Permaculture—Companion Plants for Polycultures


After researching a wealth of plant species, I have narrowed down the list of companion plants for my fruit tree guilds. While I have (or will have in about a week) the following trees—peach, cherry, pear, apple, paw paw, and mulberry—I am still in the process of mapping the landscape, so I’m not yet sure which of these companions will be planted around each tree.

Each of the companion plants I have chosen must have at least three benefits for the landscape, and all must be aesthetically pleasing. (I will soon be writing a post about aesthetic permaculture, as I believe that natural/wild doesn’t need to look raggedy.) The benefits listed may not be all benefits of the plant, but the ones I am most interested in (and I won’t be addressing any medical/holistic uses).

E=Easy to Propagate
DR=Deer Resistant
DT=Drought Tolerant
DyAcc=Dynamic Accumulator/Green Mulch
G=Ground Cover
NiFix=Nitrogen Fixer
PR=Pest Repellant
ShT=Shade Tolerant
ShH=Shelter/Host for Beneficial Insects
W=Wildlife Forage/Shelter 

Ornamental Perennials
* Anise Hyssop—DR; DT; N; ShH (tachinid fly, parasitic wasp, lacewing); W (hummingbirds)
* Yarrow—E; DR; DT; N; ShH (ladybug, hoverfly, parasitic wasp, lacewing)
* Catmint—E; DR; DT; N; ShH (ladybug, lacewing)
* Lamb’s ears—E; DR; DT; N
* White Clover—E; DT; N; NiFix; ShH (parasitic wasp, lacewing, spiders, ground beetles)
* False Indigo—DR; DT; N; NiFix; ShH (parasitic wasp, lacewing); W
* Daffodils—DR; N; PR (rodents)
* Echinacea—E; DR; DT; N; ShH (parasitic wasp); W

Perennial Herbs
* Lemon Balm—E; Ed; DR; DT; PR (mosquitos); ShH (tachinid fly, hoverfly, parasitic wasp)
* Mints—E; Ed; DR; DT; G; PR (rodents, aphids)
* Chives—E; Ed; DR; DT; N; PR (Japanese beetles, aphids)
* Thyme—E; Ed; DR; DT; G; N
* Oregano—E; Ed; DR; DT; G; PR (multiple insects)
* Comfrey—E; DR; DyAcc; N; ShH (parasitic wasp, lacewing, spiders)
* Garlic—Ed; DR; N; PR (repels aphids, Japanese beetles, snails, cabbage loopers, peachtree borers, rabbits)

Ornamental Annuals
* Marigold—E; DR; N; PR (mosquitos); ShH (ladybug, hoverfly, parasitic wasp)
* Calendula—E; DR; DT; N
* Zinnia—E; DR; DT; N; ShH (hoverfly, parasitic wasp)
* Sweet Alyssum—E; G; N; ShH (hoverfly, parasitic wasp)
* Cosmos—E; DR; DT; N; ShH (hoverfly, parasitic wasp, lacewing)

Annual Herbs
* Dill—E; Ed; DR; N; PR (aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers); ShH (ladybug, hoverfly, parasitic wasp, lacewing, swallowtail butterfly)
* Cilantro—E; Ed; DR (moderately); PR (aphids, Colorado potato beetles, spider mites, cabbage loopers); ShH (ladybug, hoverfly, parasitic wasp, lacewing)
* Basil—E; Ed; DR (moderately); PR (flies, mosquitoes, aparagus beetles)

You may have noticed that the majority of plants that I chose are easy to propagate—I will be dividing many of the perennials or finding stray babies in the garden to transplant. The annuals I have all started from seed to keep costs down as I invested in baptisia (false indigo) and anise hyssop starter plants. I will also be purchasing comfrey, garlic, and bulk seeds of clover and thyme to establish the ground covers.

I look forward to sharing the orchard landscape drawings with you as soon as I measure out the plots—I’m going to attempt drawing to scale instead of a rough sketch!

One thought on “Permaculture—Companion Plants for Polycultures

  1. Pingback: Permaculture Landscape Plans—Orchard Plot 1 (Pears and Peach) |

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