If you’re new to growing peppers, or you have had some bad luck in the past, you may wonder what you should plant next to your peppers. The best neighbors for pepper plants will help deter pests and help 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, we’ll help you pick the best pepper plant companions for your garden. We’ll also cover a few plants to avoid planting with peppers.
What Are Companion Plants?
Companion plants are plant varieties that complement each another when planted nearby. The most common examples are tomatoes and basil. The basil is said to help deter pests like mosquitoes and the hornworm as well as mildew. Basil is also harvested around the same time as tomatoes.
To top it all off, the crops are rumored to improve one another’s flavor (though there is little hard evidence proving this).
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.
Companion planting is different than crop rotation, which involves changing the location of select crop varieties each year. A lot happens above and below the soil, so we should do our best to give our pepper plants helpful neighbors!
Can Tomatoes and Peppers Be Planted Together?
Before we dive into the best and worst pepper companions, I want to talk about tomatoes. They are another of the most popular vegetable plants for gardeners, and you’re likely wondering if 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 (see below).
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, hornworm, 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.
To summarize, tomatoes and peppers can be planted with each other in the garden. Just be sure to leave more room around each tomato plant to avoid overcrowding, and consider rotating your crops annually.
Best Pepper Plant Companions
We start with what you should plant alongside your peppers. There are many options, so it will be up to you to decide how you wish to organize your garden. These recommendations work for all peppers varieties, including spicy peppers like habaneros and sweet bell peppers.
Alyssums are beautiful, hardy plants that produce lots of tiny flowers. They are great for planting near peppers as they attract predatory wasps and the Minute Pirate Bug. These both feast on aphids and other pests that may otherwise infest your plants.
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 is known to deter pests like aphids, mosquitoes, and thrips. 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!
Another low-footprint crop, beets are a good pepper companion. Great for filling up unused space in the garden, beets are generally happy anywhere in the garden. However, some speculate that beets can interact poorly with sweet corn if planted too close.
Though brussels sprouts can be tricky to grow without running into pest issues, they are comfortable being grown near peppers. If you love brussels, try planting dill nearby to help improve the plant’s resilience.
The fragrance of chives helps ward off certain types of flies. They also decrease the likelihood of gray mold and downy mildew. Chives are an excellent tasting, hardy plant that will produce year after year.
They are also likely to survive winter in hardiness zones 6 and above! We love chives and recommend planting them nearby your peppers. However, avoid planting them near beans and peas.
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.
They also complement each other well in cooking. Try this tasty red pepper and eggplant parmesan by Bobby Flay.
Garlic makes a great companion for most common garden plants, and this includes peppers. This is thanks to garlic’s antiseptic properties and it’s natural insect and fungal deterrence. Garlic is also delicious and high in value per square foot of garden space.
For this reason, we recommend planting garlic scattered throughout the garden in the autumn (garlic needs a cold period to produce properly). The only potential clashes for garlic are artichoke, peas, and beans.
Though there are arguments for and against growing green beans nearby peppers, we have never had issues with the combination. Green beans prefer neutral soil while peppers prefer slightly acidic soil.
However, the green beans will tolerate pH levels down to 5.5 and grow just fine. If you are tight on space and want to grow both peppers and green beans, you likely won’t have any problems.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Tomatoes (see more info above)
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 root-based pathogens from thriving.
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.
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!
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 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 (Cabbages)
While cabbage 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. You can plant these in the same garden as your peppers, but be aware of the fertilizing needs of each!
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.
I hope this article helped you plan out what to plant near your peppers. There are infinite options to choose from, but following these pepper plant companion guidelines will help ensure a great harvest! Happy gardening, pepper geeks!