Spearmint Companion Plants: What To Grow Nearby For Best Results

Spearmint is a cool, refreshing herb that many people like to keep in their gardens. This herb is perfect for making your home smell nice, or adding a cool taste to your cooking. Not only that, but spearmint is a master at keeping the pests away from the other plants in your garden.

Of course, most people that want to grow spearmint in their garden want to grow other plants as well. It’s just not quite as fun only growing a singular crop, right?

Companion planting is a somewhat new concept in the gardening world. It’s not completely understood, but what we do know is that companion planting can help all your plants grow bigger and healthier.

There are a lot of plants that work really well with spearmint. There are also some plants that don’t do well with spearmint at all.

Below, I describe what companion planting is, what you need to look for in companion plants and which plants work well with spearmint and which don’t.

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the process of planting multiple crops in the same garden. It goes a bit further than that, though. For companion planting to work, you need to make sure that the plants will all get along.

Some plants will work together so that each species grows better. However, there are some plants that simply don’t work together. Their growing requirements are too similar so that they end up competing for nutrients.

There are multiple reasons why certain plants do or don’t work well together, and we’ll go into that a bit later. The bottom line is that if you plant crops together that work together, your garden will likely grow better than you’ve ever seen it before.

Now, the science behind companion planting is far from exact. Companion planting is a relatively new concept, so researchers and gardeners alike are still learning what works and what doesn’t. Further, most of the research done on companion planting involves farming crops rather than garden plants.

Still, researchers and gardeners have spent a lot of time and energy figuring out which plants work and which don’t. It simply comes down to a lot of trial and error. Fortunately for you, we do know which plants work best with spearmint and which you should avoid.

So, what are the benefits that come along with companion planting? It’s safe to say that all plants can benefit from companion planting, as long as it’s done right.

What Are The Benefits Of Companion Planting?

Sure, if you plant a single crop by itself, it’s going to grow well. It’s going to grow well because it doesn’t have any other plants that it has to compete with.

However, planting one species by itself can lead to problems as well. Maybe your crop is being attacked by aphids that you just can’t seem to get rid of. Maybe there isn’t enough nutrients in the soil, and your fertilizer doesn’t seem to be working. What do you do?

The great thing about companion planting is that a plant can support another plant in an area it lacks. If you’re having trouble with pests, try getting a strong-smelling plant that deters pests. If you’re having trouble with nutrients, try getting a plant that puts nutrients back in the soil.

Besides these two examples, there are plenty of ways in which plants can help each other:

  • Deterring pests & attracting pollinators
  • Increasing nutrient supply
  • Structural support for weaker plants
  • Weed suppression
  • Shade for shorter plants

Deterring Pests & Attracting Pollinators

Every gardener knows that pests can cause a huge problem in the garden. Getting rid of pests and preventing them from entering your garden can be annoying and difficult.

There are some plants, like spearmint, that produce a very strong aroma. This aroma is one of the things humans love most about spearmint. However, the scent is displeasing to pests like insects and rodents.

When planted near the entrance to your garden, spearmint will sometimes prevent pests from entering your garden in the first place. When planted among other crops, spearmint will deter pests from landing and feeding on their neighbors.

For some pests, the smell will simply confuse them. They don’t want to feast on the spearmint itself, and the overwhelming aroma prevents them from finding the plant they really want. In other cases, the smell is simply too strong and disgusting. The pests just don’t want to get near it.

On the other hand, good bugs do like the smell of spearmint and will actively seek it out. Spearmint and other aromatic crops are great for attracting pollinators to the garden. If you plant spearmint, you’re likely to see an increase in hummingbird, bee, and butterfly visitors to your garden.

Besides pollinators, other good bugs may be attracted. For example, many aromatic plants will attract ladybugs. Ladybugs aren’t pollinators, but they’re useful for eating pests. This is helpful if the aroma of your plant wasn’t enough to deter the pests.

Spearmint
Spearmint

Increasing Nutrient Supply

Some plants need more of certain nutrients than others. So, it can be helpful to plant crops together that compliment each other with their nutrient needs.

For example, some plants will actively pump nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen is really important for the growth of some plants. If you plant these two crops next to each other, they will both benefit.

Weed Suppression

Weeds popping up in the garden can be one of the most frustrating things about gardening. They prevent your crops from growing to the best of their ability. Not only that, but they take a long time to eliminate.

The good news is that some plants will help suppress weeds on their own. Creeping plants that are low to the ground offer a lot of soil cover. These plants will help fill in any gaps you have in your soil. This minimizes the amount of space weeds can use.

Shade For Shorter Plants

As you know, every plant is different and has its own requirements. This includes the amount of sunlight they need.

Most crops that grow tall, like corn, need lots of light and thrive in full sun. Other plants prefer partial or full shade. Planting a small plant that prefers shade next to a tall plant that prefers sun benefits them both.

What To Consider When Looking For Spearmint Companion Plants?

When looking for good companion plants for your spearmint, there’s a few things you should consider:

Roots

Spearmint is a fast-spreading plant. It will quickly take over any garden with its strong rhizomes.

For this reason, you don’t want to plant it near crops with delicate root systems. Plants like rosemary will simply have their roots ripped from the ground by spearmint.

Avoid Growing Conditions That Are Too Similar

You’d think that plants with similar growing conditions would go good together. However, if they’re too similar, they’ll end up competing for nutrients and will suffer.

Avoid plants that are too similar in their nutrient, water, light, and space needs.

Pests & Disease

Similarly, you’ll want to avoid plants that are frequently attacked by the same kinds of pests.

You’ll also want to avoid plants that are susceptible to the same diseases. If one plant gets it, it will be very easy for the disease to spread throughout the garden.

What To Plant With Spearmint: Best Companion Plants For Spearmint

Now, here comes the answer to the question you really wanted to know: what are the best companion plants for spearmint? Here are some of the best crops to grow near spearmint and how spearmint benefits them:

  • Beans: protected from rodents
  • Cabbage: protected from flea beetles & white cabbage moths
  • Carrots: protected from carrot root flies
  • Cauliflower: protected from flea beetles
  • Corn: protected from deer
  • Kale: protected from flea beetles
  • Lettuce: protected from slugs
  • Marigolds: protected from some pests and attracts pollinators
  • Onions: protected from onion flies
  • Peas: protected from rodents
  • Tomatoes: protected from aphids & spider mites

As you can see, spearmint’s strong aroma really helps protect a lot of different crops. It’s likely that these crops will return the favor in some way, helping spearmint to grow better as well. For now, though, we’re not sure how spearmint benefits from them.

What Makes A Bad Spearmint Companion Plant?

So, which crops simply don’t work with spearmint, and why not?

  • Chamomile: prevents spearmint from releasing the essential oils that give it its scent and taste
  • Oregano: the two plants have different soil requirements and don’t grow well together
  • Parsley: the two plants have different growth requirements and don’t grow well together
  • Rosemary: this plant has a very delicate root system that can be torn up by spearmint’s aggressive rhizomes
  • Strawberries: this plant is susceptible to the fungus verticillium and can pass it to spearmint

Final Words

As you can see, companion planting can be very beneficial to plants. Spearmint, in particular, is a great companion plant because it deters pests. Any plants growing around spearmint will be protected against attack.

Spearmint is not only useful in your cooking, but it can help with your gardening as well.

Want to learn more? Read about the best mint companion plants here and learn how to grow mint from seed here and spearmint from seed here. You can also find all my guides to growing mint here.