Herbs are an asset to any garden or balcony. They are tasty, healthy and insect-friendly. Practical to know: If you combine herbs correctly, it improves quality and yield. Which plants go well together and which ones you prefer not to put next to each other.
- Advantages of a mixed culture with a herb garden
- What to look for when combining herbs
- The best combinations for mixed herb cultivation
- Herbs that don’t get along
- These herbs should be planted on their own
Advantages of a mixed culture with a herb garden
Just like in the vegetable patch, variety is also welcome in the herb garden – provided you don’t leave the planning of the beds to chance. In an ideal mixed culture, the herbs support each other in growing and can even protect each other from pests and diseases. This is also referred to as a “good neighborhood”. Mixed cultivation is also particularly space-saving, as the plants are closer together and the available space can be used even better.
And a mixed culture has other advantages: the quality of the harvest increases and the herbs taste even better and more aromatic. In addition, less fertilizer is needed, as not so many nutrients are lost due to the dense network of different plant roots. What’s more, mixed cultivation increases biodiversity and improves soil activity through increased diversity.
However, if you put the wrong herbs together in the garden or on the balcony, exactly the opposite happens: the plants inhibit each other’s growth or even suppress each other completely. This depends, among other things, on the location requirements, but also on the ingredients of the individual herbs.
What to look for when combining herbs
Not all herbs thrive in the same conditions. In order for your herbs to grow successfully, you should combine them with other types of herbs that have similar preferences in terms of location, soil, nutrient requirements, and space.
- Location: Be sure to assemble herbs with similar location preferences. This is important so that the plants receive sufficient sunlight and do not prevent each other from growing. Some herbs, especially varieties from the Mediterranean region, prefer a sunny and dry location (e.g. thyme), while others thrive better in partial shade and with higher humidity (e.g. chives). Tip: If you want to plant herb species with different requirements in one location, a herb spiral is a nice idea. Due to the different zones, you can plant almost anything from dry-loving plants such as hyssop to aquatic plants such as watercress.
- Soil: The condition of the soil also has a major impact on the successful growth of herbaceous plants. Some herbs (e.g. sorrel) prefer an acidic soil, while others (e.g. sage) grow well on an alkaline soil. And the moisture of the substrate is also different for each herb: some like dry and sandy soils (e.g. rosemary), others tend to moist, cool substrates (e.g. wild garlic).
- Nutrients: The different types of herbs also have different requirements for the supply of nutrients. Perennial plants in particular always need a supply of nutrients in the form of fertilizer (e.g. borage). To make sure that you can provide the herbs with sufficient nutrients, it is advisable to place plants with similar requirements together in a bed.
- Place: Herbs also differ from each other in terms of space requirements. While some herbs grow tall and broad (e.g. mint), others remain small and compact (e.g. garden cress). Ideally, herbs in a bed do not constrict – neither above nor below ground. The roots in particular need sufficient space to access water and nutrients. Tip: Some herbs, e.g. lavender or lovage, are in principle good bed neighbors, but require a lot of space. If you are still planning a mixed culture with them, make sure to give the herbs enough space in the bed.
- Beneficial insects and pests: Together, some herbs can form an ideal defense against pests such as whiteflies, aphids or even fungal diseases. This is due to the ingredients it contains, which are passed on to neighboring plants through the air and roots. However, the fragrances are not only helpful against pests, but can also attract beneficial insects. So it’s a win-win situation for insects and humans.
- Annual or perennial plants: For a successful herb harvest, the rule of thumb is: it is better to plant annual and perennial plants separately from each other. This cannot always be avoided, especially in small gardens or raised beds, but should be followed if possible.
The best combinations for mixed herb cultivation
In order to combine the herbs correctly, it is important to know the needs of the individual plants in terms of location, space or soil. Here are some of the best herbal combinations:
- Basil and parsley: These two kitchen classics complement each other well and can be planted together in a herb bed or pot. Both prefer a moist but well-drained soil.
- Rosemary and sage: These two herbs prefer a sunny location and dry soil. Together, they are also a good choice for repelling pests, such as aphids.
- Chives and chervil: Chives and chervil are also two herbs that go well together. They have similar requirements for water and soil. You can plant them together in a pot or bed with loose, nutrient-rich soil.
- Thyme and tarragon: Thyme and tarragon are both drought-resistant herbs that you can easily plant side by side in a sunny bed or pot.
- Peppermint and lemon balm: The refreshing herbs get along well not only in the kitchen, but also in the bed. Both prefer moist locations in partial shade.
- Oregano and savory: Oregano and savory complement each other very well as bed neighbors. Both prefer a dry location in the sun and can therefore be ideally planted next to each other. In addition, savory is said to protect its neighbors from annoying aphids.
- Dill and chamomile: Dill and chamomile complement each other well, as they both prefer nutrient-rich, slightly sandy soils and do not tolerate waterlogging. In addition, chamomile can promote the growth of dill.
- Curry herb and savory: The two Mediterranean aromatic herbs are sun-loving and prefer dry soils. This makes them ideal bed neighbors.
- Borage and chervil: These annual herbs get along well in the bed. This is also due to the fact that they both prefer a moist, loose garden soil and grow in partial shade.
- Woodruff and wild garlic: These two types of herbs grow primarily in the forest and therefore like a shady location. A loose and humus-rich soil between trees and shrubs is a suitable planting site for the native wild herbs.
Herbs that don’t get along
There are also herbs that can harm each other. These include, for example:
- Peppermint and parsley: Peppermint is known to spread quickly and suffocate other plants. Parsley, on the other hand, is less dominant and can suffer from the spread of mint.
- Dill and cilantro: You should not plant dill and cilantro next to each other. Dill produces an essential oil that can inhibit the growth of other plants in the area. Coriander is particularly sensitive to dill oil.
- Dill and garden cress: Dill does not get along well with garden cress either. Due to its short lifespan, it is best to combine cress with slow-growing plants. Dill, on the other hand, germinates and grows particularly quickly and can therefore quickly become a competitor for garden cress.
- Basil and lemon balm: As compatible as lemon balm is with other plants and even promotes their growth, you should not place basil near the herb. Lemon balm proliferates strongly and can quickly displace the one-year-old basil. In addition, lemon balm needs more sunlight than basil.
- Marjoram and tarragon: You should also not plant these two herbs next to each other, as they can hinder each other’s growth. In addition, they have different soil requirements: marjoram prefers a dry soil, while tarragon needs more moist soil.
- Lovage and laurel: Lovage takes up a lot of space and is known to displace other plants. In addition, the umbellifer is not recommended as a plant neighbor of berry bushes such as the laurel, as these can take on the strong aroma of the herb.
- Caraway and fennel: Although they are a popular natural remedy for stomach and intestinal problems in the form of herbal teas: The two umbellifers do not get along in the bed and should therefore be planted at a distance of at least 40 cm.
These herbs should be planted on their own
There are also herbs that generally do not make good neighbors in the bed – for example, because they proliferate strongly or generally have a negative effect on other herbs. These include:
- Lemon grass