What To Plant With Rosemary: Choosing Companion Plants For Rosemary

What To Plant With Rosemary: Choosing Companion Plants For Rosemary

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

While you may be familiar with companion plants like the three sisters, herbal companion planting results in increased yield and fewer bad bugs. Learn what to plant with rosemary for a healthier garden and one which profits from its aromatic and beautiful nature.

Herbal Companion Plants for Rosemary

Rosemary is good for more than the occasional chicken or potato dish. It has powerful scented oil which can attract or repel certain insects. Rosemary also keeps away some animal pests. It is even said to improve the flavor of sage when planted in proximity. So, the benefits to rosemary plant companions are numerous, plus you have another attractive herb that performs with honors in the kitchen.

In a kitchen garden, the herb section is a must. Most herbs have low nutrient needs and perform well in dry, hot sites. Rosemary is also a perennial and evergreen in most regions and has year-around beauty. Some fun companions for rosemary are what I call the “Chicken Stuffing” herbs. These would be thyme and sage along with some alliums like onions or shallots.

With these ingredients at hand, all you have to do is wash the chicken, put salt and pepper in and out, and then stuff it with handfuls of the herbs and alliums. Delicious, simple and easy once baked.

What to Plant with Rosemary

In deciding on your rosemary plant companions, consider their pest repelling properties. When you choose companion plants for rosemary, they should benefit from the plant’s ability to fend off certain insects that attack crops.

For instance, cabbage loopers, those little white moths that lay eggs on cruciferous vegetables, are repelled by the strong oils in rosemary. Any plant in the cabbage family, like broccoli, cauliflower and kale, can benefit from having rosemary nearby. Rosemary in proximity will prevent the rampant feeding of the larvae of these moths.

It will also increase yields on carrots and beans by repelling certain beetles and carrot flies. Slugs and snails are also deterred from snacking on leafy greens when rosemary is nearby.

Tips on Growing Rosemary

More than enhancing the growth and health of plants that grow well with rosemary, the herb is a kitchen staple. Rosemary prefers a Mediterranean climate but certain varieties are quite cold hardy. It thrives in full sun and well-draining soil with pH of 6 to7. The plant needs continuous, average moisture but should never be soggy, a condition that can cause root rot.

Harvest leaves at any time and use fresh or dry them for later use. The flavor and aroma is a common addition to lamb and poultry but also perks up bread and even some desserts. Making a tea out of the leaves is supposed to enhance memory. Adding leaves to the bath refreshes and revitalizes skin while the scent calms and relaxes the mind.

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Some plants grow well together. Others do not. The companion relationships between plant species are greatly influenced by what nutrients each plant derives from the soil, the amount of moisture they need from the soil, the general condition of the soil and what each plant releases into the soil. Selecting companion plants is based upon the success others have had with growing certain plants together, and companion planting allows the plants to benefit from each others' presence in the same soil.

Best Companion Plants for Rosemary

Although some consider companion planting to be pseudoscience, there are many time-honored companion planting combinations like the ancient Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash. Whether or not hard scientific research supports the practice of companion planting, many gardeners swear by it.

Companion planting makes sense when you think about it. For example, rosemary is naturally insect repellant, so it stands to reason that planting rosemary in your garden can help repel unwanted pests.

Discover more about companion planting in the recent book Companion Planting by Edward Green. A knowledge of companion planting can help you have a healthy, productive organic garden and make the best use of your available space.

  • Green, Edward (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 143 Pages - 07/10/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Broccoli is Rosemary’s Best Friend

Broccoli is considered by many as one of rosemary’s best companions. The herb helps deter insects from getting to the broccoli heads and eating away.

Broccoli is sucesptible to cabbage moths. The eggs hatch into voracious caterpillars that eat their way through broccoli leaves and heads at an alarming rate. Rosemary can help prevent this from happening. To learn more about broccoli and how to deal with cabbage moths, read this post on how to harvest broccoli.

If you don’t have the space to grow the two together, you can toss rosemary trimmings over the broccoli plant to help keep the bugs away. The pests are deterred by the strong aroma of rosemary.

Growing Sage with Rosemary

Sage grows well with rosemary because they both need the same soil, light, and water conditions (source).

Sage is also known for insect repellant properties and attracting pollinators, so the sage and rosemary combination is a powerful way to keep your garden healthy. Both sage and rosemary repel cabbage loopers – hooray!

Make sure to give your sage and rosemary enough space if you decide to plant them together. If conditions are favorable and you grow them as annuals, they can both become very large and woody. Ensure the plants have adequate room to grow.

Planting Oregano with Rosemary

Oregano is also a Mediterranean herb, which means it thrives in similar conditions to rosemary. The two go well together because oregano is a low creeping plant while rosemary can grow tall and bushy. Oregano can spread and grow underneath your rosemary plant.

Rosemary also grows well with other Mediterranean herbs like thyme marjoram.

Planting Rosemary with Beans

The aroma of the rosemary helps hide the bean’s scent from the Mexican bean beetle, which is found in both the United States and Mexico. (source)

These beetles love to gobble up the bean’s leaves, which prevents the plant from fully growing.

Planting Rosemary with Cabbage

Any vegetable that falls in the Brassica genus (cabbage, bok choy, kale, radish, etc.) can greatly benefit from being planted near rosemary.

It’s virtually impossible to keep your cabbages completely caterpillar free, but you can keep the damage down if you employ a range of tactics, including companion planting.

Yes, I’ve mentioned these dreaded cabbage moths at least twice already in this post. They are a serious issue for many gardeners and they attack lots popular cool weather crops.

For more information about cabbage and how to protect your cabbage from pests, see this post on how to plant and grow cabbage. Note the worm-eaten outer leaves in the photo below:

Rosemary as a Companion for Hot Peppers

The pepper experts at Pepper Geek cite rosemary as being beneficial to hot pepper plants. Some people claim rosemary enhances the flavor of hot peppers.

Rosemary Helps Keep the Carrot Flies Away

According to the Cornell University Extension, rosemary can help repel carrot flies. Carrot flies are one of carrots’ major pests. The flies lay their eggs on carrots. These eggs develop into larvae that eat away at your carrots’ roots.

To learn more about growing carrots and dealing with carrot problems, please visit this guide to growing purple carrots.

The image below shows carrot rust fly damage:

7 great options for companion planting with herbs

Here are seven easy to grow herbs that you can interplant in your vegetable garden. These aren’t the only herbs that you can use in a companion planting, but these are the ones that are the easiest to succeed with.

Dill companion plants

This season I planted dill in the rows when I planted my cabbages, kale, and broccoli. The dill grew up with the brassica plants and attracted predatory wasps. The predatory wasps lay their eggs in the cabbage butterfly caterpillars, killing them. So even though I saw a lot of white cabbage butterflies in my garden in June, I hardly had cabbage worm damage in my garden, and very few broccoli worms to clean out of my broccoli. I didn’t need to hand pick green worms. I didn’t have to spray BT – a common insecticide used to kill caterpillars.

Dill attracted the predatory wasps and they took care of most of the green worms – companion planting with herbs works! Don’t plant dill near cilantro or fennel, though. They will cross pollinate and the flavors will be marred. The growth of carrots is inhibited when planted near dill.

Dill is an annual, but it will give you plenty of seeds in its first year. You can gather the seeds when they dry on the plant and replant it every year. It will self-sow, giving you a perpetual harvest of dill year after year, if you let the plants go to seed.

Marigold companion plants

I also planted marigolds (Tagetes erecta) near the carrots and beets. Marigolds are toxic to root nematodes. Nematodes feed on plant roots, killing the plant and reducing yields.

Growing marigolds next to vegetable crops removes root nematodes from the soil. Marigolds also feed pollinating insects, which help beans, melons, and squash. So if you plant marigolds you’ll encourage the native pollinators to stick close to your garden.

These marigolds are a different species than Calendula, which is also sometimes called, “marigold.” Marigolds are annual flowers. They are frost tender and will die after the first hard frost. The spent flower heads can be dried and the seed harvested from the base of the petals. Replant marigolds throughout your garden from your saved seed.

Companion planting with chives

While garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots are all from the same allium family as chives and do the same job, I like to use chives as a companion plant. Chives are perennial, so you can keep dividing them every year to make more plants. They take up less space than other alliums.

Chives don’t require heavy fertilization. They are “cut and come again,” so they give you a prolific source of spicy greens for salads, baked potatoes, and even stir fries. The more you harvest chives, the more they will grow. And their strong spicy scent confuses butterflies and moths, looking for the plants they prefer to lay their eggs on.

Chives grown near carrots repel the carrot rust fly. Grown near strawberries, chives help to keep the strawberries disease free. Beans and peas are to be avoided when companion planting with herbs from the allium family.

Basil companion plants

Basil is often grown near tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It increases the yield of these plants and encourages vigorous growth. It also improves the flavor of tomatoes. The scent of basil deters mosquitoes, flies, and horned worm caterpillars by masking the scent of the plants.

Avoid planting basil near common rue, rosemary, or sage. Basil is a tender annual. It flowers near the end of the season. If you have a long growing season you will be able to save seed from your own plants.

Good companions for parsley

Plant parsley near tomatoes, corn, and asparagus. Avoid planting parsley near lettuce. It can cause the lettuce to bolt prematurely. Parsley is a biennial and will flower and set seed in its second year. Allow it to overwinter, for a continual source of parsley seed.

Note that it will cross pollinate with carrots and Queen Anne’s lace for pure seed, create a barrier if you are letting parsley seed near carrots or if you have Queen Anne’s lace flowering nearby.

Lavender companion plants

Sweetly scented lavender plants repel a wide variety of flies and beetles, while attracting pollinating insects. Good companion plants in the veggie garden include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Companion planting with lavender also deters codling moths under apple trees. I’ve seen three-foot high and wide lavender plants growing at the ends of rows of apple trees in orchards in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.

Lavender is a hardy perennial. Plant it in the middle of your garden where it can thrive and do its job.

Rosemary companion plants

Like lavender, rosemary is a good companion for broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage because it confuses the cabbage butterfly. It also repels a wide variety of beetles and flies. The flavor of sage improves when planted near rosemary.

Avoid planting rosemary with pumpkins, and squash. Rosemary is a tender perennial.

If you live in zone 8 or lower, plant rosemary in a pot and move it into a sheltered spot each winter, into an unheated garage or indoors, near a sunny window. Then you can move it around the garden as you rotate your brassica plants, the following spring.

Originally published November 2015 this post has been updated.

Watch the video: How to Prune Rosemary Herb For a Fuller Dense Plant