Chard is also called Swiss chard or silverbeet, and it’s a very easygoing and well-behaved member of your vegetable garden. It tends to stick to itself, and it’ll grow in tender, colorful, upright stalks with leafy growth without a huge amount of effort on your part. If you want to grow it in your garden, consider adding in Swiss chard companion plants to ensure you get a very healthy harvest. You may want to maximize your growing space in a raised bed or fill in your garden. Whatever the reason, knowing which Swiss chard companion plants to add and which to avoid is key.
When you decide how to lay out your garden beds, you’ll want to pick out plants that get along and avoid the ones that will compete for nutrients. We’ll outline 16 great Swiss chard companion plants to consider and the biggest ones to avoid below.
Swiss Chard Companion Plants Boost Yields
Swiss chard is a cool-weather vegetable to add to your garden, and it grows best when you plant it in the fall and spring, in a spot that gets a lot of sunlight with minimal protection from the harsh afternoon sun. It prefers to be in neutral to slightly acidic soil that is organically rich, but it should also drain very well.
By putting a few Swiss chard companion plants nearby, you can help boost the growing conditions in your garden and set your plants up to thrive. Some of the favorite companion plants for Swiss chard will help to break up compacted soil conditions to make it easier for air and water to get in. Others will act like ground cover to keep the soil cool and retain as much moisture as you can.
You can also use certain Swiss chard companion plants as a trap crop to keep common pests away from your crops. Flowering companion plants can help to lure pollinators to the area, including butterflies, bees, and predatory wasps who feed on damaging pests and reduce pest populations throughout the garden.
16 Swiss Chard Companion Plant Options
Companion planting is a very all-natural, effective strategy that helps to improve your plant performance while deterring insects or animals that feed on your vegetables. When you’re looking at putting companion plants in your garden, the most important consideration to keep in mind is the growing space.
When you water them regularly, Swiss chard can easily get up to two feet tall, and this helps to improve your plant’s harvest, but it can take up a large amount of room. Be sure to pick out Swiss chard companion plants that will fit into the growing space.
Alliums have two main benefits as Swiss chard companion plants. They produce a strong odor, and alliums like shallots, garlic, leeks,onions, and chives can help repel insects. When they bloom, they tend to attract beneficial insects like wasps, hoverflies, and bees to the area.
Garlic and chives are very popular alliums. When they grow, they’ll produce eye-catching globe-shaped flower heads. They’re also very easy to harvest, and they pack in a very strong garlicky flavor. Like other types of chives, they’re very easy to grow from seed. Another benefit of alliums is that they can bloom early and give beneficial predatory insects a viable food source, and they’ll reduce the pest population in response.
2. Annual Flowers
There are many annual flower types that would make great Swiss chard companion plants. Some chard varieties are so colorful that they will fit in perfectly well in a flower bed, and they can make a very attractive border.
Marigolds are popular companion plants because they will help repel root-knot nematodes and other pests. Nasturtiums also act like good companion plants, since the flowers will draw in the beneficial insects with the strong-scented leaves. Sweet alyssum makes a great Swiss chard companion plant too, for several reasons. It works like a ground cover to help stop the weeds from potting up and shading the soil around the plants.
The fragrant flowers on this plant will also lure in beneficial insects like hoverflies, and they will help reduce the aphid population. Carpet of Snow is one Sweet Alyssum cultivar that makes a nice ground cover as it grows between two and five inches tall and produces masses of tiny white flowers.
Climbing beans, bush beans, and peas all make great Swiss chard companion plants, and you can grow them next to your other garden favorites, including radishes, blueberries, and asparagus. Beans will help to improve the nitrogen uptake in the surrounding plants by making any nitrogen in the soil readily-available for the plants to use.
You can use your beans as companion plants by putting them in nearby rows. However, beans will also work very well as a cover crop. Allow the beans to grow, produce, and die back before you plough them under the soil to help improve the nitrogen content in the soil for next year’s growing season. Thai will help encourage your Swiss chard to reach a full harvest.
Broccoli and Swiss chard don’t compete for the same nutrients, so you can plant them in the same row without any conflicts. These plants do well when you plant them close together because neither one will overtake the other, and the leaves will help fill out the spaces around them to keep the soil under them in the shade and reduce how much moisture gets lost from the sun.
You can also grow broccoli as a trap crop. Beetles, aphids, worms, and other bugs that usually eat your chard will happily each your broccoli instead. If pests are a huge issue in your garden, sacrificing a row of broccoli to keep them away from your Swiss chard may be the best way to ensure a good harvest.
Swiss chard can get eaten by a range of garden pests, including cucumber beetles, armyworms, cutworms, cabbage moths, and more. However, using celery as a Swiss chard companion plant can help keep the bugs off of your vegetables. Celery plants will get up to a foot tall, so they never interfere with your Swiss chard’s growing space. Because they come with a more shallow root system, they won’t suck up the nutrients that your Swiss chard plants need to grow.
Another Swiss chard companion plant that will keep pests away is cilantro. This is an aromatic herb that grows well in a cool-weather garden. It offers a very shallow root system that will only absorb nutrients from the uppermost layer of the soil, and this allows you to plant them in the same row as your chard. By alternating Swiss chard and cilantro plants in the same row, this will help to keep bugs away from both plants. Growing them close together will help fill in the area and cast shade on the soil to keep the roots cool and retain moisture.
Just like any member of the allium family, garlic has higher levels of allicin in it, and this is a sulfur-rich compound that gives it that potent smell. It’s also the allicin content that makes garlic such a nice Swiss chard companion plant because it helps keep foragers and insects away.
Garlic oil is also very effective as a natural pesticide. So, by alternating rows of garlic and Swiss chard or growing all of your Swiss chard between two rows of garlic, you can help keep mites, armyworms, and other pests away. The nectar-rich flowers garlic produces will also draw local pollinators in to improve your garden’s pollination rates.
There are many herbs that make excellent Swiss chard companion plants. Cilantro and dill come to mind as they are a generally attractive herb and draw in beneficial insects like hoverflies and parasitic wasps. Lovage, marjoram, and lavender all also make great neighbors for chard.
But, among herbs in general, mint offers the best reputation. If you allow it to bloom, it will attract a range of beneficial insects with the masses of flowers it produces. It also works to repel flea beetles, and this is a very common pest that can target chard. The fragrant compounds mint produces can help mask the smell of your other plants, and this makes it harder for pests to pick out host plants.
However, if you decide to add mint as a Swiss chard companion plant, keep it in a container so it doesn’t grow wild and take over your whole garden. There are many types of mint available to choose from, but peppermint offers a very clean, fresh taste with cooling properties. It’s a great herb to have in the garden to pluck and add to tea to make an iced herbal tea when the weather warms up.
This low-maintenance, aromatic herb has been a popular Swiss chard companion plant for years because it helps to give the flavor a boost. Lavender is a very fuss-free option that doesn’t need a lot of water or nutrition to thrive, so it’s not a threat to your Swiss chard for nutrients. The pungent essential oil that lavender produces is very present in every part of the shrub, from the stems to the leaves, and most bugs that eat foliage are repulsed by the scent. Deer and rabbits won’t eat lavender, so your herb works well to deter a range of pests to keep them from eating your Swiss chard. Also, when this plant blooms, it’ll help to draw in butterflies and bees to pollinate your crops.
Legumes can help your Swiss chard by boosting the nitrogen content in the soil. For this reason, peas are considered to be a very good Swiss chard companion plant. Peas come with high recommendations, but most plant literature you come across advising growing them with pole beans. This is because of the towering nature of your pole beans when you trellis them. Peas also usually end up on trellises too, but they can die back in the early summer months. This is exactly when pole beans take off, so they can shade out your Swiss chard crop.
However, if this is the only reason why you’re hesitating on putting pole beans in your garden as a companion plant, there are workarounds. If you plant your Swiss chard on the south side of your pole beans, it’ll get the full sun it prefers. Other legumes you may want to try with your chard are garbanzo beans and fava beans.
In the meantime, stick to bush beans to get a nitrogen-fixing companion plant. Cherokee Wax is a very popular bush bean cultivar, and it’s a yellow snap bush bean. If you’re growing a colorful cultivar of chard like Bright Lights, these two plants will give your garden or bed a very colorful show as they grow and mature.
Growing lettuce alongside Swiss chard will help to maximize your space in raised or square foot garden beds. It’ll also make your cut-and-come-again salad harvests very easy. Lettuce grows a shallow root system, so it won’t compete with your chard for underground root space. Another benefit to using lettuce in your garden is that it acts like living mulch, and it covers the soil to help prevent weeds from popping up while slowing water evaporation and erosion.
There are many lettuce varieties that are gorgeous and delicious. Some are better than others at working as living mulch. You want to pick out any lettuce cultivar that comes with a spreading growth habit instead of one that grows upright, like Romaine. Broadleaf Batavian is a cultivar that offers wide leaves that spread out nicely to cover the soil.
If there isn’t enough native foliage around for deer to snack on, they’ll eat your Swiss chard. However, they generally avoid marigolds. These smelly flowers aren’t nearly as appetizing to foragers, and they’re also fibrous and tough, so they’re difficult for them to chew. Growing marigolds as Swiss chard companion plants can help prevent wildlife from eating it. Marigolds are also loaded with nectar and pollen, so they’re popular with hoverflies, butterflies, and wasps. These bugs will increase the pollination rate and they eat smaller pests like aphids.
Mint is an aromatic herb that attracts butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to your garden area to help improve your crop yields. While it draws in pollinators, it also repels a range of garden pests that can cause damage to your crops. Mint is a very low-growing ground cover plant that works as living mulch. You can plant mint at the base of your Swiss chard plants to help loosen up any compacted soil and help the ground retain moisture while lowering the temperature of the soil. Mint does all of this without competing with other plants for nutrients because it has very shallow root systems.
Swiss chard may be very easy to grow from seeds, but if you start all of your plants from seeds, it can be challenging to remember where your rows are before your plants sprout. Nasturtiums work well as a nice border for your garden, and you can use them to mark off rows to help you determine which new sprouts are weeds and which are vegetables. It’s very common to use this plant as a trap crop. Mites, aphids, whiteflies, and earworms will all flock to feed on your nasturtiums, and this will keep these bugs away from your Swiss chard and other vegetables. Bees, butterflies, and pollinators will come in and eat the nectar too.
Onions make a nice Swiss chard companion plant. But you have to be very careful about how you grow them in your garden. Onions are root vegetables that go fairly deep into the soil. When you grow them too close to your chard, the plants will start competing for nutrients and stunt the growth. By alternating rows of chard and onions, they can help to repel bugs that eat your Swiss chard due to their smell, including snails, slugs, and caterpillars without stealing nutrients from one another.
Radishes are very fast-growing vegetables that do very well planted in fall or spring gardens because they love cool weather. These plants will take between three and four weeks to grow from seeds, so you get them in the ground quickly. They will grow well as Swiss chard companion plants because the roots are shallow enough that they don’t compete with the Swiss chard’s root system. Radish tops won’t get over 18 inches high, and this ensures that they won’t encroach on the growing space. For this reason, you can use this as a companion plant in the same row, and they can shade the soil and help with moisture retention.
5 Swiss Chard Companion Plants to Avoid
Along with the 16 Swiss chard companion plants we listed, there are several plants you want to avoid. Plants that offer extensive, deep root systems that will need a large amount of nutrients to grow will steal minerals away from the chard to stunt the growth. Make sure to give your Swiss chard a decent amount of room to expand, both below and above the ground. You want to avoid growing the following as Swiss chard companion plants:
Beets are part of the same family as Swiss chard is. So, the two plants will compete for the same types of nutrients. In turn, they don’t do well when you plant them close together. Beets also tend to attract the same types of bugs that like to eat your Swiss chard, so you want to keep them apart to avoid any insect infestations.
Cucumber plants and Swiss chard tend to attract a lot of the same pests. Worms, beetles, slugs, and caterpillars can be attracted to cucumbers, and if your Swiss chard plants are close by, they may move to eat them. Also, cucumber plants usually get quite large as they grow. If the vines don’t grow up a trellis for support, they can overwhelm the surrounding plants.
Cantaloupes, watermelons, honeydew, and a range of other melons produce deeper root systems because they rely very heavily on consistent water to reproduce. When you couple this with the fact that melon plants tend to sprawl out as they grow and encroach on the growing space of other plants, you know why they’re poor Swiss chard companion plants.
Potatoes are very deep-growing root vegetables that use a large amount of nutrients to grow. Growing them by your Swiss chard will cause them to suck the minerals away from the chard, resulting in stunted plants with smaller leaves. If you have less nutrients in the soil in your garden, growing potatoes nearby can also result in dead plants, so keep them far apart if you choose to grow both.
Spinach is a part of the Chenopodiaceae family, like beets. So, they both tend to attract insects that eat Swiss chard. This is a leafy green plant that also competes with your chard for similar nutrients and minerals, so growing them side by side will result in much smaller plants on both sides. If you want to grow Swiss chard and spinach, we recommend you put them on opposite sides of your vegetable patch or growing one in the fall and one in the spring so they don’t compete.
Swiss chard companion plants will help to repel a range of harmful insects while drawing in beneficial pollinators to help support your crop production. These plants will work in tandem with your chard to help improve the soil’s nutrient content and retain moisture whale stopping erosion. This will help ensure that your Swiss chard grows as large as it can while producing the best foliage possible. We’ve outlined 16 great options with a few to avoid to ensure you have a successful crop.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.