Posted on 06 May 2008 by

Boost Your Tomatoes with Companion Planting! – Part 1

MarigoldsBy Vanessa Richins

Companion planting is the art of placing certain plants next to others.

These combinations offer benefits to one or both plants.

One such pairing is the herb Borage with our lovely tomatoes. Borage is an annual, edible herb with lovely blue star-shaped flowers. The leaves can be used in salads. It improves tomato plant health and even makes them taste better. Borage also repels the tomato hornworm, the bane of many a tomato grower.

Another pairing is young dill and tomatoes. Young dill also improves the health and growth of tomato plants. Be sure to remove the dill before it is mature, as then it will actually have the opposite effect and stunt tomato growth.

Basil is not just great in tomato sauce. The plant is also able to ward off spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies. You will have better pollination results, as it attracts bees.

Try planting any member of the Umbilliferae family near your tomatoes. Members are, among others : parsnip, carrots, Queen Anne’s Lace, and parsley. These plants attract hoverflies, which go after many tomato pests.

You can drive away aphids and Green Shield beetles by planting nasturtiums with your tomatoes. It can also ward off fungal diseases. As an added bonus, the flowers are edible and add a peppery flavor to any salad.

A famous pair is tomatoes and French marigolds. The marigolds repel whiteflies and nematodes.

Other beneficial plants include: lavender, garlic, asparagus, thyme, foxglove, and lemon balm.

Now you know some of the plants that will help make this year’s tomato crop the best ever. In the second installment, I will show you what plants you DON’T want to plant next to your tomatoes.

19 Responses to “Boost Your Tomatoes with Companion Planting! – Part 1”

  1. our friend Ben Says:

    Great post, Vanessa! We still have so much to learn about companion planting. But meanwhile, it’s fun to see what works in your own garden, and you’ve given us lots of options to try!

  2. Nancy Bond Says:

    My Dad always planted marigolds with his tomatoes — not only did it help keep away pests, but it added a splash of bright color while the plants matured. I look forward to the rest of this “series”.

  3. deb Says:

    Vanessa, Great informations. I always plant lemon basil with my tomatoes.


  4. Vanessa Richins Says:

    Thanks! It’s always fun to think of plants as “allies”

    And mmm, lemon basil sounds heavenly right now…

  5. Michele Says:

    Thanks for the info!! How close should you plant the companion plants?

  6. Vanessa Richins Says:

    Hi Michele – it really depends on which ones you choose. Tomato plants are generally about 1.5-3 feet wide, depending on type (though indeterminate ones can be wider). Take a look at the tag of the companion plant you choose, and it should let you know how wide it will grow. Space it and your tomato accordingly. Happy gardening!


  7. Gretchen Says:

    I have my tomatoes in 20 inch pots. How does mature dill have its negative effect? Does it work through the root system or would having it growing in a different pot nearby still stunt the tomatoes?

  8. Michele Says:

    My Daughter e mailed this site from California, and I love it. We just started a 25×25 garden with some family members and can use all the info out there. I like the Marigold with tomatoes idea, and the lemon basil too!! It`s going to be fun and lots of work….happy gardening all….Michele

  9. jamie Says:

    I’ve read that Horehound also makes for a good companion to tomatoes.

  10. newbiegardener Says:

    I’m balcony container gardening this year and my three tomato varieties are doing wonderfully (early girl, window box roma, and cherries): I “companion” planted basil as well as a catnip perennial for my garden-loving feline. The catnip took off and in bloom was a main attraction for local bees which, in turn, visited my tomato plants leading to a really high yield!

  11. Kaviani Says:

    Gretchen- companion planting usually means they need to be planted in the same soil in order to get the proper affect. So no, dill planted in a pot next to tomatoes will not cause allelopathy.

  12. Fillip - Vegetable Gardening Says:

    Good read. I have a garden myself, and I just found your site.
    Will be visiting more often 🙂

  13. Tomato Casual check out some tomato planting ideas « Oldentimes's Blog Says:

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  14. scott Says:

    Hi! I’ve planted sunflowers with my tomatoes because they suppose to encourage ants into herding aphids onto them which obviouly will protect the tomatoes. However, I know the sunflower produces a substance which deprives neigbhoring plants and vegetables of nutrients. Should I only continue with basil and onions because this also repels aphids and whiteflies. What do you think?
    Scott from Califoria

  15. roxie Says:

    I always plant basil, but never knew about the marigold – tomato connection.

  16. Phil Says:

    scott, planting nastursiums will really draw the ants/aphids, as soon as the plants are infested burn the plants, I’ve found much better results than with the sunflowers

    roxie, adding a few carrots to your tomato beds in addition to the basil is also beneficial, the carrots draw nutrients from deeper in the soil, more good additions are oregano and parsley, I like to plant the tomatoes and basil more densely because it helps to choke out weeds and the basil benefits the flavor of the tomatoes

  17. NancyBerghold Says:

    Coincidently I had basil next to my tomatoes without knowing that, and today I found all my basil with aphids and bugs. My tomatoes are fine but if this is the case, do you recomend to have a separate production for my edible basil and keep these ones to help my tomatoes?

  18. The Royal Root | Your Edible Backyard Says:

    […] insects in droves, which aids nearby plants propagate. A few Queen Anne’s lace scattered throughout a tomato field can increase fruit […]

  19. Harriet Clinton Says:

    Some good ideas for me here! I’ve been trying companion planting few seasons already and every new idea is welcome. Thank you for sharing this nice info! Happy gardening!

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