Companion plants for tomatoes

Last night Lucy the garden dog helped me get a little companion planting done in the raised garden beds. Typically I bring the squirt bottle out with me and zap her with it if she walks in the garden beds, {and it works!} but she is still on the mend and I didn’t want to startle her.

Luckily she didn’t munch on any of the vegetable plants, so I was okay with it.

The other day my neighbor Hudla and I planted 66 tomato plants in 6 garden boxes {11 in each}. I was able to get 4 of the boxes planted with companion vegetables, 2 with onions and 2 with carrots.

If you have kids and you have never grown purple carrots before, you should give them a try. Your little monkeys will think they’ve got the coolest vegetables on the planet when they pull those babies up.

I think in the other two garden boxes I will plant a flat of leeks in one of them and maybe some fancy lettuce in the other. We’ll see. I have to go through my seed packets and see what I have.

Right now it looks like there are a bunch of string beans laying on the ground between the tomato plants, but no worries. In a few days they should perk right up and the garden beds will be looking in tip top shape.

How about you? Have you planted your tomatoes yet? Do you plan on doing any companion planting? If so, what will you plant beneath your tomato plants?


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Companion planting has been practiced for a very long time. Native Americans were amongst the first to use companion plants to improve the vitality of plants.

According to Iroquois legend, planting corn, beans and squash together helps all these plants thrive and produce a better harvest. Many gardeners still practice this method of growing called the “three sisters” today.

Companion planting is all about finding plants that can exist together in a symbiotic fashion, helping one another.

Some companion plants help to deter pests, others provide shade and some even help to add nutrients to the soil.

To be successful with companion planting you need to know which plants do well together and which ones don’t. Grouping those that get along could just be the key to your garden success.

If you want to have the biggest and best tomatoes, consider companion planting. Here are ten plants that will help your tomatoes taste delicious.

1. Marigolds:

Some gardeners would never consider growing tomatoes without marigolds.

These bright and chipper annuals do a mighty wonder when it comes to deterring pests. They do this by producing a substance known as alpha-terthienyl. This substance reduces root-knot nematodes in the soil.

2. Borage:

This annual herb planted with tomatoes helps in a number of ways. It will repel tomato hornworms and cabbage worms. In addition, it will improve tomato health and flavor.

3. Mint:

Mint is an aromatic perennial herb that can become invasive. It is best to plant mint in your garden in pots so that it does not overrun the show.

Although we may think that the aroma of mint is lovely, pests really hate it. Planting some mint near your tomato plants will even keep small rodents away.

4. Leaf lettuce:

If you grow leaf lettuce with your tomatoes it will act as a mulch to keep tomato plants cooler. It also helps reduce the chance that disease will spread from the water and soil to the tomato plants.

5. Chives:

This pretty herb not only helps improve the taste of tomatoes but also helps repel aphids and makes a great addition to any tomato salad.

6. Asparagus:

This yummy perennial vegetable produces a chemical that can kill nematodes. Tomatoes contain solanine, a substance that is toxic to the asparagus beetle.

In addition, tomatoes grow tall, creating shade around asparagus plants, thus not allowing weeds to grow.

7. Nasturtiums:

These pretty old-fashioned annual flowers not only add color and cheer to your garden but also do wonders protecting your tomato plants.

They deter whiteflies, squash bugs, beetles, and aphids while keeping fungal disease at bay. Although they are annual, they often reseed making them an even more delightful addition.

8. Garlic:

Planting garlic alongside your tomatoes will help to keep spider mites away. Besides, who doesn’t like a little fresh garlic in their tomato salad?

9. Calendula:

Calendula, although often called pot marigold, is an entirely different plant.

Both the leaves and blooms of this plant are edible and taste delicious in salads. When planted in between tomato plants, calendula is an effective natural way to control pests that feast on tomato plants. These pretty flowers also look sweet in a salad.

10. Carrots:

Carrots and tomatoes share space well. You can plant carrots when tomatoes are small and they will be ready to harvest by the time that the tomatoes are getting larger and needing more room. If you are short on space, this is a great way to increase your yield.

If you want the most from your tomatoes this year, consider some of these companion plants.

Carrots Love Tomatoes: Companion Planting for a Healthy Garden

Bean (Phaselolus and Vicia). Many different kinds of beans have been developed, each with its own life of “good” and “bad” companions. Generally speaking, however, all will thrive when interplanted with carrots and cauliflower; carrots especially help the beans to grow. Beans also grow well with beets as well as cucumbers and cabbages.

A moderate quantity of beans planted with leek and celeriac will help all, but planted too thickly they have an inhibiting effect — causing poor growth for all three. Marigolds in bean rows help repel the Mexican bean beetle.

Planting summer savory with green beans improves their growth and flavor as well as deterring bean beetles. (It is also good to cook with beans.)

Beans are inhibited by any member of the onion family — garlic, shallots or chives — and they also dislike being planted near gladiolus.

Broad beans are excellent companions to corn, climbing diligently up the corn stalks to reach the light. They not only anchor the corn more firmly, acting as a protection against the wind, but a heavy vine growth may also act as a deterrent to raccoons. In addition, beans provide the soil with nitrogen, which enriches corn growth.

Bean and Potato. Bush beans planted with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle. In return, the potatoes protect the bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle. It is considered best to plant the beans and potatoes in alternate rows.

Bean, Bush (Phaseolus vulgaris). Included with bush beans are those known as butter, green, snap, string or wax. All will do well if planted with a moderate amount of celery (about one celery plant to every six or seven of beans).

Bush beans and cucumbers are mutually beneficial. Bush beans planted with strawberries also help one another, both advancing more rapidly than if planted alone.


Bush beans will aid corn if planted in alternate rows. They grow well with summer savory but should never be planted near fennel. They also dislike onions, as do all beans.

Bean, Lima (Phaselous limensis). Nearby locust trees have a good effect on the growth of lima beans. Other plants give them little or no assistance in repelling insects. Never cultivate lima beans when they are wet, because if anthracnose is present, this will cause it to spread. If the ground has sufficient lime and phosphorous, there will probably be little trouble from anthracnose and mildew.

Bean, Pole. Like others of the family, pole beans do well with corn and summer savory, but they also have some pronounced dislikes, such as kohlrabi and sunflower. Beets do not grow well with them, but radishes and pole beans seem to derive mutual benefit.

Bee Balm (Monarda). Improves both the growth and flavor of tomatoes.

Beet (Beta vulgaris). Beets grow well near bush beans, onions or kohlrabi but are turned off by pole beans. Field mustard and charlock also inhibit the growth of beets. Lettuce and most members of the cabbage family are “friendly” to them.

Broccoli (Brassica oeraceae). Like all members of the cabbage family, broccoli does well with such aromatic plants as dill, celery, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary and with other vegetables such as potatoes, beets and onions. Do not plant it with tomatoes, pole beans or strawberries. Use pyrethrum against aphids but only before the flower buds open.

Cabbage (Brassicaceae). The cabbage family includes not only cabbage but cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts — even rutabagas and turnips. While each plant of this group has been developed in a special way, they are all pretty much subject to the same likes and dislikes, insects and diseases. Hyssop, thyme, wormwood and southernwood are helpful in repelling the white cabbage butterfly.

All members of this family are greatly helped by aromatic plants, or those which have many blossoms, such as celery, dill, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, onions and potatoes.

If rabbits dig in your cabbage patch, plant any member of the onion family alongside them. Or you can dust with ashes, powdered aloes or cayenne pepper. Rabbits also shun dried blood or blood meal.

Butterflies themselves are not harmful and can help pollinate plants. It is their hatched eggs which, as caterpillars, do such damage to the orchard and field crops. The white cabbage butterfly is perhaps the most destructive. Herbs that will repel them include: hyssop, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme and southernwood.

Cabbages dislike strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans. All members of the family are heavy feeders and should have plenty of compost or well-decomposed cow manure worked into the ground previous to planting. Mulching will help if the soil has a tendency to dry out in hot weather and water should be given if necessary.

Cabbage and cauliflower are subject to clubroot and if this occurs try planting in new soil in a different pan of the garden. Rotate cabbage crops every two years.

If cabbage or broccoli plants do not head up well, it is a sign that lime, phosphorus or potash is needed. Boron deficiency may cause the heart of the cabbage to die out.

Celery (Apium graveolens). Celery grows well with leeks, tomatoes, cauliflower and cabbage, while bush beans and celery seem to provide mutual assistance. One gardener swears by growing celery in a circle so that the lacy, loosely interwoven roots make a desirable home for earth-worms and soil microbes.

Celery and leeks both grow well when trenched. Both celery and celeriac are reported to have a hormone which has an effect similar to insulin, making them an excellent seasoning for diabetics or for anyone on a salt-reduced diet.

Corn (Zea mays). Sweet corn does well with potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin and squash. Research has shown that removing corn suckers is a waste of time as well as being detrimental to the development of the ears. Peas and beans help corn by restoring to the soil the nitrogen used up by the corn. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard the story of Native Americans putting a fish in every corn hill?

Melons, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers like the shade provided by corn. In turn they benefit the corn, protecting it from the depredations of raccoons, creatures that do not like to travel through the thick vines. Similarly, pole beans may be planted with corn to climb on the stalks. Don’t plant tomatoes near corn because the tomato worm and corn earworm are identical.

Also of note: An experiment with odorless marigold showed that when it was planted next to corn, the Japanese beetle did not chew off the corn silks.

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Cucumbers apparently are offensive to raccoons, so it’s beneficial to plant it alongside corn. Corn seemingly protects the cucumbers against the virus that causes wilt. Thin strips of cucumber will repel ants.

Cucumbers also like beans, peas, radishes and sunflowers. They will grow well in young orchards because they prefer shade. Sow two or three radishes among your cucumbers, and let them grow as long as they will, even blossoming and going to seed. You may trap cucumber beetles by filling shallow containers about three-quarters full of water into which some cooking oil has been poured.

If cucumbers are attacked by nematodes, try a sugar spray. I boil half a cup of sugar in two cups of water, stirring until completely dissolved. Let cool and dilute with a gallon of water. Strange as it seems, sugar kills nematodes by drying them out. This will also attract honeybees — insuring pollination and resulting in a bumper crop of cucumbers — so the spray is worth trying even if you don’t suspect the presence of nematodes.

Cucumbers dislike potatoes, while potatoes grown near cucumbers are more likely to be affected by phytophthora blight, so keep the two apart.

Beneficial fungi are another enemy of nematodes. If you suspect their presence, build up the humus content of your soil. A chive spray is helpful for downy mildew on cucumbers as is a spray made of horsetail.

Cucumbers dislike potatoes, while potatoes grown near cucumbers are more likely to be affected by phytophthora blight, so keep the two apart. Cucumbers also have a dislike for aromatic herbs.

Plant scientists William Duke, of Cornell, and Alan Putnam, of Michigan State University, have discovered that certain cucumber varieties fight weeds by releasing a toxic substance. This natural process, called allelopathy, is believed to be an inherited trait. This discovery has prompted attempts to incorporate weed resistance into commercial crops much in the same way as insect and disease resistance is bred into plants.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena). Redroot pigweed makes eggplant more resistant to insect attack. During dry weather, mulching and irrigation will help prevent wilt disease. Dry cayenne pepper sprinkled on plants while still wet with dew will repel caterpillars. Eggplant growing among green beans will be protected from the Colorado potato beetle. The beetles like eggplant even more than potatoes, but they find the beans repellent.

Garlic (Allium sativum). Eldon L. Reeves and S. V. Amonkar, of the University of California, discovered garlic to be a powerful destroyer of mosquitoes, achieving a 100 percent mortality of five species of California mosquito larvae by spraying breeding ponds with a garlic-based oil.

Researcher David Greenstock, of the Henry Doubleday Research Association in England, found that a garlic-oil emulsion, used as an insecticide, killed 89 percent of aphids and 95 percent of onion flies.

Here’s a recipe for a good garlic spray: Take 3 to 4 ounces of chopped garlic bulbs and soak in 2 tablespoons of mineral oil for one day. Add a pint of water in which 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion has been dissolved. Stir well. Strain the liquid and store in a glass or china container (the concoction will react with metals). Dilute the mixture, starting with 1 part mixture to 20 parts of water, and use it as a spray against your worst insect pests. If sweet potatoes or other garden plants are attracting rabbits, try this spray. Rabbits dislike the smell of fish, too. Garlic sprays are useful in controlling late blight on tomatoes and potatoes.

Garlic grown in a circle around fruit trees is good against borers. It is beneficial to the growth of vetch, protects roses, and, when cloves are stored in grain, will repel grain weevils. All alliums, however, inhibit the growth of peas and beans. Plant garlic with tomatoes to protect against red spiders. I have done this for years with good results.

Kohlrabi (Brassicaceae). Kohlrabi grown with onion or beets, with aromatic plants and, surprisingly, with cucumbers, are mutually beneficial in part because they occupy different soil strata. Kohlrabi dislikes strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans but helps protect mustard family members.

Leek (Allium porrum). Leek is a heavy feeder and should be planted in soil well-fertilized with rotted manure. Leeks are usually sold in the grocery store (at least where I live) with the roots still attached. I once bought several bunches and planted them; they grew well and propagated, and I’ve had leeks ever since.

Leeks are good plants to grow with celery and onions, and also are benefitted by carrots. Leeks repel carrot flies to return the favor.

Lettuce: (Lactuca saliva) In spring I keep a supply of small lettuce plants growing in cold frames. When I pull every other green onion for table use I pop in lettuce plants. They will aid the onions, and the compost in the onion row will still be in good supply for the lettuce to feed on while the onion will repel any rabbits.

Lettuce grows well with strawberries, cucumbers and carrots, and it has long been considered good to team with radishes. Radishes grown with lettuce in summer are particularly succulent.

Okra (Hibiscus esculentus). This native of the Old-World tropics is grown for its immature pods, which are called okra or gumbo. It’s a warm-weather plant that grows wherever melons or cucumbers thrive. I plant two rows, dig a trench between, and cover it with mulch. On the north side of my okra, I plant a row of sweet bell peppers and on the south side a row of eggplant. All are well mulched as the season advances. When the weather becomes dry in midsummer, I lay the hose in the trench and flood it so that all three companions grow well.

Onion (Alliumcepa). Onions and all members of the cabbage family get along well with each other. They also like beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory and chamomile (sparsely), but they do not like peas and beans.

Scatter your onion plants throughout the garden because onion maggots travel from plant to plant when set in a row.

Toxic substances in the pigments of red and yellow onion skins appear to be associated with disease resistance. Russian biologist T. A. Tovstole found a water solution of onion skin — used as a spray three times daily at five-day intervals — gave an almost 100 percent mortality of hemitera, a parasite attacking more than 100 different species of plants.

Parsley (Petroselinum hortense). Parsley mixed with carrot seed helps to repel carrot flies by its masking aroma. It protects roses against rose beetles. Planted with tomatoes or asparagus, parsley will give added vigor to both.

Poultry are sometimes turned loose at intervals in parsley patches where there are many parsley worms, which are the larvae of the black swallowtail butterfly.

Parsnip (Pastinuca sativa) The parsnip is of ancient culture, but remains a vegetable for the discerning palate. The parsnips have few insect enemies and suffer from few diseases, but both the foliage and roots make a safe insect spray. Parsnips are not injured by freezing and are often left in the ground over winter. The seeds germinate slowly and unevenly and should not be used if over a year old.

Pea (Pisum sativum). For large crops, inoculate pea and bean seed with Nitragen (or similar compound), which is a natural bacterial agent. It coats the seed, aiding the sprouting seedling. This enables the plant to more readily form nodules on the roots which convert nitrogen from the air into a compound the plant can use.

Peas grow well with carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans and potatoes, as well as many aromatic herbs. They do not grow well with onions, garlic and gladiolus.

Pumpkin (Cucurhita pepo). Pumpkins grow well when jimson weed, sometimes called thorn apple, is in the vicinity. Pumpkins grow well with corn (a practice followed by Native Americans), yet pumpkins and potatoes have an inhibiting effect on each other.

Radish (Rubus). If you grow both red and black raspberries, put a considerable distance between the two types. The reason for this is that the reds sometimes carry a disease which does little or no harm to themselves but may prove near fatal to the blacks. Do not grow raspberries and blackberries near each other, either. Many gardeners think that potatoes are more susceptible to blight if grown near raspberries

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Because of its saponin content, spinach is a useful pre-crop and does well when planted with strawberries.

Squash (Curcubitaceae). Two or three icicle radishes planted in each hill will help prevent insects on squash and on cucumbers. Let the radishes grow and go to seed. Nasturtiums will repel squash bugs and so will cigarette ash and other tobacco residue if placed with the seed when it is planted. Squash planted either earlier or later than usual often will escape insect damage. I find fall-planted squash almost entirely insect-free.

Early in the day before the sun is strong, squash stinkbugs are sluggish, and may be picked off in the small garden. There are also insect-resistant strains of squash available.

Sweet Potato (Ipomea batalas). Nemagold sweet potatoes developed by the Oklahoma Experiment Station have built-in resistance to nematodes. Sweet potatoes generally have high-energy value, with only peas and beans yielding more. They have a common enemy — the fungus disease or wilt called “stem rot” — which can be controlled with disease-free seed and by rotating the crop. White hellebore controls a number of leaf-eating insects.

If rabbits bother your sweet-potato patch, spray with a diluted fish emulsion.

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). Tomatoes will protect asparagus against the asparagus beetle. Since they are tender plants, put tomatoes in during late spring after the early crop of asparagus spears has been harvested. Tomatoes and all members of the Brassica family repel each other and should be kept apart. Tomatoes protect gooseberries against insects.

Tomatoes are compatible with chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturtium and carrot, and for several years I have planted garlic bulbs between my tomato plants to protect them from red spider mites. Though not containing fungicidal elements, tomatoes will protect roses against black spot.

The active principle of tomato leaves is solanine, a volatile alkaloid that at one time was used as an agricultural insecticide. You can create your own insect-repellent spray for roses by making a solution of tomato leaves in your vegetable juicer — add 4 or 5 pints of water and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Strain and spray on roses where it is not convenient to plant tomatoes as companions. Keep any unused spray refrigerated.

Unlike most other vegetables, tomatoes prefer to grow in the same place year after year, and this is all right unless you have a disease problem, in which case plant your tomatoes in a new area. Stinging nettle growing nearby improves their keeping qualities, and redroot pigweed, in small quantities, is beneficial, too. Tomatoes are inhibited by the presence of kohlrabi and fennel.

Root excretions of tomatoes have an inhibiting effect on young apricot trees. Don’t plant tomatoes near corn since the tomato fruitworm is identical to the corn earworm. Don’t plant near potatoes, either, since tomatoes render them more susceptible to potato blight.

If you smoke, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you work in your garden because tomatoes are susceptible to diseases transmitted through tobacco.

Turnip/Rutabaga (Brassica rapa and Brassica napobrassica). A planting accident revealed that hairy vetch and turnips are excellent companions. Turnip seeds became mixed with the vetch a gardener planted, and they came up as volunteer plants. He found the turnip greens completely free of the aphids which usually infest them, apparently because the vetch provided shelter for ladybugs, which feast on aphids. Elsewhere it has been found that wood ashes around the base of turnip plants will control scab.

I find that planting peas near turnips benefits both vegetables. Turnip and radish seed mixed with clover will bolster the nitrogen content of the soil. In your crop rotation it is good to follow the heavy feeders with light feeders such as turnips and rutabagas.

Turnips dislike hedge mustard and knotweed and should not be rotated with other members of the cabbage family such as broccoli or kohlrabi. When synthesized, a naturally occurring chemical compound in turnips is deadly to aphids, spider mites, houseflies, German cockroaches and bean beetles.

Rutabagas take much the same culture as turnips but require a longer growing season.

Disease- and Weather-Resistant Vegetable Varieties

ASPARAGUS: Mary Washington, rust-resistant.
BEAN: Topcrop, Tendercrop, Harvester, mosaic-resistant.
BEAN, DRY SHELL: Michlite, blight-resistant.
CABBAGE: Stonehead Hybrid, yellow-resistant. Wisconsin Hollander No. 8; Copenhagen; New Wisconsin Ball-head, Wisconsin All Season, yellow-resistant.
CUCUMBER: Marketmore, scab- and mosaic-resistant. Polaris, anthracnose, downy mildew- and powdery mildew-resistant. Burpless Hybrid, Total Marketer, downy and powdery mildew-resistant. Park’s Comanche and Poinsett, downy- and powdery mildew-resistant (Parks). Salty, resistant to cucumber mosaic, powdery mildew and scab.
EGGPLANT: Faribo Hybrid, disease-resistant.
KALE: Dwarf Blue Curled Vales, withstands below-freezing temperatures.
LETTUCE:Oakleaf, hot weather-resistant. Butter King, Bibb, or Limestone, hot weather-tolerant. Premier Great Lakes, resistant to tip-bum and heat .
PEAS: Early Alaska, wilt-resistant. American Wonder, drought-resistant (Henry Fields). Drought-Proof (Burgess).
PEPPER: Yolo Wonder, tobacco mosaic-resistant.
RADISH: Cherry Belle, pithiness-resistant.
SPINACH: Hybrid No. 7, resistant to downy mildew.
SWEET CORN: Golden Beauty, disease-resistant. Silver Queen, disease-tolerant (Parks).
TOMATOES: VF Tomato, verticillium and fusarium wilt-resistant; Sunray, fusarium wilt-resistant. Sunset, Starfire, sunscald-resistant; Monte Carlo, multiple disease-resistant. Crack-Proof.
TURNIP: Tokyo Cross, virus and other disease-resistant.
This by no means exhausts the lists of disease-resistant vegetables and more are constantly being developed. It helps to note the resistant strains when you check your seed catalogs.

Control of Insects by Companion Planting

Legumes planted in a rotation will protect grain crops and grasses from white grubs and corn rootworm. Chinch bugs on corn and flea beetles are controlled by growing soybeans to shade bases of the plants. Goats with worms may be relieved by feeding them carrots; in horses by feeding them mulberry leaves.
The following herbs may be planted as specific control:

BASIL: Against flies and mosquitoes.
BORAGE: Against tomato worm.
CASTOR BEAN: Against moles and plant lice.
CATNIP: Against flea beetles.
DATURA: Against Japanese beetles.
DEAD NETTLE: Against potato bugs.
FLAX: Against potato bugs.
GARLIC: Against Japanese beetle, aphis, weevils, fruit tree borers, spider mites.
HENBIT: General insect repellent.
HORSERADISH: Against potato bugs (plant at comers of plot).
HYSSOP: Against cabbage moth.
LAVENDER: Against clothes moths (dry and place in garments).
MARIGOLDS: Against Mexican bean beetles, nematodes and many other insects.
MINT: Against white cabbage moths, dried against clothes moths.
MOLE PLANT: Against moles and mice (the mole plant is a species of Euphorbia).
NASTURTIUM: Against aphids, squash bugs striped pumpkin beetles, woolly aphids.
PENNYROYAL: Against ants and plant lice.
PEPPERMINT: Against white cabbage butterflies, ants.
PETUNIA: Against beetles.
POT MARIGOLD: Against pickle-worms, aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, harlequin bugs, imported cabbage worms and many other insects.
PYRETHURM: Against pickleworms, aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, harlequin bugs, imported cabbage worms and ticks.
ROSE GERANIUM: Oil or crushed leaves as insect repellants.
ROSEMARY: Against cabbage moths, bean beetles, carrot flies, malaria mosquitoes.
RUE: Against Japanese beetles.
SAGE: Against cabbage moths, carrot flies, ticks.
SANTOLINA: Against moths.
SASSAFRAS: Against plant lice.
SOUTHERNWOOD: Against cabbage moths, malaria mosquitoes.
SPEARMINT: Against ants, aphids
STINGING NETTLE: Against aphids, black flies.
SUMMER SAVORY: Against bean beetles.
TANSY: Against flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants.
THYME: Against cabbage worms.
WHITE GERANIUM: Against Japanese beetles.
WORMWOOD: Against animal intruders, cabbage worm butterflies, black flea beetles and even malaria mosquitoes.

Some people believe in tomato companion plants and others think it is some old wives tale.

Growing friendly plants together is said to help growth, produce more flavor and protect fruits and vegetables from insects and pests.

Companion planting has long been a practice of experienced gardeners.

There is also a great deal of scientific documentation pointing to the benefits of selecting plants that do well in each other’s company.

Smart companion planting helps you make the most of the gardening space you have and provides a variety of benefits to your plants.

Proper plant combination in the garden can help deflect pests or insects and improve the flavor of your crops.

Apart from these, some plants shelter tomatoes by being a good host for beneficial insects. In this article, we will discuss some of the best tomato companion plants.

Read on to expand your knowledge about these companion plants and how they benefit your beloved tomato plants. Consider adding them to your vegetable garden to experience their wonderful benefits.

Here’s our list of what to plant with tomatoes and what not to plant with tomatoes.

Food Crops

Lettuce is a good companion plant for tomatoes in many ways, and it only makes sense to grow your leaf lettuce alongside your tomatoes.

Lettuce makes a nice ground cover that acts as a live mulch to hold moisture in the soil and keep the garden soil cool. Lettuce also helps prevent the spread of disease and damage caused to tomato leaves by water splashing up from the soil.

In return, lettuce and other leafy green vegetables under the same family such as spinach and arugula can benefit from the shades of the taller tomato plants. The tomato also keeps the lettuce safe from worms that chew on its leaves.

Also, lettuces should not be assumed to have the same family as cabbages. These two possess different effects when planted with tomato plants.

Related Reading – A collection of Questions and Answers on Growing Tomatoes.

Companion planting radishes and tomatoes in the garden will benefit both plants. Radishes can repel cucumber beetles, flea beetles, and other pests.

Carrots are nice to plant with tomatoes. They do not necessarily provide any benefit for the tomatoes, but it is good to have fresh carrots throughout the growing season.

Plant carrots or whatever crop alongside your tomatoes early on. Once you have exhausted the carrots, plant another at the end of the growing season. Also, you can plant carrots along with the young tomato plants. You can harvest the carrots before the tomato roots start to spread. The combo of carrots and tomatoes makes an ideal solution to increase the yield despite the limited space available.

Companion planting beans with tomatoes creates a harmonious vibe in your garden. Although they do well together, you must keep in mind the space they need while planting. Both also require enough attention for this combination to thrive.

If you are companion planting tomatoes with pole beans, trellis the beans on the north side of the tomatoes. This way, a vegetative wall will form giving pole beans and tomatoes the extra heat that they crave for.

You must also know that beans can produce their own nitrogen. If you plan to apply fertilizers to your tomato plant, remember not to give the same amount to the beans to avoid being over-fertilized.

Other best companion for beans include squash, radishes, celery, cucumbers, rosemary, potatoes, strawberries, beets and more.

Sweet peppers and hot peppers do very well in combination with tomatoes. As with carrots, they do not particularly benefit the tomatoes. But they do grow harmoniously probably because they both belong under the nightshade family. Still, it’s nice to have your own garden full of fresh peppers.

Companion planting peppers and tomatoes in a garden serves as a practical decision. As both begs for the same kind of care, administering their needs such as amount of sunlight, watering, and nutrient distribution will come easily.


Onions and their kinfolk are great for cooking and adding to salads and sandwiches. They also work well to help repel Japanese beetles and other types of beetles, and other pests such as aphids, snails and slugs.

Chives taste great in salads and soups. As companion plants, chives also help repel a number of undesirable pests and insects, such as cabbage worms, slugs, aphids, and all manner of beetles. Apart from these, chives also improves the tastes of nearby tomatoes.

Garlic is another member of the allium family that is excellent for adding flavor to many different kinds of foods.

Because of its natural anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, it is also a very useful medicinal plant. Like its kinsmen, it does a good job of repelling a wide variety of vegetable garden insects and pests. Specifically, garlic repels spider mites and aphids making it a real life saver for the tomatoes.

Related Reading – Would you like sweeter tomatoes? Serious tomato growers have been using “Epsom salt on tomatoes plants” as a secret sauce for sweeter and tastier tomatoes.

Want more of what grows well with tomatoes?

Herbs As Companion Plants For Tomatoes

Basil and tomatoes are very tasty together, and basil is a delightful, attractive, aromatic addition to your tomato garden. In fact, planting this herb and fruit side-by-side helps enhance the flavor of both.

Basil and tomatoes mature at about the same rate, so it is easy to have plenty of fresh tomatoes and fresh basil to enjoy at the same time. Basil is good for repelling tomato hornworm caterpillars, flies and mosquitoes.

If you like pasta of different sauces, a combo of basil and tomatoes in your garden serves as an ideal move. You just need to get the basil leaves or the tomato fruits from your own garden.

Parsley makes one of the herbs which provides great benefits to its companion plants. Although asparagus appears as the most beneficial, tomatoes will also enjoy the spirit of parsley herbs around them. The scent of parsley attracts hummingbirds and butterflies necessary for pollination and better quality of flowers and fruits.

Borage are nice green herbs that taste somewhat like cucumbers. You can use the herbs or the flowers as an addition to green drinks, soups and salads.

Planted with tomatoes in containers, borage herbs repels tomato hornworms and other insects. UrbanTurnip has an excellent resource on growing vegetables in containers here.

Sage is a deeply scented herb that is excellent for cooking and in preparing flavored vinegars, dressing, gravy, etc. It repels a wide variety of garden pests including those aiming for an early tomato reaping making it a good companion for tomatoes.

Related Reading – Have you ever wondered Why Tomatoes Crack? This article explains it!

Want to know what to plant next to tomatoes?


Marigolds are excellent at repelling several different varieties of garden pests. The French marigold’s cheery presence in your garden produces a substance (alpha–terthienyl) that repels nematodes to prevent or rid the soil of root-knot nematodes.

In fact, French Marigolds produce this substance in such abundance that it protects the soil for years, even if the marigolds are gone. Apart from nematodes, the pungent smell of marigolds get rids of pests such as tomato hornworms, thrips, aphids, and even rabbits!

Calendula plant is similar to Marigold in appearance; however, it does not repel pests or insects. It is a medicinal plant that can be used to create soothing homemade salves, balms and lotions.

It has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help with skin rashes and irritation and support quick healing of minor injuries.

The marigolds’ leaves and flowers are edible and make a good ingredient in a salad served with tomatoes.

Nasturtiums have lovely yellow and orange flowers that are edible. The leaves of the nasturtium are also edible. Your vegetable garden can get many benefits if you planted this together with some of your crops such as tomatoes, peas, beans, cabbage and leaf lettuce.

Nasturtium makes a nice addition to salads. The nasturtium plant is known for repelling a wide variety of pests in the garden. This long list of pests to repel includes: squash bugs, beetles, aphids, spider mites, squash bugs, white flies, while at the same time, keeping fungal diseases in control. Plant nasturtium seeds during early spring in a moist, well-drained soil in your garden to keep it growing and alive.

Asparagus or garden asparagus, considered as a flowering perennial plant comes as spring vegetables that make a good companion for the tomato plant. The asparagus repels nematodes while the tomato repels asparagus beetles. This combo of asparagus and tomatoes works great as they don’t only drive away pests but both plants keep the land exclusive for them alone by preventing the growth of weeds. Also, asparagus make a great addition in salad and other dishes with tomatoes as one of the ingredients.

The above are great companion planting with tomatoes.

Make The Most Of Your Tomato Garden

Companion planting can be beneficial to your tomato plants and separately beneficial to you.

Making the most of your growing space will help you to reap a better and more abundant harvest.

Apart from these, correct companion planting may attract beneficial insects into your garden that feed on pests such as:

  • Flea beetles
  • Asparagus beetles
  • Japanese beetles and Grubs
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Bean weevils
  • Pea weevils
  • Aphids – More on How To Kill Aphids Naturally
  • Tetranychus urticae – Spider mites

… and more

All of the plants mentioned here are very easy to grow, but you will surely wish to venture forth and explore other types as you become more and more experienced with good companion planting.

You’ve probably heard the term “in sync” used when things are running smoothly. One tool used in a successful garden and especially an organic one is what is known as “companion planting.”

It’s a smart “planting tool” to keep things running “in sync” in the garden. Planting vegetables which play well together.

Bad Companion Plants For Tomatoes

If you disregard the amazing benefits of companion planting, at least know which vegetables, crops, or plants can wreak havoc and potentially harm your tomato plants instead of protecting it. This group of bad companion plants includes cabbage (Brassica) or anything from the cabbage family, corn, dill, fennel, eggplants, and walnuts.

Cabbage may seem to belong from the same family as leaf lettuce, which works as a good companion plant for the tomatoes. However, cabbages do the exact opposite. Cabbage goes under a different family of cruciferous vegetables, Brassica or cabbage family. On the other hand, leaf lettuce falls under the category of leafy greens with arugula and spinach.

Under the same cabbage family, these members are not suitable with tomatoes: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, rutabaga, turnip, and kohlrabi. Companion planting cabbage with tomatoes and these vegetables won’t do any good however, there exist some plants that love cabbages such as: beets, celery, onions, bush beans, marigold, nasturtium and a few strong herbs.

If you already planted cabbage and tomatoes together in your garden, avoid the latter from severely shading the cabbages. They should stay a few feet away to avoid the tomato roots from reaching the cabbage. Apart from this, cabbages get most benefits from tomatoes. The tomato plant can drive away moth larvae and caterpillars that feed on the leaves of cabbages.

Corn planted with tomatoes spells a huge disaster. When it comes to pests, corn worms are no different to what gardeners call the tomato hornworm. As it attracts more of these tomato hornworm, putting the two plants together in one setting will kill them two times faster.

Although the young dills may help protect the tomato plant from tomato hornworms, planting a mature dill nearby inhibits the growth of the tomato. Make sure to keep a good distance between the seed of dills and tomatoes in your garden when planting.

Eggplants and potatoes do not work good with the tomato plant if these plants sit very close to each other. Early and late blight will accumulate in the garden soil making it an unhealthy soil for different plants in the years to come.

Apart from the dill plant, fennel also stunts the growth of the tomato plant. On the other hand, walnuts promote the same effect with its allelopathic element experts call juglone.

This chemical causes walnut wilt, a disease making tomatoes sick, causing it to wilt and die. Other plants containing juglone includes English walnut, Persian walnut, black walnut, hickory, pecan, and butternut.

Tomatoes and marigolds

Want to enhance the flavor or your tomatoes? Grow leaf lettuce, chives, or marigolds nearby.

The notion behind companion planting is that some plants naturally grow better together, that they form natural alliances. How such alliances work is not completely clear; companion planting is based widely on reported observation.

Tomato companion plants—said to ward off disease, encourage growth, and improve flavor–are carrots, leaf lettuce, nasturtiums, parsley, onions, chives, and marigolds. Conversely, poor tomato-growing companions are cabbage, fennel, potatoes, and kohlrabi.

Some plants grown as companions seem to discourage pests and disease; some seem to encourage growth and flavor. Others act to balance the soil.

One plant may be a good companion to another because it does not draw heavily on soil nutrients that the other favors. One plant may be a good companion because it more readily attracts insects that otherwise might attack the other.

Interplanting often goes hand-in-hand with companion planting. For example, a shallow rooted plant such as leaf lettuce is an excellent companion when it is interplanted with the more deeply and complex rooted tomato.

Here are some other good companions: to benefit carrots grow onions; to benefit collards grow tomatoes; to benefit corn grow beans; to benefit cucumbers grow broccoli; to benefit potatoes grow tansy; and to benefit tomatoes grow dandelion.

And here are some poor companions: growing beans avoid chives, garlic, leeks, onion, shallots; growing beets avoid pole beans; growing cabbage family crops avoid kohlrabi and pole beans; growing carrots avoid dill; growing corn avoid tomatoes; growing cucumbers avoid potatoes and sage; growing onions avoid beans, peas, and sage; growing peas avoid chives, garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots; growing potatoes avoid cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes; and growing tomatoes avoid corn, dill, kohlrabi, and potatoes.

Basil growing near tomatoes in a container garden.

I read somewhere that if you plant basil with your tomatoes, it will repel insects and make the tomatoes taste better. Is there any truth to that?

Planting tomatoes and basil together is a gardening practice that’s well known and recommended by both amateur and professional gardeners alike. The general consensus is that basil – both the plants and extracts made from the leaves – can be an effective natural deterrent for white flies, mosquitoes, tomato hornworms, aphids, houseflies, and asparagus beetles. The basil is also thought to (somehow) improve the flavor of the tomatoes if planted nearby.

If you go searching for scientific evidence on this idea, you’re not likely to find much. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, and some gardeners find that planting basil near tomatoes makes no difference or even harbors the very insects it’s supposed to repel.

That’s often how it is with natural or alternative answers to gardening problems – what works for some may not work for others, and it always takes some experimentation to find the solution that works in your garden.

However, we do know that basil and tomatoes plants grow very well together, and they share soil and space quite companionably. You can plant them close together without significant reduction in yields, which is helpful in smaller gardens. And while basil needs plenty of sun, during the heat of midsummer it will benefit from a little afternoon shade provided by the taller tomato plants.

So, go for it! It won’t hurt your tomatoes to plant basil nearby, and when you get ready to make tomato sauce, you’ll have your ingredients at hand. For maximum benefit, plant 2-3 basil plants per tomato plant.

Further Information

  • How to Grow Basil (article)
  • How to Grow Tomatoes (article)
  • Tips for Growing Tomatoes (video)
  • How to Harvest and Use Fresh Basil (article)

Last evening, your friendly and inquisitive Planet Natural Blogger visited a couple of distinguished food writers — they are a couple and have a couple James Beard Awards to their credit — to get their opinions on some local barbecue for a story I’m writing. We ate outdoors in their beautiful patio garden, their chickens serenading us from the nearby coop that was just out of sight.

Their garden is incorporated into the modest outdoor living space. A pair of cherry trees, their growing space circled in rock, is at the center of the stone patio (no cherries this year; a late frost took all the blossoms). Around the first cherry tree were various flowering plants. Only the bleeding hearts were in bloom. The earth around the second tree hosted a variety of herbs, partly shaded, that were just reaching picking size. One of those herbs was basil.

Elsewhere, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes were growing on terraced steps in full sun near the walls of their whitewashed adobe house. By the house’s entrance, among several other plants and close to some lettuce that was already past its prime, was a yellow pear tomato plant already holding some blossoms. The space, with its various pots, growing areas, and walking spaces, not to mention the table where we sat enjoying ribs and brisket, seemed well designed. But I was puzzled by one thing. Knowing that tomatoes and basil, both full-sun lovers, did so well together, I wondered why they weren’t growing side-by-side. “We tried that,” one of my friends said, “and it just didn’t work.”


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Now this seemed to go against what we know. Not only do the plant’s flourish in the same sun and soil conditions, the basil’s oil — its scent — repels aphids and other insects. Some believe that nearby basil increases a tomato plant’s yields. So why would my friends, experienced and knowledgeable people, plant their basil and tomatoes in different places?

They had chosen the warmest brightest spot for their tomatoes and the tomatoes did well there. But the basil didn’t. Here in the high-country Southwest, our growing season is short but intense. And most of our heat comes early, in June, not that long after the date of last frost and before the summer monsoons. The heat that was fine for young tomato plants was just too much for the basil. My friends had found that the herb did better if planted in a cooler spot with a little afternoon shade. In other words, under one of the cherry trees.

That got your often puzzled PN Blogger thinking. Knowing all the rules and tips and common wisdom about companion planting is one thing. How it’s applied to your particular garden’s growing conditions is another. Having lived among a variety of gardening conditions — long season, short season; wet and dry, hot and cool, sunny and cloudy — we’ve learned to find and place plants in our garden in spots that give them the best possible conditions. Sometimes, due to the slope of the land, the amount of sunlight or its proximity to light reflecting, heat holding surfaces, we’ve ended up going against the common wisdom. Finding the best conditions for plants in your particular micro-climate comes with experience and can take a few seasons. Once you’ve figured it out, take advantage as best you can while considering crop rotation, changing soil conditions, and all the other variables that make garden an exciting challenge.

And isn’t that what makes gardening so fascinating and rewarding? Learning about your space, as well as the plants you’re growing and all the local conditions that affect them, makes us more conscious of our environment. Yes, it’s a process of trial and error. And, as one deep thinker says, it’s the errors that yield rewards. Do you face any specific conditions that affect — against the common wisdom — where and when you plant? For the record: our basil does just fine right next to where we’re growing tomatoes.

Fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun tomatoes are one of life’s greatest pleasures. Even better if you can wrap the little gems in basil. So why not grow them together?

That’s exactly what I decided to do this summer. I usually keep a cherry tomato plant on the deck for late night snacking but this year I kicked it up a notch with this Basil & Tomato Container Garden.

I started with a large planter, this one is plastic but this would look really good in a half whiskey barrel too. Mine is currently filled with mint and after replacing my car the budget is pretty shot this year.

You want a large container for a few reasons. One, larger containers are heavier and less likely to tip over in the wind. Tomato plants grow up and can get pretty top heavy, making a tumble even more likely.

Also, more soil means more room for water retention. Hot windy days can be a death sentence for plants, forget to water one day and it’s all over. That’s a huge part of why I avoid containers in general.

Speaking of soil, when you’re at the store make sure you’re grabbing a soil mix meant for containers. I usually buy the Ecoscraps brand. Container mix is formulated to hold water and stay light and uncompacted.

In the ground you’d have earthworms to do that (when they’re done killing your onions) but that’s not really an option on the porch.

Finally, we’re putting 4 different plants in one pot so you need some room for root growth and some space. I always bury my tomato plants fairly deep when I plant them so that’s an extra bonus.

Tomatoes will grow roots along the entire stem, you might have noticed in the garden that they’ll even start to put out roots if the plant flops over and the stem gets near the soil. More roots are always good!

You get more stability and the plant has a better change at absorbing nutrients and water. When I plant my tomatoes I’ll bury them right up to the bottom leaves.

Sometimes I’ll even pop off the bottom set of leaves if they’re looking a little rough. I have a whole post up on what to do if your tomatoes get leggy that goes into detail if you’re interested.

I planted the tomato in the ‘back’ of the pot and inserted a metal trellis. That’s one more great thing about the large planter, you can really get that trellis in deep and secured.

You don’t want to skip a support for this. You really want the tomato growing up so it stays out of the basils way. It’s sort of an nontraditional 3 sisters; the tomato is the corn, it need to be tall.

The basil plants will be playing the roll of the squash and acting like a living mulch. They will help keep the soil shaded and slow down water loss.

There’s no beans, or anything that acts like them so we’ll need to be sure to fertilize. That’s another reason I skip out on containers. I find in-the-ground gardens to be more forgiving with fertilizer as well as water.

I planted two different types of basil, a regular sweet basil and a purple variety. You can stick with one type of basil or swap one for an oregano.

After planting the basil I gave them a trim. I wanted bushy basil with lots of leaves.

If you pinch off the top it signals the plant to put out more side shoots. Pinch (or snip) back to just above a set of leaves, you should see small leaves starting to grow right above a larger set.

Don’t throw the cuttings away, they’re still delicious. Toss them on a pizza, drop them in a glass of seltzer or soak them in heavy cream and make amazing basil whipped cream.

I wish I had some better pictures to share but I’ll keep this updated over the summer. I grew something similar last year but I never took pictures.

The most important thing is to keep up on fertilizing. Lots of rain and watering will flush the soil and you’ve got quite a few plants sucking up whatever they can.

I use the Ecoscraps Tomato & Vegetable Fertilizer, I use it in the regular garden too. I’m not being payed by Ecoscraps by the way, that’s just what I use. It’s easy to get locally and it’s on sale pretty regularly.

If you’ve been keeping track you might have noticed I said I’d be putting 4 plants into one pot, but we’ve only got three so far. I always plant marigolds with my tomatoes but I ran out and I haven’t had time to grab any more.

Don’t forget to PIN this to your Garden Board and check out my Garden Page for more ideas or start with these:

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