Apple trees are as American as, well, apple pie! When you’re planting them, it’s crucial to understand the layout of your property so that you can select a location where your apple trees will thrive.
For apple trees to be happy and healthy, they need to be part of a diverse landscape that includes plenty of companion plants like shrubs, ground cover, herbs, flowers, and more.
Read on below and explore our list of 22 ace companion plants for apple trees, including a full rundown on each one!
Companion planting can be quite beneficial, but there is so much more to caring for apple trees. I explain the essentials in my detailed, comprehensive guide, Apple Tree Care and Maintenance.
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an attractive companion plant. It’s best for attracting beneficial insects, specifically helpful pollinators, like bees.
- Benefits provided: Lemon balm produces a strong citrus aroma that wards off many pest species, and it also attracts pollinators like bees when it blooms each year.
- Time until harvest: From seeds, lemon blam requires around 70 days to harvest.
- Popular varieties: Citronella, Aurea, Variegated, Quedlinburger, Lemonella, and common
Borage makes a wonderful companion for apple trees as it attracts beneficial bugs. It’s also a great addition to fresh garden salads.
- Benefits provided: The main benefits of borage as a companion plant are that it repels worms (which love eating apples) and attracts beneficial insects.
- Time until harvest: On average, borage takes around 8 weeks to harvest.
- Popular varieties: Common, Alba, Variegata, and Creeping
Artichoke is an interesting companion plant choice for fixing nitrogen issues. It doesn’t put a lot of nitrogen back into the ground; rather it takes up the extra nitrogen from the soil and balances the surrounding levels.
- Benefits provided: Artichoke is one of the best companion plants for leeching extra nitrogen up to the root zone of nearby plants and trees.
- Time until harvest: 60 to 90+ days, depending on the species.
- Popular varieties: Imperial Star, Colorado, Emerald, Green Globe, Purple, Violet, and Tavor
4. Alliums (Chives, Onion, & Garlic)
These beautiful companion plants bloom with gorgeous flowers and at the same time produce a pungent aroma that pest insects avoid for dear life.
- Benefits provided: Alliums are well known for being excellent natural pest control due to their pungent oniony smell.
- Time until harvest: Generally between 15 and 18 weeks.
- Popular varieties: Gladiator, Globemaster, Purple Sensation, Drumstick, Millenium, and Mount Everest
If you’re already growing herbs like dill around your apple trees, fennel makes a great addition as well. Fennel is particularly helpful in the spring when young aphids are rampantly devouring fresh green shoots on trees and plants.
- Benefits provided: Fennel is a great deterrent to aphids that would otherwise be interested in your apple tree each spring.
- Time until harvest: Up to 90 days or so from planting.
- Popular varieties: Rhondo, Victoria, Cantino, Mantavo, Common, Sweet, and Bulb
Dill is a perfect companion plant for attracting more predator insects like praying mantises and ladybugs to the vicinity of your apple trees.
- Benefits provided: Dill attracts tons of beneficial insects, including ladybugs and other predator bugs that feed on common pest species.
- Time until harvest: Approximately up to 90 days after planting.
- Popular varieties: Bouquet, Greensleeves, Delikat, Dukat, Compatto, Fernleaf, Elephant, and more
Mint is not only enchanting appearance wise, but it also keeps away a lot of nasty pests that would otherwise love to set up shop on your blooming fruit trees.
- Benefits provided: Mint wards off moths and other pests due to its menthol aroma.
- Time until harvest: Around 90 days or so from planting.
- Popular varieties: Apple, Pineapple, Spearmint, Pennyroyal, Ginger, Horsemint, Peppermint, and Red Raripila
Comfrey is a great companion plant when you have numerous species growing in a close proximity that all have different nutrient demands. It draws nutrients from deeper in the ground and delivers them to the root zone level of nearby plants.
- Benefits provided: Comfrey is one of the best plants for invigorating the flowers of other plants as well as stimulating their root systems.
- Time until harvest: Starting in late spring all the way until mid-autumn.
- Popular varieties: Common/true and Russian
They may not be the first plant you’d consider for apple tree companions, but dandelions are definitely deserving of their place on this list. If you are planting trees on a hillside, they are best planted with dandelions.
- Benefits provided: The number one benefit of dandelions as a companion is that they release ethylene gas and promote the fruiting and ripening of fruit; they also strengthen roots.
- Time until harvest: Dandelions bloom every spring and summer; early morning is the perfect time to harvest.
- Popular varieties: Common and Red Seeded
These beautiful wildflowers attract predators that feast on common pests. They also draw in local pollinators like bees to boost your apple tree’s flower/fruit production.
- Benefits provided: The biggest factor that makes yarrow a great companion for apple trees is that it attracts bees and other pollinators.
- Time until harvest: Depending on the species, yarrow may bloom from April until September.
- Popular varieties: Common, Gold, Apple Blossom, Cerise, Moonshine, King Edward, and New Vintage Rose
This herb is the perfect low-key addition to sunny areas around your apple trees. It attracts bees and other beneficial insects, and you get two harvests (cilantro leaves followed by coriander)! Coriander is also great for helping drain an area with poor natural drainage.
- Benefits provided: Coriander is an amazing plant that repels pests, attracts beneficial insects, improves the nutrient levels in the ground, and much more.
- Time until harvest: Approximately 35 to 45 days.
- Popular varieties: Leisure, Caribe, Jantar, California Long Standing, Santos, Terra, Delfino, Costa Rica, Lemon, Slo Bolt, and Moroccan
Clover is not only lucky; it helps distribute extra nitrogen back into the root zone of your trees as it decomposes into the earth around them.
- Benefits provided: Clovers fix nitrogen issues in the surrounding soil as well as provide perennial ground cover.
- Time until harvest: Clover is typically harvested during the middle of August and/or September.
- Popular varieties: Common, White, Red, and Strawberry
Rhubarb is an old-fashioned garden plant that works wonderfully as a companion plant for apple trees. It not only solves nitrogen issues, but it wards off harmful bugs as well.
- Benefits provided: Rhubarb is a doubly beneficial companion; it fixes nitrogen issues and repels pest insects too.
- Time until harvest: May, June, and July are the most common months to harvest your 7 to 15-inch+ tall rhubarb.
- Popular varieties: Cherry Red, German Wine, Crimson Red, Glaskin’s Perpetual, Hardy Tarty, Holstein’s Bloodred, and Sutton
14. Siberian Pea Shrub
The Siberian pea shrub is one of the top nitrogen fixing and easiest to maintain pea species to consider adding to your landscape as a companion plant for apple trees.
- Benefits provided: The main benefit of the Siberian Pea Shrub is its nitrogen-fixing abilities.
- Time until harvest: Around 3 to 5 years before they are bearing enough seeds for commercial harvesting.
- Popular varieties: Common Siberian
Marigolds are some of the most common garden flowers in the world, no doubt because they have excellent pest control properties. They ward off most types of common garden pests with their smell.
- Benefits provided: Marigolds keep more pest insects away than many of the plants on our list combined.
- Time until harvest: At least 8 weeks after sprouting.
- Popular varieties: Colossus Red Gold, Bolero, Court Jester, Brocade, African, Crackerjack, Brocade, Bouquet, and more
Chrysanthemums are equally as impressive as pest control flowers as marigolds are. Simply planting these flowers every few meters around your apple trees or garden plants keeps a vast majority of pests away.
- Benefits provided: Chrysanthemums, like marigolds, are one of the very best insect-repelling companion plants there are.
- Time until harvest: Approximately 4 months from planting.
- Popular varieties: Single Bloom, Quilled Bloom, Spider Bloom, Reflux/Recurve Bloom, Decorative Blooms, Anemone, Pompoms, and more
Nastutium, bless its heart, is typically used as a sacrificial trap plant. Harmful insects really seem to love these guys and will go directly to them and infest them instead of bothering your apple trees.
- Benefits provided: Because they attract pesky insect species like aphids and worms, Nasturtium is an excellent trap plant.
- Time until harvest: Approximately 30 to 55 days after planting.
- Popular varieties: Alaska, Black Velvet, Empress of India, Apricot, Jewel, Fiery Festival, Orange Gleam, and more
Wormwood is an interesting companion plant that takes some time to grow but is the best for keeping flies, fleas, and even larvae away from your apple trees and other nearby plants.
- Benefits provided: Wormwood runs larvae away from the area, as well as flies and fleas.
- Time until harvest: Up to two years after planting.
- Popular varieties: Common, White, Roman, Western, Beach, Silver, Southernwood, and Artemisia
Chamomile protects apple trees and any other nearby plants and trees from harmful bacteria, fungus, and disease. It may even increase the flavor of some fruits and vegetables.
- Benefits provided: Chamomile is sought after for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It helps protect trees and plants from mold, mildew, disease, and more.
- Time until harvest: Up to approximately 10 weeks after planting.
- Popular varieties: Common, English, Roman, German, and Egyptian
Lavender smells and looks like a little piece of heaven. It is an excellent companion plant for apple trees, both aesthetically and because it attracts bees and wards off large pests and harmful insects.
- Benefits provided: Not only does lavender attract pollinators, but it also repels pests of all sizes including deer and rabbits.
- Time until harvest: Lavender plants require around 3 years to reach a fully mature and harvestable state.
- Popular varieties: English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Jean Davis
Sometimes called wormwood, Artemisia species are some of the best companions for repelling larvae, flies, and similar pests. They also grow back each year and be harvested.
- Benefits provided: Artemeisa repels worms, larvae, flies, fleas, and moths.
- Time until harvest: Around 5 to 6 months after planting.
- Popular varieties: Common, Wormwood, Southernwood, Roman, Egyptian, and German
22. Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn provides nitrogen management to the local soil, supporting healthier and happier apple trees. They also produce berries that may be harvested each year!
- Benefits provided: Sea Buckthorn fixes nitrogen issues in the surrounding soil.
- Time until harvest: Berries are typically ripening by August and may do so until fall.
- Popular varieties: Askola, Frugana, Hergo, Leikora, and Pollmix
Now that we’ve discussed 22 of the very best companion plants for apple trees, including the benefits, time until harvesting, and popular varieties, you should have no problem choosing the perfect companion plants for your trees!
Just remember that the landscape and climate play a big factor in which companion plants are right for your apple trees, as well as where your apple trees should be located for the best results in the first place.
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