Growing sunflowers is a joy for me, and over the years I have learned that I can take advantage of them being a companion plant to other flowers, vegetables, salads and herbs.
I’ve honed in on the easy to grow and favorites that do well. Along the way I’ve discovered a few plants that aren’t suitable companion plants to my sunflowers. Below are the discoveries id like to share with you.
So, What to companion plant with sunflowers. Well, there are so many varieties of flowers, vegetables, salads and herbs that are suitable sunflower companion plants. such as tomatoes, beans, basil and Marigolds. But there are a few to steer clear of. To find out more here’s the full info, and a quick reference chart to go with it.
Whether you’ve been growing sunflowers for many years, or you’re just starting out, it can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ to what you can grow with them.
Sunflowers are happy to grow almost anywhere. If you have an allotment, field, garden or just tubs, pots and troughs. Growing other companion plants with sunflowers has many benefits.
Sunflowers are happy to grow on their own and have been cultivated for thousands of years. They are known as one of the three sisters of agricultural companion crops.
This means that three crops are grown together to help each other. The sunflower grows tall and strong to support a climbing bean plant, whilst squashes benefit from growing on the ground and use the shade the sunflower provides so’s not to get scorched by the sun. In turn the squashes shade the soil they all grow in that helps to retain moisture. This is a a great example of companion planting.
Growing other companion plants with sunflowers has many benefits.
And this brings us on to how we can use sunflower companion planting to enhance our flower borders or utilize growing space around them for the kitchen garden.
I’ve found, throughout the years, companion planting with sunflowers isn’t a precise way of gardening. Nonetheless, depending on your own growing conditions it’s a thrill to find out what you can and can’t grow.
What is Companion Planting.
Although companion planting has been used in agriculture for thousands of years, it has been doing just that in the wild for many melinea before we started cultivating crops.
In extreme climates such as the desserts, different species of plants are found together as the shade of one plant is ideal for another. In the high snow capped mountains, or the arctic, different plants huddle together to protect each other from harsh winds and frosts.
With the help of its companion plant or flower, nature finds a way to survive.
Now, in the modern world, it’s common place to companion plant. In our gardens it’s the same – but on a smaller scale. Still, growing different vegetables, flowers and plants in the same area with each other is beneficial for many reasons.
And is why I often get questioned about how, and if its ok to grow such a variety of plants with my sunflowers, to which I reply….
‘Yes is it ok to do so. You can grow sunflower companion flowers for a bigger better display of color in flower borders. Grow vegetables , salad and herbs to enhance flavours and to attract pollinators. Here are more reasons why companion planting with your sunflowers is worthwhile.
Are your Sunflowers drooping?
Advantages of Sunflower Companion Planting.
- Sunflowers can provide plants that need shelter, shade or shielding from harsh weather.
- If you are short on growing space, companion planting is a solution to growing more in a smaller area. Giving you more for less.
- Ground covering plants act like mulch. When grown underneath sunflowers, they Lessen the growth of weeds
- Also Ground hugging plants keep moisture in the soil.
- Having diverse plants means diverse bugs. This helps with any pest problems that might occur.
- ‘Pests’ are put off by unrelated planting and won’t settle. This means they lay less eggs or none at all because its not a secure nesting place.
- Companion planting with sunflowers attracts pollinators and this helps when growing vegetable, salads and herbs. And pollinated flowers will produce seeds for next year’s planting.
- There are so many bees, bugs and butterflies that need a variety of plants to help them throughout the growing season. Companion planting give them places to take shelter, live, breed and feed.
- Companion planting is a good start to organic gardening. By growing an array of plants you are giving them their own echo system and they look after each other.
- Less or no chemicals are used to manage pests and diseases.
- The soil becomes healthier when growing sunflowers with other plants.
- Companion planting increases healthier and bigger crop production.
- basically , companion planting with sunflowers is all round better for the environment.
Disadvantage of Not Companion Planting With Sunflowers
So, let’s see what’s not to like about companion planting.
- Most plants have an inbuilt sense to take over as much space as they can. They can push other plants out of the way and grow over them. They can shade their family members from getting the sun and stunting other plants too.
- Long tendrilled plants, such as ivy’s and vines are so fast growing and can wrap themselves around other plants to the point that they strangle the life out of them.
- These long tendrilled vine plants are more often than not fast growing weeds that have been given room to grow.
- A large quantity of the same weeds give pests the right environment to breed.
- More pesticides and chemicals are needed as pests are more abundant and the good bugs cant cope with the deluge.
- The need to fertilise soil and put back nutrients by rotating crops has to be done before the next growing season as one variety of plant sucks all the nourishment out of the ground and gives no goodness back.
Companion planting with sunflowers is something I naturally go towards, I don’t think twice about it. Having said that, it’s fine to grow sunflowers, or indeed any plants on their own too.
‘So let us walk through gardens and land,
to see what sunflower companion plants grow hand in hand’
– Pamela Anne
Companion Plant Chart. For sunflowers
Here is a quick reference guide of the do’s and don’ts of companion planting for sunflowers. I hope it helps. This list is a basic guideline. Depending on your growing conditions the success of companion planting may vary.
Below I’ve gone into more detail of my top 20 of flowers, vegetables, salads and herbs that are my personal and easy to grow favorites. Followed by a bonus delightful honorable mention.
Head further down to see my Four Tables / Guides
for Vegetables, Salads, Herbs and Flowers!
My Top 10 Companion Vegetables and Salads to Grow With Sunflowers
We all have our own ideas about what we’d like to grow as companion plants with our sunflowers. It took me year after year to discover the variety of each vegetable, salad and herb that I personally enjoyed to bring to my table, and for their easiness to grow.
I’ve had a few mishaps with companions for my sunflowers too, but hopefully what I’ve suggested below will give you some ideas to start companion planting for yourself.
You can buy seedling plugs From your local garden markets or garden centers, but if you can not get to these places and would like to grow them from seed I’ve found all the ones I have great success with linked to its corresponding name below.
So, Here are my top 10 vegetables and salads to grow with your sunflowers. They are easy to grow and I’ve great success with them.
Let’s begin on the ground with 5 salad and vegetables which act as weed inhibitors, and keep the ground cool as well as help the soil retain moisture.
Looking to make your sunflowers taller?
These plants relish being in the shade of sunflowers. It helps with not scorching their delicate leaves. They can spread out with floppy leaves or grow compact light and crispy. If you find a little more space between you lettuces, you might want to pop some radishes in there too.
2. Squashes, Courgettes, Zucchinis.
These fast growing plants have a bountiful supply of crop throughout the growing season.. Sometimes the flowers are hidden behind their giant leaves. Luckily The sunflowers bring in many pollinators to share with the squash plants and they soon find the flowers amongst leaves.
Onions are great at keeping certain pests away. Their smell also might deter rabbits and squirrels coming too close and munching on your other plants
4. Spring Onions
As with onions, spring onions can be a ‘keep out’ sign for unfriendly bugs and feasting wild life. I also found that spring onions mature fast and with staggered planting I could have a plentiful supply throughout the summer.
Kale is another cool loving vegetable. Its love of the shade is a welcomed respite from the sunflowers canopy. Kale grows fast and is a very easy plant to grow from seeds, put the seeds straight into the ground where you want to grow them.
The next 5 salad and vegetables on my list are ones that benefit from the support sunflowers plants can give them. But if your climate is prone to high winds or heavy downpours of rain, and you find your sunflowers drooping or floppy, then additional support may be required, you can find that here
Cucumbers are vine plants and need a little support to lift their fruits off the ground. Depending on how big those fruits are, you might need to help your sunflower support them. Hopefully they help each other.
Growing tomatoes next to my sunflowers has been a lovely experience to me. I try out 2 or 3 different varieties every year. From sweet tasting Cherry sized ones to great big beef ones. The reds of them look striking against the yellow of my sunflowers.
Peppers, like tomatoes, are an up right plant that needs sunlight, but not to the extreme of being scorched. The dappled shade and support they require from the sunflowers allow the right amount of companionship they need.
As peas start to grow their soft twisting and winding tendrils need gentle encouragement to find their way upwards. I check my pea plants daily for this reason, and I must admit, when no one, but my sunflowers are looking, I’m guilty off popping the pods open and feasting on the young, sweet peas sshhh…dont tell anyone!
Beans are great to grow along side sunflowers. Beans bring beneficial bugs and they will also share the support you give sunflowers. they give an abundant amount of crops from only a few plants.
My Top 5 Companion Herbs for Sunflowers
Herbs are fragrant, can enhance the flavors of vegetables they are companioned with and bring in different varieties of pollinators. My top 5 do all these things.
Lavender is aromatic and is a a lovely when cut and added to a display of your own of cut sunflowers. Lavender attract many varieties of butterflies and bees, these help with the pollination of all its companion plants
Chives are part of the onion family, they deter pests and not only are they a great culinary addition to your table they look lovely too. They have long thin grass like leaves and purple flowers that look like pom poms. Butterflies love them.
Another one of the onion family, and a favourite with my family and friends too. plant these into any little bit of spare ground around your sunflowers and you’ll be on top of everyone’s ‘shopping list must have’.
Basil is one of my favorite herbs. It thrives well under my sunflowers. It not only enhances the flavors of its tomato and pepper companion plant, basil is an ingredient for many of a tomato, pepper, and garlic sauce for pasta or roasted tomato, pepper and basil soups.
This herb is strong and beautifully scented. Over the years, as the rosemary plant matures it becomes bush like. Pruned yearly and left in situ at the base of where you want to grow your sunflowers, it can be a plant that other companion plants can get support from. Sprinkle
rosemary over lightly oiled peppers, tomatoes, onions and zucchinis, roast them all and you have a mediterranean dish, grown with love from your garden to the table.
TOP TIP !
Apart from the garlic, all of the above herbs are perennial. If you prune them back at the end of the season they will give you new growth the following year.
My Top 10 Companion Flowers for Sunflowers
If you want to devote your garden to flowers then here are the top 10 I like to grow with sunflowers. They help with pest control, act as a mulch and keep the soil moist. Each is a guide and comes in a wide variety of color and sizes too.
I’ve had great triumph with all the flowers I’ve listed below. And if you like to grow these for yourself I have been able to find all the seeds I’ve have success with, … and for ease I’ve linked each to its corresponding names in the tables further down.
At the bottom of my list I’ve added an honorable mention that I felt I couldn’t leave out. it gives so much pleasure to a certain part of my garden.
French Marigolds are an old faithful friend in my garden. They are so easy to grow. I put them in amongst my vegetables and around my sunflowers. They attract ladybugs to sort out any rogue aphids and black flies. And when I find they have self seeded it saves me a job for next season. If you’re growing sunflowers in pots they are a lovely small plant to companion with them.
It’s fascinating to watch this fast growing, creeping, flat leafed plant find its way through others companion plants to find it gently curling round my sunflower stems. Its bright orange and yellow blooms attract butterflies and friendly bugs. As with marigolds I find them easy to grow by just popping the seeds in their growing site.
2. Perennial Lobelia
Perennial lobelias. These little flowered bushy, or trailing, plant spreads and fill in borders they keep the ground moist for sunflowers to enjoy
With so many varieties and colors, geraniums attract butterflies and bees. They repel japanese beetles and earwigs that are destructive to plants.
4. Stocks and Delphiniums
Tall and elegant and with the sweetest sent. I usually pick a bright electric blue variety of delphiniums as the contrast with the bright yellow of my sunflowers look stunning. They usually bloom in early summer, so I stagger their planting and have them flowering one after another.
And interesting fact is, sunflowers are part of the daisy family. Like sunflowers, there are a multitude of varieties. The taller ones nod in the summer breeze and are ideal to use as cut flowers in a display with sunflowers. The smaller ones are lovely as border plants.
Shade loving impatiens are ideal for growing at the base of sunflowers, keeping the soil moist The white, pink, reds, oranges, purple colors attract a multitude of pollinators.
Grow snapdragons for regular cutting for your vase. They grow in all colors except blue hues.
They are self seeding, give great ground cover and are very easy to look after.
Blues, pinks and purple pom pom like flowers are a one of my all time favorites. They’re in the color spectrum for bees to hone in on.
9. Sweet Peas
Sweet peas love being in the cool. So growing under the dappled light of sunflowers is ideal. They like to climb and get sunflowers support for that too.
10. Busy Lizzies
Grow Busy Lizzie’s in pots around your Sunflowers or in the grown. They grow and cover ground fast. Ideal for retaining the soils moisture and they don’t like full sun. Perfect.
My Honorable Mention
Wildflower Seed Mix.
I have a patch in my garden I give over to mother nature. I shake a wild flower mix over this area, with added sunflower seeds. l stand back and watch how nature tends itself.
It’s wonderful seeing a concoction of flowers unfold and become natural companions. Apart from a daily watering, they look after and support each other. They can attract different varieties of bees, bugs, birds and animals that serve my garden and sunflowers within it.
Companion planting flowers, with sunflowers, cleans the soil. Leaving your growing sites healthier for the following years’ growing season.
Following the nuclear disaster in 1985 Sunflowers and other plants were used to decontaminate the soil at Chernobyl. You can find more amazing facts about sunflowers here.
Companion Planting Chart for Sunflowers
I’ve put together a table of some of the vegetables, salads, flowers and herbs that can be companioned with sunflowers. There are so many varieties that you can try so, listed below I’ve put together a varied selection of some of the seeds that I’ve had great success growing.
If you’d like to try them out too, just click on the variety you’re interested in and it’ll take you to your seeds. I’ve enjoyed growing them all. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them too.
Click on the variety you want below and it will take you to your seeds on amazon or other places where you can get them
1. Vegetable Companions
2. Salad Companion Table
3. Herb Companion Table
4. Flower Companion Table
|Yellow Whopper||French Tiger Eye||Fantasy Mix Tagetes|
|Jewel Mix||Night & Day Phoenix|
|Creeping Daisy||Gloriosa Mix||Golden Yellow|
|Balsam Mix||Red Flash||Bling Mix|
|Baby Mix||Magic Carpet Mix||Apple Blossom|
|Blue Dwarf||Tall Mix Color||Polka Dot Pink Fragrant|
|Vine Mix Color||Delicate Pink Fragrant||Perfume Delight Mix|
|Blue Pride Stock||Crimson Pride Stock||Giant Mix|
|Birds, Bees and|
|Crazy Cosmos||Dry Area|
Wild Flower Mix
What NOT to Plant with Sunflowers.
As you can see from the ‘list’ above, there are very few plants I don’t companion with sunflowers.
The one I keep in its own area with its own companion plants are potatoes. Their fast growing tubular roots can disrupt and loosen other plants and flowers they grow near.
If conditions aren’t right, potatoes can be prone to potato blight. The stems can decay spreading to the leaves and then to the potatoes themselves. It becomes hard to stop the rot and disease from spreading to other plants.
But… there are …
Plants That Deter Bees and Other Pollinators.
I also avoid the following plants to companion with sunflowers. They won’t harm sunflowers but they will cause bees, butterflies and other pollinators to visit less. They basically have unattractive aromas or have no flowers.
- Carnivorous plants.
- Evergreen Shrubs.
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up, I do.
I have tried many companion plants with my sunflowers (Apart from potatoes). They increase the amount of pollinators that visit, and they keep the soil healthy and in need of little attention for the following year.
Companion planting is a gardeners delight. The different varieties and species of plants that can grow together is a joy to experiment with.
Using areas in between other plants is a space saver and when in full bloom are glorious to look at. The support of mixed hight planting and the way they look after each other is a delight.
Less weeds, more good bugs, the plants look after themselves, higher crop yield, healthier soil and fewer or no chemicals needed. There’s everything to love about companion planting with sunflowers.
If you have any experiences you’d like to share, or anything you’re not sure of, then please let me know in the comments below, including how your success or mishaps with sunflower companion planting has gone – I’d love to hear about them!
Can You Plant Annuals and Perennials Together? Planting perennials and annuals together is fine to do. Usually gardeners with a well established garden full of perennials, find that growing annuals gives a splash of colour every year, and attracts more pollinators.