by Bethany Hayes
Some plants in your garden make better neighbors than others – sort of like humans – and when you plan out your garden for the year, you’ll want to make sure you know the best green bean companion plants.
Companion planting is a gardening technique used by many home gardeners that practices placing different compatible plants near each other to support growth. The companions might deter pests that love the other, help amend the soil, or provide growth support.
Green beans are a quintessential summer garden crop, but what you might not know is that these plants add nitrogen into the soil. In addition, nodes at the end of the plant’s roots release nitrogen as they decompose, feeding other plants in the vicinity.
That’s why green beans end up on the list of many companion plants; all plants benefit from nitrogen! So when you grow heavy feeding crops near a nitrogen-producing plant, they work well together!
But, are there green bean companion plants that benefit that plant rather than assisting other plants? Let’s find out!
Bush Beans vs. Pole Beans
Before we go too far, we have to talk about the two types of beans: bush beans and pole beans.
Bush beans grow on little bush plants, typically no more than two feet tall. These plants are highly productive and produce their entire crop in around 60 days. The harvest comes hot and heavy, so depending on your growing zone, you might have the time to grow two yields of bush beans.
If you want to grow beans for canning and preserving, bush beans are superb. However, since the harvest comes all at once, you won’t have the crop spread out, making it harder to get large enough batches for canning.
Pole beans grow on long vines and require a support system, such as a trellis or an arch. It takes longer for these plants to produce beans because they have to grow their super long vines. Some of the vines might be over 8 feet long!
This means the harvest comes all summer long, so pole beans are ideal if you want beans for dinner. They will produce beans for you all summer in small enough batches for side dishes!
When it comes to green bean companion plants, all of the plants listed below work for bush and pole bean varieties.
The Three Sisters
We also have to talk about the “Three Sisters.” If you don’t know what this means, pull up a chair gardener; you want to hear about this.
The Indigenous peoples used a planting system called the “Three Sisters,” a great early example of companion planting. They planted corn, pole beans, and squash together; all of these plants work together in a symbiotic relationship.
Beans attract beneficial insects to your garden that eat common corn pests like leafhoppers and leaf beetles. In addition, the pole beans grow up as the corn stalks grow, using them for a natural support system.
The squash plants at the base of the plants benefit from the extra nitrogen added to the soil by the bean plants, while their large leaves prevent weeds from growing around the corn stalks.
The Three Sisters are an excellent example of using plants to support each other and encourage strong, healthier growth with fewer pests and diseases. Of course, it’s possible to do this in your garden as well!
9 Green Bean Companion Plants
Let’s take a look at some bean companion plants you’ll want to include in your garden.
Catnip is a great herb to add to your garden beds near green bean plants because it helps to repel flea beetles, a common pest that likes to bother bean plants.
Corn has to make the list since they are part of the Three Sisters! Bush beans tolerate the shade created by corn plants, and since they use different levels of root depth, they won’t compete for water or nutrients.
If you decide to grow pole beans, the corn stalks are an excellent natural support system that will save you space in your garden, leaving room for other plants. You won’t have to add arches or a trellis if you use the corn stalks.
Cucumbers have a symbiotic relationship with beans. When planted together as companion plants, they encourage stronger growth, and the nitrogen boost from the bean plants helps cucumber plants have prolific harvests.
Marigolds always make the list for companion plants for a good reason. These flowers deter Mexican bean beetles and other pests that like to infect bean plants.
If you grow African or French marigolds, these plants produce a substance that helps suppress and deter nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants, and you won’t be able to detect them until they destroy your plants.
Since marigolds are friendly with many garden crops, you can use them as a border plant throughout a lot of your beds.
If you’re looking for another flower to add to your garden, nasturtiums are an excellent choice. Not only are they edible flowers that deter bean beetle pests, but they also help improve the plants’ overall growth.
Growing potatoes and green bean plants together make sense because potato plants repel Mexican bean beetles. At the same time, green beans repel Colorado potato beetles, so these plants truly both benefit each other, offering a symbiotic relationship.
Another herb that you might want to grow alongside green bean plants is rosemary. Grow these plants as a border near your bean plants to help improve the overall growth of your beans.
Radishes are one of those crops that too many gardeners forget to plant. The flowers of radishes, if left in the ground, will attract beneficial insects and confuse pests as they look for your bean plants.
Another member of the Three Sisters is squash so that you can grow winter squash, pumpkins, or zucchini with green beans. It’s important to note that corn stalks won’t be able to support the weight of vining squash, so select compact varieties when you grow them as a trio.
Growing pole beans with zucchini would be a great selection.
What Not to Plant with Beans
Some plants slow or stop the growth of beans when planted together.
Here is one difference between pole beans and bush beans. Pole beans won’t thrive when beets grow nearby because they stunt each other’s growth. However, you can place bush beans with beets, but even then, beets are a more neutral companion plant for beans.
It’s best not to plant any beans near members of the allium family, such as onions, leeks, garlic, and scallions. Growing onion plants near bean plants will inhibit the growth because the plants release a substance that kills off beneficial bacteria near the bean roots. That also means the bean plants won’t be able to release nitrogen into the soil.
Gardeners can’t agree on whether or not peppers and beans should grow together. Both plants help encourage better soil, but at times, the bean plants might suffocate pepper plants because they grow so fast, choking them out.
You might assume sunflowers would be a great green bean companion plant because the vines could grow the stems. However, sunflowers produce a chemical compound that stops the growth of beans, so they’re not compatible.
While beans are legume fixers and help many plants in the garden, few plants benefit beans. So, make sure you include a few of these green bean companion plants in your garden.