Companion planting is a traditional gardening technique where crops that can mutually benefit one another are planted close together. It is a non-invasive way of controlling pests, nutrient availability in the soil, and attracting pollinators.
Garlic is a popular companion plant because it emits a powerful smell that acts as a natural deterrent to many common pests, and the bulbs create a build up of sulfur in the soil, which is a natural fungicide.
Planting different species of plants together in a bed is called intercropping, and mimics the way plants grow in a natural ecosystem, creating diversity and resilience to threats. Garlic is an easy plant to intercrop, as it takes up very little space and is simple to plant.
Keep in mind that garlic is a cool weather plant that usually goes in the ground during the fall or spring, and it likes soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter.
Garlic is a favorite in the garden with the vast majority of garden plants, but there are a few that don’t thrive when planted nearby garlic.
Before you map out your new plant pairings to you can plant next to garlic, let’s dig a little deeper into which plants enjoy garlic companions and what to avoid planting next to garlic.
The Benefits of Companion Planting with Garlic
First, let’s look over some of the benefits companion planting has for garlic and garlic has for other plants, which will certainly inspire you to get going if you are new to the technique.
1. Improves the soil
All plants feed on the nutrients available in the soil, and a characteristic of companion plants is that they usually require different nutrients from the soil or uptake them from different depths, so they are not competing and the nutrients are not quickly depleted.
Some companion plants, like nitrogen fixing legumes, will leave the soil richer than they found it, which creates healthier and more diverse soil over time.
Garlic bulbs release sulphur in the soil which can reduce the likelihood of fungal infections for nearby plants as they absorb it through their roots.
2. Controls insect pests
Many pests are species specific and use scent to navigate, and when other strong smelling plants are grown near their target, they get confused or deterred by an unfamiliar scent.
Garlic has a very powerful odor that it releases into the air through volatile oils, and many common garden pests will stay away from it. An effective insecticidal spray can be made by steeping garlic cloves in water.
3. Attracts beneficial insects and pollinators
Planting pollen and nectar rich flowering plants nearby plants you want pollinated will encourage pollinators to service those plants.
Similarly, if you want to attract insects that help the garden by eating pests, like ladybugs who eat aphids, you can grow plants they like nearby the crop that is suffering a pest invasion.
This means that you don’t have to apply insecticides which often kill the beneficial insects and well as the pests.
4. Encourages growth
When a plant has lots of nutrients available in the soil, space to grow, and few pests, it will grow faster and healthier. Some companion plants can even release chemicals underground that stimulate faster growth for specific species.
Garlic takes up very little space with one small bulb underground and a tall, fairly narrow stem, which makes it well suited to plant in spaces where there isn’t much room but pests or fungi are a problem that need to be addressed
5. Creates a living mulch
Weeds are a common competitor with most plants, including garlic, and staggering different sized plants to grow next to each other can suppress the growth of weeds.
Low growing greens and flowers that spread out across the soil can be grown next to taller plants creating a living mulch that is cheap and edible.
Weeds can affect the growth of garlic so mulching the bulbs with low-lying crops is important.
6. Creates markers and organization
Intercropping faster growing plants between slower growing ones can create helpful markers of where seeds have been planted and provide staggered harvesting from one bed.
For example, radishes are often grown in between carrot seeds as they pop up soon and can clearly delineate the rows you have planted.
Garlic stems, called scapes, can be used like stakes to delineate borders or edges of garden beds.
7. Provides shade and support
Many plants require support to grow, and a famous Native American example of companion planting is the Three Sisters trio: pole beans, corn, and squash.
The pole beans climb up the tall corn stalk, and the large, flat squash leaves shade the soil, keeping it cool and moist.
This can be copied with garlic, as it also grows upright out of the soil and gets fairly tall (although not as tall as corn), and it shouldn’t be grown with beans.
Climbing flowers like nasturtiums pair well with garlic as a support system, and they help shade and mulch the soil around the garlic bulb.
14 Great Companion Plants for Garlic
There are a number of plants that will be mutually beneficial when grown with garlic, including a number of fruits, veggies, and flowers. Here are some of the most common ones by category:
Vegetables and Fruits That Grow Well With Garlic
Plant garlic around these crops or use it to create borders and define corners in rows and beds.
1. Fruit Trees
When garlic is planted around fruit trees the sulfur it produces can be absorbed by the tree roots and this prevents fungal infections inside the trees.
Garlic can also protect apple trees from apple scab and peach trees from developing leaf curl, but is a good companion to all fruit trees. Try planting it in the spring in a circle around the trunks of the trees.
A cool weather plant that pairs well with garlic, beets suck up nutrients from a different soil level than garlic so they won’t be competing with each other.
Many gardeners say that garlic will enhance the rich flavour of beetroot when planted nearby. Garlic can also prevent fungal infections on beets and repels gophers and moles from digging around them.
There is some disagreement over whether cabbage is a good companion for garlic, but it makes this list because it repels many of the primary pests that attack cabbages, including Japanese beetles, cabbage loopers, cabbage worms and moths, and aphids.
If planted at the same time they will mature together in the summer, which makes them well suited to sharing a space.
Spinach and garlic make a great pair because they are both cold hardy plants that can share a bed in the spring and fall.
Spinach grows low to the ground and helps control the weeds around garlic plants, and other low-growing greens can be used as well to increase diversity.
Do multiple plantings throughout the season as they have a much quicker turnaround than garlic does.
Intercropping potatoes and garlic has been cited to reduce potato blight even more effectively than using fungicides.1 Potatoes are developed through the roots and are very receptive to the sulphur garlic bulbs put out.
The strong smell of garlic will also deter or confuse pests that prey on potatoes, like the japanese beetle, so try planting it around your potato hills in a circle.
Carrots are another cool weather crop like garlic, so they can be planted together in the fall or spring. They also require the same method of harvesting where you take a pitch fork and go down the length of the row lifting the soil underneath before pulling the crop out by its stem or stalk.
They are mutually beneficial as carrots discourage common garlic pests, and in return garlic keeps away the destructive carrot rust fly.
Plant a border of garlic alongside your tomato row to deter spider mites and aphids, and it can also improve the flavour of the fruits.
Garlic also grows well with other members of the Nightshade family like peppers and eggplant, all of which are more heat loving than garlic.
To account for this, try planting multiple rows of garlic in the fall to overwinter, and then some harvest young garlic in the late spring and fill the spaces with tomatoes, peppers or eggplant. This will protect the plants when they are young from harmful pests.
Kale is a cool weather crop that can be planted at the same time of year as garlic. Kale takes up little space as it grows upward, similar to garlic, leaving space to plant another beneficial crop like spinach.
Garlic also repels many species of aphid that commonly attack kale plants. Plant one after another in a row, or plant many cloves amongst a patch of kale.
Flower And Herb Plant Companions For Garlic
Don’t be afraid to put a garlic plant in amongst your colorful flower beds; the tall green stalk can even add to the visual aesthetic, as can the curly scapes that form in summer.
Nasturtiums are a climbing plant that will spread out wherever they can, and will climb on the garlic stalks for support. Nasturtiums will help garlic by mulching the ground around them and suppressing weed growth.
Additionally, many pests will lay their eggs on the underside of nasturtium leaves, and you can take advantage of this by removing and burning those leaves, interrupting the life cycle and eliminating garlic pests.
Garlic will deter insects that go after Marigolds, like spider mites and snails, and its strong smell will also ward off deer and rabbits that like to feast on these flowers. Geraniums also benefit from being planted with garlic for the same reasons.
Garlic repels common rose pests like spider mites, ants, and snails, and reduces the likelihood of the rose developing black spot. Plant a few cloves in a circle around your rose bush, and see the difference it makes.
Garlic repels the aphids that bother dill, and dill has been known to enhance the flavour of garlic bulbs. Since dill has a sensitive root system, try planting it in between rows of garlic so that they aren’t disturbed during your harvest.
Like dill, chamomile can enhance and strengthen the flavour of garlic bulbs. The smell of chamomile flowers can also cover up the smell of garlic, if that is something you don’t want in your garden.
Rue is a herb that actively improves the health of garlic (usually it’s the other way around), and it does this by driving away onion maggots which can devastate underground garlic bulbs.
The smell that rue emits is a repellent to onion flies, keeping them away from the garlic plants that they would try to lay their eggs on.
6 Plants to Avoid Planting with Garlic
Along with the beneficial plants, there are a few plants that do not like to be anywhere near garlic, and their growth can actually be stunted if grown together.
Here are some common plants to avoid planting with garlic:
Garlic will stunt the growth of beans if grown next to each other, including broad beans, bush beans, climbing beans, and most other legumes too.
Instead, rotate them and plant garlic where you had beans the previous season, as the garlic can benefit from nitrogen rich soil.
Garlic will stunt the growth of asparagus shoots and asparagus can contaminate the flavour of young garlic bulbs.
Additionally, asparagus is a perennial with a very sensitive and partially shallow root system that won’t enjoy being disrupted by frequent garlic plantings.
Sage is also known to stunt the growth of garlic bulbs, and as a woody perennial it won’t enjoy being distrubed by the planting and harvesting cycles of garlic.
Garlic and parsley will compete for resources in the soil and can stunt each other’s growth, keep them far away from each other!
It is a topic of debate whether strawberries can benefit or be hindered by garlic, as garlic will prevent spider mites and fungus but can also stunt the growth of the plant.
It is listed here as a non-beneficial plant pairing because garlic has been known to actually reduce the number of berries the plant produces, which is more harmful than light pest damage.
6. Other Alliums
Don’t plant your garlic cloves too close to other members of its family like onions and leek, as this can encourage onion maggots by giving them an underground feast. Disperse them throughout your garden to avoid encouraging maggots.
Companion planting can be an effective and low maintenance way of controlling pests and improving plant growth.
Garlic has many companions as it is a natural pest repellent, and should be dispersed throughout the garden for the best results.
Companion growing is nature’s way of supporting diversity, and is a simple way to create a biodiverse, healthy garden.
Updated on by Amber Noyes
Maja is a freelance content writer and avid gardener currently based in Southern Sweden. She gained her BA in Environment and Geography from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, which is also where she first learnt about the detriments of the industrialized agricultural system. During the summer she began farming through the WWOOF program, and over the next six years has continued to grow and learn at a number of organic farms and gardens across the US and Canada. She is passionate about the role of regenerative agriculture in wildlife conservation and climate change mitigation, and thinks growing your own food is a key part of revolutionizing the system. In her free time she likes to read, garden, and pet nice dogs.