You’ve probably noticed that plants thrive best when they have good neighbors. This goes for all life forms, really, but it’s especially noticeable in one’s garden. My lettuces (Lactuca sativa cultivars) thrive best when surrounded by their best companion plant friends.
Below are 28 of the best lettuce companion plants and a few plants you should avoid planting with lettuce.
When you’re planning your next garden, consider interplanting these merry neighbors so they can help one another flourish.
There are a number of different herbs—both culinary and medicinal—that are great lettuce companion plants. And hey, as an added bonus, you can snip many of them off and add them to your salads.
1. Anise Hyssop
Slugs dislike this herb’s (Agastache foeniculum) scent and will veer away from it whenever possible. As such, use it as a barrier around your lettuce bed to fend them off.
Slugs and snails hate chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), making it a great repellent for these slimy crawlers.
Much like other members of the onion (Allium) family, chives help to repel aphids and other unwanted pests. Grow these as a perimeter barrier to protect your tender greens.
This plant (Coriandrum sativum) does double duty in the garden by fending off unwanted insects while attracting beneficial ones. Actually, make that triple duty, since you can eat its leaves raw and then collect its (coriander) seeds later.
Like the aforementioned anise hyssop, mint (Mentha spp.) is wonderful for fending off slugs. That said, it can also spread like wildfire if left unchecked. If you’re aiming to incorporate it as one of your lettuce companion plants, use root barriers.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) provides the same benefits as mint, namely keeping slugs at bay. It can also repel beetles and mites. Furthermore, if you’re growing strawberries in between your lettuces, sage can help improve the berries’ flavor.
Many flowers play quite nicely in amongst lettuce plants. Since you’re likely cultivating other vegetables as well, these blooms can also draw beneficial pollinators at the same time.
If slugs are the bane of your existence, plant calendula (Calendula spp.) about 8-10 feet away from your lettuces. They’ll draw the slugs over and keep them well away from your greens. Think of them as the tasty dessert option that the slugs prefer over the salad bar.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) are also an ideal “trap crop,” only instead of slugs, they’ll be keeping aphids away from your lettuce plants.
Many vegetables can provide benefits to one another when planted in close proximity. Some offer nutrient exchanges, while others provide shade or act as living mulch.
These tasty perennials (Asparagus officinalis) loosen the soil and provide extra aeration. Additionally, asparagus (and their leaves) can offer lettuce some much-needed shade on hot summer days.
Both pole and bush beans are ideal lettuce companion plants. This is because they fix nitrogen into the surrounding soil, which lettuce needs in order to thrive.
Choose pole beans if you’re in a hot, sunny climate, and grow them south of your lettuce plants. Alternatively, build a bean tent or tipi and plant your lettuce inside it.
Lettuce will bolt in extreme heat, especially if it gets too much sun. This is why it’s ideal as a spring or autumn plant. Tall pole beans will block out both heat and sunlight, allowing your lettuces to flourish instead of going to seed.
While beets (Beta vulgaris) don’t provide many benefits to your lettuce-growing initiatives, they don’t cause any damage, either. Consider these neutral companions, and interplant them with lettuce and the other vegetables on this list to maximize space usage.
These tasty root vegetables (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) help to loosen the soil as they grow. As such, carrots help to prevent root rot in lettuces and other shallow-rooted greens.
Much like climbing beans, corn (Zea mays) can provide great shade to your lettuces if you’re in a hot climate.
Lettuces grow very quickly, while cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) take quite a long time to spread out and develop. As a result, you can grow several lettuces in around your cukes well before they mature.
This is great for taking full advantage of your growing space. Additionally, cucumber leaves provide shade and water retention to help your lettuces thrive.
This vegetable (Solanum melongena) is a great space maximizer in between your lettuce harvests. Plant it in the same place as your springtime lettuce after you’ve harvested it. Then, after your eggplant has matured in late summer, pull it up. Then plant your autumn lettuce in the same spot.
Some aphids, mites, cutworms, and caterpillars despise garlic (Allium sativum). As a result, planting it in and around your lettuces can keep them safe from these little jerks.
All alliums are beneficial to lettuces because they help to deter various pests. Many mammals and insects hate their scent, and as a result, will give your tasty greens a wide berth.
Meanwhile, interplanting the two makes great use of limited space. Since onion (Allium cepa) bulbs develop underground, they won’t compete with your lettuces for surface growing space.
Like carrots, parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) help with soil aeration and drainage. They can also be planted very closely in amongst lettuces since they don’t compete for space.
Like beans, these climbing legumes (Pisum sativum) help to fix nitrogen in the soil. Additionally, they can help to provide the aforementioned much-needed shade to your low-growing lettuces.
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) behave much like other root/tuberous vegetables mentioned here. They’ll loosen up the soil for greater drainage and nutrient uptake, and won’t compete for surface area.
Remember all those great things we said about cucumbers earlier? They also apply to pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.).
Radishes (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) don’t do much for lettuces other than breaking up soil and sharing space well. That said, we like them as lettuce companion plants because of what those tasty greens do to them.
Lettuces improve radishes’ texture and flavor, keeping them juicy and sweet all season long.
Squashes offer the same benefits as their pumpkin and cucumber cousins.
Although turnips (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) are in the cabbage family, they don’t have the same negative impact as cabbages or kale. In fact, turnips naturally repel aphids, which can wreak 50 shades of havoc on your lettuces. Interplant them with your greens to keep them healthy!
Lettuces play nicely with some fruits, and less well with others. Let’s take a look at which fruity friends make the best lettuce companion plants.
25. Fruit Trees
Lettuce is often a great option for growing within a fruit tree guild. If you’re trying to figure out what to cultivate between the tree and its drip line, incorporate some lettuce cultivars. Just make sure to grow them in around taller species so they get ample shade.
Since they’re members of the Cucurbitaceae family (just like cucumbers, squashes, and pumpkins), all melon cultivars grow well alongside lettuce.
These luscious berries (Fragaria × ananassa) have a wonderfully symbiotic relationship with lettuce. The strawberries create a living mulch, keeping more moisture in the soil. In turn, lettuce shields the berries from potential predators by blocking them from view.
Strawberries also enhance lettuce’s flavor, making it sweeter.
These are fruits rather than vegetables, remember? Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are great for lettuces because they provide much-needed shade. Furthermore, since they’re climbers, they won’t compete for ground-level growing space.
Now that we’ve touched upon the best lettuce companion plants, let’s also take a look at their not-so-helpful neighbors.
Although it might be tempting to plant lettuces around your blueberry bushes, that’ll just end in sorrow. Blueberries need acidic soil in order to thrive, while lettuces like theirs pH neutral. As such, if one of those species is thriving, the other will fail. Sadly.
Nearly all cruciferous vegetables (e.g. in the Brassicaceae family) secrete a substance that impedes lettuce seed germination. These include cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, kohlrabi, mustard, and collards.
Additionally, if any of the lettuces do manage to sprout, the brassicas will fight them for nutrients. They all need nitrogen in order to thrive, and cabbage family members are serious nitrogen hogs.
As an aside, a great way to add extra nitrogen to soil is via rabbit or deer droppings. These don’t need to be aged like cow or horse manure. If you have pet rabbits, or you live near a forest where deer are plentiful, collect their droppings. Then scatter these throughout your greens beds to promote lush, healthy leaf growth.
Although tasty, fennel acts as a growth inhibitor to many other species. As a result, lettuces grown near it will be severely stunted, and seeds may even fail to germinate.
This herb attracts pests that will annihilate your lettuce plants. Furthermore, parsley’s (Petroselinum crispum) presence will cause lettuce to bolt and go to seed before it’s fully mature.