Companion plants for lettuce

Companion Plants For Lettuce: What To Plant With Lettuce In The Garden

Lettuce is a popular choice in most vegetable gardens, and for good reason. It’s easy to grow, it’s tasty, and it’s one of the first things to come up in the spring. Not every vegetable grows well next to every other vegetable, though. Lettuce, like a lot of plants, has some plants that it likes having as neighbors, and some that it doesn’t. By the same token, it is a good neighbor itself to some plants more than others. Keep reading to learn more about growing lettuce companion plants.

What to Plant with Lettuce

Lettuce benefits from having most vegetables near it. Chives and garlic, in particular, are good neighbors because they naturally repel aphids, a common problem for lettuce. Similarly marigolds, one of the big powerhouses of pest repellers, can be planted near lettuce to help keep the bugs away.

There are plenty of other plants that, while they don’t actively repel lettuce eating bugs, are very happy growing next to it. These companion plants for lettuce include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflowers
  • Coriander

This isn’t an exhaustive list of lettuce plant companions, but it is a lot of vegetables to get you started.

Some companion plants for lettuce have their texture improved by its being nearby. Radishes planted near lettuce are supposed to stay softer longer into the summer, avoiding the classic woodiness they experience with hot temperatures.

There are, of course, some vegetables that may not be good lettuce plant companions. These are basically everything in the cabbage family, such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower

Even in the northern climates, the ground is starting to warm up enough to plant those tender little seedlings you’ve been nursing in your sunniest window for the past few weeks. Have you thought of where you’re going to put them in your garden? Plants interact with one another, sometimes in helpful and sometimes in detrimental ways. Take our advice and spending a little time thinking about companion planting before you go down on your hands and knees to play in the dirt.

Take that! You pesky carrot fly varmints! / Karen Blakeman / CC BY 2.0

Tomatoes

Good Companions: Basil, Parsley, Onion, Carrots, Asparagus

Bad Companions: Cabbage, Beans, Broccoli, Corn

Lettuce

Good Companions: Beans, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach, Strawberry

Bad Companions: Fennel–fennel is a poor garden companion for most plants, actually, so grow it in a pot if you must grow it.

Cucumber

Good Companions: Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Radish, Tomato

Bad Companions: Potato, Aromatic Herbs

Peppers

Good Companions: Tomato, Carrots, Onion, Marigold

Bad Companions: Beans, Kale, Cabbage

Spinach

Good Companions: Cauliflower, Eggplant, Peas, Strawberry

Bad Companions: Fennel

Onion

Good Companions: Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Lettuce, Pepper, Radishes, Squash, Strawberries, Tomato

Bad Companions: Beans, Peas, Parsley

Companion Planting Guide

COMMON COMPANION PLANTS:

Flowers

  • Nasturtium attracts caterpillars, aphids and whitefly, so planting it alongside or around vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, beans and tomatoes will protect them. The adults will lay the eggs on the nasturtium leaves instead. The nasturtium can be pulled while the eggs are at a junior stage to rid the garden of this cycle.
  • Plant marigolds close to crops that suffer from aphids and greenfly. Marigolds emit a scent that repels aphids and attracts hoverflies, which are a predator of aphids.
  • Foxgloves have a growth-stimulating effect on all the plants near it. It is also said to protect the garden from disease and strengthen tender plants.
  • Certain flowers are grown near edible crops in order to attract insects for pollination. Capsicums and eggplants, which have smaller flowers, benefit from having flowers nearby to ensure they get pollinated. Bee friendly plants include: calendula, marigolds, sunflowers, poppies, clover, nasturtiums, Queen Anne’s Lace, echinacea, borage and purple tansy.
  • Borage is a great companion for your strawberries.

Plant flowers in Tui Flower Mix, high quality planting mix containing potassium to enhance flower production and Acadian seaweed to promote strong root development, prevent root disorders and encourage plant vigour. Feed with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser – a slow release fertiliser providing a sustained release of easy-to-absorb nitrogen, to keep your flowers blooming.

Herbs

  • Sage is a great herb to plant around celery crops, as it helps to keep aphids away.
  • Hyssop deters white cabbage butterfly from brassicas such as broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts.
  • Basil improves the flavour of tomatoes when planted alongside. Basil can also be planted alongside capsicums.
  • Plant dill and rosemary next to broccoli.

Plant herbs in Tui Herb Mix a free draining planting mix, rich in nitrogen to promote green, leafy growth and continuous harvesting. Feed your herbs with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Vegetables

  • Grow carrots and leeks together. Both have strong scents that drive away each other’s pests.
  • Garlic planted among roses will help deter aphids.
  • Asparagus, basil, carrots, celery and parsley are ideal companion plants for tomatoes to help each other grow. Tomatoes are also compatible with chives and onion.
  • Sweetcorn does well planted with potatoes, peas, beans and squash.

Plant vegetables in Tui Vegetable Mix, a high quality natural-based planting mix containing the right blend of nutrients to provide your veges with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season. Fertilise every four weeks during key growth periods with Tui Vegetable Food, a rich formulation of fertilisers including dolomite, blood and bone and sheep manure dust designed to encourage healthy vegetable growth.

TUI TIP:

Use plants to encourage good bugs which in turn eat the bad bugs. Plant a mixture of flowers and herbs among vegetables and fruit trees to encourage a healthy diversity of insects to move into the garden.

  • Make sure companions are planted at the same time as your edible crops in order to prevent insects from taking over the vegetable patch.

View a companion planting table here.

Excerpts taken with permission from The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden by Sally Cameron and The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden 3rd Ed. by Rachel Vogan. Published by Penguin Books. Copyright © Penguin Books 2009 & 2012

Lettuce Companions

Best Companions

Beans, Carrots, Beets

Dill, Onions

Companion Planting is the placement of various crops in close physical proximity to one another so as to symbiotically compliment each others health, vigor, growth and the flavor of their produce. It also naturally involves separating plants whose development is antagonistic to each other.

Good Companions for Lettuce are beets, broccoli, bush and pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, dill, onion, radish and strawberries.

Avoid cabbage. Cabbage impairs the growth and quality of lettuce. Avoid foxglove. Foxglove aphid attacks lettuce and is often found in joint infestations on either plant –

Beets are prized for adding minerals to the soil. Leafy veggies such as lettuce benefit from the added magnesium provided by beets and there are no drawbacks for the beets.

“Beets grow well near ….Lettuce and most members of the cabbage family are “friendly” to them. ” Carrots Love Tomatoes – L. Riotte

Beans and Legumes

Beans – Both bush and pole beans as well as peas and related legumes grow well with lettuce. In one study Okra and Lettuce + Squash and lettuce planted in conjunction with beans produced yields of 45 -66% higher than those of beans planted by themselves.

Exceptions to this are with crops susceptible to field history of white mold a plant fungus. Beans should not be preceded by tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, crucifer crops, or bean (including soybean). To reduce fungal sclerotia – white mold. Snap Beans being highest on list of beans to be avoided in rotation with lettuce. See- Production guide for Organic Snap Beans –

Broccoli – Lettuce and broccoli go well together and this combination enables you to achieve a more diverse garden within a very finite space.

Brocolli and Lettuce can be planted relatively close together, even inter-planted without fear of competition for nutrients and space. Their root systems grow at different depths and draw nutrients from different levels of the soil.

Basil

Basil – it is claimed enhances the flavor and growth of garden crops, especially tomatoes and lettuce. This may or may not be an Old wives tale, as there is no proof of this.

Carrots

Carrots grow much deeper into the soil than lettuce. They draw moisture and nutrient from varying levels are are not in competition. Lettuce matures more rapidly than carrots, allowing you to harvest amounts on a daily basis. Planting a row of lettuce between every other row of carrots they work well together and their foliage will add an aesthetic appeal. Using various varieties of lettuce will also add to the effect.

The lettuce serves a semi- living mulch and helps retain soil moisture. Planting them together benefits both.

Quick Guide to Growing Lettuce

  • Plant lettuce during the mild weather of early spring and fall. This nutritious, leafy green is a great option for in-ground gardening, raised garden beds, and containers.
  • Space lettuce plants 6 to 18 inches apart (depending on the variety) in an area that gets an abundance of sun and has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Well-hydrated lettuce will bear tender leaves, so keep moisture levels consistent by watering whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry.
  • Prevent weeds and make your watering efforts last longer by applying a thick layer of mulch made from finely ground leaves or bark.
  • Promote excellent leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
  • Harvest leaf lettuce starting with the outermost leaves once they are large enough to eat.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Although lettuce grows fastest in full sun, it is one of the few vegetables that tolerates some shade. In fact, a spring crop often lasts longer if shaded from the afternoon sun as the season warms. You can grow lots of lettuce in a small space, even a container. Mix it with other taller plants, such as tomatoes in the spring, or grow a mix of different varieties for a living salad bowl.

Give lettuce fertile, well-drained, moist soil with plenty of rich organic matter and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. To check pH, test the soil with a purchased kit, or get a soil test through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Fertilize and lime according to test recommendations.

If you don’t do a soil test, then assume that the soil isn’t ideal. Add nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure, or simply mix in Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Vegetables & Herbswith the top few inches of your native soil. When growing lettuce in pots, give the roots their ideal growing environment by filling the containers with a premium quality potting mix such as Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. Leaf lettuce needs nitrogen to grow tender, new leaves quickly, so fertilize throughout the growing season with Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed® Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Plant Food.

Lettuces: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

“Lettuce” is synonymous with “salad” for people all over the world. It’s by far the world’s most popular salad plant and has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years.

About lettuces
The uninitiated may think lettuce is lettuce. Not so! There’s a wonderful diversity of varieties. Each has a distinct flavor, texture and color, so you can have remarkably different salads just by varying the lettuces you use. Lettuce is a cool-weather crop. Sow seeds as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring and follow with small sowings at 10- to 14-day intervals until late spring in warm summer areas or early summer in the North.

Choosing a site to grow lettuces
Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Light midday shade can extend the harvest season. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.

Planting Instructions
For earliest harvest, start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date and set them out after 3 weeks. Sow seeds indoors 1/2 inch apart, 1/4 inch deep, in 4-inch-deep flats. Set out transplants spaced 3 to 4 inches apart for leaf lettuce, 6 to 8 inches for Cos and loose-headed types, and 12 to 16 inches for firm-headed types such as head lettuce. Plant seeds outdoors in beds or rows 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
Plant heat-resistant lettuce varieties for late spring sowings, and choose a semi-shaded area to extend the harvest into the summer. Start fall crops in flats or directly in the garden in midsummer in northern states and in late summer in central and southern gardens.

Ongoing Care
Mulch plants in early summer to keep the soil cool. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Insects and diseases are rare in home lettuce plantings. However, contact your local County Extension office for controls of common lettuce pests such as slugs, earwigs and whiteflies.

How to harvest lettuces
Harvest leaf lettuce as soon as leaves are big enough to eat. For a steady harvest, cut heading types before they reach full size. Harvest in early morning when leaves are crisp and full of moisture.

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