Maximizing Your Garden: The Best Companion Plants for Kale

You’ve successfully grown kale, that nutrient-packed green that’s as versatile in the kitchen as it is in your garden. But did you know that companion planting can enhance your kale’s growth and flavor? That’s right, what you plant with your kale matters, and we’re here to guide you on this exciting journey.

From deterring pests to improving soil nutrition, the right companion plants can make a world of difference. So, let’s delve into the art of companion planting, specifically tailored for your kale. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create a thriving, symbiotic garden that’s not only productive but also pleasing to the eye.

Key Takeaways

  • Companion planting with kale has multiple benefits, from increasing yields and enhancing flavor to improving soil nutrition and deterring pests. Consider factors like pest repelling attributes, soil enhancing properties, light access, dryness prevention, spacing, similar growing seasons, and crop rotation for successful companion planting.
  • The best companion plants for kale are mint, beets, beans, onions, dill, rosemary, and marigolds. They provide various advantages, like pest deterrence, soil nutrient enhancement, and offering supportive growth habits. Regular crop rotation prevents buildup of pests and diseases.
  • Certain plants hinder kale’s growth, notably tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and eggplants due to competition over nutrients and space, overlapping pest susceptibilities, or incompatible soil preferences. Avoid planting these crops close to kale.
  • Companion planting and crop rotation are effective strategies against common kale pests like aphids, whiteflies, and cabbage worm. Ideal companions include mint, beets, beans, dill, rosemary, marigolds, and onions, due to their pest repelling properties.
  • Crop rotation and companion planting are powerful gardening practices for a healthy garden. Rotating different types of crops prevents pest buildup, while companion planting offers natural pest control and boosts soil condition. Compatibility and diversity are key for their success.
  • Making the most of garden space involves understanding kale’s growth habits, maintaining crop rotation plans, understanding companion planting benefits, and using intercropping. Thoughtful garden layout planning, implementing these practices, and strategic planning are keys to successful gardening.

Understanding Kale and its Benefits

Kale, a high-achieving relative of cabbage and collards, has earned culinary fame for its robust nutritional profile. Densely packed with vitamins A, K, and C, it offers a wealth of benefits for your body, not just your garden.

Brimming with antioxidants, kale acts as a natural detoxifier, removing unwanted toxins from your body. Moreover, its high fiber content aids digestion, helping keep your gastrointestinal health in top shape. But that’s not all. The omega-3 fatty acids in kale, although not in large quantity, contribute to a healthy heart, warding off cardiovascular diseases.

For gardens, kale works as a marvel. This hardy perennial thrives in both warm and chilly climates, making it an all-year-round delight. It’s a quick-growing plant, sprouting to its full potential in just 55 to 60 days. And, its botanical characteristics add visual appeal, introducing a burst of green to your edible garden.

Even novice gardeners find success with kale, given its low fuss nature. It’s resistant to most garden pests and diseases – an attribute that can be enhanced further with the right companion plants. Also, being a member of the Brassica family, it prospers in soil rich in organic matter, but isn’t overly particular about soil pH levels. Provided the soil is well-drained, kale should produce high yields.

In light of these benefits, kale proves to be a strong candidate for any garden – whether you’re aiming to liven up your salads or simply break into the world of home horticulture.

Remember, the key to a thriving kale plant lies in its companions. When planted with the right company, kale can offer an increased harvest, enhanced flavor, and better resilience to pests. Furthermore, it gives back to your garden by improving soil structure and fertility, making it an essential asset for your green space. Continue reading for recommendations on what to plant with kale.

Factors to Consider When Pairing Kale

Pairing kale with ideal companion plants reaps immense benefits, and several essential factors come into play.

1. Pest Repelling Attributes
Plants exhibiting pest-repelling attributes like Borage (that repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms) or Plants like Calendula and Nasturtium (that attract pests away from kale) serve as excellent companions.

2. Soil Enhancing Properties
Opt for plants with soil-nourishing properties. For instance, Legumes such as Beans and Peas that fix nitrogen to the soil are beneficial for kale’s nutrition absorption and growth.

3. Light Access
Consider planting companion plants that get along well without competing for sunlight. Kale is a top feeder, growing vertically, and wouldn’t deny light to shorter species.

4. Dryness Prevention
Companion plants improving soil moisture retention, such as Clover or Buckwheat, prevent the soil from drying out, contributing to skilled water management in your kale garden.

5. Spacing
Manage spacing between plants judiciously, ensuring room for growth while maintaining shading, nutrients, and pest control. For example, in a square foot gardening method, you’d typically place three kale plants in each square foot.

6. Early and Late Growth Seasons
Combine plants having similar growing seasons. Kale thrives in both early spring and late fall; hence, pair it with plants that grow best during these periods, such as Lettuce or Spinach.

7. Crop Rotation
Employ crop rotation, altering the planting location each season to prevent soil depletion and deter pest infestations. For instance, replace a plot of legumes with kale subsequent year thus utilizing the nitrogen-rich soil.

Armed with these crucial factors, you’re well-equipped to tap into the full potential of kale companion planting. The key remains to strike a balance to ensure successful pairing, ultimately leading to healthier and more productive plants. Remember, observing and experimenting with different combinations help determine what works best, fostering overall plant health.

Best Companion Plants for Kale

Cultivating kale alongside companion plants, like mint, offers a host of synergistic advantages. Mint naturally repels several common pests. The strong scent of mint doesn’t sit well with flea beetles and cabbage moths, typical threats to kale. It is an outstanding companion plant choice, conditional on its tendency to spread aggressively if not carefully controlled.

Another useful companion plant for kale is beets. Root vegetables are excellent kale companions because they occupy separate growth spaces, avoiding competition for light and soil nutrients. Beets, specifically, improve soil structure, benefitting kale’s growth.

Beans are equally effective companions to kale. They replenish nitrogen, a core nutrient for kale’s healthy growth, in the soil. However, their growth can overshadow kale if not properly managed, given their high stature.

Onions, too, make ideal kale partners. Their pronounced scent deters multiple pests, protecting your kale crop. Simultaneously, since onions occupy a different soil layer, they ensure a well-utilized growing space without straining kale’s resources.

Moreover, consider planting kale with aromatic herbs such as dill and rosemary. These herbs repel pests attracted to kale while promoting beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and wasps, which control pest populations.

Additionally, marigolds prove to be excellent kale companions. The distinct aroma of marigolds confuses pests, preventing them from locating the kale. Studies show that marigolds can deter nematodes, tiny soil-dwelling pests harmful to kale.

However, remember to exercise caution with crop rotation. Repeatedly planting members of the same family, like kale and broccoli, can lead to a buildup of pests and diseases. As a result, rotate your crops annually for a healthier, more prosperous garden. It ensures each plant receives essential nutrients while preventing disease and pest accumulation.

Worst Plants to Grow with Kale

While companion planting improves kale’s growth and health, certain plants hinder its development. Specifically, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and eggplants bear specific traits detrimental to kale’s wellbeing. Here’s a deeper look into why these four plants are not the best neighbors for kale.

  1. Tomatoes: Tomatoes and kale vie for the same soil nutrients, particularly nitrogen. This competition often leaves kale lacking in vital nutrients, affecting its ability to thrive.
  2. Strawberries: Strawberries possess a shallow root system, hampering the deeper root structure of kale. These root systems end up intertwined, inhibiting resource absorption and growth for both.
  3. Peppers: Kale and peppers share many common pests, such as aphids and cabbage loopers. Planting them together increases the likelihood of a pest infestation for both, making pest control more challenging.
  4. Eggplants: Just like peppers, eggplants also attract pests that can harm kale, such as flea beetles and spider mites. More so, eggplants require soil that’s significantly more acidic than kale prefers, making cohabitation in the same soil challenging.

These plants, when grown close to kale, intensify competition over nutrients, space, and water, potentially inviting pest invasions and stunting growth. Thus, it’s crucial to plan your garden layout strategically, keeping kale’s needs and incompatibilities in mind.

Remember, your main goal isn’t just about maxing out the number of plants, but more about their collective growth and health. Your garden beds might teem with an array of plants, yet it’s the harmony among them that’ll negotiate the difference between a failing and a thriving garden. Avoiding the noted combinations ensures your kale, and overall garden, prospers.

In the end, each garden is unique and requires trial, observation, and adaptation. So, do remain flexible, keeping this tailored advice in your gardening toolkit as you sow, grow, and thrive.

Common Pests to Kale and How Companion Planting Can Help

Kale, renowned for its high nutrient content, poses a luscious feast for various pests. Notably, aphids, whiteflies, and cabbage worm frequently infest its green leaves. Aphids, small sap-sucking pests, often target kale’s tender new growths. Similarly, cabbage worm often feast on the verdant leaves, leaving behind telltale holes. Meanwhile, whiteflies, tiny moth-like insects, suck plant juices, leading to wilting, leaf yellowing, and even plant death if infestations are heavy.

However, you’re not helpless against these intruders. Companion planting serves as an age-old method for pest control. It’s a strategy that uses the natural properties of certain plants to deter pests or attract beneficial insects.

To illustrate, plant Mint around kale’s perimeter. It’s aromatic smell deters many pests, including aphids and cabbage worm. Beets too can be a great ally in your battle against pests. They release a strong aroma that’s unappealing to pests. When planted near kale, Beets help repel whiteflies.

Similarly, Beans are an excellent companion for your kale. They deter pests such as aphids and whiteflies, owing to their ability to enhance soil nitrogen levels which indirectly boosts kale’s resistance against pests.

Aromatic herbs like Dill and Rosemary function as strong pest repellents too. Their strong scents deter pests like aphids and whiteflies.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of Marigolds. These vibrant flowers deter pests with their distinct smell. Aphids, a common pest to Kale, despise Marigolds. Therefore, they make an excellent border plant for your kale.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Onions, with their pungent smell, drive away various pests. They are especially effective against cabbage worm, a major threat to kale.

Through smart companion planting, you can build a natural defense against common pests. This eco-friendly method not only protects your kale but also promotes its growth by enhancing soil quality. Remember the key is to grow a variety of these companion plants. Diversity, in the end, is your best defense against pests. So, as you plant your kale, keep these companion plants in mind.

Role of Crop Rotation and Companion Planting

Let’s dive deeper into the role of crop rotation and companion planting. Undoubtedly, these two gardening practices can vastly influence the health of your kale and other plants.

Crop rotation, defined as the practice of growing different types of crops in the same area across different seasons, plays a vital role. It aids in preventing the build-up of pests that prefer particular plants, contributing to a decrease in prevalent diseases. Remember, crop rotation isn’t random – it requires a four-year plan at least, rotating leafy greens like kale, root plants such as carrots, fruiting plants, and legumes.

Meanwhile, companion planting exhibits its power subtly, subtly promoting the well-being of your garden. Working on the principle that certain plants can benefit when grown together, this symbiotic relationship can be likened to a natural pest control system. By planting garlic and onions near your kale, for example, pests can’t stand their intense aroma, deterring them from plaguing your kale.

When you pair kale with the aforementioned mint, beans, beets, or aromatic herbs, you’re not just improving soil condition. You’re cultivating an environment where these companions repel common kale pests. It’s a smart way to let nature do the pest controlling.

Remember, diversity is key, the more variety you introduce to your garden, the better equipped it is to fend off pest invasions. However, keep in mind that compatibility is equally essential. Not all plant associations are beneficial, as the previous section highlighted the detrimental effects of planting tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and eggplants near kale.

In essence, crop rotation and companion planting go hand-in-hand, creating a thriving ecosystem for your kale and other crops. Following these practices leads to a healthier, pest-resistant garden, ultimately yielding higher quality produce. Adhere to this, and you just might elevate your gardening prowess, encouraging a bountiful harvest season after season.

Making the Most Out of Your Garden Space

Intelligent garden planning can maximize your crop yield and the overall health of your garden. Careful selection of what to plant with your kale optimizes its growth while promoting a vibrant, productive garden.

First, think about kale’s growth habits. It prefers cooler temperatures, matures in 55-75 days, and grows 12-18 inches tall. <span>Understanding these characteristics, plan a ‘garden layout’ that allows all plants to receive adequate sunlight and air circulation. Include plants of different heights to maximize vertical space. For instance, tall sunflowers or corn act as excellent neighbors for kale, offering shade and helping to reduce water loss.

Maintain crop rotation plans. These are vital for soil health and pest management. After planting kale, ensure the following crop isn’t a member of the cabbage family or mint family. Crop rotation based on plant families prevents the build-up of plant-specific pests and diseases. For example, planting tomatoes or peppers after kale breaks the life cycle of common pests, improving soil health and increasing the following season’s yield.

Become knowledgeable about companion planting. This method promotes beneficial relationships between different types of plants. Choose companions for kale that help deter pests, improve soil quality, or serve other beneficial purposes. Dill and rosemary repel cabbage moths. Similarly, lettuce, beets or onions paired with kale can disrupt the lifecycle of pests while enhancing soil nutrients.

Finally, intercropping is another beneficial approach to manage garden space efficiently. It involves planting two or more crop types in close proximity, benefiting from their mutual growth habits and nutrient needs. Pair kale with fast-growing radishes or carrots which can be harvested long before the kale plants mature and need more space.

By implementing these strategies, such as thoughtful garden layout planning, crop rotation, companion planting, and intercropping, you’re not only maximizing your garden space but also ensuring a healthier, more productive yield from your kale and other crops. Never underestimate the importance of strategic planning in gardening – it’s the key to success.


So, you’ve learned how to boost your kale’s growth and yield through companion planting. Mint, beets, beans, and marigolds can provide a supportive environment, enhancing your kale’s flavor and pest resistance. Remember, smart garden planning including a proper layout, crop rotation, and intercropping strategies are key to a healthy garden. It’s not just about what you plant with your kale, but also about how and when you do it. By avoiding certain plant families in your rotation and choosing companions that repel pests, you’re setting your garden up for success. Intercropping with fast-growing crops can further maximize your yield. You’re now equipped with the knowledge to make your kale, and indeed your entire garden, thrive. Now it’s time to put these strategies into action and watch your garden flourish. Happy gardening!

What is Companion Planting for Kale?

Companion planting is the strategic placement of different types of plants to benefit kale’s growth, flavor and pest resistance. Suitable companions can include mint, beets, beans, and marigolds, as these also have pest-repelling attributes and enhance soil quality.

What is the Importance of Crop Rotation?

Crop rotation improves garden health and prevents the buildup of pests and diseases. Implementing a proper plan like a four-year rotation can help maintain soil nutrient levels and prevent a single pest or disease from dominating the garden.

How Can I Maximize My Kale Crop Yield?

Through intelligent garden planning, you can maximize crop yield. Effective strategies may include selecting plants of varying heights, avoiding specific plant families during crop rotation, pairing kale with companions that deter pests, and intercropping with rapidly-growing crops.

What is Intercropping and How Does it Benefit Kale?

Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity. For kale, fast-growing crops are ideal as they can coexist without competing for resources. This method enhances productivity and can deter pests, boosting overall garden health.

How do Companion Plants Enhance Kale Flavor?

Companion plants may enhance the flavor of kale by altering the growing conditions of the soil. Some plants can add specific nutrients or alter the soil pH, which may positively influence the flavor of the kale.

Why Does Kale Need Companion Plants for Pest Control?

Some plants possess natural pest-repelling properties. When these are companion planted with kale, they can help deter pests, reducing the need for artificial insecticides and contributing to a healthier garden ecosystem.