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Lettuce Companion Plants: What to Grow Near Lettuce

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Lettuce plants in the garden don’t tend to take up much room and they’re great for sticking in small, unfilled spaces. Consider the best lettuce companion plants to make the most of your gardening spaces.

Create a salad garden with different lettuces and a variety of plants that grow well together with lettuce.

Start early, because lettuce doesn’t mind the cold! Once that summer heat comes, though, you’ll be moving on to other crops.

Lettuce Seeds - Companion Planting Lettuce with other veggies and herbs
Lettuce Seeds – Companion Planting Lettuce with other veggies and herbs works great in the garden!

Now, let’s discover the best and worst companion plants for lettuce.

What plants grow well with lettuce?

Lettuce is a pretty agreeable plant in the garden. Most of the time, you can tuck a little lettuce plant here or there next to other veggies, herbs, or even a few companion flowers. Some best buddies for lettuce include tomatoes, garlic, asparagus, carrots, peas / snow peas, or even carrots or squash.

You’ll find plenty of other choices of what to grow with lettuce, though!

What are some bad companion plants for lettuce?

To prevent problems in the garden, you may be looking for what not to plant near lettuce. Rest assured that the list is fairly small. For the most part, consider brassicas to be bad companion plants for lettuce.

  • Brassicas – The roots of brassicas make an inhospitable environment for lettuce plants, according to some gardeners.
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Kohlrabi
  • Fennel – In general, fennel is not considered much of a companion plant in the garden as it can inhibit crop growth in some cases. Fennel does tend to attract good guy insects, like tachinid flies and parasitic wasps, though, so you can always plant it elsewhere.
  • Parsley – Parsley growing too close to lettuce can encourage it to bolt, doing way with your summer salad harvest.

Gardener advice is mixed on planting lettuce and kale together. Some say to avoid all brassicas while others say kale can help by shading lettuce to help prevent premature bolting.

My best guess is your mileage may vary. If you have any insight here, please drop us a line in the comments!

Baby Lettuce Plants companion planted with peas and carrots
Baby Lettuce Plants companion planted with peas and carrots in our 2022 garden

Can you plant lettuce and cabbage together?

Generally, tribal gardening advice urges against planting cabbage and lettuce together. The root secretions from cabbage and other brassicas can negatively impact lettuce and its own growth potential.

Lettuce Companion Herbs

If you’re wondering what can lettuce grow with, try some herbs!

  • Basil – Friendly in the garden, basil can be a great companion for many different crops. Aromatic basil helps to improve flavor of crops like lettuce and tomatoes, making this an all-star plant companion combo!
  • Calendula – Use calendula as a trap crop AWAY from lettuce to lure slugs away from your salad garden.
  • Chervil – Enjoying shade just like lettuce, chervil can be a good lettuce companion plant. Chervil can also repel slugs and may entice beneficial insects to visit the garden.
  • Cilantro / Coriander – Flowers from the cilantro / coriander plant help to bring beneficial insects to the garden where they can take care of pests plaguing your crops. This companion herb can help to ward off aphids, spider mites, cabbage moths, and potato beetles, to name a few.

In most cases, avoid companion planting lettuce with parsley. This beloved herb typically speeds up the timing for lettuce to go to seed.

Tiny Lettuce Plants just starting out
Tiny Lettuce Plants just starting out

Lettuce Companion Flower Ideas

Who doesn’t love a vegetable garden peppered with colorful flowers here and there?

Consider these lovely companion flowers for lettuce:

  • Marigolds – Donning shades of yellow, orange, and red, marigolds make excellent companion plants in the garden in general. Tribally known for repelling wildlife and insect pests, marigolds can help protect your lettuce crop.
  • Nasturtium – As it turns out, aphids may just desire nasturtiums more than they like lettuce. What a great trap crop companion for lettuce! BTW, as a bonus – nasturtiums are edible and look phenomenal in your salads!
  • Sunflowers – I love nothing more than gorgeous, branching sunflowers spaced throughout my garden. The shade and shelter of a large sunflower plant create an ideal growing environment for shade-tolerant lettuce.

Lettuce Companion Vegetables & Fruit

No matter what you grow in your fruit and vegetable garden this year, consider tucking a little lettuce plant into compatible plantings!

Here are some good companion plants for lettuce in the veggie garden:

Asparagus

The shallow roots of lettuce won’t bother your asparagus crowns one bit. Lettuce interplants nicely between asparagus crops in the early spring, and later season crops do well with a bit of shade from the fronds.

Beets

Deep-growing root vegetables like beets do great with surface level crops like lettuce filling in the gaps. Lettuce can also serve as a cover crop for the beets, keeping weeds at bay.

Carrots

Likewise, beloved root veggie carrots do well when planted with lettuce. When companion planting lettuce and carrots, the two won’t compete for space. This lets you optimize your garden layout to make the most of your available space.

(Bonus – two of the best salad ingredients are now growing in one location. Sounds like easy lunch to me!)

Chives

Plant some chives in your lettuce bed to help repel aphids from attacking your crop.

Corn

Like other tall crops, sweet corn and popcorn plants can help provide shade for lettuce in the warmer months. The longer you can delay lettuce from bolting, the more salad you get to enjoy all summer!

Cucumbers

Cucumbers and lettuce grow well together. Plant something like sunflowers or corn for the cucumbers to climb as a trellis and the lettuce will enjoy the shade below.

Sisters showing off pickling cucumbers in garden planted with lettuce, popcorn, and snow peas
Here are the girls showing off pickling cucumbers in our 2021 garden planted with lettuce, popcorn, pickling cucumbers, and snow peas.

Eggplant

Eggplants can provide shade for lettuce, delaying bolting.

Garlic

Like chives, garlic works well as a lettuce companion plant. The pungent aroma helps to deter aphids from your garden. And, like root vegetables, garlic grows its bulb under ground while lettuce fits nicely in the remaining gaps all around.

Melons

Lettuce grows nicely amid vining melon plants. You’ll likely harvest lettuce crops before melons really take over the garden. Also, lettuce can help keep weeds down as a ground cover in this space.

Onions

Like garlic and root vegetables, onions grow mostly underground while lettuce grows upward from the surface. These compatible plants grow nicely together, using your garden space efficiently.

Parsnips

Similar to carrots and other lettuce companions, parsnips grow as root veggies underground while lettuce grows nicely above.

Peas / Snow Peas

Enjoying a similar climate and growing conditions, peas and snow peas work great as lettuce companion plants. Interestingly, nitrogen-fixing peas restore nitrogen content in the soil, which lettuce happily absorbs.

Growing during the cool season, growing lettuce and peas together makes sense. When these crops finish up, you can conveniently plant the next round of crops in this garden space.

Lettuce companion planting with snow pea seedlings
Lettuce companion planting with snow pea seedlings – lots of volunteers at the end of our 2021 garden!

Radishes

Like the other root crops, radishes are good companion plants for lettuce. They do the bulk of their growing beneath the soil while lettuce helps as a cover crop. Radishes grow best during the same early season and should be long harvested by the time you go to plant something else.

Shallots

Similar to onions, growing shallots and lettuce together makes sense. Shallots grow beneath the soil while lettuce requires only a shallow bit of soil for its roots.

Spinach

Another early cool crop, spinach works just fine as a lettuce companion. Plant these crops early in the spring to take advantage of a longer growing season.

Squash

Like melons, lettuce can help to provide cover, deterring weeds. Squash plants become bushy and help to shade the lettuce from the hot sun. Your lettuce should also finish up by the time your squash plants really take off!

Strawberries

Growing strawberries and lettuce together works well for interplanting and using available space. Planting lettuce, spinach, and strawberries together can be a great companion planting for increased crop productivity.

Not to mention, the leafy greens may even conceal your berries from garden pests better than other methods.

Volunteer strawberry plant with baby lettuce plants in our 2022 garden
Volunteer strawberry plant with baby lettuce plants in our 2022 garden – but this is a good plant pairing!

Tomatoes

Growing lettuce and tomato companion plants together happens to be one of my favorite plantings. (Of course, I finish the pairing with some basil!)

Lettuce and Tomato Companion Plants work out great in containers, raised beds, or directly in the garden!
Lettuce and Tomato Companion Plants work out great in containers, raised beds, or directly in the garden! These are from our 2020 container garden.

Lettuce and Tomatoes Companion Plants

Tomato plants get big and bushy, providing some shade for lettuce, which helps to delay bolting (going to seed). Lettuce gently grows underneath, minding its own business.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment recommends matching up plant pairings based on characteristics like this. For example, plant lettuce under tomatoes or eggplants to shade it from the sun.

Turnips

Believed to deter aphids, turnips can be great companion plants for lettuce. As root vegetables, the turnips also grow mainly underground while the lettuce chills out on the surface.

Lots of creative plant pairings will work well for planning what to grow near lettuce. Consider these options to find what works best for what you plan to grow!

What I’m Doing for Lettuce Companion Plants

Lettuce is so easy to grow! It makes so much sense to interplant lettuce throughout the garden to maximize your space and productivity.

Here’s what we decided to do with our lettuce crop in our PA zone 6b raised beds:

Companion Planting Lettuce and Snow Peas with Carrots and Popcorn

Planting lettuce and peas together – particularly snow peas – is one of my favorite companion planting strategies for lettuce.

I love how nicely the plants grow together and the timing works out so well since they both prefer the colder weather.

And, who doesn’t love throwing some snow peas in a salad, anyway?!

We also grow popcorn as a trellis for pickling cucumbers in the same raised bed. Meanwhile, carrots fill the gaps, growing down into the soil below.

Companion Plants for Lettuce - cucumbers, snow peas, carrots, and corn
Companion Plants for Lettuce – cucumbers, snow peas, carrots, and corn in our 2021 garden!

Basil, Lettuce and Tomato Companion Plants

I love planting lettuce and tomatoes together, and I adore the aroma of basil and tomatoes growing nearby.

Therefore, I almost always plant basil, lettuce and tomatoes together as garden companions. So far, this pairing works out great every time.

When flowering, the basil grows and brings in lots of pollinators to benefit so many plants in the garden.

We also grew watermelons in the same bed, although they definitely rambled over the edge and into the yard!

Choosing Lettuce Companion Plants

With so many options for what to plant with lettuce, you really can’t go wrong.

Consider these tips to help you choose good companion plants:

  • How lettuce benefits the companions
  • How companion plants benefit lettuce
  • Similar growing conditions
  • Similar planting and harvesting timeline
  • Maximizing space in the garden

Also, when choosing companion plants for lettuce in containers, look for plants that fit the same size and scope as the container. You can grow lettuce in 5 gallon grow bags or plenty of other sizes of HDPE pots or fabric grow bags. Simply interplant other crops as you would in the ground or in a raised bed.

Do you have any favorite lettuce companion plants or others to recommend? What works best in your garden?

Feel free to ask any questions about choosing good companion plants for lettuce or share any tips you may have in our comments below.

Happy Gardening!

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