Native Americans 6,000 years ago practiced the “Three Sisters” – a companion planting method involving corn, squash, and beans. As you plan and prepare to grow marijuana, this is one ancient horticultural method that should be incorporated. Do that, and you will not only prevent problems from happening. You would also end up with grateful ladies ready to reward you with massive yields of aromatic, potent flowers.
The concept of companion planting is relatively easy to understand. Going back to the Native Americans, the crops they grew – together – benefited from symbiotic relationships. Corns, for example, are tall. Their structure becomes a frame for the beans to climb and serve as ample shades for squash. Meanwhile, the leaves of squash block sunlight from reaching the soil, which helps preserve microbial life. The beans also work with beneficial bacteria rhizobia to fix nitrogen, rendering them plant-usable.
Your marijuana plants can also benefit from companion planting. Believe it or not, there are plenty to choose from, and they serve different purposes:
- Pest deterrents
- Cover crops
- Medicinal plants
- Food crops
Are you ready to see which plants you can grow together with your marijuana plants?
What Makes Companion Planting Great?
Companion planting is consistent with the ideals of permaculture, which prioritizes closed-loop systems. Depending on the choice of which plants you choose to grow along with marijuana, it is possible to keep the flow of resources within the garden’s confines. You can have plants that help provide food, composts, and atmospheric nitrogen.
So, what can you get out of companion planting? Besides their individual merits, they also:
One of the keys to thriving plants is diversity. By growing different species together in the garden, you create an environment conducive to the growth of beneficial microorganisms.
Once one plant is infected in a monoculture garden, all others – being of the same species – become susceptible. On the other hand, a biodiverse garden benefits cannabis. The other plants – flowers, shrubs, and vegetables – act as a buffer, reducing the likelihood of disease transmission. Such an environment can also become a haven for beneficial insects and pollinators.
2. Soil Health and Nutrients
A healthy rhizosphere is essential to the soil food web. Thriving colonies of beneficial microbes decompose organic materials, converting them into nutrients. Mycorrhizal fungi, in particular, help the roots absorb essential minerals. In return, the plants release sugary exudates that attract and feed beneficial organisms. And when they die – the microorganisms – they also leave plant-usable nutrients in the root zone – ready to be absorbed and used.
Polyculture gardens preserve or can even further enhance soil health and food web. You could have cover crops that protect microbial life forms from excessive heat. Some of those microbes help produce or gather food, others fix nitrogen.
When you have different plants growing together, it helps cut down disease transmission because pathogens may not necessarily move to other plants. But that is not all. You can also choose plants that help deter pests. Some do that by excreting an aroma that repels insects. Others attract potentially harmful insects – away from cannabis plants.
You could even grow large plant species so that they could shield your precious plants from harsh environmental conditions – strong winds and heavy rainfalls.
4. Food and Natural Remedies
Companion plants are not merely ornamental. Each of them offers you something in return. There are many plants to choose from – some of them are food, others are useful natural remedies for illnesses.
What Are the Best Cannabis Companion Plants?
Imagine the wild where plants thrive. Most of the time, you’d see a variety of species. Companion planting is our way of mimicking how nature intended plants to grow – one where they protect and enhance each other.
As you ponder which companion plants to choose, it would greatly help you think about your needs.
1. Pest Deterrents
These plants have high concentrations of terpenes, producing aromas that humans may find enticing – but certainly not for insects. Some of them can also help by “trapping” predators, attracting the pests to keep them away from your precious cannabis plants.
The “Prince of Plants” not only nourishes the tummy, being one of the most widely used ingredients in dishes around the world. Basil also attracts beneficial insects while repelling aphids, asparagus beetles, mites, mosquitos, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies.
Basil companions: asparagus, oregano, pepper, and tomato
Catnip, which cats love, produce a scent that aphids, ants, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, and weevils find disgusting. Keeping it in the garden is not only to protect your cannabis plants. You can also use this plant to make tea.
Once upon a time, this plant was called “dizzy corn” due to its seeds’ narcotic effects. It was even thought to be an aphrodisiac. Nowadays, you can add to soups and salads in the kitchen. Or, you could grow them to keep aphids, spider mites, and potato beetles away from cannabis plants. You can also grind their seeds and boil in water to make foliar tea spray.
Coriander is also an excellent trap crop. Hoverflies and parasitic wasps, for instance, would be attracted, thus keeping pests away from cannabis plants.
Coriander companions: anise, bean, cabbage, lettuce, pea, spinach, and tomato
Coriander antagonists: dill
One of the most versatile plants that smell good and highly calming is lavender. Moreover, its smell and gorgeous colors help attract beneficial pollinators. Grow it around your cannabis plants to keep mice, fleas, tick, and moths away. At the end of the season, you can prune and collect the flower heads to make a soothing tea.
Lavender companions: basil, lemon, lettuce, onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, and tomato
Lavender antagonists: common rue and thyme
The bright orange flowers of marigold are a sight to behold. But for pests such as aphids, beetles, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, nematodes, and whiteflies, its scent is too repulsive. Even rabbits have no love for this plant.
Not all insects shy away, though. This plant can also attract cabbage flies, cabbage moths, hoverflies, and parasitoid wasps – which is a good thing. It keeps these pests focused on the marigolds and away from the cannabis plants.
Marigold is an incredible defender. Besides deterring pests, its roots are also potent insecticides. Hence, it became one of the most popular companion plants for cannabis.
Marigold companions: allium, brassica, gourd, pepper, rose, and zucchini
Marigold antagonists: walnut tree
This plant can inhibit the growth of other plants. But if grown in plants, you can place them close to cannabis plants, and they will help prevent aphids, birds, mice, slugs, and other pests.
Others Pest Deterring Plants
Many ideal cannabis companion plants fulfill two or more roles. These attractor plants mainly lure harmful insects, thus acting as a shield. They also attract beneficial insects to enhance the whole garden.
Suppose you have shaded areas in the garden. In that case, there are reasons why you want to grow chervil, beginning with its ability to deter aphids, slugs, and other pests. It does so by attracting beneficial insects to prey on pests.
Chervil companions: broccoli, lettuces, and radishes
Even if you do not grow cannabis, you still want to have dill in the house. It is such a delicious ingredient with an aniseed-like taste added to soups, salads, and chicken dishes.
In the garden, this herb attracts insects that prey on pests – ladybugs, parasitoid wasps, and praying mantises. Moreover, it can repel aphids, cabbage loopers, squash bugs, and spider mites. As if that is not enough, it can act as trap crops by luring caterpillars so that this pest feasts on it instead of the cannabis plants.
Dill plants also attract beneficial insects. These include butterflies, honey bees, and other pollinators.
Dill companions: cabbage, corn, cucumber, lettuce, and onion
Dill antagonists: carrot, fennel, and tomato
Florence fennel and Herb fennel lure ladybugs into the garden to feed on up to 50 aphids every day if they ever show up. They also attract parasitoid wasps that prey on cabbage worms, caterpillars, and whiteflies.
Fennel companions: basil, dill, and eggplant
Fennel antagonists: bean, coriander, and tomato
This plant not only beautifies the garden but also adds vitality. For one, it is excellent at enticing pests, preventing them from attacking cannabis plants. Its oil is also known to repel other harmful critters. Grow it near your precious ladies, and you can take care of spider mites.
Geranium companions: chrysanthemum, coreopsis, eggplant, grape, pepper, rose, and tomato
Lemon balm is a staple in any natural apothecary. Grow this plant alongside cannabis and its citrusy smell might carry over to the buds. At least, that is what some cannabis growers say. But as a companion plant, what it does best is masking the tell-tale smell of cannabis and turning away pests. If you want to, you can also make tea out of it.
Lemon balm companion: eggplant
Lemon balm antagonists: mustard and mint
Thyme, a staple in the kitchen, is also a beneficial companion plant. Its kitchen reputation as a tasty culinary herb extends to the garden where it attracts bees and butterflies. Moreover, it produces antibacterial and antifungal compounds to protect beneficial insects.
Thyme companions: Brussel sprout, cabbage, eggplant, potato, strawberry, and tomato
Thyme antagonists: common rue and allium family crops
Others Beneficial Insect Attractors
- Stinging nettle
One of the regulations in growing cannabis at home is that they should not be visible to the public. Some people also value privacy. You can grow companion plants that cover them, other plants, or beneficial organisms, shielding them from nosey eyes and predators.
This is a large, beautiful crop grown for edible seeds and leaves. More than that, it also has beautiful flowers and attracts ground beetles. Do you know what else Amaranth is suitable for when used in companion planting? It has thick stalks, making it useful as trellises for pole and runner beans. Furthermore, it helps shade the soil, helping retain water.
Amaranth companions: bean, cucamelon, gourd, pickling cucumber, and intermediate cherry tomato
This plant grows close to the ground, providing excellent cover for beneficial insects such as ground beetles and spiders. It can also attract bees and other pollinators while repelling aphids, Colorado potato beetles, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, squash beetles, striped pumpkins beetles, and whiteflies.
Nasturtium companions: apple, bean, brassica, broccoli, Brussel sprout, cabbage, cucumber, fruit tree, potato, pumpkin, radish, squash, and tomato
Nasturtium antagonists: cauliflower
Pretty is not only for your eyes. Wild mustards also have such an effect on insects, and both beneficial ones and pests are attracted to them. Besides pollinators, the plants take the pesky critters’ hit, instead of your cannabis plants being fed on by the bugs.
4. Cover Crops
These are the plants that help you take care of the soil, keeping them pristine. They maintain a healthy soil structure, manage nutrients, thus promoting a thriving microbial life.
Alfalfa is among the best companion plants you can grow. It breaks down compact soils to improve drainage, while deep-rooted roots hinder evaporation, thus retaining moisture.
This plant is also an incredible nitrogen-fixer, getting them mostly from the atmosphere and storing it in its roots. Moreover, it also accumulates other essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
As an attractor, alfalfa lures assassin bugs, big-eyed bugs, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps.
This plant – also called dusty miller – grows on the soil in a mat-like formation, acting as cover crops. For one, it helps retain moisture. More importantly, it protects the beneficial microorganisms of the sun’s UV rays. Cerastium is short-lived, though, and makes for an excellent source of compost material.
Growing comfrey provides your plants with one significant benefit – it helps pull nutrients from deep within the soil. Besides being an excellent mulch, it can also deter diseases such as powdery mildew.
Comfrey antagonists: walnuts and eucalyptus trees
Sunflower does everything to protect your cannabis plants. It can grow up to 3 meters and produce beautiful yellow flower heads. The harmful insects it deters are aphids, slugs, snails, and whiteflies – mainly by diverting their attention. It does release allelopathic chemicals into the soil, which inhibits the growth of other plants. Hence, you should plant it on the outer perimeters, which helps shield cannabis from public view.
Sunflower companions: corn, cucumber, pepper, soybean, squash, swan plant, and tomato
Sunflower antagonists: climbing bean, garlic, and potato
If you are looking for plants that can be turned into mulch, then sweet pea is one of your best bets. Do that, and it helps by pulling in atmospheric nitrogen. It is also low maintenance and for sure keeps the garden tidy by suppressing weeds.
Sweet Pea companions: alyssum, catmint, lobelia, rose, and lavender
Other Cover Crops for Cannabis
- Fava bean
- Grains (oats & rye)
- Small edible greens
- Stinging nettle
5. Nitrogen Fixers
If you want to boost the availability of nitrogen, then look no further. These are the companion plants you want growing near your cannabis plants.
Generally, beans are a nitrogen-fixer. They absorb nitrogen from the air and store it in the roots. Once they die, those nitrogens are released into the soil.
Bean companions: beet, borage, broccolis, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, chard, corn, cucumber, dill, eggplant, grapevine, lettuce, marigold, mint, okra, onion, pea, potato, radish, rosemary, savory, spinach, and squash
Bean antagonists: allium, pepper, and tomato
This deciduous nitrogen-fixer is an excellent addition in the garden. From the atmosphere, red clover converts nitrogen into nitrates. These are then stored in the roots, slowly released to the soil for cannabis and other plants, whichever is nearby. It has an extensive root system that aids in the flow of water. Moreover, it has visually appealing pinkish-reddish pom-pom flowers that pollinators find attractive.
This living mulch can be used to fill the space in between other plants. Like red clover, white clover is also an excellent source of nitrogen – originally sourced from the surrounding air. Once it begins to decay, plant-usable nitrogen is left in the soil.
It also helps improve the soil structure, with an extensive root system creating paths for water to flow. Once planted, it is a low-maintenance plant that does not require much of your time. Lastly, you are bound to see bees and butterflies coming close to your garden because of this plant.
In traditional medicine, dandelion is harnessed as a natural treatment for diseases – boils, eye problems, diabetes, diarrhea, and fever. It has long tap roots that can reach 15 feet deep, pulling otherwise inaccessible minerals. Once added into compost (excluding the flowerheads), it becomes an excellent source of nitrogen.
A canopy of gorgeous, densely packed white flowers – yarrow – seems like an excellent addition to the garden. More importantly, it attracts beneficial insects like aphid lions, ladybugs, hoverflies, and mini wasps – much to the chagrin of aphids and other pests. Some people also believe that this plant can also improve the production of essential oils in nearby plants.
Yarrow also plays another crucial role in the garden ecosystem. It releases substances that keep nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil fed and happy.
Yarrow companions: apricot, chervil, and grapevine
Other Nitrogen Fixers
6. Medicinal Plants
Plenty of active ingredients found in medicines came from plants. These companions positively impact the garden and your cannabis plants, while also used for pharmacological purposes.
Do you want a touch of purple surrounding your cannabis plants? Borage is an excellent choice. Not only does it release vitamins and minerals into the soil, but the plant itself can be added to composts. But that is not all. It also attracts pollinators while also deterring tomato hornworms and cabbage moth caterpillars. By the way, you can make teas out of its leaves and flowers.
Borage companions: bean, cabbage, cucumber, fruit tree, squash, and strawberry
Borage antagonists: tomato and cauliflower
One of the best teas you can drink is chamomile. But when you use it as a cannabis companion, it can give you plenty more. For one, this plant keeps whiteflies and nematodes away. You could use the tea as a foliar spray on seedlings and young plants to prevent fungi attacks. As if that is not enough, it also enlists hoverflies and parasitic wasps to eradicate harmful insects.
Soothing tea aside, chamomile is also used as an ingredient in making skin wash.
Chamomile companions: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, onion, and most herbs
Chamomile antagonists: mint, potato, and radish
A smelly defender, that is what peppermint is when grown as cannabis companions. If you want to hide or mask your precious ladies’ odor, this plant and its pungent smell can indeed do that – and more. It repels ants, aphids, cabbage flies, cabbage loopers, fleas, flea beetles, and mice.
Other Medicinal Plants
- Milk thistle
- Stinging nettle
7. Food Crops
Plenty of other companion plants that do not appear in this category are staples in the kitchen. They are either made into teas or added as ingredients. Well, here’s more.
Grow onions, and you know they will be put to good use in any of the tens and hundreds of dishes in your mind. But they are more than that. They repel insects that might otherwise attack your cannabis plants. Not to mention, they can also protect many of the other companion plants.
Onion companions: beet, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, chamomile, cucumber, dill, lettuce, marigold, parsnip, pepper, savory, strawberry, and tomato
Onion antagonists: asparagus, lentil, and pea
One of the most versatile herbs, Rosemary is not only an excellent culinary condiment but also used in perfumes. It is also fantastic companions for cannabis and other crops by attracting pollinators and repelling pests, including bean beetles. And, oh, the smell…
Rosemary companions: bean, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, and sage
Rosemary antagonists: tomato
This is a versatile herb widely used in medicine, food, and a fantastic companion for cannabis. Grow Sage to attract beneficial insects to feed on beetles, fleas, flies, loopers, and maggots – the harmful ones.
Sage companions: bean, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, marjoram, rosemary, strawberry, and tomato
Sage antagonists: cucumber, onion, and rue
Other Food Crops
- Bok choy
- Collard green
- Salad mixes
Companion Plants: Diversity Is Good and Helps Your Cannabis
You want the best for your cannabis plants. Out in the garden, or even indoors, you are not limited to only one plant species. As long as you have space, you can grow other plants.
Some of these plants are crops that have culinary values, while others can be ornamental. But you can have everything. As you can see, there are plenty of species to choose from and they will help each other.