The Best Companion Plants for Garden Trees

People often wonder if they can grow other plants under and around their garden trees. Usually, the answer is yes, so long as you pick the right plants.

What is Companion Planting?

To put it simply, companion planting refers to planting specific plants near each other. Plant choices aren’t random – certain plants can actually be extremely beneficial when grown together, either when it comes to deterring pests, providing each other with nutrition, or simply in terms of saving space and increasing diversity.


Companion Plants That Provide Nutrition

When it comes to plants that are able to feed your trees, legumes come out on top. Plants such as beans and peas fix nitrogen into the ground. This is a nutrient that young trees, especially mango and other fruit trees, need plenty of. Legumes not only provide an extra dose, but they’ll also look visually stunning when climbing up your trees.


Comfrey is another popular choice. Its leaves contain the three major nutrients that all garden trees need; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Plant it underneath your trees and then cut it back throughout the growing season, using the leaves as a mulch. Some trees, such as olive trees, are so much more productive when fed with a nutrient-rich mulch.


Companion Plants That Deter Pests

Do some of your garden trees end up attacked by pests each year? If so, look for companion plants that are able to deter those specific pests.

Aphids are a common problem, especially for citrus trees. However, dill, yarrow, and fennel will attract ladybugs, which will keep your aphid population under control.

If caterpillars are your nemesis, look for tansy, parsley, and lemon balm. All three will bring in wasps and certain flies that feed on caterpillars.

Marigolds are another one that are famed for their ability to deter pests. Their chemical compounds repel everything from spider mites to whiteflies to Japanese beetles, and they also look gorgeous when planted underneath a tree.


Companion Plants That Do Well in the Shade

Don’t forget to keep light levels in mind when picking companion plants for your trees.

Trees cast a large amount of shade, so take note of where the sunniest spots around and underneath your trees are.

You’ll still be able to plant out the shadier areas, but you’ll need to pick plants that do well in the shade. Hostas and ferns are good choices, and their lush foliage will give the area around your trees a greener and fuller appearance.


Can Companion Plants Be Used for Trees in Pots?

If you’ve got some garden trees growing in pots, companion planting is still something that you can make use of. A large enough planter will easily be able to accommodate a tree, plus a few smaller plants. However, favour those that add nutrients to the soil – a lack of nutrients can often cause potted trees to struggle.

Companion planting is not only a great way to add diversity, colour, and texture to a garden, but it will also encourage your trees to grow faster, larger, and stronger. Take some time to decide on the best companion plants for each of your trees – finding the perfect growing relationships may take a bit of trial and error, but you’ll easily be able to see when two plants are doing well together.



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