Many vegetable gardeners employ companion planting – grouping complementary plants together in the garden to benefit each other. So are zucchini and eggplant good companion plants? Well, let’s take a look at how these two popular summer veggies can potentially support each other’s growth.
How Plants Can Be Companions ?
Companion plants are placed together in a garden because they create beneficial interactions. Some ways companion plants assist each other include:
- Repelling pests – Certain plants naturally deter or confuse insect pests and animals, protecting more vulnerable plants.
- Attracting pollinators – Plants with showy, nectar-rich flowers pull in pollinating bees and butterflies, which then pollinate fruiting plants.
- Improving flavor – Some plants impart subtle flavor enhancements to neighboring plants through their roots or fragrances.
- Enriching soil – Plants like legumes add nitrogen to enrich surrounding soil for heavy feeding plants.
- Using space efficiently – Pairing vining plants with upright ones makes dense, productive use of garden space.
- Providing support – Tall, staking plants can support and shade lower-growing companions.
The key is pairing plants with complementary strengths. When companions are well-matched, the result is a garden ecosystem that’s productive and healthy overall.
Are Zucchini and Eggplant Natural Companions?
So do zucchini and eggplant have traits that make them good companions? Let’s examine how they could potentially support each other.
Both zucchini and eggplant are prone to pests like cucumber beetles, aphids, and spider mites. Interplanting these two vegetables could help deter pests.
The prickly leaves and stems of eggplants may discourage pests from settling on more vulnerable zucchini leaves. Zucchini flowers also attract pollinators, which in turn eat pests.
As a member of the squash family, zucchini has large, nectar-filled flowers that lure in pollinating bees and butterflies. These visiting pollinators will then travel between both the zucchini and eggplant flowers.
This ensures the eggplants receive adequate pollination for good fruit set, as eggplants are somewhat self-incompatible and benefit from cross-pollination.
Complementary Growth Habits
Zucchini is a low-growing, spreading vine. Eggplants grow as upright, branching plants. Together, they occupy garden space efficiently and don’t compete for light and air circulation.
The tall eggplant can also act as a beneficial trellis supporting the sprawling zucchini vines. And the zucchini’s large leaves provide cooling shade for shallow-rooted eggplant roots.
Potential Downsides of Growing Zucchini and Eggplant Together
However, some gardeners have found growing zucchini and eggplant together challenging. Some disadvantages include:
- Spreading vines – Zucchini’s tendency to spread far and wide may overwhelm eggplants. Zucchini vines could hinder access to eggplants for harvesting and care.
- Nutrient competition – The extensive root systems of both plants may lead to competition for water and nutrients. Zucchini is particularly demanding.
- Shared diseases – Zucchini and eggplants are prone to common wilts and blights. Close proximity spreads these diseases rapidly between plants.
- Allelopathy – Zucchini releases biochemicals that may suppress eggplant growth. This phenomenon, called allelopathy, causes problems for some companion pairs.
To avoid issues, give zucchini and eggplant plenty of room and monitor for signs of stress. Targeted trellising and pruning of zucchini vines helps reduce sprawl. Also amend soil with extra compost to support both heavy feeders.
Tips for Growing Zucchini and Eggplant Together
If you want to give companion planting zucchini and eggplant a try, follow these tips:
- Space plants 1-2 feet apart to prevent crowding and spread of diseases.
- Use disease-resistant varieties of both vegetables to avoid common wilts.
- Plant eggplant 2-3 weeks before zucchini to give it a head start before vines spread.
- Put eggplant on the north side of zucchini to avoid shading.
- Use vertical gardening techniques like trellising for the zucchini to contain its spread.
- Amend soil with aged compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Side dress with compost during the season too.
- Provide consistent moisture, especially when fruits are developing. Drip irrigation works well.
- Use row covers to protect young plants from pests. Remove during bloom so pollinators can access flowers.
Enjoy a Bountiful Summer Harvest
Zucchini and eggplant can be rewarding yet challenging garden companions. Pay close attention to plant health and be prepared to tweak the pairing as needed. Or, grow zucchini with companions like radish and dill, which may also be a good match. With the right approach, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of both eggplant and zucchini from your summer vegetable garden.