Bell peppers are one of my favorite crops to grow- I just love walking out to the garden to pick some fresh, crunchy peppers for lunch. And I’ve found that with the right planting strategy, the bell pepper harvest can be even bigger!
Bell pepper companion plants help maximize limited garden space, deter pests, attract beneficial insects, reduce weeds and improve soil quality. Some of the best bell pepper companion plants to reap these benefits include other pepper varieties, herbs, petunias, nasturtiums, onions, carrots, leafy greens, white clover and borage.
In this article, you’ll learn why companion planting is so valuable and 23 of the best plants to place near your bell peppers. You’ll also learn which ones to keep on the other side of the garden and the answers to some common questions.
Let’s get started!
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is growing certain plants near each other to provide a benefit for those plants.
The University of Minnesota Extension lists companion planting as an effective way to use garden space efficiently, protect from insects and provide mutual benefits for those plants. Companion planting also helps maintain garden soil health by growing plants with different root structures.
In this post, I’ll break down the companion plants into 5 categories based on their specific benefits and uses:
- Maximize space in the garden
- Deter pests
- Attract friendly garden insects
- Reduce weeds
- Improve the soil
5 Bell Pepper Companion Plants for Maximizing Garden Space
More space in the garden- isn’t that what we all want? While you may not be able to expand the size of your actual garden plot, you can make the most of every inch by planting compatible plants close to one another.
Here are some plants that make perfect neighbors for your bell peppers:
1. Other Pepper Varieties
Bell peppers always grow well with other pepper varieties- they mature around the same time and usually require the same care routine. The only thing to keep in mind is cross-pollination, so keep any hot pepper plants farther away from bell peppers to prevent this.
Many herbs make outstanding companions for your bell peppers. Herbs tend to stay compact, and even if you plant a larger variety, like dill, regular pruning helps you keep them from overwhelming the space.
I’ve got rosemary and parsley alongside my bell pepper here, and there are plenty of others to choose from as well:
You can experiment with many different herbs, but it’s best to stay away from members of the mint family. They are incredibly aggressive growers that will quickly take over a garden bed- planting them in a pot near your bell peppers is a good idea.
Like bell peppers, eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, so their needs are similar- lots of sunshine, well-draining soil and plenty of water. Plus, eggplant is due for harvesting around the same time as peppers.
Tomatoes are another member of the nightshade family, and they can make good bell pepper companion plants as long as everyone has enough space. Tomatoes need about 2 feet of space to grow well, and make sure to give your tomatoes some vertical support, like a tomato cage, to prevent the plants from flopping over on your bell peppers.
Cucumber plants are low growers that can trail along the garden or grow vertically on a trellis. If allowed to grow on the ground, cucumber plants help keep the soil cool and maintain soil moisture. When grown on supports, they can provide some shade to bell pepper plants. Cucumbers do climb, so make sure to trim back vines to prevent them from choking out bell pepper plants.
7 Bell Pepper Companion Plants for Deterring Pests
I know from painful first-hand experience how quickly pests can devastate a garden. However, strategic companion planting can help keep pests from destroying your bell peppers.
Here’s what to plant with bell peppers to keep bugs away:
Basil has a strong, distinctive fragrance- and that’s what gives it its pest-preventing power.
Thrips are horrible pests that are attracted to bell peppers by the fragrance the plant produces. However, the basil aroma masks that from bell pepper plants, leaving thrips unable to find and destroy them. What’s more, the basil scent also repels mosquitos, whiteflies and others.
Basil does bolt in hot, dry conditions, halting leaf production and pest deterrence. So water regularly!
2. Members of the Allium Family
The Allium plant family is known for its pungent scent, and it includes these plants:
Thanks to their strong aroma, alliums are a natural deterrent for many garden pests. Specifically, onions deter spider mites, which can cause severe damage to bell pepper plants and stunt their production.
Radishes help protect your bell pepper plants from flea beetles, and you can use them as an edging to deter pests. However, radishes mature quicker and earlier in the season than bell peppers, so plan for successive plantings through the summer.
4. Hot Cherry Peppers
Hot cherry peppers deter pepper maggots and flies that can damage bell pepper plants and their fruit. Harvest hot cherry peppers regularly to encourage production.
Geraniums are beautiful with their vibrant colors, and they deter Japanese beetles and soil nematodes. I can’t tell you how many dead Japanese beetles I’ve found in my germanium planters!
Geraniums are also excellent wasp repellants, which is a bonus if you’re planting in a greenhouse or are as disturbed by the sight of wasps as I am!
Marigolds are bright and pungent, which are huge deterrents for soil nematodes and squash bugs. They also attract beneficial insects like bees and pollinators, and they bloom multiple times throughout the active growth season.
Nasturtium attracts aphids and squash bugs, drawing them away from your bell peppers. And nasturtium blooms also attract hoverflies, which are predators of aphids. Clip off spent flowers to encourage more blooming.
5 Bell Pepper Companion Plants to Attract Friendly Garden Insects
Pollination is critical for your bell peppers to progress from flower to fruit. The more bees, butterflies and other pollinators you can get in your garden, the better!
Add these plants to the garden to boost your population of garden friends:
I love petunias! I usually have them planted somewhere in the yard or garden every year, but right next to your bell peppers is an especially good spot for a vibrant petunia planting. Petunias are excellent bee and hoverfly attractants, and they’re also aphid repellants.
Sunflowers are amazing for attracting pollinators and insects that feed on pests. They’re also surprisingly easy to grow, and like bell peppers, they thrive in full sun.
Zinnias are like a carnival of colors with varieties in yellow, pink, red, white and purple, and they’re notorious for attracting butterflies, which is great for pollination. Their mounds of tiny petals create globe-shaped blooms that thrive in full sun, making them great bell pepper companion plants.
4. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet alyssum is an herbaceous perennial that comes in white, purple and pink. Its tiny clusters of flowers grow in mounds and attract parasitic wasps, ladybugs, tachinid flies, syrphid flies and lacewings. Not only will sweet alyssum serve as biological control, it’s also easy to care for and beautiful.
5. Members of the Carrot Family
The carrot family of plants is known as the Apiaceae group, and it includes:
- Carrots (obviously!)
- Queen Anne’s lace
If allowed to flower, the carrot family’s blooms support the predators of hornworms, aphids and others, and their foliage is a favorite food of swallowtail butterfly larva. Other insects, including ladybugs, are attracted to the carrot family and will pollinate while feeding on bell pepper pests.
3 Bell Pepper Companion Plants to Reduce Weeds
If you’re tired of battling weeds in your garden (and who isn’t?), companion planting lets you put useful plants in the space weeds would normally infest.
Here are some good options:
Lettuce is a fast-growing plant that thrives in the cool early spring weather, so it can reduce weeds in the garden before you plant warm-season crops, like bell peppers. Because it’s a low grower that won’t inhibit fruit production, you can also plant bolt-resistant lettuce between bell pepper plants in the summer.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens including Swiss chard and spinach are low growers and serve as a ground cover that can reduce the growth of weeds. Growing leafy greens as bell pepper companion plants will also maximize space while maintaining soil moisture, making for happy bell pepper plants.
3. White Clover
White clover is great for living mulch and weed control. Plant white clover between garden rows and bell pepper plants, then trim back before the flowers turn to seed heads.
3 Bell Pepper Companion Plants to Improve the Soil
Did you know that certain plants release nutrients into the surrounding soil or help improve soil texture? Bell peppers need nitrogen-rich, well-draining soil to produce their fruits, so these plants make great neighbors:
Lupine, which includes bluebonnets, are flowering plants that can fix nitrogen levels in garden soil. Their blooms attract beneficial insects and pollinators, and they’re also beautiful! Clip off spent lupine blooms to encourage more blooming.
As a legume, cowpeas help provide nitrogen in the soil for bell peppers, boosting fruit production. Cowpeas are also a densely-growing plant, so they help prevent weed growth as well.
Borage has a deep root system that breaks up compacted soil, allowing water and nutrients to reach your bell pepper more easily. And when you till the plants under at the end of the growing season, they release huge amounts of nitrogen back into the soil for next year!
Worst Bell Pepper Companion Plants
A few plants just don’t work well with bell pepper as companion plants. Keep these plants as far from your bell peppers as possible:
Brassicas. Brassicas include:
- Brussels sprouts
The main problem with brassicas is that they require very different growing conditions from bell peppers. And they’re also heavy-feeding plants, meaning that they’ll compete with your bell peppers for soil nutrients and water.
Fennel. Fennel is a useful herb, but it may attract some pests that attack bell peppers. If you choose to plant fennel in your garden, keep it far away from bell peppers and vegetable plants.
Apricot trees. Apricot trees are susceptible to a fungal disease that also affects bell peppers, so keep some distance between the two to prevent cross-infection.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bell Pepper Companion Plants
I hope this article has given you plenty of inspiration for what to plant with bell peppers! Companion planting is an easy way to boost your garden’s production and health without artificial additives or chemicals.
Whether you’re short on growing space, want more beneficial insects, you’re tired of battling weeds or another reason, there are many great bell pepper companion plants to consider. So go the easy route, and start your planning today!
I’d love to hear from you! Are there any other good companion plants for bell peppers that you’d add to the list? Do you have any other growing tips to share? We learn best as a community of growers, so please let us know in the comments!