Skip to main content

Pairing Up Plants

Main Content
PairingUpPlant.jpg image

Left unchecked, whiteflies, aphids, and other insect pests can quickly overrun a beloved vegetable garden or commercially grown crop.

That’s why some growers practice the buddy system, pairing their crops with “companion plants.”

ARS found that growing companion plants next to or near crops creates a “push-pull” effect on pests.

For example, pairing tomato plants with giant red mustard or arugula can repel (push) whiteflies.

At the crop’s outer edges, strips of yellow squash or sunflowers lure (pull) the pests toward sticky traps, insecticides, or biocontrols.

Adding flowering annuals like sweet alyssum attracts adult hoverflies, whose young prey on many pests, reducing crop losses and costs to growers and the environment.