Pepper plants are relatively easy to grow in the home garden, but they are susceptible to damage from a variety of pests, as well as viruses such as cucumber mosaic virus and tomato spotted wilt virus. Employ companion gardening techniques to reduce the risk to your pepper plants and improve the health and yield of your entire garden.
Companion planting is a gardening technique that uses biodiversity to improve crop yield. Rather than growing a long row of a single type of vegetable, companion gardeners plant a variety of plants that have beneficial relationships together in the same bed or close by. There are different types of companion plants: plants that share similar genetics and environmental and nutritional needs; plants that help each other grow; and plants that protect each other from pests or disease. Some plants make good companions for each other because they are able to use space efficiently. For instance, for some low-growing, shade-tolerant species, a tall, sun-loving plant is the perfect companion.
Characteristics of Peppers
Transplant young pepper plants to the garden once the weather becomes reliably warm in your zone. To flourish, peppers need nitrogen, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, according to Weldon Burge, author of “Grow the Best Peppers.” Often damaged by heavy fruit or high winds, another important characteristic of pepper plants is their brittle stalks. Pepper plants like moist soil but not soggy roots, so a good companion plant should have similar requirements.
Tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, cucumbers, okra, onions and eggplants are traditionally regarded as good companions for pepper plants. Several perennial herbs are also compatible with peppers, including chives, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley and sweet basil. Tall companions to peppers such as tomato plants, okra and eggplant can provide pepper plants with protection from the wind. Carrots and onions share space well and enhance the flavor of the peppers.
Just as important as knowing which plant grow well together, knowing which plants are natural adversaries is important to your success. Kohlrabi and fennel are incompatible with sweet pepper plants, and do not plant peppers near apricot trees. Avoid planting hot peppers with beans or members of the cabbage family.
- Vegetable MD Online; Virus Diseases of Pepper; T. A. Zitter and D. Florini
- Cornell University; Companion Planting: Ecogardening Factsheet; 1994
- University of Delaware Extension; Companion Vegetable Planting; Gail Hermaneau
- “Grow the Best Peppers”; Weldon Burge; 1995
- Michigan State University Extension: Companion Planting
- "Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening"; Louise Riott; 1998