by Jennifer Poindexter
Are you considering adding corn to your growing space? You might want to consider companion planting to get the maximum benefit from your garden.
Companion planting is a strategic process of designing your garden layout in a way that the plants growing near each other offer some benefit either to one of the plants or, ideally, both.
If you’re looking for plants that grow well near corn, you’re in the right place. I’m going to supply you with a list of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that do well when grown with corn and also a few which should be avoided.
Here’s what you should know when practicing companion planting with your corn crop:
Benefits of Companion Planting with Corn
Does it seem like a lot of work to plan each aspect of your garden? It can be overwhelming at times, but by taking the time to consider all aspects of how your garden is arranged, you can reap many benefits.
The reason many gardeners take the time to consider companion plants for their corn harvest are as follows:
- Corn can provide shelter for some crops. Where it’s taller, this plant is a great way to provide shade and protection from the wind when planted near smaller crops.
- Corn may serve as a support to crops which need a trellis. This is a great way to keep your plants healthy and your garden neat.
- Certain plants are known for attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects. By planting them near your corn crop, it could greatly improve your harvest.
- Companion planting can help improve the soil where your corn grows as it’s growing. Some plants naturally place certain nutrients into their growing space as they grow. This benefits the plants around them as well.
- Finally, some plants serve a sacrificial purpose. By growing specific plants near your corn, it could attract bugs to the companion plant and save your crop. Basically, you’re sacrificing one plant for the other.
Now that you understand why companion planting can be beneficial, let’s discuss which crops grow best around corn.
Companion Plants for Corn
Have you ever considered growing cucumbers near your corn? You might want to give this a second thought.
As cucumbers spread, they become a type of groundcover for the corn. This keeps the weeds down and helps retain moisture around your crop.
2. The Three Sisters
The three sisters is a common companion planting option when growing corn. The corn is one of the sisters and the other two sisters are beans and squash. You can use any type of climbing bean to grow near corn.
The beans add nitrogen to the soil for the corn, and the corn serves as a trellis. You may also grow any variety of squash or pumpkin around your corn as it serves as a groundcover. This will keep weeds down around your plants and also help retain moisture.
Some gardeners keep a separate area for their herbs, while others add them right into their vegetable plot. If you’re interested in growing basil, it might be wise to grow it with your corn.
Basil leaves are wonderful for keeping maize weevils away. You may use the entire plant near your corn crop or use dried basil leaves to keep maize weevils out of your stored corn.
Radishes are an excellent companion plant, especially if you’re using the three sisters growing set-up. As your radishes grow, let some of them bolt.
They’ll keep cucumber beetles, squash borers, and corn borers away. Plus, they produce a harvest in approximately 30 days.
Corn is a heavy-feeding crop. Like many plants, it needs nitrogen. However, most soil seems to run short of this nutrient. Therefore, it’s wise to grow nitrogen-fixers near your corn plants.
One option for this is peas. Since your pea crop will grow earlier than your corn crop, you can save space in your garden by planting your corn seeds right in the middle of your rows of peas.
6. Aromatic Herbs
One problem I’ve faced many times in my garden is keeping deer away. Once they’ve found your corn, it’s hard to get the deer to leave.
This is where aromatic herbs come into play. Deer don’t enjoy their scent. By planting lavender, oregano, sage, dill, and mint near your corn crop, the deer shouldn’t want anywhere near it.
Borage is a beautiful plant that produces colorful blooms. If you’d like to add a splash of color to your vegetable garden, this might be a great fit.
Beyond its attractive qualities, borage is a wonderful companion for corn. This plant is known for deterring worms while attracting many beneficial insects.
We mentioned how many aromatic herbs have the benefit of keeping larger pests away, such as deer. Some aromatic herbs are great for keeping smaller pests away, too.
Thyme happens to be one of the herbs you’d like to grow around corn for this exact ability. If you struggle with keeping corn earworms at bay, plant thyme near your corn as they hate the scent of this herb.
When planting corn and potatoes together, it’s more for the benefit of the potato. You should plant these crops in alternating rows with about a half foot between each row.
At the end of the growing season, till the corn plant into the soil. This will increase your potato harvest and protect the potatoes from disease simultaneously.
10. White Clover
White clover makes a great companion for corn as it serves as a cover crop. The clover will suppress weeds and fix nitrogen in the soil at the same time.
Plus, the corn will provide shade for the clover to help it have a full growth cycle. When the clover is done growing, it will compost into the soil. This is an excellent way to ensure your corn has what it needs while growing.
Leaf lettuce makes an excellent companion plant for corn. The corn grows tall and is able to provide shade to supply the lettuce with a longer growing season.
The lettuce, on the other hand, is able to serve as a weed suppressant by taking up the space at the base of the corn plants. If you’d like to protect your growing area from weeds while growing two crops in the same space, consider growing lettuce and corn together.
When growing melons, I try to keep them away from my other crops because their vines can become excessive. Even if you trellis melons, this can take up valuable growing space.
However, you can now plant melons with confidence near your corn crop. The vines of the melons serve as a ground cover for corn. In allowing this plant to spread, it will keep the weeds down around the corn plants and help retain moisture.
Marigolds are a common companion plant in the garden. The reason being, this flower is bright and has a distinct odor.
The color of the blooms invites pollinators into your growing space which is great for your corn harvest. However, the odor is excellent for deterring pests, specifically the aphid.
Sunflowers are frequently called the “fourth sister” when it comes to growing corn. You should use dwarf varieties if growing sunflowers beside corn, beans, squash, or pumpkins.
However, sunflowers are great for attracting beneficial ladybugs. These bugs will kill unwanted pests in your garden. By planting sunflowers in the same growing space as corn, you can add a layer of beauty and protection around your garden.
Plants to Avoid Growing Near Corn
You now have multiple plants which grow well alongside corn. However, there are a few you should avoid growing in the same space.
The first plant which shouldn’t be grown around corn is fennel. This plant is usually grown by itself as it tends to bring down any plant nearby. It’s known for stunting the growth of plants and, at times, killing them.
The second plant you should avoid growing near corn is a tomato. Unfortunately, tomatoes attract the same pests as corn such as the corn earworm and tomato hornworm.
Plus, both of these plants desire the same nutrients and will compete for them. The same rules apply for eggplant and therefore, it shouldn’t be grown near corn, either.
Finally, all brassica crops should be grown away from corn as the corn provides too much shade for them.
Plus, both types of plants desire the same nutrients and invite the same pests into the growing space. Therefore, they’d be battling the same issues and competing for nutrients if grown in the same area.
You now have a solid understanding of which plants thrive when planted near corn and which plants suffer.
When planning your garden, take these tips into consideration to help you place your vegetables properly around your growing space. Hopefully, the companion planting process will put a bountiful harvest in motion.