Companion plants are plants that interact well when planted near one another. This technique has been used for centuries to enhance growing conditions, attract beneficial pollinators, control pests and take advantage of available space.
Herbs are used for their strong scent which disguises the scent of the crops the insects are attracted to. They are also most important to attract beneficial pollinators to the plants, and this is especially good for strawberries. Because strawberries are prone to attack several pests, it makes perfect sense to plant them alongside neighbours that help keep invaders at bay.
In very hot regions strawberry companion plants can provide light shade for the strawberries when the midday sun may be a little too strong. Inter-planting in this way also creates a living mulch to keep the soil cool and helps to keep weeds in check.
Remember to use taller companions in beds close to your strawberries, but not directly inter-planted between them, or they might dwarf the strawberry plants. Smaller crops like lettuce are perfect for inter-planting. Herbs can be planted in pots which are placed between your strawberry plants and can easily be moved to another spot in your garden as required.
There are many companion plants for strawberries, including:
Herbs like Borage with its beautiful blooms will attract pollinators and beneficial insects, while strengthening the strawberries resistance to disease. Many gardeners claim that borage also makes strawberries taste even sweeter.
Thyme is excellent to plant around the border of a strawberry patch to deter worms. Thyme also attracts syrphid flies (also known as hover flies). These beneficial insects dine on soft-bodied pests such as aphids, thrips, scale, and caterpillars.
Caraway is planted to attract parasitic flies and wasps as these tiny, beneficial insects are voracious eaters of grubs, cutworms, beetles, scale, caterpillars and other pests.
Dill, fennel, coriander, and sage are also excellent companions for strawberries, helping to repel slugs and other pests.
Many gardeners believe that inter planting lettuce and spinach with strawberries enhances the productivity of all three plants.
Beans and other legumes are natural fertilizer producers because they fix nitrogen into the soil by means of bacteria in their roots. Bush beans would be perfect planted in alternate rows with strawberries.
Because of their pungent smell, chives, onions garlic, and other members of the allium family are excellent strawberry companions which discourage marauders from feasting on their juicy berries.
Marigolds and strawberries make a beautiful team, and the distinctive aroma of the sunny blooms of marigolds will discourage many pests. Because marigolds attract red spider, they are also often grown in alternate rows between strawberries as a “bait crop”. Once bait crops are infected they are pulled up and disposed of, in other words they are sacrificed for the crop they are planted to protect.
Nasturtiums are another great bait crop because aphids are attracted to them, and the infected plants are easy to pull up and dispose of. They also seed themselves freely, making them a very economical bait crop. The dwarf varieties are beautiful to use in the herb, fruit and vegetable garden.
Flowers with plenty of pollen like the annual alyssum attract beneficial bugs and bees to pollinate the flowers, ensuring a bumper crop.
Don’t plant strawberries where you have previously grown potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers as there may be potential pathogens lurking in the soil.