Best (and Worst) Pepper Plant Companions in the Garden

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If you’re new to growing peppers, or you have had some bad luck in the past, you may wonder what you should plant near your peppers. The best neighbors for pepper plants can help deter pests, attract beneficial insects, or avoid other common problems.

It’s a great idea to plan ahead of planting season so you are fully aware of what your garden will look like. We like to plan out our garden plot during the winter months so that we are ready come spring.

In this article, I’ll share some of the best pepper plant companions for your garden. I’ll also cover a few plants to avoid planting with peppers.

Green Bell Peppers

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What Are Companion Plants?

Companion plants are plant varieties that complement each another when planted together. The most common examples are tomatoes and basil. The basil is said to help deter or confuse certain pests like the hornworm. Basil flowers also attract good insects. Both plants are also harvested around the same time, and they pair well in the kitchen.

It is essential for any garden, large or small, to consider which plants to place next to each other. These choices can be the difference between a successful harvest and a lot of wasted effort. The ideal plant companion will attract pollinators, deter pests, or otherwise help its neighboring plant.

In general, I recommend intercropping a diverse range of vegetables, fruits, and flowers throughout the garden. This diversity helps keep pest populations at bay, while inviting a wide range of life to your plants.

Companion planting is different than crop rotation, which involves changing the location of select crop groups each year. A lot of interaction happens above and below the soil, so we should do our best to give our pepper plants helpful neighbors!


Best Pepper Plant Companions

Let’s start with what you should plant alongside your peppers. There are many options, so it will be up to you to decide how many to grow and how to organize your garden. These recommendations work for all pepper varieties, including spicy peppers like habaneros and sweet bell peppers.

Alyssum

Alyssum in potted pepper plant
White sweet alyssum planted around the base of a potted bell pepper plant.

Alyssums are beautiful, hardy plants that produce lots of tiny flowers. They are great for planting near peppers as they attract beneficial insects like hover flies, predatory wasps, and the minute pirate bug. These feast on aphids and other pests that may otherwise infest your plants.

Alyssum can also be planted very early in the season. They’ll flower from spring to fall, naturally self-seedling throughout the year. It will likely return the following spring from fallen seed, making it easy to have every season.

Get alyssum seeds >

Basil

Full of aromatic oils, basil is a fantastic garden herb that is easy to grow. It has a positive effect on peppers and tomatoes and does not take up much space in the garden.

Basil plant in raised bed
Young basil planted in a “salsa” garden with peppers and tomatoes.

Basil may help deter pests like aphids, mosquitoes, and thrips, and its flowers will attract pollinators. Scatter basil throughout your garden, and for added effect, you can occasionally crush a few basil leaves to release more fragrance.

Try some of the unique varieties of basil like lemon, cinnamon, and (our favorite) sweet Thai!

Get basil seeds >

Beets

Another low-footprint crop, beets make a good pepper companion. Great for filling up unused space in the garden, beets are generally happy anywhere. They are a cool season crop, so you can use your pepper plants to help case some shade on your beets in the afternoon heat.

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Chives

The fragrance of chives helps ward off certain types of flies, along with many animals like deer. As part of the allium family, chives are an excellent tasting. They also produce beautiful, edible blossoms in early spring which attract pollinators.

Chives growing and flowering in raised bed

Chives will grow back every year, so be sure to plant them in a permanent spot! These plants make a great companion to peppers and other veggies.

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Eggplant

Eggplants make great companion plants for peppers. They require similar maintenance and soil makeup and are harvested around the same time of year. This is because eggplants are closely related to peppers, coming from the same plant family, the Solanaceae, or nightshades.

Eggplant plant in raised bed
Eggplants are in the same family as peppers.

They also complement each other well in cooking, used to make the traditional (and delicious) condiment ajvar.

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Garlic

Garlic makes a great companion for most common garden plants, and this includes peppers. This is thanks to garlic’s antiseptic properties and its natural insect and animal deterrence. Garlic is also delicious and high in value-per-square foot of garden space.

Garlic planted nearby peppers and lettuce
Garlic interplanted near peppers, onions, and lettuce.

For this reason, I recommend planting garlic scattered throughout the garden in the autumn (garlic needs a cold period to produce properly). The slender plants will easily fill in small gaps in the garden, making the most of your beds.

Buy seed garlic >

Peas

Peas make a great companion plant for the garden. They are cool season crops that can be planted early, and may also be more interesting to aphids and other pests than your peppers, acting as a “trap crop.”

Peas planted near pepper plants
Peas planted in early spring near young pepper.

But most importantly, peas and other legumes are nitrogen fixers. In other words, the roots can essentially create nitrogen fertilizer all on their own! To get the most of this benefit, you’ll want to mow back the peas before they finish flowering, leaving the roots in the ground. This is why peas are so commonly used as cover crops.

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Onions

Onions don’t take up much space in the garden and can be another method for using every square foot. They are also fairly easy to grow and cook well together with peppers. Planting carrots nearby onions can help complete the symbiosis as carrots tend to ward off onion flies.

Onion plants in rows
Young onion plants in a row.

Buy onion sets >

Peppers!

Of course! Peppers compliment other peppers. We grow more peppers than any other type of vegetable, and we like to organize by heat level. Since we save our seeds, we keep the hottest pepper plants farthest from our heatless peppers to avoid unwanted cross-pollination.

Various peppers planted in rows.

The more pepper varieties you have, the more intentional cross-breeding can be done to create interesting new pepper types in the next growing season!

See our favorite places to buy pepper seeds >

Petunias

Looking to add some color to the garden? Petunias are a beautiful, decorative flower the may also help distract certain pests. These include hornworms, leafhoppers, and aphids. Though they can also become subject to attack, better on the flowers than your tasty peppers!

Buy petunia seeds >

Rosemary

One of our favorite herbs, rosemary is a hardy plant that helps keep the soil moist for longer. Use rosemary as a ground cover around your pepper plants to decrease the rate of moisture evaporation from the soil.

Tip: Pair rosemary, carrots, and onions; they’re all beneficial to one another!

Buy rosemary seeds >

Tomatoes (see more info below)

Though this is debated, we grow tomatoes and peppers in the same garden every year without issue. We do recommend that you rotate the crops each year to avoid soil or root-based pathogens from thriving.

Tomato and pepper plants in pots

If you have enough space, keep the tomatoes separated from your peppers, but know that there shouldn’t be any harmful interaction between tomato and pepper plants.

Buy tomato seeds >

Yarrow

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an easy to grow flowering plant that is known for attracting ladybugs and other beneficial insects. These flying friends help pollinate your pepper flowers and also feast on aphids. Instead of buying live ladybugs for your garden, plant things that attract them naturally!

Buy yarrow seeds >

Other plants that attract ladybugs include coriander, dill, dandelion and more. See this great list of plants for attracting more beneficial insects.

There are many more options for plants to put near your peppers. This list is by no means exhaustive, so keep researching if you have a specific plant in mind! However, most herbs will be safe to plant near peppers, and if you avoid the following plants, you will most likely be safe.


Worst Companions For Peppers (Avoid!)

Though there aren’t too many plants to avoid planting near peppers, we have a few recommendations. In most of these cases, you can plant these plants in the same garden with peppers, but they should be adequately spaced out to avoid potential issues.

❌ Fennel

Fennel is not a great companion for any veggie garden plant. It attracts certain insects and pests, which means it can be a deterrent, but only when planted far away from your vegetables. Fennel is a nutritious, tasty herb that you should plant, just not near your peppers and other veggies.

❌ Brassicas

While cabbage and broccoli plants won’t destroy your pepper harvests, they do prefer a different soil. Peppers prefer a more acidic pH balance while cabbage needs a more neutral soil makeup. Also, be aware of the fertilizing needs of each – brassicas are heavy feeders of nitrogen, while peppers require less.

❌ Kohlrabi

Despite this being a fairly uncommon plant, it is not recommended that you plant kohlrabi near your pepper plants. This comes from the same family as cabbage and broccoli and can attract cabbage butterflies.

❌ Oregano

While many herbs make great companions, I avoid planting oregano nearby peppers. In fact, I only grow it in containers. The reason? Oregano is highly invasive, making it difficult to get rid of once established. Keep it away from your garden beds unless you want to fight it all season!


Can Tomatoes and Peppers Be Planted Together?

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable plants for gardeners, and you may question whether they can be planted together.

In short, tomatoes can be planted with peppers in the same garden bed. However, be mindful of the proper plant spacing for each plant type, as they are quite different:

  • Tomatoes require significantly more space between plants to allow for adequate airflow. Aside from patio-type tomatoes, most varieties require at least 18-24″ of space between stems. Without room to breathe, tomatoes become a host for disease and pests (blight, aphids, hornworms, etc.).
  • Peppers can be spaced closer together, depending on the variety. If you grow bell peppers and other annuum varieties, they can typically be planted about 12-18″ between plants (stem to stem). Some mild bottom pruning is all they need to breathe and thrive.

Tip: In addition to proper plant spacing, it is recommended that tomatoes and peppers be rotated each season to a new location. If you have multiple garden beds, simply plant them in another bed each year.


I hope this article helps you plan out what to plant near your peppers. There are infinite options to choose from, but following these pepper plant companion recommendations will help ensure a great harvest! Happy gardening!

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Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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44 Comments

  1. I have an anbundant production of sweet bannana peppers.
    Would appreciate a recipe for canning.

  2. Great info, it will really help me for next season, unless I get my heated greenhouse going before then!

  3. Alyssum has been great help for me, very easy to grow, always attracts great pollinators. Tomatoes though have been terrible. I am in South Florida, now at two different locations where I’ve grown tomatoes and peppers together and tomatoes keep drawing in hornworms/hawk moths that then spill over to the peppers. once the tomato plants were gone the hornworm issue has seriously decreased

    1. Yes, tomato fragrance is powerful and attracts the moths, so definitely can be a concern depending where you live. We get them occasionally here in the Northeast too

  4. I am so amaze with your information all the time right now I am so motivated by your channel i even start a pepper garden of my own thanks to you guys i now have an obsession’s with peppers thank you guys again

  5. Very interesting article. I have a very small garden and I’m looking for an annual flowering plant that would be a good companion to hot pepper plants and will deter deer. Do you have any recommendations? TIA

    1. Hm, you could try some marigolds which deer apparently do not like, but deterring deer entirely is another thing. I’d suggest something like alliums or eryngium (sea holly), both perennial, around the vulnerable border of the garden.

  6. Give nasturtium, marigolds and zinnias a go. Nasturtium will attract aphids away from your peppers. Marigolds attract parasitic wasps that like to lay their eggs in the dreaded hornworms. Zinnias attract a lot of pollinators.

    I also plant about a dozen pots with companion plants I move around the garden as needed.

    1. Great suggestions, we grow all of these flowers too. We should probably just add a section for “flowers” and share some of our favorite annuals and perennials to have growing nearby peppers. Thanks again!

  7. I’m new to the world of growing peppers (and gardening in general!) and am planning on planting my bell pepper plants in larger containers rather than straight into the ground. Any advice on if having companion plants in other pots nearby will help to deter harmful pests, or is it not as beneficial to have companion plants if everything will be potted and not directly in the ground/garden?

    1. Companions are definitely still beneficial for potted plants. I have had great results planting alyssum in the same pot with peppers (as long as the pot is at least 5 gallons or larger), right along the edges. It’ll flower all season and attract hover flies!

  8. @Six
    Anything that attacks peppers must be dealt with. Get rid of fallen leaves. Slugs lay their eggs in piles of leaves. Also try to attract slug preditors such as frogs & toads and possums.

  9. Container garden of tomatoes 5/different varieties, hot peppers and banana peppers 4/different varieties. Some creatures ate on our tops of both, so I moved them all into a 6’ tall x 4’ wide 10’ long of on hand fencing. Containers are literally touching at their widest point. Will these produce vegetables or should I give away about half of them?

  10. One other approach I’m starting to use — I use tomatoes as a buffer between major pepper categories I don’t want to accidentally cross. I’ve also used c. baccatum peppers as a buffer between different categories of c. annuum but in theory those could still hybridize.

  11. I am getting a little concerned with the spacing of my peppers. I have several of the Birdseye, Cayenne, Jalapeno, and some habanero Chillis and the branches of the Birdseye and Cayenne chillis are growing taller and into the next row, which is 2ft or 60cm apart. I just hope I have given them all enough space between rows. If they keep growing like this, I will not be able to see the ground (snakes) and that is a worry. Cheers.

  12. Is there anything you can add to the soil to avoid pathogens when rotating peppers and tomatoes is not possible?

    1. Mulch! Adding that barrier between the soil and the above-ground growth is the best thing you can do. Otherwise, there isn’t much to do other than keep the soil healthy by adding organic matter like compost, compost tea, and…natural mulch!

  13. Super helpful information! I was always told peppers and tomatoes were a no-no, but in my limited space garden this helps a lot. What about planting peppers in a bed after tomatoes (i.e. the next season with crop rotation)? Again, I was under the impression this wouldn’t be a good idea, but now would love your thoughts!

    1. We don’t overthink with interplanting the different nightshades. Unless you have a severe disease outbreak, then the risks are not very high. Plus, crop rotation in a small home garden space is not all that effective (this method is used primarily in large-scale farming operations, ie. plant tomatoes in this FIELD and not that one)

  14. Omigosh! Your article just saved the lives of about 50 hot pepper plants plenty of basil and alyssum around here. Go geeks! Thank you.

  15. Additional Criteria for Companion Planting
    * I would not consider tomatoes great companion plants for anything — they will not help anything grow better, as they want to grow tall and are heavy feeders — but I want to fit them in where I can. They have relatively small roots compared to peppers, so this can work with the right spacing or with succession planing after indeterminate tomatoes. Brassicas are also rarely good companion plants, they also want to be the main event — rightfully so if you can provide the conditions they need.
    * Peppers by comparison are much more team players, repelling some pests and not too greedy about nutrients, water, or sunlight. But they do tend towards large root systems, especially C. Chinense cultivars. If you want to grow root crops like beets next to peppers, I would expect you’d do best with C. Annuum and a bit of extra spacing so you can dig them up without damaging the pepper roots (or, in the right climate, harvest the root crop after the peppers are done).
    * I often grow peas and green beans behind peppers with no ill effects. At least these are nitrogen fixers, so they should leave the soil at least as good as they found it. And like tomatoes, they tend to grow tall from small roots, so in terms of spacing they can be made to fit in well with peppers.
    * I’m a bit concerned about planting basil in-ground as it is a mint family plant and I don’t want it to become invasive — can anyone speak to this?

    1. @David Niemi, I grow basil every year and it has never been invasive although it is of the mint family. But, basil in an annual and dies off every year.

  16. Can you please give advice for planting peppers in greenhouses?This is because we don’ grow many peppers outside.Thanks

  17. This summer I had a terrible issue with common slugs especially with my Chocolate Habanero peppers. As I was harvesting, I would find slugs actually on the peppers and holes bored into them. I ended up loosing upwards of 1000 peppers.

    1. @Six,
      Clean up piles of leaves. Slugs lay eggs in the leaf piles. Attract slug predictors like frogs, toads & some articles say opossum eat slugs.

  18. I planted my green chile peppers next to jalapeños. My jalapeños are good (hot) and a good size. However, my green chile… well, they look like jalapeños, size wise, they won’t grow any bigger. I grew them as seedlings from Lemitar NM. It was my first time growing chile in my garden. What did I do wrong?

  19. This is great but I’d argue about beans and peppers. I have wonderbells and early jalapeños with beans in between and I got massive production.

    In fact I’m picking off my peppers flowers often now as I’m trying to get them to grow more and excited to see how many peppers I will get now that it’s their second year thriving in my soil 😊
    Not ripping em out of the ground, against everyone’s opinion, was the best decision I made all fall.

    Appreciate you guys broadening my horizons regarding peppers!!! 🙏🏽

    1. @Rickesh, that’s because legumes like beans take up nitrogen from the air and through that process actually help replenish the soil with nitrogen. His point above is flawed as beans do require a lot of nitrogen but do not hog it from the soil. In fact, nitrogen hungry plants benefit from being planted next to legumes because of this.

  20. Hi! I saw a video of a lady’s garden that had flowers planted in between her vegetables. It was gorgeous! I saw yarrow, petunias and basil which has neat spikey flowers. Are there any more flowers that you would recommend to plant between peppers?

    1. You can plant marigold and tansies if you’re looking to add a splash of color! They both attract beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and praying mantis.

  21. Informative. Thanks. Year 2 trying to get sweet bells to thrive. Newbie to vegetables. Plants produced small fruit last year. Sun and soil problems, I guess, but no pests or diseases. Grow bags used.

    1. See if you can get your hands on some good compost to work into your potting mix this year! Many local municipalities provide compost for free. Good luck!

    2. @peppergeek,

      Good suggestion, but the people in Southern UT love Roundup and insecticides, so unfortunately I avoid the free compost. Does composting breakdown the bad elements?

      Thanks

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