The 13 Best Companion Plants For Corn And 3 To Avoid

Corn is a staple in many home gardens and thrives when paired with the right companion plants. It is one of the three pillars of companion planting.

In this article, I will share with you which plants help boost corn’s growth and repel unwelcome pests.

You’ll also learn some of the best companion plants for corn, which ones to avoid in your garden, and how companion planting can improve almost every aspect of your garden. Let’s dig in ūüėÄ.

Key Takeaways

  • Companion planting with corn enhances growth and repels pests by creating a diverse ecosystem that benefits each plant.
  • Some of the best companion plants for corn include cucumbers, melons, pole beans, winter squashes, borage, dill, nasturtiums, marigolds, mint, thyme, basil, sunflowers, and white clover.
  • These companion plants provide shade protection to the soil while attracting beneficial insects and deterring pests like aphids. They also act as natural trellises or weed barriers for corn crops.

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Understanding Companion Planting

corn companion plants

Companion planting is a tried-and-true gardening method that pairs plants together that benefit each other.

It’s a form of polyculture, meaning many types of crops are grown close together, creating diversity and boosting the overall health of the garden.

Companion planting works on a simple principle: different plant species have varying needs and abilities which can be complementary.

For example, some plants may¬†deter pests¬†that commonly afflict another type of plant while others can¬†improve soil nutrients¬†essential to their neighbors’ growth.

Specific combinations like the classic Three Sisters arrangement‚ÄĒconsisting of corn, pole beans, and squash‚ÄĒdemonstrate the power of this gardening technique perfectly.

This synergy isn’t limited to vegetables alone; aromatic herbs such as dill or borage can lure beneficial insects to your corn stalks while marigolds work diligently at repelling aphids‚ÄĒa common pest with corn crops.

The Three Sisters Method of Companion Planting

The Three Sisters method of companion planting is an ancient Native American technique that involves planting corn, squash, and beans together.

This symbiotic relationship provides numerous benefits for the garden. Here’s why you should try the Three Sisters method:

  • Corn provides a natural trellis for pole beans to climb. The beans, in turn, fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting all three crops.
  • Squash plants act as living mulch, shading the soil and preventing weed growth. They also help retain moisture, reducing the need for watering.
  • The broad leaves of squash plants create shade that protects the corn’s shallow roots from excessive heat and helps conserve soil moisture.
  • Beans and corn have different root systems, which minimizes competition for nutrients in the soil.
  • The mix of these three plants forms an environment that draws in bugs, like ladybugs and lacewings which naturally keep pests in check.

The Benefits Of Companion Planting

companion plants for corn

Companion planting with corn offers several benefits, including enhanced growth, pest repellence, and attracting beneficial insects.

Enhanced Growth

The art of companion planting offers countless benefits to your corn crops, and enhanced growth is one key advantage.

Pairing plants such as nitrogen-fixing pole beans with your corn aids in keeping soil nutrients balanced, which helps you grow consistently healthier plants.

This remarkable technique leverages natural relationships between different vegetables for more bountiful harvests.

Cucumber, dill, and a corn trio represent another well-suited combination that encourages robust growth.

These companions thrive together, providing shade protection to the soil while also fostering efficient use of space that’s crucial in container gardening or smaller garden designs.

By creating a diverse ecosystem where plants meet each other’s needs naturally, you can boost growth rates and enjoy higher yields during corn harvest season.

Pest Repellent

Pests can be a major headache for gardeners. However, planting the right companion plants alongside your corn can effectively repel these unwelcome visitors.

For example, the strong aroma of mint and basil confuses pests, deterring them from feasting on your precious corn.

Marigolds are another fantastic crop to grow with corn because of how it aids in pest control. Their bright blooms attract predatory insects that feast on common crop destroyers like aphids and nematodes.

Pole beans climb corn stalks providing support while also fixing nitrogen in the soil which is beneficial to all neighboring plants including squash that shades the soil creating an unfavorable environment for weeds – a natural weed barrier!

Furthermore, nasturtiums serve as brilliant trap crops, luring unwanted pests away from your maize ears.

With strategic placement of these companion plants not only do you enhance plant health but also increase crop yields due to effective pest repellence with no need for harmful pesticides.

Attracting Beneficial Insects

Planting certain companion plants alongside your sweet corn can attract beneficial insects to your garden.

These bugs have a job, to keep your garden pest-free by hunting down and eating nuisances such, as aphids, mites, and caterpillars.

Aromatic herbs such as borage and dill act as powerful magnets for these helpful bugs when planted next to corn.

Adding companion plants to your garden enhances its beauty and promotes a flourishing ecosystem that naturally controls harmful pests.

By integrating these plants into your corn planting you can cultivate more resilient crops without the need for chemical pesticides.

Characteristics of Corn

Plant Family
Watering Conditions
Regular, even moisture
Mature Size
Varies by variety, typically 5-12 feet tall
Soil Requirements
Well-draining, fertile soil with good nitrogen content
Sunlight Needs
Tall, upright stalks with large leaves
Temperature Tolerance
Hardy in USDA zones 3-11
Growth Habit
Tall, upright stalks with large leaves
Flowering Period
Corn produces male flowers (tassels) at the top and female flowers (silks) on the ears
Flower Color
Male flowers (tassels) are yellow; female flowers (silks) are pale yellow to light green
Foliage Characteristics
Long, wide, green leaves
Propagation Methods
Sow seeds directly in the ground
Pruning and Maintenance
Minimal pruning; keep free of weeds
Common Pests and Diseases
Corn earworm, armyworm, corn borers; rust, smut, and other fungal diseases
Companion Planting
Beans, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins
Edible Parts
Kernels (seeds) and young ears (corn on the cob)
Wildlife Attraction
Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife may eat the kernels
Special Care Instructions
Plant in blocks (not single rows) for good pollination; provide ample water during ear development

The 13 Best Companion Plants For Corn

corn companion planting
Photo by: Robert Bertholf

Boost the growth of your corn with these fun companion plants. Crops like cucumbers, borage, dill, nasturtiums, marigolds, basil, sunflowers, and white clover (just to name a few) are great for improving your corn’s health and keeping away harmful pets.

These are my top combinations of plants that positively impact your garden.

Plus, I’ll share why I consider them some of the best companion plants to grow with corn.

1. Cucumber

Cucumbers are a fantastic companion plant for corn, offering numerous benefits to both crops.

When planted alongside corn, cucumbers help enhance the growth of the corn plants by providing shade and acting as a natural trellis for them to climb.

Additionally, cucumbers emit a scent that repels pests such as aphids and beetles, effectively safeguarding your corn from potential damage.

This makes cucumbers an excellent choice for gardeners looking to boost their corn harvest while naturally deterring common pests without resorting to harsh chemicals or pesticides.

2. Melons

Melons are excellent companion plants for corn, providing a range of benefits that enhance the growth and health of both crops.

When planted together, melons can help support the tall corn plants by acting as natural trellises, allowing the corn to grow vertically and take advantage of sunlight.

This creates a sustainable garden design that maximizes planting space.

Additionally, melons attract beneficial insects such as bees and pollinators, which play a crucial role in fertilizing the flowers of both crops and ensuring a successful fruit set.

By incorporating melons around your corn, you not only improve crop yields but also create a beautiful symbiotic relationship between these two delicious additions to your garden.

3. Pole Beans

Pole beans are a fantastic companion plant for corn, offering multiple benefits to both crops. These climbing vines can be grown around corn, using the tall stalks as natural trellises.

This not only helps you save space in your garden, but it also serves the purpose of shading the soil, which prevents excessive moisture evaporation and keeps your corn roots cool during scorching summer days.

But that’s not all – pole beans are¬†nitrogen fixers, meaning they pull nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that other plants can use.

This valuable nutrient is then released into the soil when the bean plants decompose at the end of the season, providing an ongoing source of fertility for your corn.

In addition to their soil-improving qualities, pole beans also have another advantage: they deter pests like aphids and spider mites when planted around the corn.

The strong scent of these legumes acts as a natural repellent and helps keep common garden bugs away from your precious corn.

4. Winter Squashes

Winter squashes, such as butternut and acorn squash, are excellent companion plants for corn. They provide a range of benefits that enhance the growth and health of both crops.

First, their sprawling vines can help shade the corn plants, protecting them from excessive sun exposure during hot summer days.

This shading effect also helps to conserve moisture in the soil, ensuring that both crops have adequate hydration.

Second, winter squashes act as natural pest deterrents by releasing compounds that repel insects like cutworms and nematodes.

By planting winter squashes alongside your corn, you create a mutually beneficial environment where these two crops thrive together with minimal interference or competition.

So give your corn patch some added diversity and protection by including winter squashes as companion plants this growing season!

5. Borage

Borage is a fantastic companion plant to grow alongside corn in your garden. Not only does it add beauty with its stunning blue flowers, but it also attracts beneficial insects that can help pollinate the corn plants.

Borage has the added benefit of repelling certain pests that may harm your corn.

This aromatic herb is easy to grow and requires minimal maintenance, making it a great choice for gardeners looking to enhance growth and protect their corn from pests.

Additionally, borage has multiple culinary uses, so you can enjoy both its beauty and its flavor in your dishes.

6. Dill

Dill is a fantastic companion plant for corn because it attracts parasitic wasps that feed on common pests like aphids, corn earworms, and cutworms. These helpful insects help keep your corn healthy and pest-free.

To get the most out of dill’s benefits, it’s recommended to plant it once your corn shoots reach about six inches in height.

However, be cautious not to plant dill too close to fennel as they can cross-pollinate with each other.

By adding dill to your garden, you’re not only enhancing the growth of your corn but also implementing a natural and effective way to deter pests and ensure a healthier crop overall.

7. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are a gardener’s best friend when it comes to companion planting with corn. Not only do they add a vibrant splash of color to your garden, but they also attract beneficial bugs like ladybugs and lacewings.

These beautiful flowers act as a trap crop for pests, drawing them away from your precious corn plants. Plus, nasturtiums release chemicals that repel aphids, who love to munch on tender corn leaves.

So go ahead and plant some nasturtiums alongside your corn for added protection and a pop of floral beauty!

8. Marigolds

Marigolds make spectacular companions for corn plants in the garden. These beautiful flowers bring a burst of color to your garden.

They also attract pollinator insects that help control aphids and other pests that can damage your prized corn plants.

Marigolds release a scent that repels aphids, keeping them away from your precious crop.

By planting marigolds near your corn, you can enhance its growth by providing natural pest control and creating a beautiful and beneficial garden space.

9. Mint

Mint is a fantastic companion plant for corn with its ability to enhance growth and repel pests. When planted alongside corn, mint can work wonders in the garden.

Not only does it add a refreshing aroma, but it also helps ward off common pests like aphids.

These tiny insects cause havoc on corn plants, damaging leaves and stunting their growth.

However, with mint by your side, you can significantly reduce the chances of an aphid infestation and ensure healthier corn.

Plus, you‚Äôll enjoy the added benefit of having fresh mint leaves to use in culinary creations or even as a natural herbal remedy. 

10. Thyme

Thyme is not only a delicious culinary herb, but it also makes a fantastic companion plant for corn in your garden.

This aromatic herb has the ability to repel pesky corn earworms, which can often damage the corn.

By planting thyme alongside your corn, you can naturally ward off these pests and keep your corn plants healthy and vibrant.

Thyme leaves are also used by chefs in a ton of dishes which adds a variety of flavors to your meals if you decide to add them to your garden.

If you like thyme and want to enhance both the growth of your corn and the taste of your recipes you might look into grabbing you a few seeds this season.

11. Basil

Because it promotes corn development and deters pests, basil is one of the greatest plants to cultivate alongside corn.

This herb not only adds a pop of flavor to your meals but it also protects your corn stalks from unwanted pests.

Basil acts as a natural repellent against whiteflies, mosquitoes, spider mites, and aphids, making it an excellent addition to your garden.

Additionally, basil attracts bees, which improves pollination and ultimately enhances the health and flavor of your tomatoes.

So if you’re looking for a plant that offers both protection and benefits to your corn, be sure to include basil in your planting combinations.

12. Sunflowers

Sunflowers, such as the¬†‘Sunspot’ and ‘Mammoth’ varieties, are wonderful¬†companion plants for corn.

These tall and vibrant flowers attract beneficial predators like ladybugs and lacewings, which help keep pesky insects at bay.

Plus, when it comes time to harvest your sunflowers, you’ll be rewarded with¬†delicious seeds¬†that can be eaten or used for¬†planting next season.

Adding a touch of beauty to your garden while also providing¬†natural pest control? It’s a win-win situation!

13. White Clover

White clover, specifically the ‘White Dutch’ variety, is a fantastic companion plant for corn. Not only does it act as a living mulch or cover crop, suppressing weeds and keeping the soil moist, but it also fixes nitrogen in the soil.

As it decomposes, white clover adds essential nutrients to the soil, enhancing the growth of your corn plants. Additionally, this versatile plant attracts bees and can even be used in salads!

Planting white clover alongside your corn not only improves soil health and fertility but also provides a sustainable and natural way to enhance growth while repelling pests.

You can find the ‘White Dutch’ variety at True Leaf Market, which is a reliable source for gardeners looking to optimize their gardening experience.

4 Plants to Avoid Planting Near Corn

Avoid planting tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage family plants like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi with your corn to prevent competition for nutrients and space.

For more information on the best corn companion plants and their benefits, continue reading our blog. Happy gardening!

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be great companion plants for corn, as they offer multiple benefits. When planted alongside corn, tomatoes help enhance growth and repel pests, making them a valuable addition to your garden.

Basil and borage are excellent companion plants for tomatoes and corn alike, helping to deter whiteflies, mosquitoes, spider mites, aphids, and even hornworms that can cause damage to corn plants.

These aromatic herbs not only provide protection but also attract pollinators like bees for improved pollination and overall plant health.

By strategically planning your garden layout with these companions in mind, you can create a thriving ecosystem that promotes healthy growth and natural pest control.

2. Eggplants

Eggplants are not recommended as companion plants for corn. While eggplants have their own benefits in the garden, they can actually attract pests that may harm your corn.

It’s important to¬†choose companion plants¬†that will¬†enhance growth¬†and¬†repel pests, and unfortunately, eggplants don’t fit into that category when it comes to corn.

Instead, focus on planting other beneficial companions like cucumber, melons, pole beans, or marigolds to create a healthy and thriving garden environment for your corn.

By selecting the right companions when planting your corn seeds, you can ensure a bountiful harvest without any unwanted pest problems.

3. Cabbage Family

Anything in the cabbage family, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts, should not be planted anywhere close to corn.

While corn doesn’t necessarily harm these plants, there are no significant benefits to planting them together. Since this is all about companion plants that benefit each other, I don’t recommend cabbage ūüėú.

It’s best to keep them separate in your garden to optimize the growth and health of both crops.

By avoiding this combination, you can ensure that your corn and cabbage family plants thrive individually without hindering each other’s growth or¬†competition for nutrients and space.

4. Fennel

Fennel is a plant that should be avoided when planted close to corn. Not only can fennel cross-pollinate with dill if planted too closely together, but it also doesn’t have any specific benefits when planted close to corn.

To prevent any issues, it is recommended to plant fennel away from other crops or in containers.

This will help prevent cross-pollination and ensure that your corn grows without any interference from the strong-scented herb.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating companion plants into your corn garden can have a significant impact on its growth and pest control.

By planting cucumber, melons, pole beans, winter squashes, borage, dill, nasturtiums, marigolds, mint, thyme, basil, sunflowers, or white clover alongside your corn you can create a thriving ecosystem that benefits each plant.

Not only will this enhance the health and productivity of your garden but also reduce the need for harmful chemical pesticides.

So go ahead and experiment with these companion plants to enjoy a successful harvest season!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should Not Be Planted Near Corn?

Avoid planting tomatoes near corn! Yep, corn and tomatoes don’t make great neighbors in the garden. They’re known as allelopathic plants, meaning they release certain chemicals that could hinder each other’s growth.

So, let’s keep these two a bit apart for their own good!

What Grows Well Next To Corn?

Beans are the perfect pals for corn in the garden! They’re like a dynamic duo that complements each other’s growth. Beans are nitrogen-fixing champs, enriching the soil with the precious nutrient that corn loves.

In return, corn provides a natural trellis for the beans to climb. Talk about a win-win!

What Vegetable Is Good To Plant Next To Corn?

Squash is a fantastic choice to plant next to corn! This trio, known as the “Three Sisters” in Native American tradition, have a harmonious relationship.

Corn provides support for the climbing beans, while squash acts as a living mulch, keeping the soil moist and weed-free. A garden dream team, I’d say!

Are corn and tomatoes companion plants?

Hmm, not exactly! As I mentioned earlier, corn and tomatoes aren’t the best companions in the garden.

They’re allelopathic plants, so planting them near each other might hinder their growth. It’s best to give them their own space to flourish without any interference.

Can you plant garlic and corn together?

Yes, you can plant garlic and corn together. Garlic is considered a compatible companion for corn, as it can help deter pests like aphids, Japanese beetles, and corn borers.

The strong aroma of garlic acts as a natural repellent, offering some protection to corn plants.

Are there any other benefits of planting companions with corn apart from pest control?

Yes, planting companions with corn offers additional benefits such as improved pollination due to attracting beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Some companion plants also act as natural trellises for climbing varieties of corn, reducing the need for additional support structures.

Will planting certain plants near my corn help repel pests?

Yes, planting certain plants near your corn can help repel pests. For example, marigolds can help deter pests like corn earworms.

What are some plants that attract beneficial insects to the corn patch?

Some plants that attract beneficial insects to the corn patch include dill, yarrow, and Queen Anne’s lace.

Can I plant peas near my corn?

Yes, peas can be planted near corn as they can provide nitrogen to the soil and do not compete heavily for resources.

Can corn be planted near beans?

Yes, corn and beans are often planted together in a companion planting technique called the three sisters. The beans can climb the corn stalks, and the corn provides support for the beans.

What plants can be planted under corn?

Some plants that can be planted under corn include lettuce, radishes, and spinach. These plants can benefit from the shade provided by the corn.