Companion planting is a strategy that farmers have used for thousands of years. Check out The Three Sisters to see a long going companion planting tradition.
Strawberries are soft fruits with a sweet pungent aroma. They are susceptible to many pests and diseases. By choosing their neighbors carefully you can help keep your strawberry plants healthy and their fruits untouched, hopefully!
So let’s take a look at which plants in the garden are helpful to strawberry plants, which are harmful, and why.
What To Companion Plant Next To Strawberries
Strawberries and Mint
Mint could be an effective companion plant if wild animal pests are a problem in your garden. Peppermint in particular is known to repel deer and rabbits, two animals that don’t mind grazing on tender strawberry plants. Thyme is also known to repel deer and rabbits.
One drawback is that mint varieties spread aggressively, thanks to their rhizome system. Try using mint as a border-only crop around your strawberries and prune the herb regularly. Or pair mint with a strawberry variety that produces lots of runners to help keep up with spreading mint plants.
Onions, Garlic, & Odiferous Herbs
Onions, garlic, mint, coriander, dill, and oregano all give off strong odors that repel insects and mask the aroma of strawberries. These are all great choices to plant near strawberries especially if you’re having pest problems.
This strawberry support or anything like it you can rig up can keep strawberries off the ground and further away from pests.
Strawberries and Blueberries
Blueberries are an appealing choice for companion planting next to strawberries. Their flowers attract lots of pollinators, while the blueberries themselves may sacrificially attract bird and mammal pests away from nearby strawberries.
Also, both plants are perennials with strawberries producing well for 3-4 years and blueberries starting to produce their third year and producing for 30-40 years after that.
Strawberry plants can be grown continuously by allowing runners to grow and establish new plants. Some gardeners like to move the patch of strawberries in the garden every 3-4 years anyway.
However, blueberries require more acidic soil than strawberries and they’re finicky about it. Blueberries need a soil pH of 4.5-5.5 to grow well. This is a serious problem and the downfall of many blueberry plants in gardens all over.
You can adjust the soil directly around the blueberry plants with aluminum sulfate or lots of other ways but it takes time to change soil pH, about a year to lower it one point.
Strawberries and Raspberries
Another popular fruit pairing, raspberries and strawberries do well planted next to each other. Mature raspberry canes are usually trained on a trellis; any strawberries growing between these trellises provide some nice wind cover.
In addition, certain raspberry varieties are practically immune to aphids meaning they couldn’t pass them on to nearby strawberries.
The bees and butterflies attracted by raspberry nectar will also pollinate your strawberries, making raspberries a multi-tasking neighbor.
Strawberries and Asparagus
Asparagus makes a long-lasting companion for strawberry plants. The asparagus root system grows deeper than the strawberry’s, sometimes reaching 10-15 feet deep. As a result, asparagus and strawberries are able to absorb nutrients from different levels of the same soil.
Both plants are perennials, so they can be planted in the same garden bed and left undisturbed through milder winters. This means asparagus and strawberries are an ideal pair for a permaculture garden.
Strawberries and Tomatoes
Tomatoes can be planted near strawberries, but with extra care. Strawberries and tomatoes can pass diseases to each other, the most common being Verticillium wilt. Thankfully there are many wilt-resistant varieties of tomatoes. Resistant varieties of both can grow well in the same garden plot, since both plants enjoy full sun and well-drained soil.
Strawberries and Marigolds
Finally, marigolds make an excellent companion for the strawberry. Vibrant marigold flowers will help attract bees to pollinate strawberries while their scent repels other insects and deer. Marigold roots even release a chemical that’s toxic to soil nematodes, a persistent pest for strawberry roots.
What Not To Plant Next To Strawberries
Brassica plants include vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Though they’re popular garden crops, brassicas also attract pests like aphids, caterpillars, and slugs.
Strawberry leaves are tender and low to the ground, making them an easy target for these insects, while slugs are happy to feed on ripe strawberries.
Strawberry plants are stoloniferous, meaning strawberries quickly spread as groundcover. June-bearing strawberry types especially put out a lot of runners. If your strawberries are a variety that puts off lots of runners, your brassica vegetables might fare better in a separate garden plot.
Another potential strawberry issue we mentioned earlier is Verticillium wilt. Nightshades like potatoes, eggplant, and even tomatoes are other hosts for this disease, which can quickly spread from them to nearby strawberries.
You should be careful planting strawberries in soil where these crops have been grown in the last 5 years. The fungus that causes Verticillium wilt can survive for many years once established in soil. If you want to plant your strawberries near a nightshade plant, tomatoes for example, consider choosing wilt-resistant varieties of both.
What To Plant In the Same Container as Strawberries
Strawberries are a favorite for container growing and even benefit from sharing their space with certain plants. Many herbs make a good choice, as their strong scents will repel pests or attract pollinators. Here are some helpful herbs to plant in the same container as your strawberries.
Borage is one of strawberry’s best herbal companions! Borage produces purple flowers that attract bees and wasps, both important pollinators for strawberries. The herb’s scent also repels cabbage loopers that may travel from nearby brassicas. Should your strawberries get crowded, borage’s shallow roots make it easy to thin.
Chives have a scent that repels aphids, tiny insects that can cause diseased spots on your strawberry’s leaves. Chives and strawberries are a great match for one container, since chives sprout tall and strawberries spread low on the soil. Both plants also prefer a neutral soil pH and plenty of full sun.
Garlic is an even better aphid repellent thanks to its pungent scent. That scent is partly caused by the sulfur-containing compound in garlic oil. This compound is used as a natural fungicide. Garlic spreads enthusiastically, so make sure you’re harvesting the cloves regularly to keep spacing good.
Sage’s fragrant purple flowers are known to attract syrphid flies These flies prey on aphids, keeping them away from your strawberry leaves. This makes sage a great companion herb for containers, since it attracts helpful insects to guard your strawberries.
Thyme grows in hundreds of flavorful varieties, and its scent repels deer and rabbits. Since strawberry leaves are a favorite food for deer, thyme makes a practical companion plant in strawberry containers.
The thyme flower is also nectar-rich and will attract bees to your garden. Great pollination means a great crop of strawberries, so consider adding thyme as a companion in your strawberry container.
Please comment below with your own thoughts or experiences on companion planting strawberries!