6 Companion Plants for Apple Trees (With Pictures)
You know the old saying about keeping friends close and enemies closer? Well, when it comes to growing apples, that advice rings true. In order to avoid becoming the enemy of your apple trees, you’ll want to consider companion planting. Let’s face it: garden space is at a premium for most home growers.
But there are several plants that will help your apple trees flourish. Companion planting helps you get more from your space and even protects your trees from disease-causing pests. Let’s look at what companion planting is and what the best companion plants for apple trees are.
What Exactly Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the practice of planting two or more types of plants together. These plants might be vegetables, flowers, or even trees. The benefits of companion planting include pest control, healthy soil, and even an attractive landscape.
The idea behind companion planting is that the presence of one plant will benefit the other, either by attracting beneficial insects or repelling pests. Companion planting can also help increase yield and can be used to extend the growing season. So, let’s take a look at some of the best companion plants for apple trees.
The 6 Companion Plants for Apple Trees
Beans are one of the best companion plants for apple trees. They add nitrogen to the soil, which is essential for apple trees. If you plant beans near your apple trees, the plants will help to fertilize the soil. This will lead to bigger and tastier apples. Beans can be also planted as a living fence around your apple trees. This will help to protect your trees from pests such as rabbits, mice, and deer.
They can be grown on a trellis near your trees. This is a great way to maximize your garden space. Because beans like warm weather, they can be planted as early as March in cooler climates. The plants will climb up the trellis and provide shade to your apple trees as they grow.
Corn is another fantastic companion plant for apple trees. Like beans, corn also fixes nitrogen in the soil. This can be especially helpful in areas with poor soil. It can be planted among your apple trees and between the trees in your orchard. Corn planted in between the apple trees will help to block the wind.
This will prevent your trees from being blown over during storms or heavy winds. Planting corn between your apple trees will help to provide a living mulch, which will prevent the soil from being compacted by footsteps. It can be planted among your apple trees and will provide a bit of shade, something that’ll keep your trees from getting sunburned. It will also provide your trees with a bit of extra warmth in the spring and fall.
Tomatoes are a great choice to plant near your apple trees. When you plant tomatoes near your apple trees, they will help to repel pests such as mosquitoes and slugs. Because tomatoes and apples like similar growing conditions, they can be planted together in the same area without much change to your garden.
Tomatoes can be planted in early spring or as soon as you can work the soil. They’re a warm season vegetable that grows best when the soil temperatures are between 60- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. Tomatoes like to be watered deeply but don’t like to be waterlogged. You can prevent blossom end rot by providing balanced fertilizer and an adequate amount of water.
Nasturtiums are a great choice for companion planting with apple trees. Nasturtiums are very easy to grow and are often used to create living mulch. This will help to prevent weeds and conserve water for your apple trees. These plants have a peppery, tangy taste and are often used in salads.
They’re also known for their beautiful flowers, which come in a wide variety of vibrant colors. Nasturtiums can be planted between your apple trees or in a row near them. Just avoid planting red nasturtiums near apple trees (more on this later).
Marigolds are a classic companion plant for apple trees and many other species of plants. They have been shown to repel pests such as Japanese beetles and carrot flies. They also have a lovely fragrance. Marigolds can be planted in a row next to your apple trees without taking up much space. Since they help to repel pests, which means you’ll lose fewer yields to rot and other pest-related issues.
Eggplants are an unusual choice for companion planting with apple trees, but they work well. These plants are very effective at attracting pollinating insects. This will let your bees do their thing and help to pollinate your apple trees.
Eggplants can be planted in a row next to your apple trees. This will let the plants help to protect your trees from pests. The plants will also enrich the soil and make your apple trees grow bigger and faster.
The Companion Plants to Avoid for Apple Trees
There are plenty of companion plants that can help boost your apple trees and make life a little easier for you as their gardener. But which plants should be avoided? There are some plants that have the potential to negatively impact your apple tree, so here is our list of some of the worst companion plants for apple trees.
Dandelions are a very common weed in most parts of the world, including apple tree gardens. This common weed can affect the health of apple trees. While the effect is not dramatic, it could result in a reduction of yield by up to 30%.
This is because dandelions have fibrous root systems that can grow deep into the soil and interfere with the health of nearby plants. If your apple trees are in close proximity to dandelions, this can result in stunted growth. Dandelions are easy to spot and remove, so there is no reason to let them take over your apple orchard.
Hollyhocks are beautiful, tall flowers that are often used in gardens as an ornamental plant. Unfortunately, hollyhocks are a nightmare for apple trees. Hollyhocks are toxic to apple trees and can cause stunting by producing a chemical called allelopathy that can inhibit apple tree growth.
If you live in a hollyhock-heavy area, it may be best to avoid planting apple trees there. A study in the Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection found that hollyhocks can reduce apple tree production by as much as 70%.
3. Morning Glory
Morning glory is a beautiful plant; however, it can be extremely detrimental to apple trees. A study published in the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology found that when planted near an apple orchard, morning glory can reduce apple production by as much as 50%.
It’s also easy to accidentally plant this weed in your orchard. While you may have planted it in a separate part of your garden, seeds can be carried by the wind and land in your apple trees. If you have planted morning glory in your yard, you should take care to ensure that it is far away from your apple orchard.
4. Red Nasturtium
Nasturtium is a common garden plant that is often used as an ornamental plant in flower beds. There are many different types of nasturtiums, and while most types of nasturtiums are safe to plant near apple orchards and can even be beneficial for them, red nasturtiums are not.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Management found that red nasturtiums can reduce apple tree growth by as much as 40%. This can result in stunted growth, a reduction in apple production, and an increase in diseases in your orchard. If you want to use nasturtiums in your yard, you should avoid planting red nasturtiums near apple trees.
Not many home gardeners talk about planting tobacco, but you can grow this at home. Tobacco is sometimes planted in small commercial gardens. Unfortunately, it can negatively affect apple trees if it is planted too close to them. Tobacco is toxic to apple trees and can stunt both their growth and fruit production.
If you have tobacco plants in your garden, it is best to plant them far away from your apple orchard. A study published in the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology found that tobacco plants can reduce apple production by as much as 75%.
Wrapping Things Up
As you can see, there’s no shortage of plants and vegetables available to help out your apple trees if you need it. Everything from beans, corn, tomatoes, and marigolds can be beneficial for your tree. However, there are also plants that you should absolutely keep away from your apple tree such as tobacco, red nasturtium, and morning glory.
Featured Image Credit: Lichtsammler, Pixabay