7 Best Companion Plants for Cabbage Family: Pests + What to Avoid

Cabbage is a simple plant to grow, and many of its varieties are so attractive that you could grow them alongside your ornamental plants. The amount of food you get for the amount of space used makes cabbage, which can grow quite large, worthwhile.

They face the most significant threat from aphids and the dreaded cabbage worm, but with a few straightforward tactics, these pests can be controlled or completely eradicated. 

That’s why we’ll go over seven of the best companion plants for cabbage and explain how they work together.

7 Best Companion Plants for Cabbage 

  1. Indian mustard
  2. Yellow Rocket Cress
  3. Thyme
  4. Sweet Alyssum
  5. Dill
  6. Sunflowers
  7. Daisy-type flowers

How These Cabbage Companion Plants Help With Pests

Cabbage makes a good crop for trap crops. Brassica plants are particularly beloved by butterflies and moths because of the substances in mustard oils, which attract these insects and their eggs, whose caterpillars can destroy your crop. 

The best option is yellow rocket cress because it has the highest concentration of mustard oils of the three, surpassing Indian mustard and collards, which are both excellent options. 

According to research, yellow rocket cress lures harmful moth and butterfly pests, who then lay their eggs on the plants. 

The caterpillars’ survival rate is extremely low after this happens. Therefore, three meters (10 feet) away from your cabbages is a reasonable distance to plant a trap crop. 

You have two options after the eggs hatch: you can manually pick off the thriving caterpillars, or you can let nature take care of the task. 

If you plant sweet alyssum nearby, your cabbages will draw parasitic wasps, laying their eggs under the caterpillar’s skin. The caterpillar will molt, and the resulting larvae will consume it from the inside out. 

Aphids are yet another vermin that enjoy eating cabbage leaves. The obedient ladybug can help you before you have a significant aphid infestation. 

Aphids can be drowned by a hard jet of water used to spray them off your plants. 

Planting thyme and dill in your garden will entice ladybugs to visit. Likewise, a variety of flowers, such as daisy-like flowers and sunflowers, can attract assassin bugs to your garden, where they will kill aphids and caterpillars. 

4 Bad Companion Plants With Cabbage

Now that you know about the good companion plants for cabbage, let’s look at what to avoid.

  • Lettuce: The cabbage family and lettuce should be avoided due to root secretions that could stop the germination of lettuce seeds.
  • Strawberries: The problem with strawberries and broccoli is that strawberries can deplete broccoli nutrients. This is due to strawberries being considered a “heavy feeder.” Then, when depleted, it could stunt broccolis’ growth.
  • Tomatoes: Cabbage could stunt the growth of tomatoes if grown together.
  • Rue: We asked other gardening experts why it’s generally recommended that these two not be companion planted, and unfortunately, there is no clear answer. We’ll have to wait for the science to catch up to field experience on this one.

Getting Started: Planting Cabbage

organic cabbage growing in garden

Grown in the fall and spring, cabbage is a cool-season crop. Start indoor seed germination six to eight weeks prior to the last date of frost for spring growing. Start your seeds in the late summer or fall for growing in the fall and even winter in milder climates. 

Starting cabbages in the early fall may be challenging if your summer weather is still above 80°F (25°C), as they grow best at lower temperatures. If so, you must start the seeds indoors six weeks before the arrival of temperatures in the 60s and 70s. 

You can transplant to the garden as soon as the outside temperatures reach that range. 

Growing & Harvesting 

 Cabbages prefer an open, sunny location. However, they will tolerate a little shade. 

Most varieties will grow quite large, so they prefer rich, moist soil and a little space. The seed packets’ spacing recommendations should be carefully followed. 

The cabbage white butterfly, diamondback moth, aphids, and, when the plants are still very young, birds may attack the seedlings after they have been planted. 

Your cabbages will be protected from the majority, if not all, of these pests by floating row covers placed over the plants right after planting. 

When the cabbage head feels firm when you squeeze it, it is time to harvest the cabbage. Longer growing time may be necessary if it still feels loose.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.