We know peanuts as the central ingredient in the childhood favorite, peanut butter, but do you know how to grow them? Peanutsare ground nuts and scramble low about the earth. Their particular growing requirements mean any plants grown nearby must also like full sun, well-drained soil and deeply fertile sandy loam. This begs the question, what are good companions to peanuts. The answer is quite extensive and may surprise you. Numerous food crops are perfect peanut companion plants.
What to Plant with Peanuts
Peanuts are pleasant plants with pretty little yellow flowers and a spectacular method of nut production. Nuts grow from pegs or stems that insert themselves into the ground and develop into peanuts. Needing as much sun as possible during the day, companion planting with peanuts should not include tall plants, which will shade the ground nuts.
Companions to peanuts must enjoy the same soil and sun conditions but also a high amount of calcium, a nutrient that promotes the formation of healthy plants and ground nuts.
Ideal plants with peanut crops might be other in-ground crops like beetsand carrots. Potatoesare another good in-ground plant with similar growing needs. In-ground crops to avoid are onionsand other members of the Allium family.
Very tall crops, like pole beans and corn, should be avoided, as they will shade the peanut plants and can inhibit nut formation. Food crops such as cabbageand celeryenjoy the same site conditions but are not so tall as to create shade.
Short season or fast producing crops like lettuce, snow peas, spinachand radishare excellent plants that grow well with peanuts. Their production will be finished long before peanut plants flower and begin to peg into the soil.
Many herbs offer unique pest deterrent capabilities as well as increase pollinators during their flowering period. Certain flowers also offer these benefits when planted in proximity to food crops. Marigoldsand nasturtiumsare two classic examples of flowering companions with pest repellent properties and pollinator charm.
Herbs like rosemary, savoryand tansywill draw in pollinating insects and have some ability to attract beneficial insects while sending the bad bugs running. Much of this is thought to be attributed to the potently scented oils in the leaves of the plants, but whatever the reason, they have the same growing requirements as peanuts and will thrive in the same garden bed. Many more herbs are great plants that grow well with peanuts.
Herbs that produce profuse flowers are especially welcome as their colors and scents will bring in important insects that will pollinate the peanut flowers.
Using Groundcover Companion Planting with Peanuts
Any companion plants near peanuts should ideally not cover up the plants and reduce their sun exposure. However, a unique companion combo with strawberriesoffers both beauty and double duty in the same garden space. Strawberry plants with their runners will gradually take over an area. However, in their first year they provide a nice ground cover that will prevent many weeds and help conserve soil moisture by preventing evaporation.
Both peanuts and strawberries have the same soil and site requirements. The berries grow lower than the 12-inch (30 cm.) peanut plants and will not suffocate them. Care should be taken to prevent berry runners from rooting within 3 inches (8 cm.) of the peanut plant as this could interrupt the pegging process.