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Three Sisters Planting

By: Garden Gate staff
Learn how this ancient technique of planting corn, beans and squash (Three Sisters) together can help each other thrive in the garden.

v-tp-grow-better-together-Lead: Illustration by Carlie Hamilton

Three Sisters planting method

Companion planting is a popular method of growing different plants together to the benefit of each. There is scientific evidence that supports some plant associations, while others, such as planting basil with tomatoes, don’t have any supporting evidence. The Three Sisters polyculture technique is one well-known ancient Native American companion planting method that works. The illustration above shows how the Three Sisters — corn, beans and squash — help each other when planted together.

  • Corn stalks provide support for climbing beans.
  • Squash's prickly leaves protect the crops from raccoons and shade the ground which helps prevent weeds.
  • Beans return nitrogen to the soil. This will be available to the corn and squash in later years.

Seeds for Three Sisters Companion Planting:
My Fair Lady Bicolor Sweet Corn seeds
Climbing Honey Nut Baby Butternut Squash
Spanish Musica Pole Beans

Herbs are also great companion plants, too!

Culinary herbs are great additions to a garden because they emit strong scents that camouflage your crops from pests or draw in beneficial insects. For instance, plant tomatoes with borage, which attracts parasitic wasps that kill tomato hornworms. Many herbs also bring in pollinators, which are necessary in a vegetable garden or orchards.

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Published: March 9, 2018
Updated: May 17, 2022
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