Tomatoes are what I think about when I think of my summer garden. I can’t help it. They are the number one crop I like to grow in the summer. To help my tomatoes prosper I use companion planting techniques to combat insects and help my plants grow better. Companion planting is where you select plants that grow well with each other either through nutrient efficiency or other benefits like pest control or improved growth.
Since we’re still a couple weeks away from tomato planting time in Tennessee I thought going over a few companion plants for tomatoes might help you to plan out your garden this year.
Best Tomato Companion Plants
Basil is my number one favorite companion plant in the garden for tomatoes. It’s useful in flavoring sauces, salads, and delicious in pesto but is also a great deterrent for insects in the garden. Basil attracts beneficial insects when in flower (the flowers are edible too) and requires next to nothing to care for it.
Basil’s fragrance serves as a disguise for other plants protecting tomatoes from caterpillars and other pests.
Chives and tomatoes seem like a good fit since since they taste great together on a plate but their companion planting attributes go beyond the dinner table. Chives help to repel aphids and improve the growth of tomatoes.
Chives are easy to grow and don’t require much care once established. Keep in mind that seeds have a short viability so save some seed each year and store the seed to sow the following year.
Many people quickly dismiss mint as a companion plant due to its invasive nature but it does have some value as a companion plant in the garden. It attracts beneficial predator insects like parasitic wasps when flowering. These wasps lay their eggs on the hornworms. The eggs hatch and burrow through the hornworn killing it and stopping the hornworn from devouring tomato plants like Godzilla destroying Japan. To control mint keep it contained in pots.
Parsley is another great companion for tomatoes. It attracts beneficial insects and helps to improve the flavor of tomatoes. Parsley isn’t only good as a companion plant for tomatoes but also good when planted with chives, carrots, corn, peppers, onions, or peas.
Nasturtiums are a garden work horse! They are great around many plants and work very well as a ground cover around tomatoes. Nasturtiums help prevent aphids, squash beetles, and whiteflies. It grows very easily and doesn’t need much care once it is started. You can also plant nasturtiums around squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and other cucurbits. As a bonus nasturtiums have edible flowers.
Planting strategy for companion plants:
- Plant basil between the tomato plants.
- Plant the nasturtiums as a groundcover.
- Plant chives near the tomatoes and basil.
- I probably wouldn’t use the mint as we have it in other areas around the yard.
- Plant the parsley in the corners of the raised beds where it is easy to access for kitchen use.
- Marigolds are another companion plant that can be added to this list and help to prevent nematode damage on tomatoes. Plant them as a border around the tomato plant for good results.
Often companion plants can be beneficial to more than one type of plant. Some of these are mentioned in a previous post I wrote on companion planting last year but those mentioned in this post are ideal for tomatoes!