Pole Bean Companion Plants

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When growing vertically in the garden, it really pays off to find planting partners that work well with your crops. For example, pole bean companion plants help you fill out the space surrounding and underneath your bean teepee!

We used to grow bush beans as our only backyard garden crop for YEARS. I had green bush beans and the magic purple beans (Royal Burgundy beans is the name on the packet).

We were eating good some nights, but eventually some deer jumped in our yard over the fence and started chowing down on my green bean plants. I soon realized I had two beds of beans that were taking up SO much space, that were now basically worthless after the deer episode.

What can you not plant near pole beans?

Avoid planting beets, peppers, and plants in the allium or onion family near pole beans. Alliums like onions, garlic, scallions and leeks emit a chemical that harms beneficial bacteria and affects beans’ ability to replenish the nitrogen in the soil.

Beets and pole beans may slow each other’s growth potential. It’s better to avoid this pairing. Meanwhile, peppers seem to be something of a conundrum with some experts in favor of this pairing and others opposed in case the beans grow too vigorously.

Finding Good Pole Bean Companion Plants

Last year I had one rogue Kentucky Wonder pole bean plant that we started a bit late, but it was a heavy producer! I randomly stuck it in a garden grow bag as I was nearly out of space, but I knew right then and there that we’d switch from bush beans to pole beans.

And in that moment, I also knew I needed to start researching some pole bean companion plants!

Here in our yard, I ended up doing a three sisters garden with my pole beans. We grew popcorn as the corn, zucchini, yellow summer squash, and patty pan squash for the squash, and a mix of green and purple pole beans.

It worked out great, except for the vine borers and squash bugs!

Still, I highly recommend this plan or some combination of it.

Of course, you can try other pole bean companion plants, as well. Here are some options to consider.

Companion Planting with Pole Beans

When looking for pole bean companions, keep in mind the growth habits of pole beans. They LOVE to climb. They will keep going and going and going….

Pole Bean Companion Plants of Popcorn and Kentucky Wonder Beans
Pole Bean Companion Plants of Popcorn and Kentucky Wonder Beans

Something Tall to Climb Up

My best suggestion for plant buddies for pole beans is to choose something that grows tall upon which they can climb.  

Try these tall companion plants for pole beans:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Popcorn

Growing Sunflowers with Beans

I’ve personally had a good experience growing sunflowers with pole beans, but I’ve read conflicting information from other gardeners.

Apparently, sunflowers have allelopathy with beans where they release chemicals that inhibit growth and germination, and reduce yield.

I personally did not experience a detrimental relationship, and I only have one pole bean plant growing with my sunflower, so I don’t know if I can weigh in on this. I believe further study may be warranted.

Pole Bean Benefits in the Garden

Besides gaining their own benefits from companion planting, pole beans can offer benefits to their neighbors.

  • Beans add nitrogen back to the soil. Plants that need a lot of nitrogen may enjoy living near pole beans.
  • When leafy and full, bean plants can create a canopy of shade. As they grow upright on your trellis or teepee, pole beans can provide shade for other plants that may not do well with direct heat from the sun.
  • Vertical gardening saves space. When you grow UP, it gives you more plants per square foot in your garden!

Veggie Companion Plants for Pole Beans

Consider these possible companion plants for pole beans:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Peas
  • Potato
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes

Gardening experts seem split on whether you can plant pole beans with brassicas such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

Three Sisters Planting for Pole Beans, Corn, and Squash
Three Sisters Planting for Pole Beans, Corn, and Squash in 2021

Herb Companion Plants

Some herbs may also grow nicely with pole beans.

Try planting the following herbs in the same garden space as your beans:

  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Summer Savory

Flower Companion Planting for Pole Beans

Garden friendly flowers can also work well as companion plants for pole beans.

Consider planting marigolds in the corners of your green bean bed. Nasturtiums bring quite a few benefits to your garden and would also work well planted nearby beans.

Colorful zinnias would also look great, but keep in mind that Japanese beetles LOVE both beans AND zinnias. For that reason I might suggest putting the zinnias off to the side so you can use them as a trap crop for beans.

Purple Podded Pole Beans in our 2021 garden
Purple Podded Pole Beans in our 2021 garden

Final Thoughts: Choosing the Best Pole Bean Companion Plants

Our sunflower ended up being a really great pole bean companion! I’m only wishing we planted more beans near it, but that was in our cucumber bed and those beans were actually castaways that I couldn’t find a home for anywhere else. (Who else can relate?! lol)

One of my lessons learned is to start my next round of pole beans in mid-July so that we can increase our crop instead of watching it dwindle down come end of September.

I really want to leave a bunch of pods to go to seed so I can grow tons of these amazing pole beans next year!

Do you have any other suggestions on great companion plants for pole beans? Feel free to share your success stories, tips, and any questions you may have in the comments below!

We love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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