Jalapeño peppers (Capsicum annuum ‘jalapeño’) are fruits originating in Mexico and if you like your food a little spicy they are the perfect choice.
This mighty little pepper packs a punch and is rich in vitamins A, C and Potassium which makes them a firm favourite for growers across America.
Whether a seasoned chilli grower or a complete beginner – practising companion planting is the perfect way to greatly improve the chances of having a bumper yield of fruit this year.
Since there are both good and bad companion plants you’ll find lots of advice and useful information here about growing jalapeños and maximising your crop yield when using this technique. This will give you all the tools needed to ensure you make the right companion plant choices when adding jalapeños to your vegetable garden repertoire.
What is Companion Planting
Companion planting is a traditional gardening technique where different plant species are grown in close proximity with the common goal of improving the health and/or yield of one or both plants. This organic growing method can enhance the natural growing environment by encouraging plant diversity and beneficial insects. This approach has been used by gardeners for thousands of years thanks to the multitude of benefits it brings.
Garden pest populations can be maintained using natural methods thanks to companion planting. Pest numbers are reduced rather than completely eradicated which helps support the natural biodiversity in the growing environment which ultimately improves the amount of produce which can be grown and harvested.
Rice growers in Asia have been using a very effective method of companion planting for over a thousand years to improve the health and yield of their crops. Gardeners take advantage of the flooded growing conditions by actively encouraging a small aquatic mosquito fern called ‘Azolla’ which thrives amongst the rice plants.
This tiny fern makes the perfect companion plant because it is able to increase its numbers quickly, creating a weed-suppressing blanket on the water around the rice plants. It also acts as a water purifier, keeping harmful bacteria at bay. In addition, it releases nitrogen into the water which encourages fast and healthy growth of the rice plants.
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Companion Planting Benefits
Companion planting can help achieve a natural balance of biodiversity in the garden and is the perfect way to boost the health of plants without the need for chemicals or pesticides.
The approach is also completely organic which allows the gardener to work alongside nature rather than against it.
Other benefits are largely dependent on the plant combination used and include:
Improved Soil Health: An essential part of gardening is feeding plants nutrients to promote healthy growth and bigger, better harvest amounts and companion planting can be used to help with this process.
This involves using partnering plants as soil improvers. Some of the best companion plants known to boost the nutrient content in soil are varieties of peas, beans and legumes.
These plants are part of the ‘Fabaceae family’ and all have the ability to absorb nitrogen from the air which they then convert and fix in the soil. This can then be absorbed by neighbouring plants.
Pest Management: The environmental impact pesticides have globally is immense, and even when used on a small scale the results can be felt.
We know that completely eradicating a pest will break a link in nature’s food chain which is why gardeners are realising that working alongside nature is the best and most sensible approach. This is why companion planting is the perfect solution when it comes to pest management as certain plants can be used to dramatically lessen the effects of pest attacks without the need for chemicals.
Using fragrant or strong-smelling plant combinations such as herbs and onions is a great alternative. These aromatic plants divert prospective pests away masking the scent of main crops.
Companions can also be used as ‘trap crops’, effectively sacrificing themselves by enticing pests away from the main crop.
Assists Pollination: Pollinating insects are responsible for fertilizing over a third of the world’s food crops and companion planting plays an important role in this. By using herbs, flowers and native plants as companions, gardeners can encourage bees and other beneficial insects to the growing environment to assist with pollination.
Inviting these growing allies to your garden can help strengthen the diminishing bee population and will avoid problems related to poor plant pollination which ultimately increases the amount of produce which is harvested.
Consideration When Selecting Companion Plants
While this method of gardening is effective and worthwhile, it does require a little upfront consideration before you start growing because using misaligned planting combinations can have detrimental effects on one or both plants and can also compromise a gardener’s growing space.
One way to avoid this disharmony is by making the most of whatever garden space is available. This can be achieved by utilizing the ground beneath slow-growing crops by planting fast-growing, quick-to-mature companions. This will make full use of growing space that may otherwise lay bare.
To max out on space utilization, choose salad crops such as lettuce, scallions and radishes alongside slow-maturing plants like eggplants.
Another planting mismatch is where both plants require the same nutrients. This will just result in both plants depleting soil nutrients quickly and neither is likely to thrive.
One further consideration is growing compatibility. For example – if one plant requires cooler, shadier growing conditions and the other plant thrives in a hot, arid environment they will not make a good planting companionship. Knowing what plants NOT to plant together in these scenarios will save time moving forward.
Best Companion Plants for Jalapeños
Jalapeños are susceptible to many different garden pests including tomato fruit worms, aphids and armyworms so any plants that encourage natural predators are very beneficial. Using companion plants in this way maintains the natural balance of biodiversity, will assist with pest prevention and control and keep pest attacks to a minimum without the need for pesticides.
Jalapeños enjoy sunny conditions withstanding temperatures up to 90°F. However, if temperatures are consistently above this plants and fruit will begin to suffer from sun-scald. To combat this, good companion plants are those which provide dappled shade thus giving the jalapeño plants protection from the midday sun.
Another natural way to assist jalapeños is by using companion plants which can act as a cover crop, keeping the soil moist around plants and to act as a weed suppressant keeping competing plants at bay.
Here are some examples of the best companion plants to grow with jalapeños:
Fruits & Vegetables
Carrots: Thanks to their thick lush foliage that provides a living mulch covering the surface of the soil, carrots are a great companion choice to grow with jalapeños. This benefits the peppers by suppressing weeds and keeping the soil moist. In return, the pepper plants act as a sunshade for the carrots.
Okra: Okra plants not only make a great trap plant for jalapeños, but they also enhance health and encourage better growth by creating dappled shade in hotter climates. This protection also doubles up as a wind break to shelter plants from damage and windburn.
Chard: Growing chard can benefit pepper plants much like Okra. The large leaves provide protection from the midday sun, serve as a windbreak and help retain moisture in the soil. Chard is a low-maintenance crop which can keep weed growth to a minimum and will also add a splash of colour to the garden.
Tomatoes: There are mutual benefits when using tomatoes as companions to jalapeños. Tomato plants have a strong fragrance which can act as a pest deterrent keeping pests such as aphids away. Tall tomato plants can also provide shade during the hottest parts of the day.
Using this planting combination is also thought to enhance the flavour of both the pepper and tomato fruits which is a great reason to try this partnership.
Lettuce: Salad crops including lettuce are fast maturing and can be planted or grown from seed amongst the slow-growing pepper plants without any negative repercussions and since they can be harvested in around 30 days, they also make great use of growing space.
Their leafy foliage also makes perfect ground cover, crowding out weeds and locking moisture in the soil. Additionally, they are shallow-rooted so will not compete for water or nutrients.
Herbs and Flowers
Chives: Chives are known to enhance the taste of jalapeños and also act as an effective insect repellent, keeping mites and aphids away thanks to their strong fragrance.
Hyssop: Hyssop flowers are a magnet for beneficial insects, attracting predators such as ladybugs and hoverflies to assist with aphid numbers in the garden. Their beautiful purple blooms are irresistible to pollinators which will help pollinate chilli flowers thus increasing the amount of fruit each plant produces.
Borage: This stunning, self-seeding plant is notorious for returning year after year without any effort or fuss. Much like hyssop flowers, borage is a favourite for pollinators drawing them into the growing space which will ultimately benefit pepper plants. Borage has a very strong fragrance so will act as an effective pest deterrent.
Basil: This fragrant annual herb makes a great pairing plant for jalapeños. Not only does it enhance the flavour of the peppers, but it is also a natural pest deterrent and will prevent attacks from insects such as aphids and spider mites.
You will also enjoy reading Best Fertilizer for Peppers & Chili | How & When to Use
Bad Companion Plants For Jalapeños
Here are some examples of plants that can have a detrimental effect on the health and growing abilities of jalapeños. As such, they are best avoided when growing jalapeños:
Strawberries: For many gardeners strawberries are a vegetable patch staple thanks to their ability to produce an abundance of delicious, sweet fruits. Unfortunately, strawberry plants are prone to a fungus called verticillium which can be transferred to jalapeño plants. This fungus causes infected plants to wilt so it is best to keep strawberries and jalapeños a good distance apart.
Fennel: Fennel plants are allelopathic which essentially means they release a toxic compound which stunts the growth of any neighbouring plants. Fennel can be grown in a garden but is best kept isolated from other crops.
Brassicas: All brassica plants are very heavy feeders which thrive in nutrient-rich soil. Planting them with jalapeños plants results in stunting the growth of one or both plants. In addition, these leafy greens are cool weather crops and are most successful when grown in more temperate conditions, whereas jalapeño peppers enjoy full sun.
- Missouri Botanical Garden – Capsicum annuum ‘jalapeño’
- earthisland.org – Azolla
- College of Agricultural Sciences – Pennsylvania State University – Verticillium
- United States Department of Agriculture – Allelopathic