Companion Plants For Potatoes

Kat Shereko / Insteading

It’s easy to cultivate potatoes on a homestead, and it’s well worth it: they’re a staple food that can be used in almost any kind of cooking. If you grow your own potatoes, you can be sure that they’re organic, non-GMO, and pesticide free. You can easily store them withoutĀ freezing, drying or canning.

sack of potatoes
sethoscope / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Companion plantsā€”plants that grow symbiotically nearĀ potatoesā€”can help you increase the yield, quality, and health of your potato crop. Here’s how to grow a sustainable bumper crop of potatoes by using companion planting.

Benefits Of Companion Planting

Organic gardeners find that companion planting offers a wide assortment of benefits including:

  • Increased yield
  • BetterĀ soil nutrition
  • Insect control
  • Weed control

Vegetables To Companion Plant With Potatoes

  • Horseradish: Horseradish can make your potato crop healthier. The root can also be ground up and turned into a spicy, mustard-like sauce or condiment.
  • Beans: Green beans add vital nutrients to the soil while and help repelĀ the Colorado potato beetle. In turn, potatoes protect green beans by repelling the Mexican beetle, a nasty pest that can quickly destroy a lush crop of green beans.
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Spinach

Flower Power

Several colorful flowering plants offer protection for your potato crop. Beneficial blooming companion plants include:

  • Calendula: These flowers, also known as pot marigolds, are a colorful addition to any garden andĀ attract pollinating bees. The flowers and young leaves are also edible. Add Calendula leaves and flowers to salads, sandwiches, and soups,Ā or use them as an attractive garnish.
  • Alyssum: This flower acts as a colorful living mulchĀ by holding in beneficial soil moisture. It also attracts predator wasps that devour harmful insect pests in the garden.
  • Petunias andĀ Amaranth: TheseĀ sweet-smellingĀ flowers protect potatoes fromĀ leafhoppers.
  • Marigolds: MarigoldsĀ ward off beetles and other unwanted insects.

Plants That Can Harm Potatoes

Not all plants help potatoes. The plants listed below can actually damage your potato crop or your soil. Indeed, someĀ of these plants can even causeĀ blight in potatoes.

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Raspberries
  • Pumpkins
  • Nightshades (e.g. eggplant, tomato, bell peppers)
  • Alliums (e.g. onions, garlic, chives)
  • Asparagus
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Sunflowers

Types Of Potatoes

Potatoes are a fine choice for the homestead garden. They emerge quickly and grow rapidly. Potatoes yield well under most soil and growing conditions and can be stored for long periods without canning, drying, or freezing.

There are moreĀ than 600 different varieties of potatoes. They’re generally divided into three culinaryĀ categories: waxy, starchy and all-purpose.

Waxy Potatoes

Waxy potatoes have a firm texture. Used in stews, soups, and salads, waxy potatoes retain their shape during cooking. Red Thumb, Carola, Cascade, Yellow Finn, White Rose, andĀ Russian Banana are all common varieties.

Starchy Potatoes

Starchy potatoes are best for baking and frying. Due to their high starch content, they areĀ also absorbent. TheseĀ potatoesĀ are delicious when topped or dipped in sauces. Russet potatoes are the most popular type of starchy potato.

All-Purpose Potatoes

All-purpose potatoes can be used in most recipes. They’re also theĀ best type of potatoĀ for mashing. All-purposeĀ potato varieties include Yukon Gold, Red Gold, Purple Majesty, Onaway, Kennebec, Elba, and All-Blue.

All varieties of potatoes can be cultivatedĀ in a container, a bucket, the ground, or a bag.

Potato PlantingĀ Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for the most productive possible potato crop.

When To Plant Potatoes

Avoid planting potatoes when the soil is still cold and wet. Potato plants will tolerate a light frost and chilly soil, but they won’t sprout until weatherĀ conditions are favorable. Consult USDAĀ Plant Hardiness Zone Maps to determine the ideal planting time for your part of the country.

Where To Plant Potatoes

Plant potatoes in a location where they will receive full sun throughout the day. Do not plant in the same area where you have planted potatoesĀ in the past year in order to prevent potato scab infection.

Improve The Soil Prior To Planting

Potatoes grow best in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. To fertilize potatoes, add aged herbivore manure or garden compost. If your soil contains a good amount of clay or is compacted, add sand to improve texture and drainage.

Potatoes will not grow well where water tends to pool. Potatoes grow in 5.5-6 PH soil.Ā The soil should be tilled 10 inches deep and double raked.

Potatoes Do Not Grow From Seeds

You will not find potato seeds or seedlings at your local garden supply. Potatoes are grown from ā€œseedā€ potatoes, which are simply potatoes with one or more sprouting eyes. Make sure that the seed potatoes you select are bruise and disease-free. At harvest, reserve blemish-free, healthy spuds for your next crop’s seed.

Seed Potatoes Can Be Cut in Pieces

Cut your seedĀ potato into pieces. MakeĀ sure that each piece has at least one eye. This process will increase the yield of your crop. The number of potatoes you grow will increase, though you might find the potatoes are smaller than the ones you started with.

Give Potatoes Room To Grow

Plant potatoes in rows three feet apart. Plants should be placedĀ 12-18 inches apart.

Conserve Water

Potatoes require about an inch and a half of water per week to develop to their full potential. According to the USDA, planting the potatoes in a flat bed rather than ridged rows conserves water and increases crop yield.


When not working in her garden in Northwestern Montana, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of nature and all things natural.

Written by Marlene Affeld

ā€œA passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of nature and all things natural. Specializing in Eco-Travel, Science, Environmental Health, Conservation, The Beauty of Nature, Sustainability, Green Issues, and Wildlife, Affeldā€™s passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle.ā€


Leave a Reply
  1. Potatoes can be grown from seed. However they will not be true to the parent as they are sexually geneticized. Using seed potatoes means you’re growing a clone of the original plant and you know what you’re getting then. If you are looking for diversity and trying to adapt/develop a strain of potato for your environment and climate, IF you have a type that flowers and sets fruit, go for seed. You start them similar to tomatoes. I have a friend who works on developing landrace non-hybrid plants that will work in high desert with minimal care, and they are succeeding, I get potato seed from them. No two seedlings produce the same type of potato!

5 Pings & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

  3. Pingback:

  4. Pingback:

  5. Pingback:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

planting garlic

Growing Garlic


Greenhouse Plans