Pea Companion Plants: 9 Perfect Pairings and What to Avoid

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pea companion plants
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Try growing these awesome pea companion plants to keep pests away, attract pollinators, and enjoy a bountiful pea harvest in your garden.

Peas are cool-season veggies, perfect for growing from late winter to early spring in most regions. They’re part of the legume family and have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the soil that helps them fix nitrogen. This makes peas great companion plants for other crops, as they enrich the soil and help their neighbors grow strong and healthy.

This pea companion planting guide will introduce you to some of the best plants to grow with peas and show you how they benefit each other in the garden.

Let’s dive in!

Close up image of green pea pods growing

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a tried and tested method of growing compatible plants together to boost their growth and maintain a naturally healthy garden. For instance, shallow-root plants make great companions for deep-rooted ones as they won’t fight over space or resources. Similarly, plants with strong smells can help cover up the scent of delicate plants, keeping those pests away.

The Benefits of Companion Planting with Peas

  • Pest control: Peas are susceptible to pests such as aphids, thrips, and leafhoppers, but you can rely on companion plants like marigolds to keep these pests away from your precious peas.
  • Pollination: Peas need pollination to produce pods, so it’s a good idea to have companion plants like basil and corn around to attract pollinators and increase the chances of a successful harvest.
  • Space maximization: Peas are climbers, which means they give other plants plenty of room to spread out and thrive.
  • Shade protection: Peas offer shade for heat-sensitive plants like lettuce and spinach.
  • Soil enrichment: As nitrogen fixers, peas enrich the soil which directly benefits other plants in the garden.

Understanding the Needs of Peas: (A Quick Care Guide)

Early pea varieties are usually planted from March to April when the soil temperature is around 40 to 85°F for the best germination. If you’re in the right zone, you can even plant the late varieties until August. Peas typically start producing pods in about 60 days—snap peas and sugar peas are harvested first when the peas start swelling inside the pod, while shelling peas are harvested when they’re fully mature.

Peas love full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil but don’t need a ton of fertilizers. Just remember to water them consistently, about one inch per week, as peas don’t like overly wet conditions. Also, provide sturdy trellises or cages for them to climb on.

The Best Companion Plants for Peas

Now that we’ve covered the basics of growing peas, let’s dive into some of the best companion plants for peas.

• Vegetables:

green beans A corn stalk with ear of corn growing

1. Beans

Beans require similar care as peas, making it convenient to plant them together without any extra hassle. Moreover, you can maximize space and save money by using the same trellis for both plants.

Unlike peas, most types of beans love warmer weather and stick around in the garden for a longer time. This means you’ll keep enjoying those beans even after the pea harvest.

2. Corn

The tall cornstalks are great for supporting climbing peas. Peas return the favor by enriching the soil with nitrogen, giving the corn all the nourishment it needs. Corn also attracts a bunch of bees and butterflies, which are awesome pollinators and help the peas provide a better yield.

The only thing to keep in mind when growing these two together is to not overcrowd them, as both plants require ample space to thrive. Plant your corn first with proper spacing, then add the peas once the corn is about half a foot tall.

3. Cucumbers

Both cucumbers and peas are fast-growing, cool-weather veggies that enjoy the same type of soil and sun exposure. They can also share the trellis, giving you the opportunity to grow two plants in the same space. Plus, cucumbers have a sprawling growth habit that can offer peas some shade on scorching days, extending their growing season.

4. Radishes

Radishes make a great companion plant for peas as they mature quickly and do not compete for space. They are also known to act as a trap crop, luring pests away from the peas.

Just remember, pea plants have shallow roots, and mature peas don’t like to be disturbed, so it’s best to plant radishes early and harvest them before your peas reach full size.

spinach plants a head of lettuce

5. Spinach

Spinach is a great buddy when it comes to making the most of your garden space with peas. It grows low, doesn’t mind some shade from climbing peas, and likes the same kind of soil.

Spinach also acts as a natural mulch, keeping the soil nice and cool, perfect for those pea plants. And the best part is that spinach grows pretty fast, so you can enjoy some tasty greens while you wait for your pea harvest.

6. Lettuce

Lettuce is another fantastic option that won’t compete with peas for space or nutrients. In fact, it actually enjoys a bit of shade when it’s too hot out, making it the perfect buddy for tall peas.

Plus, it has shallow roots, so you can plant them closer together without harming your pea plants. And as a bonus, it helps keep those pesky weeds in check, just like spinach.

7. Cilantro

Cilantro is a great herb to grow with peas, and not just because they both like the same growing conditions. Cilantro flowers attract predatory insects like ladybugs and hoverflies, which chow down on those pesky aphids that love to snack on pea plants. Plus, more insects buzzing around means better pollination, resulting in a bumper pea harvest.

• Flowers:

Marigolds Nasturtiums

8. Marigolds

Marigolds are the superheroes of companion plants. They’re amazing at keeping the most challenging garden pests like nematodes, bean beetles, and whiteflies at bay. Their strong scent can even chase away rabbits and deer. Plus, they add a pop of color to your garden. So plant marigolds between your pea rows or around the edge of your pea plot for maximum benefits.

9. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are not only beautiful and edible flowers, but they also work as a trap crop, luring aphids away from your peas. They even keep squash bugs and beetles at bay, making them a perfect companion for other pea-friendly plants like cucumbers, beans, and corn. They’re also great at attracting pollinators, so your pea harvest is bound to be a success.

What Not to Plant with Peas

While peas make great companions for many plants, there are a few that won’t tolerate their presence well. These include:

Different varieties of peas: Peas can cross-fertilize, resulting in a hybrid crop with undesirable qualities.

Alliums (Onions, garlic, chives, etc): These plants aren’t big fans of the extra nitrogen released from peas and might slow down their growth because of nutrient competition.

Potatoes: While potatoes benefit from the nitrogen fixed by peas, they also invade the peas’ root zone with their expanding tubers, so they’re not the perfect match.

Fennel: It’s a really aggressive grower that tends to overcrowd its neighbors, hogging all the space and nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best plants for companion planting with peas?

Plants that enjoy similar growing conditions, don’t compete for space or nutrients, and naturally ward off pests make the best companions for peas. Some of the top choices include beans, corn, cucumbers, radishes, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, marigolds, and nasturtiums.

What should not be planted next to peas?

Avoid planting different types of peas together, as they might cross-fertilize and result in undesirable hybrid crops. Also, avoid planting peas with heavy feeders like onions, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes. And watch out for aggressive growers like fennel that can take up too much space.

Can I plant peas with other types of legumes?

Yes, you can! Peas are compatible with most varieties of beans and legumes such as pole beans, bush beans, soybeans, and even lentils. They can also share the same trellis or support structure, maximizing space usage in your garden.

How much space do peas need to grow?

Peas need about 6 inches of space between plants, but the actual spacing can vary based on the type of peas you’re planting and the specific conditions in your garden. Start by planting seeds around 2-3 inches apart in rows spaced roughly 18 inches apart, and then thin them out as necessary. For more detailed instructions, check the info on the seed packet.

Can I interplant other herbs with peas?

You can totally pair up peas with herbs like cilantro, parsley, and dill. They’re awesome companions because they attract helpful insects that keep pests away. Plus, these herbs won’t fight for space or nutrients with your peas and can add a yummy touch to your dishes. Just remember to steer clear of herbs like rosemary and thyme that prefer drier soil conditions, as they might not do so well when planted near peas.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, peas make excellent companions for many plants in your garden. From providing support to enriching the soil and attracting pollinators, they offer numerous benefits to their neighboring crops.

For maximum pea-growing success, choose the right variety of peas according to your climate and gardening zone, provide them with ample sun, well-draining soil, and a few friendly neighbors, and enjoy companion planting with peas.

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Close-up of pea pods growing, with text overlay: "Best & Worst Pea Companion Plants"

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