So, you’ve decided to grow eggplant in your garden – a wonderful choice! But now, another decision remains ahead of you: what are you going to plant with it?
Every good gardener knows that there’s a method to the madness when it comes to pairing plants. After all, certain plants simply do better together than others – and if you play your cards right, you can take advantage of these benefits to grow healthier gardens and harvest bigger yields. Read on to learn about some of the best companion plants for eggplant.
Best Companion Plants for Eggplant
There are many plants that can be successfully grown alongside eggplant. However, they all generally share some of the same desirable qualities. Understanding what makes for the best companion plants for eggplant can help you to choose wisely.
For starters, since the eggplant is a notoriously heavy feeder, any plant that enriches or replenishes the soil can be a good companion for this nutrient-guzzling nightshade. Nitrogen-fixing plants and those that thrive on different soil nutrients than the eggplant may be particularly well-suited matches.
Furthermore, since eggplants have large leaves, it’s essential that anything planted next to them can tolerate at least partial shade. In turn, the companion shouldn’t shade out the sun-loving eggplant either.
Other good indicators of suitable companion plants for eggplant are those that enjoy a similar climate and growing conditions and those that can thrive in smaller spaces (since eggplants can be quite large). Plants with strong odors that naturally repel pests and attract pollinators are also a plus.
Having familiarized ourselves with the basics of what we’re looking for, here are 14 potential companion plants for eggplants.
As nitrogen-fixing legumes, beans make great companion plants for eggplants; they will replenish the garden’s soil and keep it rich. They also thrive on different nutrients than the eggplant and therefore the two plants won’t compete for essential nourishment.
Lettuce provides great ground cover and acts as a weed barrier when planted between eggplants, protecting them from harm. The eggplant returns the favor when these two are planted together, as the lettuce benefits from the shade provided by the eggplant’s leaves. Talk about a win-win scenario!
Sometimes, the best companion plants are those in the same vegetable family. As a nightshade like the eggplant, tomatoes enjoy similar growing conditions; so, if your climate suits the eggplant, it’ll suit the tomato as well. Plus, eggplants and tomatoes have also been known to enhance each other’s flavor when grown together.
The best companion plant pairings are those that benefit both parties – and spinach and eggplant get along exceptionally well. Spinach has a knack for helping to retain soil moisture, which keeps your eggplant hydrated and healthy. Additionally, spinach doesn’t mind growing in close quarters and benefits from the extra shade the eggplant’s leaves provides.
While planting flowers with food plants may not seem like the most intuitive choice at first, nasturtiums make wonderful companion plants for eggplant. If you’ve never heard of this flower, you should definitely check it out; it’s a great addition to almost any vegetable garden.
Since aphids love this plant, the nasturtium will protect your eggplant from these pesky critters by drawing them to itself. Nasturtiums also attract pollinators, prevent weeds by providing groundcover, and guard against pathogens.
As we mentioned earlier, please don’t discount the value of family ties when it’s time to choose companion plants for eggplant. Peppers are another nightshade that grow well in similar conditions and are a very suitable option to plant alongside eggplant.
Most of us would feel self-conscious about being smelly around our friends – but in gardening, strong odors can be a desirable trait in a companion. With its naturally pungent odor, an onion can act as a natural insect repellant and help to keep your eggplant healthy and free of pests.
Carrots are another great candidate to consider adding to your garden. Since they grow well in tight quarters and don’t mind shade, they can complement the large, leafy eggplant perfectly.
Nasturtiums aren’t the only flowers that make suitable companion plants for eggplants; marigolds are also helpful additions. The distinct odor of these flowers can repel insects, rodents, and nematodes – all of which could otherwise damage the eggplant. As an added bonus, they’ll add a wonderful pop of color to your garden as well!
Like the beans we mentioned earlier, peas have beneficial nitrogen-fixing qualities. When planted alongside your eggplant, they will enrich the soil and keep the heavy feeder healthy and happy.
Because of its unique odor, oregano has been known to repel common garden pests, particularly aphids and cabbage moths. This herb can also benefit your eggplant by attracting pollinators, increasing your overall crop yield.
Chives are another plant that offers benefits because of its strong odor. As companion plants for eggplant, they can repel pests and attract pollinators. They have also been known to enhance eggplant’s flavor when planted in the same vicinity.
Radishes deserve our consideration on this list as well. By aerating the soil, they can help to create a better garden environment for the eggplant. Their smaller size is a plus as well, as they are capable of growing in between eggplants.
Finally, dill is another notable companion plant option, especially if you’re interested in growing a mixture of vegetables and herbs in your garden. Dill naturally attracts pollinators, which can increase the number of vegetables your eggplant produces.
Traits to Avoid
Just as some plants do exceptionally well when planted together, other plants can be detrimental to each other if grown together. Eggplant is no exception to this rule and has its fair share of ill-suited garden matches.
When choosing what to plant with eggplant, you’ll want to watch out for other heavy feeders which may provide too much competition for soil nutrients. Additionally, be wary of plants that will shade out your eggplant or are prone to carrying harmful pathogens.
What Shouldn’t Be Planted with Eggplant?
Now that we’ve covered some of the best companion plants for eggplant, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t plant with this vegetable.
While eggplant and squash are both delicious, they don’t get along well in the garden. Since squash are also heavy feeders, there won’t be enough soil nutrients to go around if a member of the squash family is planted alongside eggplant. Neither plant will be able to grow to its full potential if it’s constantly battling for the nourishment needed to survive.
Furthermore, squash can produce some pretty large leaves just like the eggplant. Since both plants thrive on lots of sunlight, if paired together, their leaves may give too much shade for each other’s liking.
Although it may be tempting to pair a practical food plant with a beautiful flower for variety’s sake, geraniums do not make good companion plants for eggplants. Unfortunately, they can carry harmful pathogens that may cause root rot and leaf blight, posing a serious threat to the eggplant’s growth.
Fennel should also never be planted alongside eggplant. Unfortunately, fennel contains allelopathic chemicals which inhibit the growth of many vegetables in the nightshade family, including eggplant. If you’re interested in growing fennel, it should likely be planted separately from the rest of your garden.
Choosing Great Companion Plants for Eggplant
When it comes to selecting companion plants for eggplant, you’re really spoiled for choice. By seeking out plants with the beneficial qualities we’ve discussed, you can create the best combinations for a healthy, thriving garden.
Want to learn more about choosing the best companion plants? Check out our other Companion Planting posts on our website!
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Based in Cincinnati, Lauren loves spending time outdoors and witnessing the beauty of Ohio’s changing seasons. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, watercolor painting, and botanical drawing. Lauren believes that everyone has the ability to create a beautiful outdoor space and is passionate about helping readers cultivate their own little slice of paradise.
With a bachelor’s in Classics and a master’s in Library & Information Science, she finds her work deeply fulfilling and enjoys having the opportunity to learn something new every day.