Guide to Strawberry Companion Plants
What’s better than growing sweet, bright strawberries? Growing them with the help of companion plants! If this is your goal, you’ll be happy to explore this guide to strawberry companion plants.
Strawberry plants are at their most healthy when they are grown in full sunlight and sandy soil and are kept from harmful pests.
Published: November 8, 2022.
Because of the repelling benefits derived from flowers like borage and marigold and the nutrients added by spinach crops, plants like these make great companion plants for the growth of strawberries.
In this guide, you’ll find not only the proper conditions to grow your strawberries in, but a list of companion plants that really help your strawberries to thrive, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about this fruit and its potential plant neighbors!
What Are the Proper Growing Conditions For Strawberry Plants?
The best way to get the most out of your companion plants is to understand what your strawberry plants need first. Let’s go over the proper growing conditions for strawberry plants below.
Soil – Strawberries need a soil mixture that is not only loose and aerated, like loam that is sandy, but also soil that is full of organic materials. This soil should be drained very thoroughly but retain moisture long after spring has begun. The best way to grow strawberries is in soil that is on a gradual slope, draining excess moisture and frost away.
pH Levels – The alkaline and acidity of a strawberry plant’s soil are the keys to the plants' growth and can be measured by testing the pH levels. The best pH levels for strawberry plants are 5.8 at the lowest and 6.2 at the highest. If you find this level difficult to achieve, try adding ground limestone to the soil mixture!
Soil test kits can be found in local garden centers, or they can be ordered from online shops.
For the most up-to-date offers and prices, feel free to check the Soil Test Kit Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).
Sunlight – Strawberries are certainly a sunlight-loving crop. Without the proper amount of ultraviolet rays, the plant will not only die but won’t produce full, delicious fruit! A strawberry plant needs a minimum of six hours of sunlight unobstructed daily. However, 10 hours of full sunshine is best for the plant and its fruit.
Nutrients – Like most plants, strawberries benefit from nitrogen in terms of nutrients. However, they can also thrive and produce the best fruits when given the best fertilizer, containing phosphorus and potassium. Also, too much nitrogen can be harmful to the plants - the plants can grow big but weak and prone to pests and diseases.
Temperature – Strawberry plants need a particular range of warm temperatures in order to remain healthy. Without the right warmth levels, strawberries can’t flower and, therefore, won’t create fruit. The lowest temperature for strawberries is 50 degrees, while the temperature should get no higher than 80 degrees.
Water – Strawberry plants do need soil that can retain some moisture through the spring, but their ultimate water intake should be around the same as what they would get if it rained at least one inch each week.
Using the very best in terms of growing conditions will ensure that your strawberry plant has nothing in its way and that it can not only flourish but produce tasty fruits! Companion plants, as discussed below, can keep the strawberries happy and healthy, too.
Best Companion Plants For Strawberry Plants
Now that we’re sure what conditions help a strawberry plant to flourish healthily, we can move on to understanding the additional benefits a companion plant can offer. Below is a list of companion plants for strawberries:
A closer look at each of these leafy friends will help us to get a grasp on how each of them can benefit strawberry plants.
Spinach is a plant that grows best in 50 to 60 degrees, which is well within the range of safe temperatures for strawberries. It is also happiest when in the same full sunshine that strawberries enjoy, and the strawberry plants can provide just enough shade so that the spinach leaves don’t burn.
At the same time, spinach plants can help strawberry plants when planted near to them!
Spinach produces a type of anti-fungus, antibacterial material which is called Saponin. Saponin is produced in spinach’s roots and can, in turn, warn off fungal infections that might otherwise harm strawberries.
Not only that, but spinach and strawberry roots don’t extend to the same depths in the soil, so they can share nutrients rather than choking one another out. Finally, if your primary concern is the flavor of your strawberry fruits, you’ll be pleased to know that spinach has been known to enhance the taste of strawberries when planted together!
Spinach should be planted an inch or two away from the strawberry plant itself for the best results.
Though other plants are useful in warding off fungal or bacterial infections or shielding companion plants from harsh sunlight, marigolds offer a different kind of protection. Not only are they lovely, but marigolds have a particular scent that humans love and pests absolutely hate!
Marigolds can keep common strawberry predators like nematodes, mosquitoes, and rabbits away. While human beings love the look and smell of a marigold flower, they aren’t the only ones! Ladybugs, a common helper to farmers trying to guard against aphids, also love to hover around marigolds.
For these reasons, planting a marigold flower at least 12 inches from your strawberry plant is a great way to get rid of pests and add some more vibrancy and beauty to your garden.
Lettuce should be grown in full sunlight for the tastiest results, something that lettuce plants have in common with strawberry plants! Lettuce also enjoys the same moist, sandy soil that strawberry plants thrive in.
One of the things that a lettuce plant needs most in its surrounding area is a kind of mulch that can keep it safe from weeds and enough of a covering to keep it from being fed on by birds. For this reason, strawberries make a great neighbor to lettuce!
Lettuce leaves return the favor. Because the leaves of a lettuce plant are broad, they make a great hiding place for strawberries hanging from the central strawberry plant, shielding their bright red glow from predators and pests looking from above.
In addition to marigolds, borage flowers are very helpful when looking for a companion to aid in the growth of your strawberry plant. This is because all plants, including strawberries, benefit from pollination.
Borage produces beautiful blue flowers, which cause butterflies, wasps, and bees to love to hover near. While pollinating, predatory wasps may even take out some of those pests that would rather be plaguing your strawberry crop!
The benefits of borage as a companion plant don’t stop at predator deterrents. Borage also boosts nutrients in the soil, causing the actual fruit produced by strawberry plants to taste sweet. Not only that, but with a borage crop, you can produce not only fruit but a tasty herb!
Finally, blueberries are one of the most beneficial things to grow near strawberries as a companion plant. Blueberry bushes tend to grow much taller than the ground-hugging strawberry plant, so you may have to angle the growth of the two fruit plants so that strawberries are still receiving their full eight hours of sunshine.
However, with that in mind, blueberries and strawberries help one another because strawberries are a safe ground cover for blueberry plants. They are also convenient to grow near one another because they can survive in the same types of soil, within the same levels of pH and nutrients!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Check out these frequently asked questions about companion plants, specifically for strawberries!
What should you not plant next to strawberries?
One of the leading diseases that can harm a batch of strawberries is called “verticillium.” The risk of your strawberry plants contracting this disease can actually be increased if they are planted near, or even in beds that used to house, any of the following:
Why do farmers plant onions with strawberries?
In addition to the above plants listed as great companions, onions may often be planted with strawberries.
This is because they offer some excellent benefits to the strawberry crops, especially in terms of soaking up excess water and contributing nutrients to the soil of the plot.
Why do you put hay around strawberries?
Putting hay around strawberries is done because the straw keeps weeds from finding a purchase near the base of the strawberry plant, as well as holding the strawberries away from potentially harmful ingredients in your soil or catching fruit diseases.
Can I plant blueberries and strawberries together?
Blueberries and strawberries are excellent fruits on their own and pair well together in a yummy fruit salad, but do they make good companion plants?
Actually, yes, blueberries and strawberries are not only grown under some of the same conditions, but strawberries can actually protect the ground around a growing blueberry bush.
Should you cut runners off strawberries?
Yes, the truth is, runners are detrimental to the health of a young strawberry plant. This is because runners are grown using a lot of a young strawberry plant’s energy without giving much back to the plant in terms of health benefits.
Therefore, it can be very helpful to eliminate runners so that a strawberry plant’s energy goes toward producing more fruit.
Will strawberries take over my garden?
Another detriment caused to some plots of land by strawberry runners is that the green vines can easily overwhelm the rest of your garden. While you can use the runners of strawberry plants that are three years old or older to propagate new plants, you’ll have to carefully trim them to keep your garden space from getting overcrowded.
Can you plant strawberries and tomatoes together?
Strawberries and tomato plants don’t benefit one another in any particularly helpful way, but they may benefit you, as the gardener, by being planted near one another.
This is because both tomatoes and strawberry plants need some of the same growth conditions, so if you decide to plant them near one another, don’t worry! Tomatoes and strawberries don’t harm each other.
Do strawberries like eggshells?
If you’ve ever noticed eggshells being sprinkled around a growing strawberry plant and wondered why, the answer can be summed up in one word: nutrients!
Grinding up eggshells or leaving them to disintegrate near a strawberry plant can give the plant better levels of calcium.
Can you plant raspberries next to strawberries?
Raspberry bushes do not do well when planted next to strawberries. This is because both raspberries and strawberries are susceptible to the same fungal diseases, which can be spread from one to another even if you’re simply re-planting strawberries where raspberries used to grow.
What happens if you plant strawberries too close together?
If you wind up planting your strawberries too near to one another, you’ll find that they choke one another out in an attempt to get first dibs on soil nutrients, root space, and even sunshine. This can result in the death of your strawberry plants, or at the very least, much less big, wholesome fruit produced.
What does Epsom salt do for strawberries?
One other popular growing condition for strawberry plants is Epsom salt, which can cause your strawberry plant to flower more and produce better fruit.
This is because Epsom salt contains magnesium, and magnesium acts as an encouraging agent when your strawberry is attempting to gather nutrients and generate chlorophyll.
To sum it all up, strawberry plants can derive wonderful benefits from companion plants.
Strawberries need sandy but moisture-retaining soil with a range between 5.8 and 6.2 in pH levels to thrive, as well as a full 8 hours of sunlight. Finding other plants, like blueberries and cabbage, which can thrive in the same conditions is convenient for a gardener.
Not only that, but planting companions like marigold flowers and borage can emit a smell that warns off harmful insects and attracts helpful ones, like ladybugs.
Finally, some companion plants like spinach can release nutrients into the soil and even improve the taste of strawberry fruits. All in all, companion plants are a must-have for gardens and farms alike!