If you want to get the healthiest, most productive eggplant harvest possible from your garden this year, you need to match them with the best eggplant companion plants.
Eggplants, or aubergine as you may know them, are a great addition to the summer garden. These purple-hued beauties love the sun, are relatively low maintenance, and you can enjoy them in a wide variety of dishes.
But eggplants aren’t always happy alone—they love having a good neighbor to help them thrive. So this eggplant companion planting guide will help you choose the right plants to grow alongside your eggplant and some to watch out for too.
What Will I Learn?
- Introduction to Eggplant Companion Planting
- Best Eggplant Companion Plants
- Worst Companion Plants for Eggplant
- Frequently Asked Questions about Eggplant Companion Plants
Introduction to Eggplant Companion Planting
Companion planting is growing two or more compatible plants on one bed so they benefit from each other. For example, some plants may deter pests, attract beneficial insects, or provide shade for others.
In vegetable gardens, companion planting can help enhance your plants’ health and boost productivity. You can get larger yields from fewer resources, open up valuable space for more crops and keep disease and pests to a minimum. All this while keeping the fertilizer and pesticide use to the minimum.
Here are just some of the main benefits of choosing suitable plants to grow with eggplant:
Improved soil fertility: Eggplants are heavy eaters, but there are some plants that can help improve soil fertility, like nitrogen-fixing legumes.
Pest control: Common garden pests love eggplants, but when you buddy them up with a few pest-deterring plants, like alliums, the damage should be minimized.
Weed suppression: A nice ground covering, like spinach, can help kick those pesky weeds to the curb and make for a healthier plant.
Shade and moisture: Some vegetables, like lettuce and spinach, don’t mind a bit of shade under the tall eggplant leaves; in return, they act like living mulch and help conserve moisture in the soil.
Improved pollination: Flowering companions like oregano and borage can bring in beneficial insects that will help pollinate the eggplant flowers and improve yields.
Space saving: Growing climbers, like pole beans or cucumbers along eggplant bushes, will maximize your space by making the most of vertical surfaces.
Best Eggplant Companion Plants
Here are some excellent plants to grow with eggplant and why they work so well.
Eggplant loves nutritious, well-drained soil, and beans do a great job of improving it. They add nitrogen to the ground, improve its structure and make your patch less dependent on adding fertilizer. As an added bonus, bean plants provide shade for young eggplants when the sun is too hot.
Both pole beans and bush beans are great options, but pole beans are a better choice since they can climb up stakes or trellises, opening up valuable space for more eggplants.
Almost every allium—onions, garlic, chives, or shallots—makes great companion plants for eggplant. The biggest benefit is that they all have strong aromas that deter pests like aphids, flea beetles, and cutworms which can do a lot of damage to your eggplants.
In addition, there is no nutrient competition between shallow alliums and deep-rooted eggplant, so they can happily grow side by side.
Many people recommend against growing nightshades (eggplant, peppers, potato, tomatoes) together, but if you be a little smart about it, this pepper-eggplant combo can work well.
Both pepper and eggplant need similar growing sun, water, and soil conditions, so the overall care is pretty easy. Plus, peppers provide some added protection from pests and diseases that can affect eggplant.
Just make sure to give enough space to both so they can reach their full potential.
Usually, potatoes are horrible neighbors, they take a lot of underground space and squeeze out nutrients from the soil, but there’s a way to make them work with your eggplants. The trick is to plan them well.
Grow late-maturing potatoes at the bottom of your raised bed, then plant your eggplants on top. Your eggplants will be done by the time the potatoes start to get bigger. Plus, potatoes will help to keep your bed weed-free and act as a natural mulch layer for your eggplants.
It’s difficult to grow spinach in full summers, but it can survive the heat when you grow it under the dappled shade of taller eggplant leaves. In return, spinach will provide ground cover, reducing weed growth and keeping the soil moist. Plus, there’s no nutrient competition as eggplant roots are much deeper than spinach.
However, both are heavy feeders, so if your soil isn’t rich, you may need to add some compost to the bed before choosing this combo.
Cucumbers love the same kind of growing conditions as eggplant, so the basic care is almost identical. But since the growing habits are different—eggplant is bushy, and cucumbers are vining—they can grow harmoniously without taking up each other’s space.
Plus, the spread-out vines will offer shade during hot summers, so your eggplants don’t fry in direct sun. Just make sure you give proper support to your cucumbers so they don’t weigh down the eggplant.
Both early and late-sprouting varieties of broccoli make excellent companions for eggplant. With early verities (like Choi sum or Express), you sow them together at the same time. The eggplant will be done by the time the broccoli starts forming heads and needs more space.
Late-sprouting verities (like Calabrese) are planted a few weeks earlier than eggplants. So the broccoli will be finished by the time the eggplants start producing fruits. Plus, the broccoli will protect young eggplants from the sun until they get established.
Oregano flowers are like magnets for beneficial insects, like bees and ladybugs, that help pollinate your eggplant flowers and boost fruit production. And hey, pests aren’t really a fan, so it’ll also protect your eggplants from some common issues. Plus, it’s a great herb to jazz up your eggplant dishes.
Just one thing to keep in mind—it can take over a bed, so it’s best to grow oregano at the edges.
Borage keeps pests away, attracts pollinators, boosts soil nutrient levels, and looks absolutely stunning, all in a single package. It grows 2-3 feet tall with blue star-shaped flowers; both flowers and leaves are edible and have a mild cucumber flavor.
We suggest growing borage near eggplant because its roots improve the soil structure, making it loose and airy. Plus, it helps by pulling nutrients from deep down, making them available for shallow-rooted eggplant.
Worst Companion Plants for Eggplant
Knowing which plants to pair with your eggplants is important, but also knowing which ones to avoid can be just as beneficial.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are closely related to eggplant (same nightshade family) and often suffer from the same diseases and pests. Therefore, it’s best not to grow them together.
Zucchini: Zucchini is an annual that needs a lot of space and nutrients. As eggplants are also heavy feeders, this combination can quickly lead to nutrient competition, and typically, neither plant will be able to reach its full potential.
Fennel: Fennel has a strong aroma that attracts all sorts of beneficial insects, but it’s also notoriously aggressive and can take over a bed quickly. Plus, its similar size to eggplant can lead to competition for space and nutrients.
Corn: If only corn was not so tall and demanding! It grows quickly and squeezes nutrients from the surrounding soil with the help of extending roots.
Sunflowers: Like corn, sunflowers can grow very tall and take over space other plants need. Plus, they are frequently affected by pests like whitefly. So, it’s best to avoid planting them anywhere near eggplants.
Frequently Asked Questions about Eggplant Companion Plants
What grows well next to eggplant?
Beans, alliums, peppers, oregano, and spinach are some of the most recommended eggplant companion plants. They offer the right mix of pest control, soil fertility improvement, weed suppression, and pollination.
Can I plant eggplant with other nightshades?
No. Generally, it’s best not to grow eggplant with other nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes. They often suffer from the same diseases and pests, so it’s better to keep them separate. However, peppers are a different story and can be grown with eggplant in the same bed.
Are tomatoes bad for eggplant?
Yes, tomatoes are in the same family as eggplants and are prone to the same pests and diseases. So it’s best not to grow them together.
How can I increase my eggplant production?
Plant eggplant in full sun, water them regularly, and fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer every 6-8 weeks. Plus, grow compatible plants like alliums and beans around them to create an ideal environment for your eggplants.
What is the best fertilizer for eggplant?
Eggplants love balanced fertilizers like 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for application rates and frequency. You can also use an organic fertilizer such as compost, aged manure, or liquid seaweed, but you’d need to do it more frequently, like every 3-4 weeks.
Just like good neighbors can make your life much easier, the right companion plants can make a big difference in your vegetable patch. In eggplants’ case, nitrogen-fixing plants like beans, pest control like alliums and oregano, or ground cover like spinach can make a huge difference in your yields.
Make sure to plant them correctly, and give each one enough space so they don’t compete for resources. And be mindful of bad companions, such as tomatoes, zucchini, and fennel, that can lead to diseases and undergrowth. We’re sure you’ll be rewarded with a great harvest and the best eggplant dishes!
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