Companion Planting: Enhance Your Sweet Potato Garden

Are you searching for the perfect companion plants to grow alongside your sweet potatoes? Look no further! In this guide, we’ll explore the best and worst companions for sweet potatoes, offering valuable insights to help you maximize your garden’s potential.

Understanding Companion Planting

Companion planting involves strategically planting different species in close proximity to one another to harness their mutual benefits. By doing so, you can create a harmonious ecosystem that deters pests, improves soil fertility, and attracts beneficial insects.

The Advantages of Companion Planting

One of the key advantages of companion planting is its ability to protect plants without resorting to chemical pesticides. Certain plants can attract pollinators and predatory insects that prey on destructive pests, creating a natural defense system. Additionally, companion plants can optimize growing conditions, offer shade or ground cover, and enhance soil health through nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling.

Factors to Consider

Before choosing companion plants for your sweet potatoes, consider several factors. Will the plants shade or compete with each other for sunlight? Do they attract the same pests, or can they deter pests from one another? Are they likely to compete for space or nutrients? It’s crucial to ensure that the companion plants can thrive together harmoniously.

Best Companion Plants for Sweet Potatoes

Alliums: Garlic, onions, chives, and other members of the allium family make excellent companions for sweet potatoes. These plants attract pollinators, deter sweet potato pests like bean weevils and flea beetles, and help improve sweet potato health by deterring root-knot nematodes.

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Onion plant.

Alyssum: The sweet-smelling alyssum is a fantastic companion plant for sweet potatoes. It attracts beneficial insects like lacewings, which prey on aphids, mites, and beetles. Alyssum is commonly used in food forests and fruit tree guilds to attract predatory insects and pollinators.

Alyssum flowers.

Herbs: Utilizing herbs such as thyme, dill, and basil in your garden can help protect your sweet potatoes. These aromatic confusers attract beneficial insects like hoverflies, which feed on aphids, while repelling flies, thrips, spider mites, and hornworms.

Thyme plant in a pot.

Legumes: Beans, in particular, serve as excellent companions for sweet potatoes due to their nitrogen-fixing abilities. Sweet potatoes benefit from the nitrogen-rich nodules found on bean roots. Moreover, beans attract pests away from sweet potatoes and provide shade protection from the sun.

Bean plant.

Marigolds: The vibrant orange and yellow flowers of marigolds not only add beauty to your garden but also act as effective sweet potato companions. Marigolds repel nematodes, whiteflies, aphids, and other pests that can damage sweet potato plants.

Marigold flowers.

Nasturtium: This flower is a must-have companion plant. Nasturtium emits an aroma that deters sweet potato pests, effectively protecting your sweet potatoes. The edible leaves of nasturtium attract aphids, diverting their attention from your precious sweet potato vines.

Nasturtium flower with a bumble bee.

Radishes: Interplanting radishes with sweet potatoes is a smart move. Radishes mature quickly, allowing more space for the sweet potato vines to grow. Additionally, radishes attract aphids, which in turn become a feast for predator insects like ladybugs and lacewings.

Radish plant.

Spinach: Spinach acts as an edible ground cover, preventing weed growth and preserving soil moisture. Its short-season growth habit ensures that spinach is harvested before sweet potatoes mature, allowing more room for their growth.

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Spinach plant.

Yarrow: Yarrow is a superstar companion plant, renowned for attracting numerous beneficial insects. Planting yarrow in your sweet potato garden can attract predatory wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, and spiders, all of which help keep pests in check.

Yarrow flowers.

Companion Plants to Avoid

Squash: Avoid planting squash, pumpkins, cantaloupes, or watermelons alongside sweet potatoes. These vining plants have similar growth habits, leading to competition for resources like space and sunlight, resulting in stunted growth for both plants.

Pumpkin plant.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes and sweet potatoes are both susceptible to diseases like potato blight. To prevent disease transmission, it’s crucial to keep them separated by planting them in different areas of the garden.

Tomato vine.

Sunflowers: Sunflowers are not ideal companions for sweet potatoes as they can increase the risk of blight on your sweet potato plants. It’s best to avoid planting them together to ensure the health of both plants.

Sunflower plant.

By carefully selecting companion plants that complement sweet potatoes, you can create a thriving garden that boosts the growth and flavor of your sweet potatoes while naturally repelling pests. Say goodbye to store-bought chemicals and embrace the power of companion planting!

To find more information about companion planting, visit the Ames Farm Center.

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Best and worst sweet potato companion plants pinterest graphic.