Lavender Companion Plants | Good and The Bad

This gloriously fragrant perennial herb is the epitome of summer and is the perfect addition to gardens, raised beds or containers. Lavender (genus Lavandula) is a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance plant which will reward the grower with stunning purple flowers year after year.  

As with most plants, the health and vigour of this beautiful herb can be enhanced when companion planting is practised in and around its growing space.

However, lavender is very particular when it comes to growing conditions which means there are good and bad companion plants to grow alongside this aromatic perennial. Choosing the right combination can therefore be a little challenging. 

This is why I’ve done the hard work for you and provided lots of useful information to help you choose the right companions for your lavender plants.

What Exactly is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the practice of growing different plant species in close proximity with the overall goal being to benefit one or both plants. 

Used the world over, this is a method that has been practised by gardeners for centuries and can be truly beneficial for any garden or growing space.

Traditionally used in respect of vegetable gardens, companion planting can also be implemented in flower gardens too. 

This natural growing technique is a wonderful alternative to using chemicals to deter pests, will maximize the use of the garden, can increase the amount harvested or grown, and is cost-effective too.

A very good example of companion planting is known as The Three Sisters method. This practice dates back hundreds of years and is still used today to grow beans, squash and sweetcorn.

The squash plant grows at the base of the beans and sweetcorn to provide shade to their roots thanks to a large canopy of leaves. This also acts as a weed suppressant and will keep the soil moist in hot conditions. 

The tall sturdy sweetcorn plants provide a natural support structure for climbing beans to cling to as they mature.

Lastly, the beans fix much-needed nitrogen in the soil which benefits both the sweetcorn and squash plants. The harmony in which they grow makes ‘The Three Sisters’ a perfect companion planting combination.

Companion Planting Benefits

This growing technique is organic and is a great way to mimic a natural ecosystem. It improves biodiversity in and around the growing area by attracting natural predators, pollinators and lots of other beneficial insects.  

Some other benefits of companion planting are:

Pest Management: For the many gardeners who are conscious of the negative impact that using chemicals can have, companion planting can help to eradicate unwanted pests without the use of pesticides.  

With a few clever planting combinations such as fragrant herbs or strongly scented onions, pests can be deterred or even diverted away from precious food crops.

Improved flavour: Homegrown produce is known for its fabulous flavour, but did you know that using companion planting is a great way to give fruits and vegetables an extra boost? 

There are a few planting combinations – such as borage and strawberries – that improve those everyday food staples simply by using completely organic methods and eliminating the need for chemicals. In this instance, the beautiful blue star-shaped borage flowers attract pollinators but will also sweeten the strawberries. 

Another classic example is growing basil alongside lettuce plants and tomatoes. This wonderfully aromatic herb will enhance the flavour of its companions and also means that when it’s harvest time, the basil, tomatoes and lettuce can be picked and enjoyed together at mealtime.

Improved Soil Health: It is possible that the right planting combination can improve the health of the soil! In fact, one of the best companion plant choices and a known soil improver 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 fixed into the soil. This benefits neighbouring crops and promotes the growth of healthy, strong plants that are better equipped to withstand pest attacks or diseases.

Selecting Companion Plants

Whilst this gardening technique can be extremely advantageous, there are disadvantages too and so before introducing plant combinations to your growing space, a little forethought is required. 

For example, when certain plants are grouped together the chances of a pest attack can be increased if both sets of plants are vulnerable to the same pest. 

This is also true if the chosen plants are prone to the same diseases or afflictions. It’s best to keep in mind that any plants in close proximity can make disease transfer more likely, especially easily transmissible diseases such as mildew or rust for example.

You will also need to consider what growing conditions each plant prefers to avoid compromising the health of one or both. For example, plants such as blueberries with a preference for very acid soil will not grow well with lettuces that have a preference for neutral soils. 

Another instance of poor companion plant selection could be pairing a plant with a love of moist growing conditions with one which thrives in very hot, arid conditions.

Best Lavender Companion Plants

Lavender is a popular companion plant choice for many fruits and vegetables thanks to its strong fragrance. Indeed many species of intensely scented plants can help hide a partnering plant in plain sight, confusing and diverting any nearby pests away. 

When selecting plants to accompany growing lavender, make sure to avoid plants that have a preference for clay soil and moist conditions. Instead, opt for species that can tolerate hot, arid conditions and even poor soil. 

Other successful companion plant choices are those varieties which will assist the lavender to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. This will encourage and help maintain biodiversity and natural predators, so partnering brightly coloured and aesthetically pleasing flowers will work very well.

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

Flowers and Herbs

Sage: Just like lavender, sage is a perfumed herb native to the Mediterranean with a preference for poor soil conditions. Sage will make great use of space when partnered with lavender thanks to its tolerance to drought and love of Stoney, free draining soil. 

Echinacea: Also known as Coneflowers, these fragrant beauties make a great companion plant since they are loved by pollinators and gardeners alike. A cold, heat and drought-tolerant flower that will bloom throughout summer adding height and colour to the garden in wonderful contrast to the blue hue of lavender flowers.

Thyme: A perennial herb with a preference for the same severe growing conditions as lavender. Interplanting naturally smaller thyme plants around lavender will maximize the amount of growing space used, and will add more colour and encourage pollinators.

Rosemary: Rosemary is the perfect companion to lavender as they have almost exactly the same growing requirements so space is used efficiently and less time is spent tending to individual plant needs. 

Thanks to its strong aroma, using rosemary as a companion plant attracts more pollinators, deters unwanted insects such as aphids and white fly and can also deter rabbits and deer.

Alliums: Allium flowers are tolerant of drought and enjoy full sun much the same as lavender making them perfect growing partners. The tall allium flowers will naturally stand to attention alongside lavender, creating an aesthetically pleasing variation in height.

Alliums

Yarrow: Ordinarily in moist fertile growing conditions yarrow plants have a tendency to overgrow and become unruly. However, when planted in free-draining sandy soil with lavender it actually tames the yarrow plants and controls their growth. 

The contrasting colour combination of these two flowering plants makes for a striking display and will also attract more pollinators.

Oregano: The petit nature of oregano plants makes them perfect for interplanting with lavender to make great use of space. Oregano will also attract natural predators such as lacewings and ladybugs which will prey on undesirable pests like white flies and aphids.

Bad Companion Plants For Lavender

There are bad companion plants for lavender which when planted together can have a detrimental effect on both sets of plants and are best avoided. Here are some of the worst offenders:

Mint: In many scenarios, mint makes a perfect growing companion to lots of fruit and vegetable varieties thanks to its strong aroma. However, it needs moist nutrient-rich soil and is unable to tolerate the inhospitable growing conditions preferred by lavender. 

Impatiens: These bright and colourful annuals are a great addition to any garden, but unfortunately, they make for terrible lavender companions due to their love of shade. 

Hostas: Similar to Impatiens, hostas simply can’t be grown with lavender due to the need for shade. 

Pairing shade-loving plants with sun-loving herbs is a recipe for disaster, where one plant will thrive and the other will fail.

You may also be interested in reading 12 Wonderful Flowers That Look Like Lavender

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.