Pepper companion planting: good & bad neighbours for pepper plants

Verena
Verena
Verena
Verena

I grew up on a small, organic family farm and after a gap year spent working on an American ranch, I started studying agricultural science. Soil, organic farming practices, and plant science are what I am most drawn to. At home, when I'm not in our garden, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our harvested fruits and vegetables.

Favorite fruit: Even if a bit boring - apples
Favorite vegetables: Bell peppers, red beets, zucchini, white cabbage

A bountiful pepper harvest from your own garden is not very easy to achieve. A key aspect in achieving this is having the right neighbours who have a beneficial impact on the pepper plants. Learn all about pepper companion planting.

Dark coloured peppers in garden
When growing peppers in your garden, the question of which plants make good companions arises quickly

Companion planting, or polyculture, is one of the most natural gardening methods. Yet what has been established in nature over many years can be difficult to imitate in the garden. The interactions between plants in a polyculture are many and varied and are still not completely understood. Recommendations for good and bad neighbours for sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum) have emerged mainly from many years of cultivation experience. This is also the reason why some information varies from source to source. You can only be sure whether or not something works well in your garden after you have tried it yourself.

Pepper companion planting: these plants work best in a polyculture

Sweet peppers or simply peppers belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes other plants frequently seen in the garden, such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) and physalis (Physalis peruviana). The best companion plants for peppers are members of a different plant family, which have similar location preferences but lower nutrient requirements. Ideally, they have additional benefits for the sweet peppers:

For example, a good companion plant for peppers is garlic (Allium sativum). The pungent essential oils it contains can, among other things, prevent aphid infestation.

If you want to grow other vegetables together with peppers, then carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) or onions (Allium cepa) are good choices. Lettuces, especially varieties that grow well in semi-shade, are also great companion plants for peppers.

The numerous types of brassicas are also commonly recommended as good companion plants for pepper plants. It is possible that these plants do not have a negative impact on each other but bear in mind that cabbage draws a lot of nutrients from the soil. As a result, it is probable that the pepper plants will fail. So, if you grow peppers together with cabbage, then you will need to feed them sufficiently.

Plants that attract insects, thus enabling more pepper flowers to be pollinated, are borage (Borago officinalis), chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), calendula (Calendula officinalis) and marigold (Tagetes). In addition, many insect pests find the odour of chamomile and marigold unpleasant, causing them to stay away from your pepper plants. Calendulas and marigolds prevent nematodes from reproducing and thus contribute to chemical-free nematode control in the garden. Herbs that are good companions for peppers include basil (Ocimum basilicum), parsley (Petroselium crispum) and dill (Anethum graveolens).

Peppers growing in greenhouse
Peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are often grown together

In many vegetable gardens, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are planted together simply because they all go into the bed at about the same time, have similar location requirements and are usually grown on trellises or staked. But can you really grow peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes together? Opinions on this vary. The three have been described as everything from good, neutral to bad neighbours. In any case, remember that peppers and tomatoes belong to the same plant family, the nightshade family. As a result, the two are likely to compete for nutrients and are susceptible to the same diseases and pests. Nevertheless, with proper care and crop management, peppers and tomatoes usually make great companion plants. There are rarely any problems with cucumbers; the only issue is that cucumbers can quickly become infested with mildew, which can then easily spread to your pepper plants. In order to improve the soil, which is heavily stressed after this crop, sow a green manure in autumn after removing the plants. The soil cover, root penetration and possible nitrogen fixation have a positive effect on many soil properties.

Tip: Good neighbours alone do not guarantee a bountiful pepper harvest. It is critical to properly care for and feed your pepper plants. This includes tailored fertilisation, especially if you plant peppers alongside tomatoes and cucumbers. Pepper plants are nourished optimally with our Plantura Tomato Food, which has a long-term effect. In addition to its optimal nutrient composition, it is predominantly organic, animal-free and effective for three months.

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In a raised bed, various herbs such as basil, parsley or dill are good companions for peppers. Lettuce, carrots and onions also make good neighbours for peppers in a raised bed.

Bad companion plants for peppers: these plants are bad neighbours

Although there are many good neighbours for peppers, there are also some plants that do not make good companions. Some examples of poor neighbours for peppers include peas (Pisum sativum), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), beetroot (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris var. conditiva), aubergine (Solanum melongena), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), courgettes (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo convar. giromontiina) and celery (Apium graveolens). Many of these vegetables are said to inhibit the growth of pepper plants or compete with them for nutrients. Moreover, they may be affected by the same diseases.

Harvested peppers and courgettes
Despite their culinary harmony, peppers and courgettes should not be planted together in the garden [Photo: Andrew S/ Shutterstock.com]

Good companion plants for peppers at a glance:

  • Borage
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Chamomile
  • Marigold

Bad companion plants for peppers:

  • Peas
  • Fennel
  • Beetroot
  • Aubergine
  • Potatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Pumpkins
  • Celery

Crop rotation for peppers

Since pepper plants need warmth, they are not planted in the bed until May. This means there is still time to plant some fast-growing crops. The first batches of lettuce and radishes (Raphanus sativus var. sativus) have usually already left the bed by the time the pepper plants are planted in May. When the pepper plants leave the bed around September, there is still time to plant some low-yielding, cold-tolerant crops, such as spinach (Spinacia oleracea). After growing peppers, a green manure such as mustard (Brassica) or clover grass is a good choice to support the soil. When it comes to peppers, wait at least three to four years before planting them in the same spot. This prevents soil depletion as well as repeated disease infestation.

Kohlrabi growing in garden bed
Early varieties of kohlrabi are a suitable precrop for peppers [Photo: giedre vaitekune/ Shutterstock.com]