Nasturtium flowers are loved for their colorful blooms and unique foliage. A valuable asset in both flower and vegetable gardens, nasturtiums are a tried-and-true companion plant. Though many growers first become interested in nasturtium's edibility, they’re often delighted to find that it may also help to repel many common garden pests. This is believed to be the result of certain aromatic chemicals that are released from the plant throughout the growing season.
Like other types of companion plant, nasturtium is best used within rows, or interplanted among several different crops. However, nasturtiums may be more compatible with certain plants than others.
Why Grow Nasturtiums as Companion Plants?
Companion planting is a technique that helps gardeners more efficiently utilize their planting space. Capitalizing on the concept of mutualism, different species of plants are grown in close proximity to one another as a means to create a polyculture. Companion plants serve a wide range of purposes: helping to attract pollinators, functioning as a trap crop, or even assisting in the uptake of nutrients.
While the fact-based evidence surrounding companion planting remains ambiguous, many experienced gardeners swear by its success. Diversity within companion gardens serves to enhance the backyard ecosystem, as well as help to keep plants healthy. Learning more about this concept can help you as a gardener to make informed decisions regarding the composition of beds and the placement of plants. One annual, the nasturtium, may be especially useful.
What to Plant with Nasturtiums
Most of the best companion plants for nasturtiums can be found in the vegetable garden.
Since nasturtium is known to help repel insects, it is naturally a good choice for growing near your cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, and various species of melons.
Nasturtiums will help to deter many of the most troublesome pests, including cucumber beetles, vine borers, and squash bugs. The plants are also believed to help repel aphids, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, and many more.
Experienced gardeners have not noted any change in behavior or deterrence of pollinators and/or other beneficial insects from the introduction of nasturtiums into the vegetable garden. In fact, nasturtium is also said to enhance production and flavor of certain plants, like radishes and cucumbers.
What Not to Plant with Nasturtiums
Though it is reported that the benefits of companion planting with nasturtiums are numerous, it’s a good idea to do some careful planning.
Most cultivars of nasturtium are low growing, with a mounding habit. Nasturtium plants may quickly become shaded by larger garden species.
The same can also be true of other companions which spread aggressively. Many herbs, like mint and thyme, will multiply quickly. In these instances, it’s not uncommon for the nasturtium to be outpaced and overgrown.
Be certain to avoid any vegetables that may share the same nutrient requirements of nasturtium plants. In these cases, the flowers may find themselves in competition with other plants for vital resources like water and nutrients within the soil.
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