Strawberry Companion Plants: 10 Compatible Plants for a Raised Bed

Strawberry Companion Plants
Image by Katharina N. from Pixabay

Growing strawberries in raised beds is a great way to ensure a bountiful harvest. However, to maximize the yield and health of your strawberry plants, it’s important to choose the right companion plants. Companion planting is the practice of growing different plants together to benefit each other. In this article, we’ll explore the 10 best companion plants for strawberries in raised beds.

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The Benefits of Companion Planting for Strawberries

Sure, you could grow strawberries solo, but why settle for a bland solo act when you can have a full-fledged rock band of beneficial plants? Companion planting offers a treasure trove of advantages:

  • Pest Patrol: Forget harsh chemicals! Certain plants, like garlic and chive, emit pungent aromas that repel unwanted guests, keeping your strawberries safe from harmful insects.
  • Nutrient Boost: Legume companions like beans and peas enrich the soil with nitrogen, a vital nutrient for healthy strawberry growth and bountiful harvests. They’re nature’s personal trainers for your berries!
  • Moisture Magic: Ground covers like lettuce and spinach help retain moisture around your strawberries, especially crucial during hot, dry spells. Think of them as natural water-saving devices!
  • Pollination Party: Blooming companions like alyssum and borage attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, ensuring your strawberries get the love they need to set more fruit. It’s a pollination party your berries won’t soon forget!
  • Space Optimization: By strategically choosing smaller companions that thrive in the shade cast by your strawberries, you can maximize your raised bed’s potential, transforming it into a miniature vertical garden.

10 Best Companion Plants for Strawberries in Raised Beds

Ready to create a raised bed masterpiece? Here are 10 compatible companions to get you started:

1. Garlic: This pungent powerhouse repels harmful insects like aphids and whiteflies, while its shallow roots won’t compete with your strawberries for space. Plant it around the perimeter of your raised bed for maximum pest-deterring power.

2. Borage: These beautiful blue flowers act as living decoys, attracting aphids away from your precious berries. Plus, their star-shaped flowers add a touch of whimsical charm to your garden.

3. Chives: Not just for dips! Chives release an aroma that deters unwanted insects and attracts beneficial ones like ladybugs, nature’s own pest control squad. Snip some for your next omelet while they safeguard your strawberries.

4. Nasturtiums: These cheerful blooms attract beneficial insects and act as living decoys, luring pests away from your strawberries. Their edible flowers and leaves add a peppery kick to salads, too!

5. Beans: These nitrogen-fixing legumes enrich the soil, providing essential nutrients for your strawberries. Choose bush beans for compact growth and plant them alongside your strawberries for a space-saving solution.

6. Lettuce: This leafy green thrives in the partial shade cast by taller strawberry plants, making efficient use of space. Plus, you can harvest lettuce throughout the season, enjoying a delicious side dish alongside your homegrown berries.

7. Spinach: Similar to lettuce, spinach thrives in partial shade and helps retain moisture around your strawberries. Enjoy fresh spinach salads throughout the spring and early summer.

8. Alyssum: This low-growing carpet of white flowers attracts beneficial insects like parasitic wasps, natural enemies of tomato worms that can also bother strawberries. It also helps suppress weeds, keeping your raised bed neat and tidy.

9. Marigolds: These vibrant blooms not only deter pests like whiteflies and thrips, but their marigold roots trap and kill nematodes that love feasting on strawberry roots. Plant them generously around your raised bed for a colorful, protective barrier.

10. Herbs: Don’t forget the herbs! Mint, basil, and oregano release fragrant oils that repel certain pests while attracting beneficial insects. Plus, they add a burst of flavor to your culinary creations.

Planting Alongside Your Strawberries: A Guide to Companion Planting Times

Companion planting is a great way to boost the health and productivity of your strawberry patch. Here’s a breakdown of the ideal planting times for some of the best companion plants for strawberries:

Spring (same time as strawberries):

  • Garlic, chives: These alliums repel pests like aphids and slugs with their strong scent.
  • Beans, peas: Legumes like beans and peas fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting nearby strawberries.
  • Lettuce, spinach: Low-growing greens provide ground cover and help suppress weeds.
  • Alyssum: This flowering herb attracts beneficial insects like hoverflies that prey on pests.
  • Herbs (mint, basil, oregano): Many herbs can thrive alongside strawberries, though mint can be invasive so plant it in a pot.

Early Summer:

  • Borage: The beautiful blue flowers of borage attract pollinators and may even improve strawberry growth with their trace minerals. Plant borage after your strawberry plants are established to avoid competition for sunlight.
  • Nasturtiums: These vibrant flowers act as a trap crop, attracting pests away from your strawberries. Plant nasturtiums after your strawberry plants establish themselves a bit.

Around the Perimeter of the Raised Bed:

  • Marigolds: Plant marigolds throughout the growing season around the perimeter of your raised bed. Their strong scent deters pests like deer, rabbits, and nematodes.

How to Plant Companion Plants with Strawberries

Tape measureTo measure spacing between plants.
Soil test kitTo check your soil’s pH level.
Garden glovesTo protect your hands while planting.
Hand trowelFor digging planting holes.

When planting companion plants with strawberries, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Plant Spacing:
    • Make sure to leave enough space between your companion plants and strawberries so that they don’t compete for vital resources like nutrients and water.
    • Example 1: Strawberries vs. Bush Beans:
      • Mature strawberry plants can reach 8-12 inches wide.
      • Bush beans typically grow to about 12-18 inches tall and bushy.
      • A good spacing for these companions would be to plant the strawberries 12-15 inches apart, with rows of bush beans at least 18 inches away from the strawberry plants. This allows enough room for both plants to grow without competing for resources.
    • Example 2: Strawberries vs. Marigolds:
      • Marigolds come in various sizes, with dwarf varieties reaching 6-12 inches and taller types growing up to 3 feet.
      • Plant dwarf marigolds directly around the base of your strawberry plants for pest control without sacrificing space.
      • Taller marigolds should be planted at the perimeter of the bed, at least 18 inches from the strawberries, to avoid blocking sunlight.

Soil Requirements:

  • Match the companion plants’ soil needs to those of your strawberries.
  • Example: Strawberries thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
  • Companion plants like lettuce and spinach also prefer slightly acidic soil. These can be planted directly alongside your strawberries.
  • On the other hand, some herbs like lavender prefer more alkaline soil (pH 7.0 or higher). Planting lavender in a separate pot filled with appropriate soil mix and placing it near the strawberry patch can still offer some pest-repelling benefits without affecting the strawberries’ soil conditions.

Sun Exposure:

  • Example: As mentioned earlier, strawberries need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Low-growing companion plants like alyssum or creeping thyme can be tucked in between strawberry plants without casting much shade.
  • Taller companions like borage or nasturtiums should be planted strategically towards the north side of the strawberry bed to minimize shade on the strawberry plants during the hottest part of the day.

Plants to Avoid Planting with Strawberries

There are some plants that should be avoided when planting with strawberries, including:

  • Brassicas: Plants in the brassica family, such as broccoli and cabbage, can attract pests that are harmful to strawberries.
  • Nightshades: Plants in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers, can attract pests that are harmful to strawberries.
  • Fennel: Fennel can release chemicals that are harmful to strawberries.

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