The sunflower is a famous plant among gardeners because of its unique specialty. I am certain all of you have an idea about it.
The unique feature of sunflower is known as heliotropism. It occurs when the flower of a particular plant turns towards the sun throughout the day. In the case of the sunflower, it exhibits this feature only in the early stages. Later, the flower becomes comparatively heavy because of the seeds.
Sunflower is a very fast-growing plant that needs three months to grow. Although, the time also depends on the species of the plant. It has different colors, including orange, red, and brown, but you will most commonly find it in yellow. It has a considerable height of around 16 feet. Even the flower head can be 12 inches wide.
Although gardeners have been planting sunflowers for a long time, they should have the know-how. One of the ways of producing a healthy sunflower plant is by companion planting. In simple words, you need to plant sunflowers with some plants that can help each other grow together.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the process of planting various plants together in one place. It is an effective way of making coexistence beneficial for plants. Plants are susceptible to several diseases, rots, and attacks from insects and pests.
Companion planting strives towards solving such issues. It uses other plants to deter pests or insects or provide essential nutrients to the plant requiring a companion. The plants benefit each other and co-exist as companions, thus providing you with a serene garden to adore.
What Are The Benefits of Companion Planting?
Companion planting helps deter insects, pests, forages, etc., that feed on your plants. Companion planting comes with many benefits. It eradicates the threats associated with the plant and provides it with a safe condition to grow and thrive.
It also helps keep several diseases at bay without requiring any chemicals. Many companion plants attract beneficial insects and pollinators to enhance pollination and scare away unwanted pests and insects.
The best part about companion planting is that it improves plants’ flavor, so you get delicious fruits and vegetables out of your garden. Not only that, but you can also enhance the growing conditions for the plant by using a companion as a shade or ground cover.
Moreover, the companion plants add essential nutrients to the soil, fulfilling the deficiency plants may face. They also enhance nitrogen in the soil, a necessary nutrient for any plant.
Companion Plants to Grow with Sunflower
Here is a list of plants you can plant with sunflowers to give your garden a better look and continue the healthy growth of both plants.
Sunflowers usually have a great height and can provide shade to the plants that require shade for flourishing. Tomatoes and lettuce are such plants that love the shade.
You can analyze and plant tomatoes near sunflowers to save the cost of planning shade for tomatoes. Even if you cannot grow a sunflower in all directions, you can target the west side so that the scorching afternoon sun does not reach the tomato plant.
For creepers like cucumber or squash plants, you have to build a different setup in your garden. Imagine the cost and effort required to set that up. Well, sunflower has your back. You can use sunflowers as trellises in your backyard.
You need to ensure that the creeper is comfortable growing under the shade of cucumber and plant the stronger variety of sunflower to carry the weight of the creeper and not break down. The more robust types of sunflower can act as an excellent support plant.
You already know the importance of pollination. Most plants, including zucchini and pumpkin, cannot reproduce without the help of pollinators. Sunflowers are a great and natural way of attracting pollinators to your garden. They will attract bees and butterflies in your garden, which will help in the pollination of other plants as well.
Thus, it is best to plant sunflowers near plants like zucchini that can benefit from the pollinator. It will help them reproduce better.
4. Green Beans
You should also consider the requirements of soil conditions while deciding on a companion plant. It is better if similar soil conditions are necessary for the healthy growth of both plants.
Sunflowers require moist soil and have a PH range of 6.5 to 7.5. plants like bush beans and green beans also need similar conditions, and thus they are ideal for companion planting with sunflowers.
Squash is one of the plants that suffer from aphid attacks. So, it will be beneficial to plant them near sunflowers as they can attract aphids. Even if the aphids attack the sunflower, they won’t be able to cause much damage because they have thick walls and can protect themselves.
It will be a simple task to distract the aphids and thus save your farm from much harm.
Bonus Read: 26 Sunflower Garden Ideas with Pictures
Planting onions and sunflowers in your garden might be beneficial for you. Onion has its characteristic smell that can keep rabbits and squirrels away from your plants. They will not come and munch on your plants due to their smell.
Onion also can keep some types of pests away. Thus, it will help sunflowers grow better.
Peppers can be a great option to be planted with sunflower. Like tomatoes, it is also a shade-loving plant but can tolerate minimum sunlight.
Extreme scorching sunlight can be harmful to pepper plants. Thus, it is best to plant pepper with sunflower so that it can receive shade from the tall plants and can save itself from harmful sunrays.
Courgettes is a very fast-growing plant, but sometimes the flowers of this plant are hidden behind the giant leaves. It does not attract pollinators, and reproduction becomes difficult.
Planting them with sunflower can be excellent because sunflower attracts many pollinators that find those hidden flowers at the earliest. It helps in the better growth of courgettes.
Peas require a higher amount of attention. It grows up slowly and needs some support to take it upwards. If you plant it with sunflower, the tall plants will act as a pole and allow the pea plants to rise upwards, resulting in better and faster plant growth.
It is a part of the onion family that benefits the sunflower-like its other family members. It can deter pests that will keep the sunflower safe from pest attack. It looks even better when planted near sunflowers as it has thin grass with tiny purple flowers that attract even more pollinators. Hence, it is beneficial for both plants.
11. Perennial Lobelia
It is an excellent border plant. It has small bushy veins that spread and creates dense borders for your sunflower plants. Additionally, it helps to keep the soil moist, which is necessary for the ideal growth of sunflowers.
12. Stock and Delphiniums
These plants are tall and have a lovely fragrance. You can choose a vibrant blue color in contrast with your yellow sunflower as it will create a very eye-catching scenario in your garden.
Apart from that, they can repel earwigs and Japanese beetles harmful to your sunflower plants.
It is another shade-loving plant that produces beautiful and colourful flowers. It can be conveniently grown at the base of your sunflower because it helps to keep the soil moist.
The colourful flowers attract various pollinators too. Both the plants mutually support each other in growing better.
14. Busy Lizzie
This plant grows very fast and covers the ground. It is best to plant them near sunflowers as it helps to maintain the soil conditions and make it moist enough for sunflowers to grow extensively. Even this plant cannot take full sun, so it can also benefit by using the sunflower plants as protection from the sun.
Marigolds are widely grown in all the gardens because they demand low maintenance. Apart from that, marigolds attract ladybugs that keep the black flies and aphids away from the sunflower plants. It prevents the aphids from attacking the sunflower plant.
16. Crimson Clover
You can consider crimson clover to be an excellent companion plant for sunflowers. It brings more valuable insects to your garden. It also tackles the weeds that try to compete with the sunflower plants at an early stage.
It also takes care of the nutritional requirement of the sunflower plant by drawing nitrogen into deep layers of soil. Hence, this plant helps the sunflower plant to grow even better.
Pumpkin is also widely used as a sunflower companion plant. You can easily plant it at the base of a sunflower, naturally suppressing the weed. It also has huge leaves that act as barriers and do not let sunlight reach the ground directly. Pumpkins can also maintain the moisture level of the soil.
Pumpkin helps sunflower plants because it requires moist soil to grow. On the other hand, sunflower attracts pollinators that benefit pumpkin plants too.
Many gardeners also use corn to plant near sunflowers. They require similar soil conditions to grow. Both the plants have characteristic tall stems and deep roots that increase their efficiency to collect many nutrients from the soil needed for healthy growth.
What Not to Plant With Sunflowers?
Planting is a task; you need the correct knowledge to do it right. Apart from knowing what to plant, you must also know what not to grow with sunflowers to ensure their proper growth. Here, we’ll learn about some plants that should not be planted with sunflowers.
The plant that you should most certainly refrain from planting with the sunflower is none other than the potato plant. One of the significant reasons we ask you to do the same is because the sunflower can end up having a detrimental effect on the growth of your potatoes.
Not many people know this, but there is an allopathic character of the sunflower that damages the nature of the potatoes. It may end up resulting in much smaller potatoes and tubers. Usually, the toxic elements get transferred with the help of wind, so the best thing to do is make sure that you do not plant your sunflowers and potatoes next to each other.
2. Pole Beans
Sunflowers and pole beans- well, these are not quite a best friend!! They are not an ideal match if you think you will grow sunflowers and pole beans together on your farm. It is primarily because the sunflowers have a toxic element, which tends to hinder the growth of the pole beans.
If we go by companion planting rules, which focus on which plants can grow together, you will see that sunflowers and pole beans are on different pages. You will notice that if you happen to plant these close to each other, it can be detrimental and even hinder the quality of the pole beans’ growth.
Fennel plants are the other plants you should not grow along with the sunflowers. The most important thing you need to do is remember that fennel is not an ideal match with anyone. Hence you will not be able to find any friend of fennel when it comes to gardening. One of the primary reasons behind this is that fennel has a toxic element, which is catastrophic for the sunflower.
Not only that, the nature of fennel is that it has a lot of toxic elements, and if the wind carries the seeds and gets in touch with the sunflower, it can be detrimental. If you want to plant fennel, the best thing you can do is plant it alone.
Unless you do not crowd the plants together, it is okay. Crowding will produce small flowers, so make sure that you maintain at least 6 inches of gap between small sunflowers and 3 inches for the bigger ones.
If you compare the growth of sunflowers with that of other plants, then there are no doubts that they will need much more water. However, the supply needs more during the growing season, so arrange the same.
As you can understand from the name, the sunflower is a friend of the warm temperature. The temperature has to be over 50 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum growth. If the soil is too cool, it might end up rotting the condition of the roots.
Sunflowers are excellent friends with the sun’s temperature, so warmth is not a big problem. However, the best thing to do is ensure you keep them from very high temperatures because it can burn the leaves.
These are the few plants you should plant with sunflower to avail of mutual benefits. When planted with sunflowers, these can grow better.
However, you must be aware of plants that you strictly must not plant with sunflower. It includes potatoes, citronella, ferns, mosses, and carnivorous plants. These are harmful to your sunflower plants. These do not have any attractive flowers, and thus butterflies, bees, or any other pollinators would visit less.
You can undergo the bliss of growing different plants together. Companion planting is beneficial, and there is nothing to hate about it. It leads to fewer weeds, attracts good bugs, and improves soil conditions without the help of any chemicals. Both the plants look after themselves and help each other grow better.