Today, cauliflower is becoming more trendy, and it’s common to see it used in pizza crust, rice, bread, and crackers. It’s an excellent cool-season vegetable crop that’s adaptable to both partial shade and full sun. Cauliflower also comes in colors other than white and can be used for adding color to your garden and plate.
We’ll cover the best cauliflower companion plants, explain how they attract beneficial insects, and work together.
5 Best Companion Plants for Cauliflower
An explanation of why these plants grow well with cauliflower is below.
Beets & Lettuce
Cauliflower grows slowly and takes up a lot of garden space; most growth is more than 6 to 8 inches off the ground. You can underplant fast-growing crops like radishes, beets, and leaf lettuce in that space.
In the spring, companion planting cauliflower can help control the two main pests that affect all brassicas: aphids and cabbage worms.
Hoverfly larvae are beneficial insects and will eat aphids when planted with cosmos and are used as a good companion for cauliflower.
To assist cosmos, plant nasturtiums as a trap crop near cauliflower; aphids will be attracted to the nasturtiums even more than your cauliflower.
In addition, planting fennel around your cauliflower will draw parasitic wasps, which will lay their eggs under the caterpillars’ skin and then plant their larvae on the worms from the inside out.
3 Bad Companion Plants For Cauliflower
Avoid planting these three bad cauliflower companion plants:
Cauliflower will face competition with tomatoes because they’re both heavy feeders for vital nutrients in the soil. Being that they compete, cauliflower could stunt the growth of tomatoes.
This is a bad companion plant for cauliflower because strawberries compete for nutrients like tomatoes and cauliflower.
Brassicas, such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, should not be planted next to cauliflower. Both brassica and cauliflower belong to the same family. So, together they would attract more pests and diseases to your vegetable garden, and compete with one another.
Now that you know the best and worst cauliflower companion plants, here are some growing and harvesting tips.
Getting Started & Planting Cauliflower
Cauliflower can be planted in the late summer or early fall and allowed to grow throughout the winter if your winters only experience light frosts. However, you should plant your cauliflower in the spring if you have freezing temperatures and winter snow.
It’s generally best to start indoors from seed or transplants, regardless of the weather. However, since cauliflower will only plant in soil that is less than 70°F (21°C) in temperature, growing it from seed in the late summer or early fall is probably too hot.
Since cauliflower and broccoli can occupy a garden for four to five months, they can eat up space for your warm-season crops, so you’ll want to start planning your spring sowing early.
You can start cauliflower seeds indoors six weeks before your last frost date. As soon as your seedlings or transplants are prepared to be placed in the garden (can be planted two weeks before your last frost date), ensure they receive at least four to five hours of direct sun, but the more, the better.
In rich, well-draining soil, space them 15 to 18 inches apart and keep them moist.
Growing Cauliflower & Harvesting
Although cauliflower leaves can be eaten, most people grow them for the substantial central stalk and head.
The plant’s top center is where the head develops; although it starts small, it will eventually get much more prominent. It would be best to cover the cauliflower heads once the leaves begin to part and the sun shines directly on them because direct sunlight can cause them to turn discolored.
To do this, gather some leaves close to the head and rubber band or clothespin them together. This will protect the head from the sun.
A cauliflower head is ready to harvest when it is still tight and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in diameter. Then, when the stalk begins to branch into the various segments, take a knife or pair of clippers and cut it off.
Cauliflower plants stop producing once the central head has been harvested, unlike broccoli plants, which continue to produce a secondary crop of side florets.