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Southern Plains Regional Reports

Planting a Fruit Tree Guild | Southern Plains Regional Report

These symbiotic plants will strengthen and beautify your orchard

This guild includes mugwort and obedient plants, which attract insects that are beneficial to the fruit tree. Photo: Leah Gibson

Many gardeners have heard of the “three sisters,” a traditional example of companion planting for corn, beans, and squash. Fewer gardeners are familiar with the concept of a plant guild, which is basically companion planting taken to the next level. A plant guild is an association of plant species clustered around a central element (often a tree) that act together to maintain the health of that central element. Plant guilds are not so much about the specific plants themselves but more about the relationships between them and the services they provide. Fruit trees are great candidates for “guilding,” and there are many supporting plants that are appropriate for fruit tree guilds in the Southern Plains.

When planning a fruit tree guild, we need to select plant species for the following roles: the fruit tree itself, grass-suppressing bulbs, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and insectary plants. Here is an explanation for each…

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