Companion Planting

Companion Planting is an idea as old as gardening itself. It is the notion that plants have some effect on others in the garden. It was not until recently that researchers began looking into the possibility of plant interaction. Results are still inconclusive, but in a number of controlled experiments, it has been found that some plants do indeed influence the health and growth of their neighbors. There are several ways a plant can affect another: It can attract beneficial insects, repel pests, cause a chemical reaction (these plants ‘love’ to be together), enrich the soil, shade the soil and help maintain moisture, and there are also claims that some can even improve the taste of their neighbor plant. Early gardeners considered the dandelion a good companion plant in orchards and in the vegetable patch. It has now been found that dandelions exude ethylene, a gas that encourages the setting and rippening of fruit.

As in any neighborhood, there are good neighbors and bad neighbors…Gardeners have long claimed that many plants, from the tiniest to the largest, have been considered enemies in the garden. Scientists are now uncovering evidence that some plants do practice chemical warfare on their neighbors. They accomplish this by giving off chemicals known as ‘phytotoxins’, that inhibit the growth or development of these plants. For example, the black walnut tree exudes a chemical called ‘juglone’ that prevents the growth of many plants nearby. This phenomenon is called ‘allelopathy’ and much research is being devoted to it. The research thus far has confirmed that these toxins are specific and only harm certain species. Clearly, much more work is needed to scientifically confirm all the claims, but if you find that a plant is not growing well in a particular location, and soil, water, and light are correct, you may want to look at its neighbors…

The following information has been compiled from various sources for your enjoyment, but it does not offer any guarantees: these suggestions may or may not work under your particular circumstances. It may, however, present a guideline worth investigating or provide the base for interesting experiments.


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6691 Livernois Rd.
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Flushing Lawn & Garden Center


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Flushing, MI 48433-2159
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