This morning when I went to Bunny Buffet to check the squash survival rate, I noticed that the base of the evergreen was now home to a large number of BEES.*
Those bees weren’t there because of any magic from the barely alive squash plant – but they were sure liking the blue flower stalks nearby. A few wandered over to the squash section and hunted for pollen.
And that, dear reader, is the essence of the “companion plant.”
Nothing panics a bee as much as a screaming human female. Instead of panicking the bees, I s-l-o-w-l-y moved my iPod with its handy Instagram app up near my nose and prayed the picture-snap whine wouldn’t cause a stampede. With trembling fingers I pushed the button, holding my breath. Thankfully they did not advance. I did, however, retreat.
Flower Power to Attract
Flowers are a good thing in a vegetable garden like what mine will someday turn out to be. The flowers attract bees which then pollinate the veggie blossoms which then make lunch.
In addition, the attractor flower brings “good” insects and critters that help keep the garden ecosystem in balance by ridding the area of “bad” insects and critters.
Flower Power to Repel
Some flowers also drive out unwanted pests. If you stand next to a tomato plant and a petunia is growing nearby, you might hear a faint “Get Thee Gone” command to the tomato hornworms.
Speaking of a repulsive flower, marigolds are in the group of companion plants that drive off pests while keeping the good pests to do their work. The French marigold repels whiteflies. A Mexican marigold fends off wild rabbits. (Some marigolds produce gold if you get the watering can off the last wave of zombies. I am not making this up.)
Popular Companion Flowers and Plants
- Basil – thrips, flies, mosquitoes
- Bee Balm – bees
- Borage – hornworms, cabbage worms, bees, wasps
- Catnip – flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, weevils
- Chives – Japanese beetles, carrot rust flies
- Chrysanthemum – Japanese beetles (used to produce pyrethrum, for roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs)
- Dahlia – nematodes
- Dill – hornworms, aphids, spider mites, squash bugs
- Garlic – aphids, moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, carrot root fly
- Hyssop – honeybees
- Lavender – fleas, moths
- Marigolds – whiteflies, nematodes, rabbits
- Nasturtiums – wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, aphid trap
- Petunias – asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato worms
- Sunflowers – ant colonies
Want even more companion planting ideas? Here’s a excellent resource at Golden Harvest Organics.
* Large number of bees = anything more than one, or one if it is near me. No, I didn’t stop to count them. Nor did I get close enough that my aging eyes could tell they were bees. They could have been levitating black and yellow cement trucks for all I know.