In this article: Learn which crops are the best cabbage companion plants to increase your harvest, reduce pests, and improve cabbage flavor.
Companion planting with your cabbage can help your plants grow better, taste better, and have less problems with pests and disease. So how does companion planting work? What can you grow with your cabbage in your vegetable garden and what should be kept far away?
First off, cabbage is a member of the brassica family. Other brassicas include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Below you will find a list of cabbage companion plants that you can grow alongside your cabbage plants to prevent pests, improve flavor, and save space. Plus a list of what you should keep separate from your cabbage bed.
If you are just getting started growing cabbage check out my article on How to Grow Cabbage from Seed for tips on getting started.
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a gardening wisdom that has says that when certain plants are grown together, you can get increased yields, better flavor, less disease and fewer pests.
It is a time honored way to grow an organic garden without having to resort to fertilizers and pesticides.
For example, let’s say you are talking about tomatoes. Maybe you have trouble with aphids or spider mites on your plants each year. This is your host plant.
You would choose a companion plant (or 2) that helps deter these pests away from your tomatoes. You can also choose a companion plant that helps improve the flavor of your tomatoes too.
Here are just some of the ways that companion planting can help you in your garden:
- Attract beneficial insects and pollinators
- Reduce, repel, or trap pests
- Save space and time
- Provide living mulch
- Conserve water
- Improving the soil
Now that you know what companion planting is, how can you use it while growing cabbage?
Best Cabbage Companion Plants
Remember that cabbage is a brassica, so it’s fair to assume that if the following plants can be grown with cabbage, they can also be grown with other brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, or kale.
Onions are one of the best companion plants for cabbage.
Onions can help repel lots of pests that can feed on your cabbage such as cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, and aphids.
Garlic is actually one of the pest natural pest deterrents you can plant in your garden. It’s very pungent and can confuse the sense of smell or repel many insects.
Like onions garlic can help repel lots of pests that can feed on your cabbage such as cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, and cabbage maggots.
Peas are legumes which mean they fix nitrogen in the soil. Cabbage is a heavy feeder and needs lots of nitrogen to help them grow.
Peas and cabbage are also both cool season crops. Planting peas beside cabbage can also provide cabbage with some much needed shade in the afternoon.
Nasturtium is a great all purpose companion plant for almost every plant in your garden.
They are great for bringing in beneficial insects, provide ground cover, and repel lots of different pests.
Like nasturtium, marigolds are also a good companion for the entire garden. I plant them in almost every bed and sprinkle them throughout the entire garden.
For cabbages, marigold can help repel cabbage worms.
The root systems for both cabbage and spinach are located at different layers in the soil.
This means they don’t compete for nutrients and water and can happily grow side by side.
7. Aromatic Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage are great for repelling common cabbage pests.
They can help deter and repel cabbage worms, cabbage butterflies, and cabbage loopers.
Carrots and cabbage make great companions because they have similar temperature needs (both like cooler weather) and different growth habits.
Carrots grow mostly underground, while cabbage has shallow roots and takes up more above ground space.
There is some research that says carrots can help deter the cabbage root fly.
Like carrots, beets are a cool weather crop that grows mostly underground, leaving more room above ground for cabbages to grow.
When beets are harvested, leave the greens in the garden to decompose to provide magnesium to the soil- and to your cabbages.
Celery can help deter the cabbage moth butterfly- which is one of the most destructive pests to cabbage.
The aromatic nature of celery keeps the pests at bay and cabbages can help protect young celery from wind damage.
11. Bush Beans
Like peas, beans are also legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil.
They can also provide shade for cabbages in the afternoon.
I recommend planting beans along the outside of your cabbage patch.
12. Other Brassicas
Almost all brassicas have the same needs in terms of nutrients and water requirements. That means they can all grow well together.
So go ahead and plant your cabbage with your broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
13. Annual Herbs
Aromatic annual herbs such as dill and cilantro are great for repelling the cabbage moth.
When allowed to flower, Dill will also bring in beneficial insects such as lacewings!
Geranium can help keep cabbage worms away from your cabbage.
Plus they can bring in beneficial insects to your garden!
What NOT to Companion Plant with Cabbage
Strawberries are heavy feeders that will compete with cabbage for nutrients in the soil.
They both have shallow roots and share some common pests.
Large cabbage plants will also shade out the sun-loving berries.
Tomatoes and cabbages will compete for nutrients in the soil.
Cabbage tends to stunt tomatoes when they are grown too close together.
Peppers are in the same family as tomatoes and has the same relationship with cabbage.
Peppers will not thrive near cabbage- or other brassicas.
Corn provides too much shade for sun-loving cabbage.
Cabbage Companion Plants to Test for Yourself
Companion planting is like one big experiment in your garden.
Sometimes research and experiences gives conflicting advice as to whether or not plants can go together or not.
Here are a couple of cabbage companions to try out in your garden and see if they work or not:
Keeping good garden records (such as in the Companion Planting Binder) is key for companion planting success- so write down your pairs each year and what results you saw!