Updated: June 4, 2022

Combo plants, also known as companion plants, refer to a gardening technique involving the intentional pairing of different plant species to enhance growth and repel pests. The practice dates back to ancient times when humans first began cultivating crops.

Historical Background

In ancient Rome, farmers used a combination of beans and corn to enhance soil fertility. The beans served as nitrogen fixers, while corn provided support for the bean vines. Similarly, Native American farmers planted a combination of beans, corn, and squash, known as the Three Sisters method. The beans fixed nitrogen into the soil, corn served as a trellis for the beans, and squash spread out over the ground to prevent weeds from growing.

In medieval Europe, companion planting was widely practiced. Monks in monasteries paired plants like chamomile and hyssop with vegetables like cabbages and onions to improve their growth.

Modern Day Companion Planting

Today, companion planting has become a popular technique used by gardeners worldwide. The technique involves pairing crops that have mutually beneficial relationships. For example, planting herbs like basil near tomatoes can repel pests and improve flavor. Similarly, planting marigolds near vegetables can repel nematodes and other harmful insects.

Benefits of Companion Planting

  1. Pest Control – Certain plants emit odors that naturally repel pests. By planting these plants next to vulnerable crops, you can significantly reduce pest infestations.

  2. Enhanced Soil Fertility – Plants have different nutrient requirements. By planting different crops together, you can ensure that all nutrients are utilized in the soil.

  3. Improved Flavor – Some companion plants release chemicals that enhance the flavor of nearby crops.

  4. Natural Support – Tall plants like sunflowers or corn can provide natural support for vining plants like beans or cucumbers.

Examples of Companion Plants

  1. Tomatoes and Basil – Basil repels pests like whiteflies and spider mites while enhancing the flavor of tomatoes.

  2. Beans and Corn – Beans fix nitrogen into the soil while corn provides support for the bean vines.

  3. Marigolds and Vegetables – Marigolds repel nematodes and other harmful insects while enhancing the flavor of nearby vegetables.

  4. Cucumbers and Sunflowers – Sunflowers provide natural support for cucumber vines while attracting pollinators like bees.


Companion planting has a rich history dating back to ancient times. Today, it is a popular technique used by gardeners worldwide to enhance growth, repel pests, and improve flavor. By pairing different crops together, gardeners can create natural ecosystems that benefit all plants involved.


Is companion planting only for organic gardening?

No, companion planting can be used in both organic and non-organic gardening methods.

Can I plant any combination of plants together?

Not all plants have mutually beneficial relationships. It is essential to research which plants are compatible with each other before pairing them together.

Will companion planting completely eliminate pests?

While companion planting can significantly reduce pest infestations, it does not guarantee complete elimination of pests. Additional pest control methods may still be necessary.