Companion planting with onions

Companion Planting Vegetables for Increased Crop Yield

  • Carrots get on well with a wide variety of vegetables – peas, lettuce, rosemary, onions, sage and tomatoes. Just keep them away from dill.
  • Celery is also a very accepting vegetable, liking onions, the cabbage family, tomatoes and bush beans. Like asparagus, they don’t hate any vegetables.
  • Keep your corn away from tomatoes, but to keep it happy plant it near potatoes, beans, peas, pumpkins, cucumber and squash.
  • Cucumber doesn’t like being near aromatic herbs or potatoes, but plant it near beans, corn or peas and it will be happy.
  • Lettuce is an accepting plant, not hating any vegetables but appreciating being planted next to carrots, strawberries and cucumbers.
  • Onions generally like being planted next to beets, carrots, lettuce and the cabbage family, but keep them away from beans and peas if you want good results.
  • Peas like being planted next to carrots, turnips, cucumbers, corn and beans, but be sure to not plant them near onions or potatoes.
  • Speaking of potatoes, you should plant them near beans, corn and members of the cabbage family for best results, and make sure they are away from pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Find out which vegetables should and shouldn’t be planted together with our companion planting chart. Our chart covers 10 of the most popular vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and more!

How Does Companion Planting Work?

Companion planting is the practice of growing certain plants alongside each other in order to reap the benefits of their complementary characteristics, such as their nutrient requirements, growth habits, or pest-repelling abilities.

A classic example of companion planting is the Three Sisters trio—maize, climbing beans, and winter squash—which were commonly planted together by various Native American communities due to the plants’ complementary natures: the corn grows tall, supporting the climbing beans; the squash stays low, shading the area with its big, prickly leaves to discourage weeds and pests; and the fast-growing beans provide a supply of nitrogen.

Growth habit isn’t the only characteristic to consider when companion planting—it’s also important to be aware of the nutrient needs of plants. Growing plants that require the same primary nutrients together means that they will be competing for resources, which can slow down growth for all. For this reason, it’s usually best to grow plants with complementary nutrient needs together.

Finally, companion plants help each other out when it comes to preventing damage from pests. The strong scents of plants like lavender, rosemary, and mint, for example, can discourage grazing animals from snacking on nearby vegetables, and nasturtiums, which are a favorite of aphids, can be used as bait plants to keep the pests off of your main crops.

Read our full article about companion planting to understand all the benefits!

Companion Planting Chart

Consult the chart below to see which vegetables make the best companions—and which don’t! We’d suggest separating foes and friends on opposite sides of the garden, or at least 4 feet away.

CROP NAME FRIENDS FOES
BEANS Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Squash
Strawberries
Summer savory
Tomatoes
Garlic
Onions
Peppers
Sunflowers
CABBAGE Beans
Celery
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Onions
Potatoes
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Strawberries
Tomatoes
CARROTS Beans
Lettuce
Onions
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Tomatoes
Anise
Dill
Parsley
CORN Beans
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Melons
Peas
Potatoes
Squash
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
CUCUMBERS Beans
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Lettuce
Peas
Radishes
Sunflowers
Aromatic herbs
Melons
Potatoes
LETTUCE Asparagus
Beets
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
Broccoli
ONIONS Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Lettuce
Peppers
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Peas
Sage
PEPPERS Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
RADISHES Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Kohlrabi
TOMATOES Asparagus
Basil
Beans
Borage
Carrots
Celery
Dill
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radishes
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Kale
Potatoes

Learn More

Watch our video on Companion Planting: Why Vegetables Need Friends!

Just getting started with gardening or need a refresher course? Check out our Vegetable Gardening for Beginners how-to page.

Need plant-specific growing advice? Read through our many Growing Guides for vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs.

Have you tried companion planting? What’s your go-to pairing? Tell us in the comments below!

Onion

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Onion, (Allium cepa), herbaceous biennial plant in the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), grown for its edible bulb. The onion is likely native to southwestern Asia but is now grown throughout the world, chiefly in the temperate zones. Onions are low in nutrients but are valued for their flavour and are used widely in cooking. They add flavour to such dishes as stews, roasts, soups, and salads and are also served as a cooked vegetable.

red onion; yellow onionRed and yellow onions (Allium cepa). © rysp/Fotolia

The common onion has one or more leafless flower stalks that reach a height of 75–180 cm (2.5–6 feet), terminating in a spherical cluster of small greenish white flowers. The concentric leaf bases of the developing plant swell to form the underground edible bulb. Most commercially cultivated onions are grown from the plant’s small black seeds, which are sown directly in the field, but onions may also be grown from small bulbs or from transplants. Onions are very hardy and can survive in a wide range of growing conditions. The bulbs vary in size, shape, colour, and pungency, though warmer climates generally produce onions with a milder, sweeter flavour than do other climates. The onion’s characteristic pungency results from the sulfur-rich volatile oil it contains; the release of this oil during peeling or chopping brings tears to the eyes.

Onions are among the world’s oldest cultivated plants. They were probably known in India, China, and the Middle East before recorded history. Ancient Egyptians regarded the spherical bulb as a symbol of the universe, and its name is probably derived from the Latin unus, meaning “one.” The Romans introduced the onion to Britain and, in the New World, Native Americans added a highly pungent wild onion to their stews. Curative powers have been attributed to onions throughout the centuries; they have been used in folk medicine for such varied ailments as colds, earaches, laryngitis, animal bites, burns, and warts.

onionOnion (Allium cepa).Walter Chandoha

Most whole onions are slightly dried before marketing, making their skins dry and paper-thin. Onions are also available in various processed forms. Boiled and pickled onions are packed in cans or jars. Frozen onions are available chopped or whole, and bottled onion juice is sold for use as a flavouring. Dehydrated onion products have been available since the 1930s; such products include granulated, ground, minced, chopped, and sliced forms. Onion powder is made by grinding dehydrated onions and is sometimes packaged in combination with salt. Dried onion products are used in a variety of prepared foods and are also sold directly to the consumer for use as condiments.

onionOnion bulbs (Allium cepa) in a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes.© Thodonal/Dreamstime.com Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today

There are a number of commercial varieties and cultivars of onions available:

  • Globe-shaped onions may be white, yellow, or red. They have strong flavour and are used chiefly for soups, stews, and other prepared dishes and for frying.
  • Bermuda onions are large and flat, with white or yellow colour and fairly mild taste. They are often cooked and may be stuffed, roasted, or French-fried. They are also sliced and used raw in salads and sandwiches.
  • Spanish onions are large, sweet, and juicy, with colour ranging from yellow to red. Their flavour is mild, and they are used raw and sliced for salads and sandwiches and as a garnish.
  • Italian onions, or cipollini onions, are flat, with red colour and mild flavour. They are used raw for salads and sandwiches, and their red outer rings make an attractive garnish.
  • Shallots are a small, angular variety of onion. They are typically white with a brown or red skin and have a mild flavour. The green leaves can also be eaten.
  • Pearl onions are not a specific variety but are small, round, white onions harvested when 25 mm (1 inch) or less in diameter. They are usually pickled and used as a garnish and in cocktails. Small white onions that are picked when between 25 and 38 mm (1 and 1.5 inches) in diameter are used to flavour foods having fairly delicate taste, such as omelets and other egg dishes, sauces, and peas. They are also served boiled or baked.
  • Green onions, also called scallions and spring onions, are young onions harvested when their tops are green and the underdeveloped bulbs are 13 mm (0.5 inch) or less in diameter. Their flavour is mild, and the entire onion, including top, stem, and bulb, is used raw in salads and sauces, as a garnish, and also as a seasoning for prepared dishes.

Differences between Onions, Leeks and Shallots

Onions, Shallots and Leeks: What’s the Difference?

Onions, shallots and leeks are all part of the Alliums family–and treasured for the flavor they add to recipes. They’re all easy to grow in the garden and perform best when planted in full sun. They have differences, though.

Onions are a garden favorite–and can be eaten raw, in salsas and salads, and cooked into your favorite recipes. Home gardeners can choose from onion varieties that are mildly sweet to pungent. Because onions are affected by the amount of light they receive, some grow better in the North, while others perform better in the South. Short-day onions begin forming bulbs when daylight lasts 10-12 hours and are often the sweetest and best for eating raw. They’re most often grown in the South. Long-day onions begin forming bulbs when daylight lasts 14-16 hours. They are usually pungent, often store well for many months, and are usually grown in the North. Day-neutral onions are a cross of the two types. Onions can be started from seeds, sets and plants.

Shallots

Shallotshave a subtle flavor that is much milder than onions or garlic–and are a favorite of gourmet cooks. Their flavor really shines when sautéed in butter or olive oil. Like green onions, their green shoots and bulbs are edible–and the green shoots can be used as a green onion or scallion substitute. While shallots can be grown from seed, growing them from sets is often easiest. After harvest, cured bulbs can be stored for up to six months.

Leeks

Leeks look like overgrown green onions, but have a milder, more delicate flavor than onions. The white base and green stalk are used for cooking in creamy soups, fresh, stocks and more. Leeks can be direct seeded outdoors or started indoors and transplanted into the garden. Thinning during the growing allows the plant to grow much larger. After harvest, leeks can keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks–or they can be dried for storage.

Remember…

Onions, shallots and leeks are not considered interchangeable when it comes to cooking. Make sure you use whichever your recipe calls for, as the distinct flavor of each may alter the taste of your dish.

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The Best Onion Companion Plants for Your Vegetable Garden

In this article: Learn which crops are the best onion companion plants to increase your garden harvest, reduce pests, and improve flavor.

Companion planting with your onions can help your plants grow better, taste better, and have less problems with pests. So how does companion planting work? What can you grow with onions and what should be kept far away?

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First off, onions are a member of the allium family. Other alliums include garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives.

Below you will find a list of onion companion plants that you can grow alongside your onions to prevent pests and disease, or just help your garden grow and taste better. Plus a list of what you should keep separate from your onions.

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Pick up a copy of my Companion Planting Guide and Binder to help you design the perfect garden beds with companion planting in mind. Everything you need to know about companion planting in an easy to read format so you can start companion planting sooner!

Onion Companion Plants For a Better Harvest

Companion planting has a lot of benefits including improved flavor and better growth. It’s important to plant crops that don’t compete for nutrients and also complement each other. Below is a list of plants to grow with your onions to help you grow your best garden ever!

Lettuce: Lettuce and onions make great companions. They do not compete for nutrients in the soil and their roots don’t take up the same soil level.

Onions can also help deter insects from eating your lettuce.

Chamomile: Chamomile can help improve the flavor and growth of your onions. Other herbs such as summer savory and dill can have the same effect.

Strawberries: Onions may not benefit from strawberries, but growing onions alongside your strawberries can improve growth and health in your berries.

The strong smell of onions can also confuse pests and keep them from munching on your berries.

Beets: Beet and onion roots draw from different soil levels and won’t compete for nutrients.

Onions may also protect your beets from some fungal infections.

Tomatoes: Onions can do a lot for your tomato crop including improving the flavor of the fruits.

Onions can also help deter pests like aphids in your tomatoes.

Peppers: Peppers are nightshades like tomatoes and reap the same benefits as tomatoes. Flavor enhancement is more likely to be seen in hot peppers.

Onion Companion Plants for Pest Control

Pests can be a big problem in organic gardens, or any garden, but luckily one of the main benefits of companion planting is to naturally deter and eliminate many of these pests. Below are some of the best onion companion plants to help control some of the main garden pests.

Cabbage: Onions- and others in the onion family- are good companions for cabbage.

Onions can help repel lots of pests that can feed on your cabbage such as cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, aphids, and Japanese beetles.

Broccoli: Broccoli is in the same family as cabbage so onions will repel the shared pests. This goes for not just broccoli, but Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, and other brassicas.

Carrots: Onions and carrots offer each other a symbiotic relationship. Onions help deter carrot flies and carrots can help protect onions from onion flies.

Parsley: Parsley is related to carrots so onions offer it the same protection from carrot flies.

Celery: Celery is another crop in the carrot family. Companion planting onions with your celery will help deter pests that might feed on your celery plants.

What to Avoid Planting With Onions

Onions aren’t too picky, but there are a couple of plants that should not be planted near onions due to either flavor contamination or chemical interactions.

Beans: Onions should not be planted with any type of beans. Onions may stunt the growth of beans. This goes for all members of the allium family.

Peas: Peas are legumes like beans. Keep onions away from all legumes including peas.

Sage: Many farmers swear that sage is harmful to onions. It can stunt the growth of the roots.

Asparagus: Onions can stunt the growth of your asparagus.

Onions can also contaminate the flavor of your asparagus.

Turnips: Onions can negatively affect the root growth and flavor of turnips. If you are growing turnips for the greens, onions can be okay.

Other Alliums: Growing other alliums closely together can cause more trouble with onion maggots. Spreading them through the garden will control the pest. This includes garlic.

Once you have harvested your onions, check out some of the following articles to learn how to store, use, and preserve your harvest!

How to Dehydrate Onions

Pickled Onions

Storing Onions Long Term

And that’s it for companion planting with onions. Take this information into account while planning your garden in the spring and you will see the benefits of companion planting!

Other Companion Planting Guides:

Best Cucumber Companion Plants

9 Best Companion Plants to Control Aphids

Best Squash Companion Plants

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my companion planting chart below!

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