Planting broccoli in your own garden can be a challenge, though the reward is worth the effort. To make growing broccoli a bit easier, consider adding some more plants to the mix: broccoli companion plants can help keep pests away, enrich the soil, and some even say certain plants can enhance the flavor and yield! Many different plants are suitable for companion planting broccoli, so there are options to suit any garden or raised bed.
Benefits of Companion Planting for Broccoli
Companion planting benefits everyone: the gardener, the plants, and the pollinators in the area. There are more reasons to companion plant than not to, so here are some of the benefits to consider for the next time you’re setting up your garden:
- Built-in pest protection: Many plants that are good for companion planting are aromatic or produce compounds that either keep pests away or attract the pest to that specific plant instead of your broccoli.
- Attracts pollinators: Pollinators enhance the health of an ecosystem, and when you have a variety of plants, not only will the pollinators appreciate it, but you will see the benefit to your garden too.
- Soil enrichment: Some plants, like nitrogen-fixers such as legumes, can make certain nutrients more bioavailable to your plant, increasing its vitality and helping to ensure a tasty, bountiful yield.
- Better space utilization: Companion planting plants that have different depths of roots and nutrient requirements can help you make good use of smaller spaces and “in-between” spaces, making a small-sized garden put in full-sized work.
What Grows Well with Broccoli
Good companion plants are usually aromatic, as this is the first mechanism that drives away pests. Herbs and alliums are good companion plants for broccoli and most other plants, too.
Best Broccoli Companion Plants
With such a variety of suitable companion plants, it can be hard to decide what’s the best one. Consider this list a type of streamlined broccoli companion planting chart to take the intimidation out of using companion gardening. Here’s what to plant with broccoli:
Beets can thrive in soils lower in calcium, which is convenient and makes for a great companion plant for broccoli because broccoli tends to pull more calcium from the soil. Additionally, they don’t occupy the same soil space since beets are deeper in the ground than broccoli.
Chamomile is a cute, dainty, daisy-like flower that is great to plant around broccoli because it will attract pollinators to your broccoli and other plants in your garden. Many have also said that companion planting broccoli with chamomile enhances the flavor of the broccoli.
Strongly scented herbs such as dill are good to repel insects by both scent and taste if the pest happens to begin munching on the plant in the first place.
Potatoes and broccoli don’t require the same nutrients in the same quantities, so neither will suffer when planted next to the other. This is also convenient if you already want to grow potatoes since not many other plants are compatible with growing next to them.
Nasturtiums are a great option if you’re looking to add more flowers to your garden while also practicing companion gardening. These flowers sprawl along the ground, helping to suppress weeds and maintain soil moisture and temperature.
These are perfect specimens for small gardens or container gardening, as they use the “in-between” spaces in your garden. They also crowd out weeds beneath the broccoli plant, and the broccoli protects it from sun damage.
Broccoli provides shade to spinach to prevent it from bolting, and the broccoli plant benefits from the spinach plant’s moisture-conserving qualities.
Growing celery and broccoli nearby is another combination that is said to enhance the flavor of the broccoli. Celery also prefers cooler temperatures and shadier conditions, so the shade from a broccoli plant provides exactly what the celery needs.
Shallots, garlic, and onions are all pungent plants that will keep pests away but will also not interfere with your broccoli plant’s root zone or nutrient preference. To make it even better, this is another plant that is said to improve the broccoli’s flavor when planted next to each other.
Rosemary’s strong aroma is sure to keep cabbage-loving pests away from your plants, and it can also be planted in smaller spaces and thrives in containers. Plus, you’ll have rosemary ready for use whenever!
Best Broccoli Rabe Companion Plants
Broccoli rabe abides by some of the same rules as regular broccoli, though its best companions do vary a bit. Here’s what to plant with your broccoli rabe:
This aromatic root will not compete with your broccoli rabe and can deter pests from ruining your broccoli harvest.
Tall, leafy growth can help provide necessary shade to seedlings and sprouting plants to get through to flower and fruit development without taking sun damage to the foliage.
Can cucumber and broccoli be planted together? Absolutely! Cucumbers are a good companion for broccoli because their low-growing foliage can be used as ground cover to retain moisture in the soil and reduce the growth of weeds. Cucumbers can also be trellised to provide some shade from the hottest afternoon hours.
Bad Companion Plants for Broccoli
Not every plant is going to be suitable for broccoli, and some are worse than others. Here’s what not to plant with broccoli for your sake and the sake of the plant:
Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, and growing members of the same family in close proximity can make your entire garden susceptible to the same pest, pathogen, or nutrient deficiency. With these all typically being heavy feeders too, having a few different brassica crops in one area can quickly deplete the soil of its nutritive and moisture-holding qualities.
Strawberries are also very hungry plants, and having two hungry plants next to each other doesn’t tend to go over well for one (or both) of the plants. Planting perennials like strawberries and annuals, like broccoli, together can also create some complications in future garden planning.
Corn will compete for the same nutrients and resources as broccoli, so if you want to grow both, it is best to keep them away from each other. Corn also requires heavy feeding, so keeping up with the needs of multiple hungry plants can be overwhelming and, if done in the same area, nearly impossible without one crop suffering.
Nightshades like tomatoes and eggplants require a lot of calcium to prevent blossom-end rot, and unfortunately, broccoli likes to hoard calcium too. This leads to a poor outcome for at least one, if not both of the plants involved. Keep the nightshades away from your broccoli to ensure a productive yield of both plants.
How to Increase Broccoli Yield
Broccoli yield can be increased by properly pruning your broccoli to encourage the side shoots to develop, though proper conditions are not to be understated when it comes to increasing your broccoli yield. Follow these tips to give a boost to your broccoli harvest:
- Select a high-yield broccoli variety, such as Romanesco or Calabrese.
- Make sure your plant gets ample light, fertilizer, and water.
- Companion planting can help deter pests from your plants and enrich the soil for better quality and size yield. Make sure you’re picking out plants that you’re comfortable with caring for and maintaining, as unhealthy plants will not do much to benefit your broccoli.
- When initially cutting off the main head of broccoli, cut at an angle to allow for the side shoots to develop. You may be able to harvest 3-5 times from a single plant when pruning properly!
Can We Grow Broccoli in a Container Garden?
Broccoli plants can easily be planted in containers without much concern for a reduction in yield. Generally, you will want to use a 5-gallon (19 liters) container per broccoli plant, or if doing raised gardening, allow enough space between each plant for root development and proper nutrition (between 18-24 inches or 45-60 cm).
Container gardening does require a bit more mindfulness when it comes to watering and fertilizing, so keep this in mind when considering using containers to grow broccoli.
How Many Broccoli to Plant Together
The amount of broccoli to plant depends on your goals and the number of people you’re aiming to feed with the broccoli; for one person, between 3-5 broccoli plants is sufficient. If you’re short on space, just make sure you’re giving each broccoli plant at least 18 inches (45 cm) between the next one to avoid root competition and nutrient issues.
Should Broccoli Plants be Supported?
Broccoli plants can grow to be tall and top-heavy, so it’s best to keep your broccoli plants supported for their best growth.
How to Harvest Broccoli so It Keeps Growing?
Once the central head is ready to be harvested, you can cut off this head at an angle to encourage further bud development. These offshoot “heads” won’t be as dense, but you can get another 2-3 harvests by doing this.
Can We Plant Lettuce and Broccoli Together?
Lettuce and broccoli go nicely together, especially in smaller areas, because their roots do not grow at the same depth, so you don’t need to worry about competition.
Do Broccoli Plants like Coffee Grounds?
Adding coffee grounds periodically to your broccoli plants can act as a low-dose slow-release fertilizer, and as the coffee degrades, more nutrients like magnesium and nitrogen get absorbed into the soil and into your plant.
Should Broccoli and Cauliflower be Planted Together?
Broccoli and cauliflower shouldn’t be planted together because they will require the same nutrients and soil space for their roots, so they will compete with each other for resources.