Mint companion plants have to be tough to survive the wild habits of their neighbors. But the ones that make the cut get an unbeatable ally in their battle against pests.
With its hardy nature and strong scent, mint stands as the ultimate survivor of the garden. However, it can also be a bit of a bully, aggressively spreading and encroaching on the space and resources of other plants. But no worries! We’ve got you covered with this mint companion planting guide to help you find the right plants to grow with mint.
So, let’s take a look!
What Will I Learn?
- What is Companion Planting?
- The Benefits of Companion Planting with Mint
- Understanding the Needs of Mint
- What Are the Best Mint Companion Plants?
- • Vegetables:
- • Herbs:
- • Other Plants:
- Bad Mint Companion Plants
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What is Companion Planting?
Some plants have natural abilities that make them excellent allies for other plants. For instance, mint has a strong scent that keeps pests away, nasturtium attracts pollinators, and peas add nitrogen to the soil. Companion planting is the practice of placing such plants together to create a mutually beneficial garden ecosystem.
The Benefits of Companion Planting with Mint
Mint offers several benefits to its companion plants, such as:
- Natural pest control: Only a handful of insects can tolerate the strong scent of mint, making it an excellent natural pest deterrent.
- Masking scent: Its strong aroma also conceals the fragrance of several delicate plants, making it difficult for pests to locate them.
- Natural mulch: The dense growth habit of mint chokes out weeds, retains moisture in the soil, and reduces water evaporation.
Understanding the Needs of Mint
Mint thrives in partial shade and moist soil but can also handle full sun if you water it regularly. Apart from that, it requires no additional fertilizers and can grow in just about any soil.
However, keep an eye out as it tends to spread quickly and take over other plants if left unchecked. Spearmint and peppermint varieties, in particular, are known to be more invasive.
To prevent mint from taking over, it’s best to grow it in containers or raised beds and give it a good trim now and then.
What Are the Best Mint Companion Plants?
Let’s get down to business and explore some of the best plants to grow with mint in your garden:
Tomato plants have one dreaded enemy—the tomato hornworm. They are large, green caterpillars that can destroy an entire plant in no time. Luckily, mint keeps them away effortlessly.
It also covers the ground and keeps it nice and moist, which works great for most tomato varieties since they’re climbers. Tomatoes, in turn, offer shade to mint, giving it a break from the scorching sun.
Brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts attract a lot of cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids—young cabbage plants are particularly susceptible.
To keep those pesky critters at bay, plant some mint around the edges of your cabbage patch. It’s a great way to deter pests, deer, and rabbits while still letting your cabbage plants soak up the sunshine they need to grow nice and firm heads.
Eggplants are vulnerable to damage from whiteflies and aphids throughout their life. It’s a bit of a challenge as only broad-spectrum insecticides really seem to work against them, but unfortunately, they also end up killing beneficial insects.
However, spearmint oil has shown promising results against these pests. So, take advantage of that and create a nice mint plant coverage around your eggplant patch. It might just help reduce the need for insecticide sprays and give you a more natural solution to the problem.
Carrots are often plagued by carrot flies. They lay their eggs in the soil nearby, and their larvae then burrow into the roots, causing them to rot. Intercropping with strong-scented plants like mint can confuse these bugs and make it harder for them to find your carrots.
Now, some people worry about mint taking over and spreading its roots near the carrots. The trick is to grow it in a pot or a bottomless bucket buried next to your carrot patch. Though honestly, even without that step, mint roots mostly stay near the surface and have to get seriously tangled up before they can cause real damage.
Basil and mint make an excellent team in the garden. They need very similar growing conditions and are both effective against common pests. But the best part is that basil is also effective against thrips, one of the few insects that can infest mint. So, this pair not only provides extra security to their neighboring plants, but they’ve got each other’s backs too.
Parsley can take on the invasive nature of mint and also makes for a great companion to other herbs and veggies. It produces a profusion of tiny flowers that attract parasitic wasps, which chow down on caterpillars and pests. Plus, it doesn’t grow tall enough to shade mint plants, making it the perfect companion for shady garden spots.
Being part of the onion family, chives also pack a punch against pests. They can fend off aphids, Japanese beetles, carrot flies, and thrips. So, they happily sit with mint and level up the natural pest control in your garden.
Like mint, oregano also has a strong scent that repels pests and attracts pollinators. But more importantly, it’s said to enhance the flavor and aroma of neighboring veggies. Plus, it’s a champ at surviving in the shade of mint plants and keeps thriving, even in less-than-ideal conditions.
• Other Plants:
Melons have a very strong scent that attracts unwanted pests, such as cucumber beetles and aphids when they start to ripen. Mint can mask the scent and confuse those insects, making it a lot harder for them to find your melons. Just be careful not to let the mint shade the melon vines.
Chamomile is a hardy herb that can handle the aggressive nature of mint and still show up to help other plants. It repels pests like cabbage moths, thrips, and carrot flies while attracting beneficial ladybugs, wasps, and hoverflies. As a bonus, mint and chamomile tea make an excellent combination for relaxing after a long day of gardening.
Roses are notoriously fussy and prone to pests like aphids, mites, and thrips. Some cultivators have found that planting mint near roses can help deter these pests and even improve the health of the rose plants.
But again, you have to keep mint growth in check. It is better to plant it alongside mature rose plants with well-established deep roots or keep it in a container.
Nasturtiums are an excellent option to add a pop of color to your garden. They attract a lot of pollinators and also serve as a trap crop for pests so your vegetables can grow pest-free. This makes them a perfect match for mint for creating natural hedges around your garden beds.
Bad Mint Companion Plants
As much as we love mint, it doesn’t always play nice with other plants. Here’s a quick rundown of the plants you should keep far away from mint:
Strawberries: Mint and strawberries have a common enemy – thrips. Although mint will keep it safe from other pests, thrips alone are a good enough reason to keep them apart.
Cilantro: Cilantro and mint have similar water and sun exposure preferences; however, cilantro starts to wither away as soon as mint grows bigger and overtakes it.
Rosemary: Mint and rosemary have very different water needs, which can be challenging to balance if grown together. Plus, rosemary doesn’t appreciate the aggressive nature of mint.
Lavender: Mint can quickly spread and take over lavender plants, choking them out and hindering their growth. Additionally, they also have different soil pH preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best companion plants for mint?
Plants that can withstand the vigorous growth of mint are ideal companions. Some of the best plants to grow with mint include basil, rosemary, parsley, and chives. These herbs not only share similar growing conditions but also help repel pests and attract beneficial insects.
What are some bad companion plants for mint?
Plants that like dry conditions, such as rosemary, and those that don’t tolerate aggressive growth, such as cilantro and lavender, are not good companions for mint. Plants that share common pests with mint, like strawberries, should also be kept apart.
How can I control the aggressive growth of mint?
One way to control the growth of mint is to plant it in a container instead of directly in the ground. This will help contain its roots and prevent them from spreading too far. Another option is to grow it into a bottomless bucket and bury it in the ground – it will act as a barrier for the roots and help control its growth. Also, regularly prune and harvest your mint to help keep its growth in check.
What is attracted to mint plants?
Mostly beneficial insects, like predatory wasps and hoverflies, are attracted to mint plants. These insects in turn help control common garden pests. However, mint can also attract unwanted pests like thrips, spider mites, and cutworms. So, keep an eye out for any signs of pest infestation and take necessary measures if needed.
Although mint is notorious for its tendency to overtake other plants, it makes a great companion if managed properly. The value it adds to the garden by repelling pests and attracting beneficial insects makes it a valuable asset. Especially when paired with other compatible plants, mint can create a balance and boost the health and productivity of your garden.
So don’t let its bad reputation discourage you, and keep growing this versatile herb in your garden.