10 Must-Have Sweet Potato Companion Plants for Your Garden

Do you know sweet potato companion plants not only contribute to the well-being of sweet potatoes but also enhance the overall garden environment and lead to a thriving and bountiful harvest. So, let’s explore the best companions for your sweet potatoes and learn how these pairings can lead to a thriving garden.

What Is Companion Planting?

When it comes to gardening, the concept of companion planting is as ancient as the soil itself. It involves strategically placing different plant species close to each other to enhance growth, repel pests, and improve flavors. Sweet potatoes, with their sprawling vines and nutritious tubers, are a popular choice for many gardeners. 

However, to maximize their yield and maintain healthy gardens, it’s crucial to understand the best sweet potato companion plants. This article will delve into the symbiotic relationships sweet potatoes can have with other plants, ensuring your garden is not only productive but also a harmonious ecosystem. 

By incorporating these companion plants, you can naturally deter pests, improve soil health, and create a more bountiful harvest. 

What Are The Benefits Of Sweet Potato Companion Planting?

Companion planting with sweet potatoes offers a multitude of benefits, making it a practice worth considering for any gardener aiming for a healthy and productive garden. Integrating sweet potato companion plants into your garden design is not just about maximizing space but also about fostering a beneficial environment for all your plants. Here are the key advantages:

1. Pest Management: One of the most significant benefits of companion planting with sweet potatoes is natural pest control. Certain plants can repel common pests that bother sweet potatoes, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. For example, marigolds can deter nematodes in the soil that might otherwise damage sweet potato roots.

2. Disease Prevention: Companion plants can help prevent the spread of diseases. By diversifying the garden, you reduce the risk of diseases that can rapidly spread among plants of the same family. This is particularly important for sweet potatoes, which can be susceptible to various soil-borne diseases.

3. Improved Soil Health: Some companion plants can enhance soil structure and fertility. For instance, legumes can fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for sweet potatoes and improving their growth. This symbiotic relationship ensures sweet potatoes have access to essential nutrients.

4. Enhanced Pollination: Flowering companion plants can attract pollinators to your garden, which is beneficial for the entire garden ecosystem. While sweet potatoes themselves do not require pollination to produce tubers, the presence of pollinators can increase the yield and health of other garden crops, creating a more productive garden space.

5. Weed Suppression: The dense foliage of sweet potatoes can shade the ground, suppressing weed growth. When paired with other ground-cover or tall, leafy plants, this effect is magnified, reducing the labor and time spent on weddings.

6. Maximizing Use of Space: Sweet potatoes with their sprawling habit can be effectively paired with upright or deep-rooted plants to make the most efficient use of garden space. This not only optimizes your garden’s layout but also supports a diverse ecosystem.

10 Best Sweet Potato Companion Plants

Integrating companion plants with sweet potatoes can significantly enhance your garden’s productivity and health. Below are some of the best companions for sweet potatoes, each offering unique benefits that contribute to a thriving garden ecosystem.

1. Onions

Onions are excellent companions for sweet potatoes. They help repel various pests, including rabbits and deer, who might be tempted by the sweet potato vines. 

Onions Pant
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Additionally, the strong scent of onions can deter soil pests and airborne insects, providing a protective barrier against those looking to feast on sweet potatoes.

Read Also: Best Onion Companion Plants For Your Garden

2. Alyssum

This beautiful flowering plant attracts beneficial insects, including pollinators and predatory insects that feed on common pests.

Alyssum Plant
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Alyssum can serve as a living mulch, covering the soil with a blanket of flowers, reducing weed growth, and helping to keep the soil moist, which sweet potatoes love.

3. Beans

Beans are nitrogen-fixers, meaning they help increase the nitrogen content in the soil, a critical nutrient for the healthy growth of sweet potatoes. Planting beans nearby can improve soil fertility, benefiting sweet potatoes and other plants in the vicinity.

Beans Plant
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Additionally, beans can serve as a natural trellis for sweet potato vines to climb on, although sweet potatoes generally prefer to spread along the ground.

4. Marigolds

Marigolds are not just pretty flowers; they’re powerful companions for sweet potatoes. They exude a substance from their roots that can kill nematodes in the soil—microscopic worms that can damage sweet potato roots. 

Marigolds Plant
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Planting marigolds a season before planting sweet potatoes can significantly reduce nematode populations, creating a healthier environment for your tubers.

5. Nasturtium

Nasturtium serves multiple roles when planted alongside sweet potatoes. Their bright, trumpet-shaped flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects, while their peppery leaves can deter pests like aphids and beetles. 

Nasturtiums Plant
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Nasturtiums can also act as a trap crop, attracting pests to themselves and away from sweet potatoes.

6. Radishes

Radishes are a quick-growing crop that can be beneficial when planted with sweet potatoes. They help break up the soil with their deep roots, making it easier for sweet potato roots to expand. 

Radishes Plant
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Additionally, radishes can act as a catch crop, drawing pests away from sweet potatoes. Their rapid growth cycle means they can be harvested before sweet potatoes need more room to spread, making them an excellent companion for maximizing space and pest management.

7. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green that grows well in the cooler months and can be an excellent companion for sweet potatoes. The shallow roots of spinach mean it won’t compete with sweet potatoes for nutrients deep in the soil. 

Spinach-Plant
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Planting spinach around sweet potatoes can help keep the soil moist and weed-free, as the spinach leaves shade the ground. This mutual relationship allows for efficient use of garden space and can lead to a more productive harvest.

8. Yarrow

Yarrow is a perennial herb known for its ability to attract beneficial insects, including ladybugs, which feed on aphids and other pests. It can also improve soil quality by accumulating nutrients like potassium, which is beneficial for sweet potato growth. 

Yarrow Plant
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Yarrow’s deep roots can help aerate the soil, improving water infiltration and benefiting sweet potato tubers’ development.

9. Garlic

As mentioned with alliums, garlic is particularly beneficial for sweet potatoes. Its strong scent can repel pests, and when planted strategically, garlic can serve as a barrier that protects sweet potatoes from various insects and animals. 

Garlic Plant
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Garlic also takes up little space, allowing sweet potatoes to spread out without competition for nutrients.

10. Peas

Echoing the benefits of legumes, peas are excellent nitrogen-fixers, enriching the soil where sweet potatoes grow. They have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the soil, converting atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can absorb. 

Peas Plant
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This process naturally fertilizes the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Peas also attract beneficial insects, which can help control pests in the garden.

Incorporating these companion plants into your sweet potato garden can significantly enhance the health and yield of your crops. From improving soil conditions to managing pests naturally, the right companions make all the difference in creating a vibrant and productive garden.

Worst Sweet Potato Companion Plants

While companion planting can offer numerous benefits to sweet potatoes, it’s equally important to be aware of plants that might not make good neighbors. Certain plants can compete with sweet potatoes for nutrients, water, and space, or they may attract pests and diseases that negatively affect sweet potatoes. Here’s a look at some of the plants considered to be less-than-ideal companions for sweet potatoes.

  • Squash: Squash, including zucchini and pumpkins, are not recommended to plant alongside sweet potatoes. Both crops are vigorous growers and can compete aggressively for space. Squash vines can overshadow sweet potato plants, limiting their access to sunlight, which is crucial for their growth. Additionally, both sweet potatoes and squash have similar pest and disease profiles, increasing the risk of infestation and spread.
  • Sunflowers: While sunflowers can be beneficial in some garden setups due to their ability to attract pollinators, they are not considered good companions for sweet potatoes. Sunflowers have a large root system that can compete with sweet potatoes for water and nutrients. Furthermore, the tall stature of sunflowers can cast shadows over sweet potato plants, reducing the sunlight necessary for their optimal growth.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes and sweet potatoes share common pests and diseases, which can easily transfer from one plant to the other when planted too closely. Diseases like blight and pests such as whiteflies can wreak havoc on both crops. Additionally, tomatoes require a different set of nutrients and soil conditions compared to sweet potatoes, making it challenging to meet both plants’ needs when they’re grown together.

Avoiding the planting of these crops near sweet potatoes can help ensure that your sweet potatoes thrive, reducing competition and the risk of pest and disease transfer. It’s always a good practice to plan your garden layout with companion planting in mind, considering the needs and characteristics of each plant to create a harmonious and productive garden ecosystem.

Read Also: Best Dill Companion Plants For Your Garden

Additional Companion Planting Tips

  • Crop Rotation: Practice crop rotation by planting sweet potatoes in areas where compatible plants were grown previously. This strategy helps manage soil nutrients and prevent the buildup of pests and diseases.
  • Spacing: Ensure there is adequate space between your sweet potatoes and companion plants to prevent overcrowding and competition for resources.
  • Pest Management: Incorporate plants that specifically target the pests known to affect sweet potatoes in your area. For example, if sweet potato weevils are a common problem, focus on planting deterrents like marigolds.

FAQ’s

What Grows Well With Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes grow well with a variety of plants, including alliums (garlic, onions, chives), leafy greens (spinach, lettuce), legumes (beans, peas), and certain flowers (marigolds, nasturtiums, alyssum). These companions help deter pests, improve soil health, and utilize garden space efficiently without competing aggressively for resources.

Can I Grow Sweet Potatoes Next To Tomatoes?

It’s generally not recommended to grow sweet potatoes next to tomatoes. Both plants are susceptible to similar pests and diseases, which could easily transfer from one to the other. Additionally, they compete for nutrients and might not thrive when planted closely. Keeping them in separate areas of the garden is best to prevent potential issues.

What Are Potato’s Best Companion Plants?

While the question seems to be about potatoes, it’s worth noting that potatoes and sweet potatoes have different companion plants due to their unique growing requirements. For potatoes, good companions include beans, corn, cabbage, marigolds, and nasturtiums. These plants can help deter pests and optimize the use of space. For sweet potatoes, the best companions have been mentioned earlier in the article.

How Close To Plant Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes require ample space to grow due to their sprawling vines. When planting sweet potatoes, it’s best to space slips (young plants) about 12 to 18 inches apart in rows that are at least 3 feet apart. This spacing allows adequate room for the vines to spread and for the tubers to develop without being too crowded. 

Companion plants should be placed outside this perimeter to ensure they don’t interfere with the growth of the sweet potatoes or vice versa. It’s important to consider the growth habits and space requirements of the companion plants as well to prevent overcrowding and competition for resources.

Final Thoughts

Companion planting is a dynamic and complex practice that can significantly impact the success of your sweet potato crop. By carefully selecting plants that complement and benefit each other, you can create a more productive, sustainable, and beautiful garden. 

Remember, the key to effective companion planting lies in understanding the specific needs and characteristics of each plant in your garden. With careful planning and observation, you can harness the full potential of companion planting to enhance your sweet potato yield and overall garden health.

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