Accompanying is an age-old agricultural practice that, when used properly, will make a garden thrive. By integrating companion plants into a garden, you offer a well-rounded plant system to encourage the growth of the space as a whole. Some of the most interesting examples of this are sweet potato companion plants!
A sweet potato plant is productive, fun, and easy to grow. You may be amazed to know that there are many companion plants to sweet potatoes. Whether you are planning your spring garden or are just growing sweet potatoes, good companion plants are of great help.
Some companions feed nutrients to aid sweet potato growth, while others aid the sweet potato's resistance to insect pests. As you learn more about these great companion plants, you will better understand what sweet potatoes need to grow. Companion plants seem to have surprising benefits, don't they?
What is accompanying planting?
Good companion sweet potato plants will help you succeed. Source: Henna Lion
When I think of companion planting, I think of Three Sisters, a Native American method of regenerative farming that has been around for centuries. Beans, corn, and pumpkin are planted together in a supportive growth system. Corn provides a pole for beans to climb on. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil and help pumpkin and corn grow healthy roots. And pumpkin covers the ground, suppresses weeds and improves pest resistance. They all work together to improve the taste of each one.
The example of the Three Sisters is a simple view of a complex process. Vegetable gardens with accompanying plants have a good harvest. Some companion plants lure pests into a so-called trap crop, which allows other plants to grow. Some attract beneficial insects that control pest populations. Others help improve the taste of nearby vegetables through the micronutrients they provide to the soil. Ground covers block weeds and encourage a steady flow of nutrients to other producers. Taller plants provide shade for sunbathers, and fast-growing plants mark and delimit areas telling gardeners where to plant.
Many gardeners plant certain plants with others for these reasons. The result is higher yields and plants that support the growth of others. So why not add a few companions to your sweet potato garden?
Good companion sweet potato plants
Sweet potatoes are fertile and fun in a garden. Combine them with these companion plants and you not only have more abundant and tastier sweet potatoes, but also more variety in your garden. The sweet potatoes also give something back to their companion plants.
Dill is a nice companion plant for sweet potatoes. Source: Hummingbird
Herbs are great plants for sweet potatoes, largely because they like sandy soils. Warm soil-loving herbs are particularly good companions for sweet potatoes. Of all the aromatic herbs, summer savory is one of the best sweet potato companion plants to ward off the dreaded sweet potato weevil. Summer savory confuses the sweet potato weevil, preventing it from laying eggs in sweet potato tubers and feeding on the orange pulp inside. Savory also improves the fertility of the surrounding soil.
Thyme is another herb that is great companion for sweet potatoes as it attracts beneficial insects such as hoverflies, which feed on aphids, which suck the juice and nutrients from the leaves of the sweet potato vine. Sweet potatoes and thyme also go wonderfully together in one dish. Thyme is also a great perennial herb that goes well with many other flavors in the kitchen. When planting a creeping variety, try to keep it in check so it doesn't take up too much space in the sweet potato.
Dill is a great companion plant for many vegetables, but it is an especially good companion plant for sweet potatoes because it repels insects. Not only does dill deter aphids like thyme, it also keeps spider mites away. Spider mites can be devastating to almost any plant. As a side benefit, dill plays host to swallowtail butterflies, which are useful pollinators that you will want to have in your garden.
Oregano is one of those insect repellent companion plants that also has the benefit of covering your vine. Since it can be quite lush, use it in edges around the room where you grow sweet potatoes rather than in the same bed. Let the oregano suppress the grass and weeds while your vine thrives.
Onions (including spring onions) are an excellent companion plant for sweet potato vines. We can attribute this not only to their compact growth, but also to their insect-repellent abilities. Sweet potato pests like the Colorado potato beetle stay away from the characteristic pungent aroma of the onion leaves. Growing other plants in the allium family, such as spring onions, provides the same protection.
Chives and spring onions are excellent companions for your sweet potato garden. They act as a border between grapevines and deter pests in the process. There are no insects that like to chew on spicy allium leaves. Note that allium suppresses the growth of legumes. So if legumes are another sweet potato companion you choose, plant them away from Allium.
Spinach and small salads are great ground cover for your sweet potato harvest. They're also a great catch crop for staving off erosion in the garden soil. Really, vegetable gardens aren't complete with a healthy amount of greens. More green means more sweet potatoes, as spinach drains excess nutrients from the soil that could slow the growth of the sweet potato vines. Lettuce has similar properties and as a companion plant provides cover, suppresses weeds and builds soil biomass.
Large companion sweet potato plants like runner beans are nitrogen-fixing plants. As the sweet potatoes begin to form, they will draw nitrogen from the soil. Runner beans are good companion plants as they replace the nitrogen that feeds the tubers when growing sweet potatoes.
Peas do the same. You can plant runner beans and peas one at a time to allow them to ripen and die, and plant the sweet potato afterward. The mulch left behind by peas nourishes the soil and provides sweet potatoes with the nitrogen they need to produce leaves for photosynthesis. Peas can also protect the hot sun from sweet potato leaves, which need a little shade to function well.
There are many root vegetables that go well with sweet potatoes. Parsnips fill the space around your garden and break up compacted soil. Be sure to grow sweet potatoes near parsnips, but not in the same garden. Parsnips too dense can stunt bulb growth. Turnips and radishes also break up the soil, and their shallow roots are less of a disruption to the growth of vines and tubers. All of these root vegetables keep Colorado beetles away.
Regular potatoes are good companions because they are an excellent staple food that goes well with almost any dish. Although they will do well in the same bed, it may be best to grow these two plants in separate areas as they are at risk of similar diseases. This creates space for normal and sweet bulbs to thrive.
Horseradish plants are some of the best companion plants for sweet potatoes. They build disease resistance in neighboring plants and keep the Colorado potato beetles away, which eat the light orange pulp of sweet potatoes when they are infected. They also have an intense pungent taste that is great in dips and pickles.
Marigolds are a strong companion plant. Source: Jim, the photographer
In general, flowers are great for attracting beneficial insects and trapping pests. Some even repel pests that can destroy a crop. Marigold is one such flower that is widely used in companion planting for its ability to repel pests. Plant it in borders around your vine with other flowers and herbs. This not only keeps a wide variety of pests (Colorado beetles, flea beetles and nematodes) away, but also gives your garden a bright splash of color. They are also great in salads.
Nasturtium is one of those good companion plants for sweet potatoes that is also edible. The flowers are available in yellow, orange and pink and have a nice piquant taste. In spring they bring color and pollinators to the garden. They also trap aphids and are good companion plants for many others, not just sweet potatoes. They could serve as the border between your sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
Sweet alyssum is a good ground cover that will attract beneficial insects. This helper goes against aphids, which make gardening difficult for many. So many growers swear by the accompanying planting of alyssum, it's often used in fruit tree guild designs. It's a good ground cover plant for suppressing weeds and controlling pests.
Yarrow is a good companion plant for sweet potatoes and also for humans! You can plant yarrow to attract lacewings, which prey on aphids, spider mites, and flea beetles. And then you can make tea out of its flowers. Add yarrow flowers to arrangements at home and bring their lovely camomile-like flavor to cakes and sweet confections.
Plants in the shade
Corn plants grow tall and provide shade for a sweet potato plant from the intense sun and warm weather that can scorch leaves. Planting corn in a large bed of sweet potatoes helps create the mottled shade that helps the vine grow well. Another interesting and good companion plant for sweet potatoes is the banana tree. It gives sweet potatoes the shade they need at higher temperatures when warm soil can get too hot. Sweet potatoes also serve as a ground cover for banana trees.
What not to plant with sweet potatoes
Tomatoes are a risky companion for sweet potatoes. Source: scott1346
While sweet potatoes are pretty easy to grow companion plants, there are a few plants that you should exclude from your sweet potato garden. Sometimes the reason for this is purely structural, where roots tend to interfere with one another. Sometimes it has to do with biochemical interactions.
Any type of pumpkin makes a poor companion plant for sweet potatoes. Summer and winter squash and sweet potato vines are plentiful and take up a lot of space. Even with a trellis and one hanging on the ground, they compete with each other for nutrients. Sweet potatoes need as much soil as possible, and unless we're talking about aromatic herbs, it is best to stay away from other trailing vines.
Sunflowers are not suitable for sweet potatoes as they encourage potato rot. They also take up a lot of root space, where sweet potatoes could grow the supple orange pulp that you love so much. Instead of planting sunflowers, try the other flowers above.
Much like sunflower, tomatoes have the same diseases as sweet potatoes (like potato rot) and the two together have a somewhat toxic relationship. They mutually promote diseases and inhibit growth and reproduction. If you want to grow tomatoes in the same season as sweet potatoes, place them on opposite sides of the garden or grow one crop in the ground and one in a container away from each other.
Sweet potato plants do not get along well with plants that prefer similar conditions. Runner beans may be great companions for sweet potatoes, but French beans are not. That's because French beans grow much like sweet potatoes. French beans and sweet potatoes will try to battle for space and nutrients, leaving you with low yield on all fronts. So, if you want to grow beans as companion plants to sweet potatoes, grow runner beans that tendril instead of spreading.
frequently asked Questions
Q: Can you plant anything with sweet potatoes?
A: Not necessarily. Since sweet potatoes tend to take up a lot of space, other vine plants may not be suitable companion plants. Check the lists above to see which are best and which to avoid.
Q: can you plant tomatoes with sweet potatoes?
A: You can, but you probably don't want to. Tomatoes can easily transmit disease to your sweet potato vine. Instead, move tomatoes elsewhere in your yard or grow them in a container away from sweet potatoes.
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