If you’re looking to grow healthy, succulent, fruit-bearing trees, the best thing you can do for them is to pair them with other compatible plants.
Complementing your fruit garden with different plants can result in favorable insects, improved pollination, and an increase in surface minerals.
Bear in mind that companion planting isn’t about having beautiful inflorescences surrounding your fruit trees that are pretty to look at but not beneficial. Permaculture instructions suggest planting these flowers around the fruit tree, at least one meter from the trunk, to help conserve the root system.
The plants can then bring up moisture to the tree while acting as living mulch after decomposing and enriching the soil. Other benefits of keeping flowers around your tree include insects for predation and keeping weeds at bay.
Read on to find out which blossoms will suit your fruit orchard best and how to care for them.
Chives - Allium Schoenoprasum
Chives release sulfur compounds into the foliage, which allows them to ward off insects such as aphids and beetles. If you’re harvesting chives, be sure to do so quickly, or else it’ll go to seed.
The pretty flowers are also a winner with the bees and can provide heaps of pollen for your trees or plants. With edible flowers and stalks, you can’t go wrong with chives.
Not only can you use bergamot’s stems and flowers for cooking, but it’s also an aromatic herb species that alleviates stress. Bergamot is famous for its aromatherapy properties and its use as a carminative, relaxant, and stimulant.
Monarda fistula grows up to a meter high; you can use the flowers and leaves to make tea to relieve a sore throat. However, its properties aren’t only beneficial to humans.
While Monarda citriodora only grows 60cm, the mesmerizing flowers capture bees and other pollinators’ attention. This, in turn, allows your fruit tree to grow earnestly and bear delicious fruit.
Dill - Anethum Graveolens
Dill is an excellent repellant of cabbage moths and is perfect for attracting beneficial insects to predate on pests. Dill is also a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies, which means that you may lose some of your crops to the larvae.
By “some,” we mean very little, and the butterflies aren’t there for long anyway. If you don’t mind that, once they’re fully developed, the butterflies are a charming show.
Cow Parsley - Anthriscus Sylvestris
Cow parsley is a wild carrot species and studies have shown it highly beneficial to orchards, especially apple tree species. You can find the plant growing on the side of the road because its perennial growth requires little to no maintenance.
Other benefits of cow parsley include an extended season of flowering that’s a source of food for beneficial plants. Taproots don’t compete much with apple tree roots. Additionally, it has an increased rate of decomposition, which prevents disease and offers nutrients.
Cow parsley also cancels the need for mulching and herbicides, outcompetes other harmful grass species, and traps black spot fungal spores that fungi shoot up in spring.
Buckwheat - Fagopyrum Esculentum
Buckwheat is an excellent food source for bees, a marvelous weed suppressor, and also produces edible grain.
Reports show that buckwheat planted between vines helps control tortrix moths as it attracts parasitoid wasps. These wasps also prey on diamondback moths and buckwheat aphids, which eliminates the need for insecticides.
Horseradish - Armoracia Rusticana
You can use horseradish as a repellent for potato beetles, but it may be a bit tricky. It’s typically challenging to plant a perennial such as horseradish with a potato crop. Potatoes are dug up every season, which could be detrimental to the horseradish.
However, if you plant it in the general vicinity and not with the root vegetable, it should be less of a problem.
Comfrey - Symphytum Officinale
Comfrey plants offer deep-rooted, non-competitive underbrush that’s effective for bringing nutrients from the lower regents of the sole. Comfrey also improves the soil condition and outcompetes weeds and other grasses.
If possible, you can use ducks or geese for grazing on the grass to keep the comfrey at a manageable height.
Please note, comfrey is an invasive species and will grow from any taproot left in the soil. For this reason, it’s better controlled in pot plants or grown free-range in an orchard.
If you’re searching for the ideal companion plants for your fruit garden, the above flora are examples of what you should look for. When choosing a particular flower or plant to complement your fruit-bearing trees, it’s better to research the species to know if it’s the best choice for your crop.
Other companion plants include, but aren’t limited to, basil, mint, garlic, hyssop, lupine, fennel, lavender, borage, and catmint.