Companion Plants for Eggplants | Good and The Bad

Growing your own eggplants (Solanum melongena) is fun, rewarding, and incredibly easy to do. But, if you really want to improve the chances of a successful yield, then it’s a good idea to practice companion planting. 

It may surprise you to learn there are good and bad companion plants which can make choosing the right plants a little tricky. This is why, in this article, I’ve provided lots of useful information and advice to simplify this growing technique and help you choose the right companions for your eggplants.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion Planting is the practice of growing different plant species close to one another to benefit one or both plants. Companion planting is a traditional method practiced by gardeners across the globe and can be used to benefit plants in a number of different ways.

Companion planting is a great organic alternative to pesticides, is cost-effective and will utilize growing space much more efficiently thus increasing the amount which can be harvested.

A good example of companion planting is known as ‘The Three Sisters method. This practice is thought to be the oldest and most popular companion planting method used by gardeners and is used to grow beans, squash, and sweetcorn. 

The sweetcorn provides natural support for climbing beans and in return, the beans provide much-needed nitrogen in the soil which will benefit the sweetcorn and squash plants. 

The squash plant provides shade to the roots of the beans and sweetcorn by way of a large canopy of leaves which also acts as a weed suppressant to limit any competition for water and nutrients in the soil.

raised vegetables garden companion planting
Raised vegetables garden companion planting

The Benefits of Companion Planting

There are so many different benefits to companion planting. This completely organic and natural growing technique not only has positive effects on plants but can also improve biodiversity in and around the growing area, attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects.  

Some other benefits of companion planting are:

Improved flavor: Companion planting is a great way to give fruits and vegetables an added hit of flavor. With the right planting combination, everyday staples which are grown by most gardeners can be improved greatly using natural methods and without the need for the use of chemicals. 

Borage is renowned for being a perfect plant for attracting pollinators but will also sweeten a crop of strawberries when used as a companion plant. 

Another good example of flavor enhancement is growing basil amongst tomatoes and lettuce plants. An additional advantage of growing this wonderfully aromatic herb alongside tomato plants is that fruits can be harvested at the same time as the basil so they can be enjoyed together.

Pest Management: Gardeners are becoming more conscious of the negative impact pesticides have on the biodiversity which surrounds us not to mention the adverse effects chemicals can have on our health. This makes companion planting all the more appealing as some plants can be used for organic pest management. 

Fragrant plants such as onions and herbs can be used to mask the scent of other plants. Companions can also be used as sacrificial plants, with the sole purpose to lure pests away from main crops.

Improved Soil Health: Another clever and beneficial use of companion planting is to choose

plants that can improve the nutrient quality of the soil. 

A known soil improver and very popular amongst gardeners are plants from the ‘Fabaceae family; more commonly known as legumes, peas, or beans. 

Plants from this family absorb nitrogen from the air which is then converted and released into the soil which can benefit neighboring crops.

Choosing Companion Plants

Although extremely advantageous, there must always be some consideration when selecting companion plants – with the onus on each individual gardener and their growing environment.

A little research may be required to ascertain if the chosen plants require the same or similar growing conditions. For example – if one plant is shade-loving and the other thrives in full sun it will have adverse effects on the successful growth of one or both plants. 

Another instance of poor companion plant selection could be pairing a drought-loving plant with one that flourishes in moist, water-retentive soil. 

It is also worth remembering that whilst companion plants are hugely beneficial, they can have their own pests and diseases to contend with. If plants are grouped together which are vulnerable to the same pest, the chances of an attack will be increased. 

Similarly, if the selected plants are susceptible to mildew or rust and are planted in close proximity then disease transfer is highly likely.

Eggplants

Best Companion Plants for Eggplants

Some of the best companion plants for eggplants are fragrant or very strong-smelling plants that will help hide the eggplant in plain sight, confusing and diverting any nearby pests away from the crop. This method of pest deterrent will avoid the use of chemicals or pesticides and promotes sustainable organic growth. 

Eggplants are self-pollinating but will benefit from a little extra assistance by way of bees and other pollinating insects. So, in addition to pest-controlling companion plants, eggplants will also appreciate companions which attract such biodiversity.

Companion plants for eggplants can be used to assist healthy growth in many other ways and not just for pest control or pollination. 

For example, although eggplants can thrive in a sunny position their preferred temperature is between 70°F and 85°F. If growing conditions in a particular climate zone are consistently above this, eggplants will suffer and the plant will cease to produce fruit. 

To combat excessive heat, leafy greens can be grown in and around the eggplants which will create a shade barrier thus cooling the soil and roots of the plants which can aid growing during hot periods.

Here are some good examples of companion plants to grow with eggplants:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Tomatoes and peppers: Little nutritional or pest-controlling value is added to eggplants when grown with tomatoes and peppers. However, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants flourish in the same growing conditions, which will help utilize growing space more efficiently and save time when watering, feeding, and harvesting.
  • Lettuce and spinach: Growing these leafy greens amongst eggplants is a great way to keep soil and plant roots cooler during hot spells or in warmer climates and will also act as a weed suppressant. With shallow roots, the plants will create a cover of shade which will also help keep the soil moist and stop it from drying as quickly.
  • Peas, beans, and other legumes: Growing plants from the legumes family will fix nitrogen in the soil which eggplants can utilize to promote growth. If growing bush or climbing beans as companions, be sure not to allow them to shade the eggplants as this will stunt growth and slow fruit production.
  • Onion, garlic, and other alliums: Deter pests such as flea beetles by using plants from the allium family. These strongly scented plants can mask the scent of the eggplants and keep uninvited visitors away from the crop
  • Herbs and Flowers
  • Marigolds: Growing marigolds have a number of advantages that makes them a great choice as a companion plant. Not only do they add a splash of color they also attract pollinators which will assist with pollination. 
  • Their fragrance is also a perfect pest deterrent to help protect against pests such as white flies, flea beetles, and aphids.
  • Mint: All mint varieties can be a perfect partner for eggplants thanks to their extremely powerful scent. Much like marigolds, mint acts as a deterrent to confuse any passing pest, masking the natural scent of the eggplant. 
  • It is worth noting all mint is very invasive so consider growing in pots that can be buried at ground level to contain the roots or placed in pots nearby the eggplants.
  • Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are renowned for attracting aphids which makes them perfect to plant at ground level around eggplants. The nasturtiums will act as a sacrificial plant attracting any aphids away from the main eggplant crop. 
  • The foliage will also create ground cover acting as a weed suppressant, shade cover keeping the soil moist.

Bad Companion Plants For Eggplants

There are of course lots of bad companion plants. Avoid these as they can have a detrimental effect on your eggplant crop.

Here are some examples which should be avoided:

  • Geraniums: Leaf blight is an affliction suffered by both geraniums and eggplants. Avoid planting or growing these next to one another as this can increase the chance of disease transfer between plants.
  • Fennel: Fennel does not have many companion allies in the garden and is certainly one to avoid growing next to eggplants. Fennel is known to stunt the growth of eggplants and is best grown alone.
  • Sweetcorn: Although sweetcorn is not thought to have a negative impact directly on eggplants, it does compete for the same nutrients in the soil which affects plant growth. 

Tall sweetcorn plants will also shade eggplants, starving them of the much-needed sunlight the plant requires. 

Pests such as the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) also enjoy eating eggplant fruits, so if grown together worms are easily transferable resulting in a ruined eggplant crop.

You might also like to read Companion Plants for Grapes | Good and The Bad

Citations 

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.