Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants that absorb nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil on nodules attached to their root systems. Growing beans can be a great way to improve your soil and benefit the plants growing nearby. With the right companion plants for beans, you can have a more bountiful harvest!
Companion planting is a nifty little nature hack that will benefit your plants so long as the species get along in the garden. Some plants aren’t meant to be together, while others work in harmony and bring each other great benefits.
Let’s explore some companion plants that will benefit from the legume’s nitrogen-fixing roots while giving something back to the bean crop.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting allows plants to work together to maximize their success. Modern backyard gardening often separates plants into types. You might have a bed for tomatoes, a bed for beans, and a bed for flowers. It might look organized, but it’s not exactly efficient.
If beans, tomatoes, and flowers are together in one bed, the beans will give the tomatoes and flowers a nitrogen boost, the flowers will attract pollinators, and the tomatoes will provide shade to the beans and flowers. All are working together, and you’ll likely see a bigger harvest.
It’s essential to research what plants can do for a garden before you start planting in a shared bed. Some might attract pests that will harm others, and a water-loving plant will keep your drought-tolerant plant unhappy.
Beans as Companion Plants
What will a bean plant contribute to the garden? Overall, it’s an agreeable plant that will do well beside almost any vegetable.
The most obvious benefit of legume crops is their nitrogen-fixing capability! These crops are proven to improve soil nitrogen availability. You won’t need to fertilize much because they make their own fertility once established. When they’re planted next to other plants, their neighbors may benefit from that, too.
Beans can also provide shade and ground cover, depending on whether they are bush or pole varieties. Pole varieties can climb trellises and provide shade, while bush varieties can keep the ground covered to prevent erosion and protect delicate roots.
Like any other nutrient, too much nitrogen can be a bad thing. Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth, and too much will cause plants to grow more foliage and fewer flowers or fruit. Once your beans are established, slow down on applying nitrogen so you’re not applying too much; the beans don’t need it and while your other plants do, you don’t want to overload them!
If you like to grow a lot of legumes, bean plants can contribute to a Mexican bean beetle problem. These beetles are relatives of ladybugs and look quite similar, but they eat legume foliage instead of pests, so you won’t want them around.
35 Companion Plants for Beans
There are so many plants you can plant with beans! You probably won’t have any issues finding ideal companions for your vines. Let’s look at 35 plants that are sure to grow happily next to this legume.
Basil and beans are a no-brainer—the goal is lots of leaves! Beans will give basil the nitrogen boost they need to produce as many delicious leaves as possible.
Consider growing a pole variety along trellises and planting the basil in front of the beans with a little room for airflow. Bush varieties will work, too, but you’ll need more space between the plants.
Basil can repel various flies, including mosquitoes, so it’s a good plant to grow in the garden.
Bush beans and beets work well together, but you’ll want to keep pole varieties away. Pole varieties typically grow more vigorously and will shade your beets too much. They could also intertwine with the beet foliage or root and stunt its growth.
Bush varieties won’t vine around beet greens or shade them out too much, making them a much better option for beets. Beets will also appreciate the nitrogen-fixing legume roots.
Borage is a pretty star-shaped purple-blue edible flower. The plant is often used for medicinal purposes, but you can eat the flowers and leaves in salads or cook them up. They will surely add a gorgeous pop of color to your vegetable garden.
It’s a good neighbor for beans because they attract pollinators and deter pests that like to eat legumes. It’s a pair that’s meant to be!
Broccoli can take up a lot of space with its foliage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t companion plant with it. Bush varieties are a good choice because they won’t develop vines that will choke out the broccoli.
A great way to space these plants is to have rows that alternate between broccoli and beans. It will allow you to have appropriate spacing between every plant so things don’t get too crowded. You can also plant bush beans along the perimeters of your broccoli bed, but the central broccoli plants won’t receive the full benefits of nitrogen-making roots.
Brussels sprouts are another good plant to plant with bush beans. Brussels sprouts are a little taller, so they can provide some shade to bush beans. Pole varieties will want to climb them, so steer clear of those!
Since Brussels sprouts develop their leaves at the top, they don’t cover up as much ground, so you can plant the beans a little closer than you could with broccoli, which is a good thing to remember if you’re dealing with limited space.
Cabbage can take up a lot of space, too, but they benefit from bush beans, so it’s worth trying to get the two to work together. As I suggested for broccoli, consider alternating rows of cabbage and beans to ensure everything has enough breathing room.
Cabbage is prized for its leafy greens, so legumes are a must since they produce nitrogen! Just remember that the window for growing this pairing together is limited; beans like the warmth, and cabbage likes the cool weather. But for a fall planting, when the beans stop is ideal for when the cabbage plants start to bulk out and take up more space.
Beans and carrots make great neighbors because they help each other out. Carrots need healthy soil since their taproot needs to grow deep into the ground. Beans will help improve the soil by loosening it up and providing nitrogen.
Carrots will help the beans by attracting ladybugs that eat aphids. Aphids go after legumes and just about anything else in your garden, so feel free to pop in a few carrots here and there! The aphids will be drawn to the carrot tops and will reduce their damage to the bean plants.
The roots of these two plants won’t interfere with each other too much, so you can make the most of your space and plant them a little too close together. Carrot tops can sometimes become super leafy, so you must watch to ensure the area doesn’t become too crowded.
If you don’t mind potentially attracting neighborhood cats, you’ll want to plant catnip near your beans! Catnip attracts beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, which your beans need to develop pods. Catnip will also help deter different bean beetles, which can really damage your bean plants.
Unless you want nitrogen benefits, you don’t have to plant catnip directly beside this leguminous crop. Plant catnip on the ends of rows or in nearby planters and containers to repel pests and attract pollinators.
Celery is a heavy feeder that will need plenty of nitrogen, so let them share space with beans. Bush and pole beans will both work with celery. Keep pole varieties from growing around the celery by helping them up a trellis and allowing enough space between the plants.
Beans will also benefit from this arrangement since celery can repel bean beetles.
If you’re not already growing chamomile in your garden, you’ll want to change that! Chamomile is a great companion to many plants, but you’ll want them near your beans since they repel the dreaded Mexican bean beetle. Place them in nearby containers or place them in the same bed. Bush and pole bean varieties can get along with chamomile just fine.
Chamomile is appreciated in the garden because it helps renew the soil by releasing potassium, sulfur, and calcium. If your chamomile is doing this and your beans are releasing nitrogen, you will have a good-as-new garden bed in no time!
If you need to save money or space in your garden, let corn be a natural trellis for pole beans. The Three Sisters gardening method used by Native Americans uses corn, beans, and squash as companion plants to get maximum benefits.
The corn should be tall and sturdy enough to support the beans when they are ready to start vining. The leguminous roots will eventually start adding nitrogen to the soil, which will, in turn, help out the corn and squash. Meanwhile, the squash will creep along the ground as a living mulch.
Bush beans and cucumbers are a good combination as they like the same conditions. They both want a lot of sun, nutrient-rich soil, and plenty of water to drink. It’s crucial to keep like-minded plants together so you can keep them happy. Not to mention, it makes watering everything a little easier!
You can try to keep pole varieties with your cucumbers, but growing vining plants together is not usually a good idea. The beans and cucumbers will climb all over each other and may impede each other’s growth. If you don’t mind the upkeep, plant them nearby and train them onto different trellises so they don’t cause problems.
You’ll want to grow dill everywhere in your garden because of all the pollinators they attract. Ladybugs love dill as much as they love aphids, so plant dill if you have an aphid problem. This herb is recommended as a bean companion plant because it also repels Mexican bean beetles. (Pair dill with chamomile, and your bean-growing efforts should be much easier.)
Dill will also attract hoverflies and predatory wasps that like to eat aphids and other critters that want to eat up your beans and everything else in the garden. Dill is one of my favorite things to grow because it’s as helpful as it is delicious!
Dill can develop a bushy growth habit, especially when you plant a ton of seeds in one spot, as I do, so you may prefer to keep this one in containers nearby or on the ends of rows.
Every relationship has some give and take, but eggplants are mostly takers. Eggplants are heavy feeders and can strip the soil of nitrogen. Beans are a great eggplant companion because they replenish nitrogen throughout the season, so you may not have to fertilize as much.
Beans will also give the gift of deterring Colorado potato beetles, which love to eat up eggplants! These beetles can build up a tolerance to pesticides, so it’s good to keep beans around to help keep the beetles at bay.
Most fruit trees, like nectarines, peaches, and apricots, will benefit from the nitrogen bean plants provide. Plant bush beans around the base of your tree to provide nitrogen, protect tree roots, and prevent erosion. Beans will help soak up excess water if the area you planted your tree is prone to puddling.
You can also use beans as a cover crop to help revitalize the soil. Before the beans start developing pods, cut them down and till them back into the soil as green manure. You can do this in spring or fall, which will help your trees grow more foliage.
I plant marigolds every year because they’re beautiful and tolerant of my climate’s hot, dry conditions. They also help repel pests. If Mexican bean beetles constantly bully your beans, pop in a few marigolds.
They have a compact growth habit and will easily fit into small spaces. They grow taller when they’re by themselves and stay smaller when they’re settled under taller plants, making them versatile plants that will figure out how to “deal with it.”
For the best repelling results, plant marigolds between bean plants within rows or alternate marigolds and bean rows. Marigolds will get along with both bush and pole bean varieties as long as the pole beans are trained up a trellis.
Nasturtium is another of my favorites because of its irresistible orange and cream colors and unique round leaves. When you pair these with marigolds, Mexican bean beetles won’t want to be around!
These flowers grow in rounded clumps about a foot wide, so you may not want to plant them too close to your beans. I like to plant them in the corners of my rectangular raised bed or in containers so I can place them where needed. This gives them plenty of room to spread out while still being close enough to my beans to be beneficial.
Nasturtium can help out your whole garden since they attract pollinators. Use them as a trap crop for aphids to help keep them away from your beans.
If you need more beneficial insects in your garden, start with oregano. They attract hoverflies which eat aphids. They also repel aphids which will eat just about any plant’s sap, especially your beans, so oregano is a good one to plant nearby.
Oregano will work well in containers near your beans, but you’ll want to intercrop these plants so they can share mutual benefits. Oregano will have hearty growth spurts from the beans’ nitrogen-fixing roots. While largely anecdotal, growing oregano nearby is often claimed to be a flavor enhancer for beans.
Beans and peas are both legumes, so isn’t this one a little redundant? You might think so, but they actually make great partners in crime. If you time it just right, you can extend your peas’ harvest by using beans as a natural shade cover once the temperatures get hot at the beginning of summer.
Peas are a winter and early spring crop, so when the beans you plant in early-to-mid spring are big enough, your mature peas will receive some shade to help them keep growing.
Petunias grow in rounded clumps with tons of flowers. They’re a great way to add a pop of color to your veggie garden. They attract beneficial insects like crazy with all their pretty blooms.
They also repel many pests. They can help you with your Mexican bean beetle problems as well as aphids, tomato worms, asparagus beetles, and leafhoppers. Pest problems? Try petunias!
Beans and potatoes stick up for each other. Potatoes will help deter Mexican bean beetles, and beans will deter Colorado potato beetles. Isn’t it cool when nature works together?
Since beans have shallow root systems, they won’t get in the way of the potatoes too much, so you can plant them pretty close together. Just remember that potatoes aren’t totally underground—they have bushy foliage that needs sunlight!
You might consider pairing potatoes with pole beans so you can have the beans climb up and give the potato leaves the space they need.
With a bit of planning, you can make pumpkins and beans work together, despite all those vines growing simultaneously! Pumpkins are good at suppressing weeds since they create long vines with large leaves. Planting near beans will help keep the weeds down so your beans can thrive.
Beans and pumpkins both have shallow roots, so it’s wise to plant the seeds away from each other and train the vines to go where you want them. If you have pole beans growing up trellises on one end of your bed, you can plant the pumpkins in the middle or on the other side of the bed and train the vines to reach the other side.
Remember, a pumpkin is really a squash variety, so this is a prime candidate for the Three Sisters growing method! Just remember that pumpkins like to spread quite a lot, and keep them from invading the trellises your beans are climbing.
Radishes work well with beans because they don’t take up much space and will be harvested before they take up too much room. The radish sprouts can act as weed suppressors for young bean plants. Once the radishes are ready to harvest, the beans will be several inches tall and will be ready for the radishes to get out of the way.
If you leave enough space, you can grow radishes under the shade of beans throughout your growing season. Radishes like cool weather are less likely to bolt in when partially shaded. Pole and bush bean varieties can create just enough shade to keep your radish harvests going well into summer.
Whiteflies are a major pest to beans that feed on the undersides of leaves, so you may only realize you have them once the damage is done. Rhubarb can help you out since it repels whiteflies.
Rhubarb can grow some sizable leaves, so you’ll want to leave plenty of space between it and the beans. Consider planting them on the ends of rows or alternating bean and rhubarb rows. Rhubarb might shade out bush beans, but pole beans could grow tall enough to handle being planted a little close.
Rosemary is another plant on the list of Mexican bean beetle fighters! The beetles are attracted to the scent of beans, but rosemary is so strong that the bugs can’t smell the beans. They also don’t like the rosemary scent much, which helps!
Like other herbs, rosemary benefits greatly from the nitrogen boost beans give. The nitrogen will help the rosemary grow more foliage, and you’ll have larger harvests to enjoy!
Summer savory is claimed to improve the flavor of beans, so you’ll want to keep this one in the same bed. It also repels Mexican bean beetles and benefits from the nitrogen boost. You certainly won’t want this one in a container!
Savory can grow pretty big, so you’ll want to prune it frequently so it doesn’t crowd out your beans. It can reach up to 18 inches tall and 30 inches wide. If you tend to fall behind on pruning and harvesting (me too—no judgment here!), savory will benefit your beans the best on the ends of rows or in the corners of your raised beds so they can have extra room to sprawl out.
Sun-loving beans match spinach well because they can create some much-needed shade. Spinach can last much longer when it receives shade during hot weather, so plant it near trellised pole beans or tall bush beans to enjoy early summer spinach.
When you feed it nitrogen, you’ll get a larger spinach harvest, so beans will help it out. Spinach and beans have similar water needs, so keeping them happy shouldn’t be a challenge.
Strawberry plants stay pretty low to the ground, so you can plant them near the pole and bush beans with few problems. Bush beans will likely become overcrowded with the strawberries, so adding a little extra space between the two would be wise. If you plant them with pole beans, you can train the vines to go up rather than around the strawberries.
Strawberries typically need a lot of water, so they should work well next to bean plants. They also draw in a lot of pollinators which will help your beans and anything else growing nearby. Beans and strawberries don’t like the allium family (onions, garlic, and leeks), so keep that in mind as you plan out your garden.
Summer squash is another member of the Three Sisters gardening method I mentioned earlier. Corn is the natural trellis, beans are the nitrogen providers, and summer squash serves as the ground cover protecting the roots from sun, erosion, and weeds.
The Three Sisters method is a genius way to make the most of little space and is a prime example of what companion planting should look like. All the plants work together and benefit each other in some way, which benefits you by giving you a bigger harvest with fewer problems.
Squash flowers draw in plenty of pollinators, so your beans shouldn’t have any problems getting pollinated with squash nearby. If you don’t want to use the Three Sisters method, you can plant beans and squash together, but you’ll need a trellis for pole beans or extra space to accommodate bush beans.
If corn isn’t your thing, you can use sunflowers as an alternative natural trellis for pole beans! Sunflowers grow tall and fast and should be sturdy enough to support beans even if you start the seeds simultaneously.
Sunflowers will draw in a ton of pollinators and also give your beans some shade. Even though beans love the sun, they still have their limits. My climate always pushes the limit, and I often need to give my beans some shade. Why not let gorgeous sunflower leaves do all the work for you?
The great thing about the Three Sisters method is that you aren’t limited to the same three plants. Sweet potatoes are an excellent alternative to squash, and they work great with beans.
Sweet potatoes thrive with a bit of shade that pole beans can offer as they grow up a trellis. Mature bean plants will replenish nitrogen in the soil to help sweet potatoes develop, and the sweet potato vines will protect the beans’ roots.
Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens to grow, and of course, I’m growing them right next to my beans! They’re a good pair because the added nitrogen helps the leafy greens grow abundantly and look beautiful. Pole beans will provide some shade to the Swiss chard to help it last longer in the garden as the temperatures warm up.
I have limited space in my garden and tend to push the limits of compact gardening. My Swiss chard and pole beans are in close quarters, but they’re growing well! If you also have a small space, don’t worry too much about this pair because they don’t seem to mind sharing.
I plant beans and tomatoes together often, and it works out well. Because of the scorching temperatures where I live, beans seem to enjoy the extra shade of unkempt tomatoes when I can’t prune fast enough.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and will benefit greatly from extra nitrogen throughout the growing season.
Once the tomato plants start fruiting, they won’t need extra nitrogen with beans around. Nitrogen helps foliage and can sometimes prevent fruiting. The beans should provide just what your tomatoes need while they produce fruit.
You can’t grow wrong with zinnias! (Pun intended!) Pollinators flock to zinnias and love to hang around gardens full of them. Plant them near your beans to help get them pollinated.
The nitrogen the beans add to the soil will help your zinnias grow bushier with more stems and, eventually, more flowers. Bush and pole beans will both work as long as you keep the vines from climbing and choking your zinnias.
Zucchini works just like summer squash as a bean companion. It protects the roots and draws in a lot of pollinators.
Zucchini will also work as a member of the Three Sisters method. If you want something different in your garden, try the method out with sunflowers, beans, and zucchini! Beans will also give back to the zucchini in this setup, repelling various beetles that often go after zucchini.
There are plenty of plants that grow well with beans. Some plants do better with bush beans, while others do better with pole varieties. If you’re willing to test things out, you’re sure to find a setup that will work perfectly in your garden.