Kale Companion Plants: The Best Plants To Grow Alongside Kale

Kale, the nutrient powerhouse, loves company. Companion planting can unlock hidden benefits for your delicious greens. So, are you ready to harness the magic of kale companion plants? Dive in and discover the perfect partners for a thriving kale patch!

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a natural strategy where you strategically pair different plants to create a mutually beneficial mini-ecosystem. It enhances growth, deter pests, and provides a variety of other benefits.

This method is rooted in the understanding that certain plants can positively affect the health and yield of others when grown in close proximity.

What Are The Benefits Of Kale Companion Plants?

The benefits of companion planting are numerous and include improving soil fertility, maximizing use of space, providing habitat for beneficial insects, and naturally controlling pests and diseases. Here are the key benefits of integrating kale companion plants into your gardening strategy:

Pest Deterrence:Certain companion plants can naturally repel pests that target kale, such as aphids, flea beetles, and cabbage worms. For example, aromatic herbs like dill, rosemary, and sage can discourage these pests from settling on your kale, reducing the need for chemical insecticides.
Disease Prevention:Companion planting can also help prevent the spread of diseases. Plants like garlic and onions emit strong scents that can deter pests and protect kale from various diseases. By reducing pest populations, the risk of disease transmission is also minimized.
Improved Soil Health:Companion plants can contribute to a healthier soil ecosystem. Legumes, such as beans and peas, fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more fertile and beneficial for kale, which thrives in nutrient-rich soil. This symbiotic relationship ensures that kale receives ample nutrients for growth.
Enhanced Biodiversity:Incorporating a variety of companion plants promotes biodiversity in the garden. This diversity attracts beneficial insects, such as pollinators and predatory insects that control pest populations. A balanced ecosystem encourages healthier plants and a more productive garden.
Mutual Support and Protection:Some companion plants can provide physical benefits, such as shade or support. Tall plants, like sunflowers, can offer kale some shade during the hottest part of the day, reducing water loss through evaporation and preventing heat stress. Conversely, kale’s broad leaves can help retain soil moisture for smaller companions.
Maximizing Garden Space:Companion planting allows for efficient use of garden space. By planting kale alongside compatible plants, gardeners can maximize yields from the same plot, making it an excellent strategy for small gardens or those looking to increase their harvest without expanding their garden size.

Read Also: Best Basil Companion Plants For Your Garden

10 Best Companion Plants For Kale

Kale thrives perfectly when surrounded by certain plants that complement and enhance its growth. Here are some of the best companion plants for kale and the benefits they offer:

1. Artichokes

Artichokes can serve as excellent companions for kale for several reasons. Their large stature and broad leaves provide shade and cooler ground temperatures for kale during the hotter parts of the day, which can help reduce water loss and protect kale from heat stress.

Artichokes Plant
Image by Canva

Additionally, artichokes can act as a windbreak, protecting kale from harsh winds that could damage its leaves.

2. Beets

Beets are beneficial companions to kale because they share similar soil and water requirements, making them easy to manage together. Beets can also help loosen the soil as they grow, which improves soil aeration and drainage around the kale roots.

Beets Plant
Image by Canva

This symbiotic relationship ensures that both plants thrive without competing for nutrients, as beets primarily focus on root development while kale grows above ground.

3. Celery

Celery is another excellent companion for kale, offering mutual benefits. Celery can help deter white cabbage butterflies, whose larvae are known to feast on kale leaves. The strong scent of celery may mask the presence of kale from pests, reducing damage.

Celery Plant
Image by Canva

Moreover, planting kale and celery together can optimize space usage in the garden, as they have differing heights and root systems that allow them to coexist harmoniously.

4. Cucumber

Cucumbers can be great companions for kale due to their sprawling growth habit, which can help suppress weeds, keeping the soil around kale plants clean and less hospitable to pests.

Cucumbers Plant
Image by Canva

The shade provided by cucumber vines can also help keep the soil moist and cool, benefiting kale during warm weather. Furthermore, cucumbers attract beneficial pollinators, which can improve the biodiversity and health of your garden.

5. Lettuce

Lettuce and kale make for excellent companions because they have similar cultural requirements, including water, soil, and light. Planting lettuce around kale can lead to efficient use of garden space, is lettuce’s low profile allows it to fit comfortably under or around kale plants.

Lettuce Plant
Image by Canva

Furthermore, the quick maturity rate of lettuce means it can be harvested before kale needs more room to expand, maximizing yield from the same plot.

6. Onion

Onions are a fantastic companion for kale due to their strong scent, which can deter many pests that target kale, such as aphids and certain types of beetles. The pungent aroma of onions serves as a natural repellent, providing a protective barrier around kale plants.

Onions Pant
Image by Canva

Additionally, onions can help prevent fungal diseases by inhibiting the growth of certain pathogens in the soil, promoting a healthier environment for kale.

7. Peas

Peas are an excellent choice for companion planting with kale for several reasons. As legumes, peas have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil in a form that plants can absorb, enriching the soil and benefiting kale, which thrives in nitrogen-rich conditions.

Peas Plant
Image by Canva

This natural fertilization can lead to more vigorous growth and a higher yield of kale. Furthermore, peas’ vertical growth habit allows them to be trellised, saving space and providing shade to kale during hot weather.

8. Potatoes

Potatoes and kale can be good companions, primarily because they have different nutrient needs and thus do not compete for resources.

Potatoes Plants
Image by Canva

However, it’s important to practice crop rotation and not plant them in the same spot each year to prevent soil depletion and disease buildup. Potatoes can benefit from the presence of kale because kale can help suppress weeds that might otherwise compete with potato plants for nutrients and water.

9. Radishes

Radishes make excellent companions for kale by serving multiple roles. They can act as a trap crop for pests, attracting flea beetles away from kale leaves.

Radishes Plant
Image by Canva

Radishes grow quickly and can be harvested before kale plants need more space, making them an efficient use of garden space. Additionally, radishes can help break up compacted soil with their deep roots, improving soil aeration and drainage for the benefit of kale’s root system.

10. Spinach

Spinach and kale are complementary companions, thriving under similar growing conditions of cool weather and moist, fertile soil. Planting spinach alongside kale can lead to efficient space utilization, as spinach’s low-growing, compact habit allows it to fit nicely between kale plants.

Spinach-Plant
Image by Canva

The presence of spinach can also help keep the soil moist and cool, creating an ideal microclimate for kale. Moreover, growing these leafy greens together can provide a continuous harvest of nutritious greens from the same garden space.

What Not To Plant With Kale

While kale benefits greatly from many companion plants, there are certain plants that should be avoided as companions due to the potential for competition, pest attraction, or disease transmission. Here are some plants that are not advisable to grow in close proximity to kale:

  • Strawberries: Strawberries and kale do not make good companions in the garden. Strawberries can attract slugs and other pests that also enjoy feeding on kale leaves. Additionally, strawberries and kale have different water and nutrient requirements, which can lead to competition and potentially stunted growth for both plants.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are not recommended as companions for kale for several reasons. They can attract several pests and diseases that could also affect kale, such as blight and aphids. Moreover, tomatoes are heavy feeders and can deplete the soil of nutrients that kale needs to thrive. The large tomato plants can also shade out kale, inhibiting its growth.
  • Brassicas: While it might seem logical to plant kale with other brassicas, this can actually lead to increased competition for nutrients and space. More importantly, grouping kale with other brassicas can attract shared pests, such as cabbage loopers and aphids, and diseases like clubroot, making pest and disease management more challenging.
  • Grapes: Grapes and kale are not compatible in close planting due to their vastly different growth habits and nutritional needs. Grapes have extensive root systems that can outcompete kale for water and nutrients. Additionally, the shade cast by grapevines can inhibit kale’s sunlight exposure, negatively affecting its growth.
  • Climbing Beans: Climbing beans are not ideal companions for kale because they can grow vigorously and potentially overshadow the kale, limiting its light exposure. Moreover, some climbing beans, like pole beans, can create a dense canopy that may retain moisture, increasing the risk of fungal diseases that could also affect kale.

When planning your garden, it’s crucial to consider these interactions to ensure that your kale and its companion plants have the best conditions for growth. By avoiding these incompatible plants, you can minimize competition and pest issues, leading to a healthier, more productive garden.

Read Also: Best Eggplant Companion Plants For Your Garden

FAQ’s

1. Can I plant herbs near my kale, and if so, which ones are best?

Yes, planting herbs near your kale can be very beneficial. Certain herbs like dill, sage, and rosemary can deter common pests like aphids and cabbage moths from attacking your kale.

Additionally, aromatic herbs such as thyme and oregano can help repel other pests and attract beneficial insects to your garden. Incorporating these herbs not only enhances your garden’s biodiversity but also adds flavor to your kitchen!

2. How close should companion plants be to kale?

The spacing between kale and its companion plants depends on the specific needs and growth habits of the companion plant. As a general rule, most companion plants should be spaced close enough to benefit each other but far enough apart to prevent overcrowding and competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight.

Typically, this means planting companions about 12 to 18 inches away from your kale plants. However, always consider the mature size of both the kale and its companions when planning your garden layout.

3. Are there any flowers that make good companions for kale?

Yes, several flowers can serve as excellent companions for kale by attracting beneficial insects and deterring pests. Marigolds, for example, can repel nematodes and some pests that might target kale, while nasturtiums act as a trap crop for aphids, drawing them away from kale. 

Calendula, also known as pot marigold, attracts pollinators and beneficial insects that prey on pests. Planting these flowers around your kale can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden while supporting a healthy ecosystem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when planning your garden, it’s crucial to consider these interactions to ensure that your kale and its companion plants have the best conditions for growth. Also, by avoiding some incompatible plants, you can minimize competition and pest issues, leading to a healthier, more productive garden.

Leave a Comment