7 Best Sweet Potato Companion Plants You Should Grow

Do you have a hard time finding the ideal garden companions for your sweet potatoes? One of my favorite veggies is sweet potatoes, but they are incredibly difficult to cultivate.

These root veggies can be a little picky about their neighbors because they are originally from tropical Central and South America.

In this article, I’m going to share several sweet potato companion plants that love being around each other, some of the best and worst companion plants, and why this way of planting is so beneficial to your garden as a whole.

Key Takeaways

  • Companion planting with sweet potatoes can boost their growth, ward off pests, and improve soil quality.
  • Beneficial companion plants for sweet potatoes include beans, marigolds, oregano, horseradish, nasturtiums, and various herbs like thyme and garlic.
  • Tomatoes, squash, and sunflowers should be avoided as companion plants for sweet potatoes due to competition for resources and potential disease issues.
  • Tips for successful sweet potato companion planting include avoiding root damage during harvest and selecting optimal locations for companion plants.

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Understanding Sweet Potatoes and Companion Planting

sweet potato companion plants

Sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family scientifically known as Ipomoea batatas. These twining perennial climbers are native to tropical Central and South America but find a place in warm temperate climates all over the globe.

Unlike their name suggests, they share no botanical relation to regular potatoes which belong to the nightshade family.

Growing sweet potatoes can be quite an adventure given their slow growth and need for warm temperatures.

Just as interesting is companion planting, a method of organic gardening that safeguards plants from pests and diseases without relying on harmful chemicals.

It’s about creating a garden ecosystem where plants work with each other rather than against.

Some companions enhance flavors while others improve soil quality by fixing nitrogen or aerating the soil underneath your sweet potato crop.

This technique is much like keeping good company; it matters who you hang out with because it affects how well you thrive!

Benefits of Companion Planting with Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato companion planting
Photo by: Ton Rulkens

There are so many benefits of companion planting that will help your sweet potato garden.

This organic gardening method pulls double duty, boosting the productivity and health of your garden while providing a natural line of defense against pests.

There are several beneficial insects that are naturally attracted to specific plants sharing space with our sweet potatoes.

They act as pollinators and pest controllers, so we won’t need to rely on harmful chemicals.

More than just protection against sweet potato pests, these companion plants greatly enrich soil quality and fertility too.

Some hearty varieties even fix nitrogen back into the soil! Yes, that’s right; they put in hard work beneath ground level—these silent heroes help aerate the soil, ensuring better nutrient absorption and promoting growth for those delicious spuds.

Don’t forget about those extra aromatic herbs like summer savory and thyme – their fragrant calling cards not only confuse derailing sweet potato weevils but also add an extra kick to other flavors in your garden.

Companion planting is more than simply sticking different species together—it’s all about creating symbiotic relationships where each plant supports its neighbor’s growth and well-being.

Getting To Know Your Sweet Potatoes In Detail

Plant Family
Convolvulaceae (Morning glory family)
Watering Conditions
Well-draining soil; water consistently to keep the soil evenly moist
Mature Size
Varies by variety, typically 1-2 feet tall
Soil Requirements
Loose, well-draining soil with good fertility; slightly acidic to neutral pH
Sunlight Needs
Full sun
Temperature Tolerance
Hardy in USDA zones 9-11
Growth Habit
Trailing or vining herbaceous perennial
Flowering Period
Flower Color
Usually light purple or white, not very showy
Foliage Characteristics
Heart-shaped or lobed leaves
Propagation Methods
Slips (young shoots with roots), vine cuttings
Pruning and Maintenance
Regularly remove weeds; prune to control vine growth
Common Pests and Diseases
Sweet potato weevils, aphids, whiteflies; root rots, sweet potato scurf, leaf spots
Companion Planting
Beans, corn, kale, collards, spinach, other vining plants
Edible Parts
Edible tuberous roots
Wildlife Attraction
Sweet potato flowers can attract pollinators
Special Care Instructions
Provide adequate space for vining growth; protect from cold temperatures; hill the soil around plants

7 Best Sweet Potato Companion Plants

companion plants for sweet potatoes

While there are many companion plants you should grow with sweet potatoes, these are some of my favorites.

Companion plants like beans, marigolds, oregano, and nasturtiums can enhance the growth and health of sweet potatoes while deterring pests.

1. Beans

In our gardens, we’ve discovered that beans and sweet potatoes make great partners. Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants—they take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form accessible to plants, enriching the soil for their companion, the sweet potato.

This helps improve soil fertility which ultimately boosts your sweet potato harvest.

Besides being beneficial to sweet potatoes’ growth, plants like pole beans also act as a natural deterrent against certain pests like spider mites which can cause havoc on your crop.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds are great companion plants that help sweet potatoes. These vibrant flowers add a burst of color to your garden and serve as a natural pest repellent.

Plus, they also attract beneficial insects like hover flies, lady bugs and parasitic wasps.

Marigolds help keep harmful pests like nematodes and aphids at bay, protecting your sweet potato plants from damage.

Plus, their presence can improve soil quality by attracting helpful bugs that aerate the soil.

And here’s an extra bonus – marigolds have been known to enhance the flavors of sweet potatoes and other vegetables when planted nearby.

3. Oregano

Oregano is a fantastic companion plant for sweet potatoes. Not only does it enhance the flavors of sweet potatoes, but it also has numerous benefits when planted nearby.

Oregano acts as a deterrent to pests like aphids and spider mites, protecting your sweet potato plants from damage.

It’s an aromatic herb that even confuses sweet potato weevils, preventing them from harming the tubers.

Plus, oregano attracts beneficial insects that control aphid populations, creating a healthier garden overall.

In addition to its pest-repelling properties, oregano improves soil quality and fertility by fixing nitrogen and aerating the soil.

With its versatility in cooking and medicinal uses, planting oregano alongside your sweet potatoes not only creates a vibrant garden but also provides you with a valuable herb for your kitchen.

4. Horseradish

Horseradish is an excellent companion plant for sweet potatoes in the garden. It adds a flavorful kick to your meals and provides several benefits to your sweet potato plants.

Horseradish can improve disease resistance in sweet potatoes and repel pesky potato beetles that can damage their leaves.

By planting horseradish near your sweet potatoes, you can protect them from pests and diseases while enhancing their growth.

Additionally, horseradish contributes to the overall success of sweet potato cultivation by improving soil quality and providing natural pest control.

If you’re looking to discover the perfect sweet potato companion plants for your garden, don’t forget to include horseradish on your list!

5. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are a fantastic companion plant for sweet potatoes in your garden.

These vibrant and colorful flowers not only add beauty to your outdoor space but also provide numerous benefits to your sweet potato plants.

Nasturtiums attract beneficial insects that help control pests, ensuring the health and growth of your sweet potatoes.

They can also serve as natural shade and shelter for the plants, creating a more conducive environment for their development.

Also, nasturtiums have the potential to improve soil quality and fertility when planted alongside sweet potatoes.

Their trailing growth habit makes them compatible with the vining nature of sweet potatoes, allowing them to coexist harmoniously.

6. Herbs

Growing herbs alongside your sweet potatoes can have numerous benefits for both plants. Aromatic herbs like summer savory, thyme, dill, and oregano are excellent companions for sweet potato plants.

Thyme, in particular, attracts beneficial insects that control aphid populations on sweet potato vines.

Dill not only repels insects such as aphids and spider mites but also attracts beneficial pollinators like swallowtail butterflies.

Alliums, including onions, chives, and spring onions act as borders and repel pests that harm sweet potatoes. These herbs enhance the flavors of your sweet potatoes when harvested together.

They also serve important roles in pest management and soil quality improvement through their natural properties.

7. Garlic

Garlic is not just a flavorful ingredient in the kitchen; it can also be a valuable companion plant for your sweet potatoes.

When planted nearby, garlic acts as a natural deterrent against pests that commonly afflict sweet potatoes, such as sweet potato weevils and spider mites.

Additionally, because of the strong smell of garlic, sweet potatoes are less likely to attract insects hunting for a nice meal.

You can improve the flavor of your food and safeguard your priceless sweet potato crop by growing this aromatic herb in your garden.

3 Bad Companion Plants For Sweet Potatoes

There are several plants that should be avoided when planting sweet potatoes because they can negatively affect their growth and output.

It is recommended to keep sweet potatoes away from the following plants. 

1. Tomatoes

It is not advised to grow tomatoes next to sweet potatoes. Although both tomatoes and sweet potatoes make wonderful plants for any garden, when planted together their varied growth tendencies might make them struggle for resources and space.

Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae family, which includes potatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Planting these crops together increases the risk of disease transfer, like potato blight.

To ensure the healthiest plants and maximize crop yield, it is best to separate your sweet potatoes from tomatoes in your garden.

Instead, consider planting them alongside compatible companions like beans or marigolds to promote a thriving and harmonious garden ecosystem.

2. Squash

Squash is not the best companion plant to grow alongside sweet potatoes.

While they are both delicious and versatile vegetables, planting them together can result in competition for space and nutrients.

Squash plants have a tendency to spread out and take up a lot of room, which can hinder the growth of sweet potato vines.

Additionally, there may be biochemical interactions between these two plants that could negatively affect their development.

Give each sweet potato plant its own designated area in the garden rather than attempting to pair them together in order to ensure that they each grow to their fullest potential.

3. Sunflowers

Sunflowers may be beautiful and vibrant additions to any garden, but they are not the best companion plants for sweet potatoes.

Planting sunflowers alongside sweet potatoes can lead to competition for space and resources, hindering the growth of both plants.

It’s important to give your sweet potatoes plenty of room to spread out and thrive without having to compete with other large plants like sunflowers.

Instead, focus on companion plants that will enhance the growth and productivity of your sweet potatoes while providing benefits such as pest control or nutrient absorption.

Tips for Successful Sweet Potato Companion Planting

To ensure successful sweet potato companion planting, be cautious during harvest time to avoid damaging the roots of your companion plants.

You’ll need to spend time finding the best location for your companion plants and consider planting them under large trees for shade.

Avoiding companion root damage at harvest time

Companion root damage can be a common issue when harvesting sweet potatoes.

To make sure you don’t damage the roots of your other plants, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Provide ample space: Give your companion plants enough room to grow without interfering with the sweet potato roots. Proper spacing is essential to avoid any accidental damage during harvest.
  • Be gentle: Dig up your sweet potatoes carefully when the time comes. To carefully remove the dirt around the plants, use a garden fork or shovel. Take care not to harm the roots of any close companion plants.
  • Harvest at the right time: Once they have grown to their full size but before the first frost, sweet potatoes should be harvested. By doing this, you can lessen the risk of root damage from frost or cold weather.
  • Separate areas for sweet potatoes and companion plants: Avoid planting companion plants too close to your sweet potatoes. Keep them in separate garden areas or beds, allowing each plant enough space to grow without intruding on one another.
  • Plan your garden layout: Before planting, make sure you have a clear plan for where each plant will go. Consider the growth habits and space requirements of both sweet potatoes and their companion plants, ensuring that they won’t compete or cause root damage during harvest.

Optimal location for sweet potato companion plants

You’ll need to make some important choices if you’re committed to producing sweet potatoes with companion plants.

The key to success is picking the ideal location. Let’s now explore some crucial factors, shall we?

  1. Choose a sunny spot: Make sure to choose a site that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day since sweet potatoes require full sun to grow. Your sweet potatoes and the plants that grow next to them will both get the light they need for healthy growth.
  2. Provide well-drained soil: Sweet potatoes prefer loose, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Avoid areas with heavy clay or compacted soil, as this can lead to waterlogged conditions and hinder root development. Adding compost or other organic amendments can help improve soil drainage and fertility.
  3. Consider spacing requirements: When planning your sweet potato companion planting, be mindful of the spacing needs of each plant. Give your companion plants enough room to grow without crowding or shading the sweet potato vines. Proper spacing will allow for good air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.
  4. Take advantage of vertical space: Sweet potatoes are vining plants that can take up a lot of horizontal space in the garden. To make efficient use of limited garden space, consider growing vertical companions like pole beans or climbing varieties of nasturtiums. These plants will grow upwards, allowing you to maximize your garden’s potential.
  5. Rotate crops: Like all vegetables, sweet potatoes benefit from crop rotation to prevent the buildup of pests and diseases in the soil. If you have grown sweet potatoes in a particular area one year, avoid planting them in the same spot the following season. Instead, rotate crops and choose different companion plants to maintain soil health and reduce pest pressure.

Planting Sweet Potato under large trees

Planting sweet potatoes under large trees can be a smart choice for gardeners. The shade provided by the trees can help protect the sweet potato plants from excessive heat and direct sunlight, which can cause stress and affect their growth.

Here are some key points to consider when planting sweet potatoes under large trees:

  • Sweet potatoes thrive in full sun, but they can tolerate partial shade. Planting them under large trees allows them to receive filtered sunlight throughout the day.
  • The shade provided by the trees reduces evaporation and helps retain moisture in the soil, which is beneficial for growing sweet potatoes. It also helps keep the soil temperature cooler, preventing it from drying out too quickly.
  • Large trees with deep root systems can improve soil fertility by drawing up nutrients from deeper layers and making them available to sweet potato plants. This can result in healthier plants and higher yields.
  • Keep in mind that competition for water and nutrients between the tree roots and sweet potato roots may occur. Make sure to prepare the soil well and provide ample organic matter to ensure proper nutrition for the sweet potatoes.
  • Avoid planting sweet potatoes too close to the base of large trees as the competition for resources may become more intense. Instead, choose areas around the perimeter or where there is sufficient space away from the tree’s root zone.
  • Mulching around the sweet potato plants can help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, further benefiting their growth under large trees.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect sweet potato companion plants for your garden can greatly benefit both your sweet potatoes and the overall health of your garden.

By planting complementary herbs like thyme and dill, alliums like onions and chives, and legumes like beans and peas, you can deter pests and promote nutrient absorption.

Also, ground cover plants such as spinach and lettuce help prevent soil erosion while flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums, and alyssum attract beneficial insects.

Remember to avoid planting squash, sunflowers, or tomatoes with sweet potatoes to ensure optimal growth.

FAQs About Companion Planting Sweet Potatoes

What Grows Well With Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes grow well with several companion plants, including beans, cabbage, and horseradish, just to name a few.

These plants help improve the soil which feeds nutrients to help sweet potatoes grow. They also do a great job of deterring harmful pets.

What Should You Not Plant Near Potatoes? 

There are certain plants that should be kept away from sweet potatoes. These include plants from the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers, as they can compete for nutrients and can also spread diseases to sweet potatoes.

You also want to avoid root vegetables like carrots or radishes near your sweet potatoes since they may compete for nutrients in the soil.

Can You Plant Potatoes Near Sweet Potatoes?

While sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are from different plant families, they can be planted near each other without any major issues.

However, it’s generally recommended to provide enough space between them to avoid competition for resources.

Can You Plant Sweet Potatoes With Other Vegetables?

Yes, you can plant sweet potatoes with other vegetables.

As mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes have companion plants like beans and members of the cabbage family, which can be planted alongside them to mutual benefit.

However, it’s still important to consider spacing, sunlight, and watering needs when planning a diverse vegetable garden.

How do companion plants benefit sweet potatoes?

Companion plants provide several benefits to sweet potatoes.

For example, beans add nitrogen to the soil which promotes healthy growth, corn provides shade that helps prevent weed growth around sweet potato vines, while marigolds repel harmful insects and nematodes.

Can I plant onions or garlic near my sweet potato patch?

While onions and garlic can be planted near the same area as your sweet potato patch due to their pest-repellent properties but both have differing water requirements so you need to consider this before planting them together.

Are sweet potatoes a great companion plant for many other plants?

Yes, sweet potatoes are a great companion plant for many other plants.

They can help improve soil health, reduce pest problems, and increase overall plant productivity.

Are there any nitrogen-fixing plants that are good companions for sweet potatoes?

Yes, nitrogen-fixing plants like legumes, such as pole beans, are great companions for sweet potatoes.

They can help provide the sweet potatoes with the nitrogen they need for healthy growth.

Can sweet potatoes help with the growth of other plants?

Yes, sweet potatoes can help with the growth of other plants. Their dense foliage can provide shade and help prevent weed growth, while their roots can break up compacted soil and improve drainage.

What are some great sweet potato companion plants that can help with pest control?

Marigolds are a fantastic companion plant for many crops, including sweet potatoes.

They can help repel nematodes and other pests that can damage sweet potatoes.