Bok choy, also spelled pak choi, is a Chinese cabbage that forms a loose head of bright green leaves with a mild cabbage-like flavor. The plants are easy to grow and delicious when eaten fresh in salads or lightly cooked in soups, stews, and Asian stir-fry. In this article, discover a few bok choy companion plants that will help you grow your best crop of bok choy yet.
Companion planting is a practical design strategy used in organic gardening to take advantage of the beneficial interactions between certain plants. This practice helps to foster a healthy, interactive garden environment.
Some plants attract pollinators and predatory insects, while others repel various garden pests. Certain plant pairings positively influence one another’s overall growth and reportedly produce better-tasting food when they’re grown nearby. Read on to find out what to plant with bok choy to make gardening feel effortless.
What to Plant with Bok Choy
When choosing good companions for your vegetable garden, it’s crucial to understand how to grow bok choy so you’re sure to select compatible plants. As a member of the Brassica or cabbage family, bok choy is closely related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, and turnips.
Like other Brassicas, bok choy grows best where it gets full sun to partial shade and has well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. They’re cool season veggies that prefer temperatures between 55-75℉.
In dry or hot weather, they may prematurely begin flowering, a process called bolting, so they’re best grown as spring and fall crops.
Bok choy plants form a rosette of leaves between six and 18 inches wide, depending on the cultivar. Germination takes seven to ten days, and the leaves are ready to harvest in around six weeks. Read the information on the plant label or seed packet for cultivar-specific recommendations regarding spacing and harvest time.
Bok Choy Companion Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects
One of the principal goals of companion planting is attracting beneficial pollinators and predatory insects to your garden. This is an integral part of natural pest control strategies and considerably reduces your dependence on pesticides. Here are a few ideal choices for attracting pests’ natural predators when companion planting for vegetables like bok choy and other leafy greens.
Borage is one of the best companion plants for a vegetable garden. It repels cabbage worms, and the leaves serve as habitat for predatory insects like hoverflies, lacewings, and parasitic wasps to lay their eggs. Pollinators love the blue flowers.
Borage helps its neighboring plants be more resilient against environmental stress. Its flowers and leaves are edible, with a sweet, cucumber-like flavor. The large leaves make excellent mulch and add valuable nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
Borage is a large, quick-growing plant that readily self-seeds. Be sure to keep its mature size in mind when choosing a planting location to avoid overcrowding. Remove spent flowers if you don’t want volunteer seedlings next season.
Chamomile attracts a variety of beneficial insects, including pollinators and predators like hoverflies, lacewings, and ladybugs. Additionally, chamomile is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. It helps other plants be more disease-resistant when grown nearby.
Use chamomile tea as a foliar spray to combat plant disease. It’s also an effective contact insecticide for soft-bodied pests like aphids, thrips, mites, and whiteflies.
Boil one cup of tap water and steep the chamomile for at least 24 hours. Strain the infusion into a clean spray bottle. Treat any plants suffering from insect or disease problems.
Cilantro is an outstanding companion plant for numerous reasons. It acts as a host for beneficial predatory insects like lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps to lay their eggs. The larvae of these insects prey on pests like aphids, cabbage maggots and worms, and whiteflies.
The lacy white flowers attract pollinators to the garden. Cilantro’s strong scent also repels garden pests like aphids.
The parsley family includes carrots, celery, dill, fennel, parsley, and parsnips. The large flower heads and lacy leaves attract predatory insects like hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps, in addition to being a pollinator favorite.
Although it’s excellent for cooking and pest control, fennel doesn’t have many friends in the garden. Its roots secrete a chemical that inhibits other plant growth. Grow it in a pot or a separate corner of your garden, and avoid letting it go to seed.
Bok Choy Companion Planting to Repel Pests
Aphids, cabbage worms, flea beetles, slugs, and whiteflies are the most prevalent insect pests that damage bok choy plants. Try companion planting bok choy with aromatic flowers and herbs to keep pests away.
Alliums like chives, garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots have a strong scent that repels numerous garden pests away from different bok choy plants. These include aphids, cabbage worms, slugs, spider mites, and whiteflies in addition to larger garden thieves like deer and rodents.
Avoid growing members of the onion family near legumes like beans and peas. These plants reportedly stunt each other’s growth.
Strongly scented herbs are fantastic for pest control. Lemon balm wards off gnats and mosquitos while attracting predators like hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs, and predatory wasps.
Oregano effectively repels ants, cabbage moths, and flea beetles and attracts lacewings. Rosemary, sage, and thyme deter aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles.
Marigolds are some of the most well-known flowers for companion planting. They deter pests like aphids, cabbage worms, slugs, thrips, and whiteflies. Also, their roots naturally contain a chemical that kills destructive root-knot nematodes, which feed on plants’ roots.
Nasturtiums are attractive, edible flowering plants with flowers and leaves that have a peppery flavor. They repel cabbage loopers, squash bugs, and whiteflies. Additionally, nasturtiums attract predators like hoverflies.
Sometimes, gardeners plant nasturtiums a short distance away from their preferred varieties to serve as a trap crop for aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. The insects often prefer nasturtiums and inflict less damage to the other plants. Once the nasturtium plant is full of pests, uproot it and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag.
Companion Planting Bok Choy with Other Veggies
Square foot gardening involves dividing a vegetable garden into small, intensively planted sections. The goal is to produce more food using less space, and companion planting is essential for this practice.
A few ideal veg companions for bok choy include beets, bush and pole beans, lettuce, spinach, plants that look like arugula, and Swiss chard. These plants all prefer cool weather and have similar needs regarding light, nutrients, and water.
Legumes like bush beans, pole beans, and peas also add nitrogen to the soil through a unique relationship with soil bacteria. They’re good companions for leafy greens and whenever you plant romaine lettuce seedlings.
What Not to Plant with Bok Choy
When deciding what to grow with bok choy, it’s crucial to remember that not all plants make suitable neighbors. Avoid growing bok choy near other heavy feeders like artichoke and zucchini to avoid developing nutritional deficiencies in your garden soil.
Keep your bok choy separate from other Brassicas, as they suffer from the same pest and disease problems. These spread faster among similarly vulnerable plants.
Nightshades like eggplants, peppers, and potatoes are prone to verticillium wilt. This soil-borne fungal disease also damages Brassica crops. Keep these plant groups apart, too. It’s not wise to plant near tomatoes either.
Strawberries also make poor companions for Brassica plants. Their roots release chemicals that stunt one another’s growth.
Companion planting bok choy with various flowers, herbs, and veggies is advantageous for numerous reasons that include attracting helpful insects to the garden, deterring pests, and making the most of your available space.
When you create a diverse, interactive ecosystem in your garden, your plants grow healthier, and your garden chores become significantly easier.
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