit or vegetable harvest.
Chamomile: In addition to increasing the essential oils of any nearby herbs, chamomile can help basil, wheat, onions, cabbage and cucumber plants. This herb also attracts hoverflies and wasps, which assist in pollination and prey on aphids and other pest insects.
Chive: A long-term investment, chives are often planted in conjunction with tomatoes, carrots, apple trees and roses. At first growth they will repel aphids from tomatoes, mums and sunflowers, and after about three years they have known to prevent apple scab and rose black spot.
Cilantro/Coriander: This familiar kitchen spice will deter aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites. It’s a good companion to anise, caraway, spinach and dill. If you have continued problems with spider mites, a tea made from coriander can repel them.
Dill: Companion to lettuce, cabbage, onions, sweet corn and cucumbers, dill should not be planted near carrots, caraway, lavender or tomatoes (it attracts tomato horn worms). This herb will keep aphids, spider mites and squash bugs from taking over your garden and will attract hoverflies, wasps, and honeybees. To avoid cross-pollination, don’t plant dill near fennel.
Garlic: In addition to its health benefits, garlic deters rabbits as well as tree borers, aphids, cabbage looper, codling moths, Japanese beetles, snails, carrot root flies, ants and cabbage maggots. It is especially beneficial when planted near apple, pear and peach trees, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery.
Mints: Be careful when planting mints as they can be very invasive keep it in a container if possible to prevent its spread. Cuttings of mint can be beneficially used in mulching around turnips, cabbage, broccoli and mustard, and can also be effective in discouraging mice. As a live plant, spearmint and peppermint are especially useful in attracting bees and repelling black flea beetles, ants, mosquitoes, white cabbage butterflies, aphids and cabbage maggots. Do not plant mint near parsley.
Rosemary: Rosemary benefits the growth of sage, cabbage, beans and carrots by deterring cabbage moths, bean beetles and, if cutting are placed around carrot crowns, carrot flies. Again, don’t plant rosemary near basil or the rosemary will die.
Sage: Another herb to pair with beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots as it repels cabbage moths, black flea beetles, carrot flies and some bean parasites. Again, sage grows well with rosemary, but do not plant it close to rue, cucumbers or onions.
Tarragon: A general nuisance to pests, tarragon is well-planted throughout any garden and can help enhance the flavor and growth of nearby vegetables, especially eggplant.
Companion planted marigolds and beans at the St. James Park victory garden.
Photo by KirrilyRobert/Courtesy Flickr
As you can probably tell, this is only a small selection of the many options for companion planting: herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers all work together to keep your garden healthy and thriving without the use of damaging pesticides. And just think of all the delicious recipes you can indulge in with these multi-talented herbs!
For more information, consider the following sources:
Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunnigham (Rodale Press, 1998)
Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening: Companion Planting by Susan McClure and Sally Roth (Rodale Press, 1994)
by Louise Riotte (Storey Publishin, 1998)
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