Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables (or fruits, depending on how you classify them) to grow in home gardens. They are relatively easy to cultivate and have a wide range of culinary uses. However, tomatoes can also benefit from companion planting, which involves growing other plants alongside them to enhance their growth, repel pests, and improve overall garden health. In this article, we will explore some of the best companion plants to grow with tomatoes.
Basil is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes. It helps to repel pests such as flies, mosquitoes, and aphids, which are common tomato plant enemies. Additionally, basil improves the flavor of tomatoes when grown together. The aromatic oils released by the basil plant can enhance the taste of nearby tomatoes. Consider planting basil around your tomato plants for a natural pest deterrent and to enhance the flavor of your tomatoes.
Marigolds are another great companion plant for tomatoes. They act as a natural pest repellent, particularly against nematodes, which are microscopic worms that can damage tomato roots. Marigolds release a chemical called alpha-terthienyl, which is toxic to nematodes. By planting marigolds around your tomato plants, you can help protect them from these harmful pests.
Nasturtiums are not only beautiful flowers, but they also have several benefits when grown with tomatoes. They repel aphids, whiteflies, and squash bugs, which are common pests that can damage tomato plants. Nasturtiums also attract predatory insects such as ladybugs, which feed on aphids and other harmful pests. By planting nasturtiums near your tomatoes, you can create a natural pest control system that helps to keep your plants healthy.
Borage is a herb with beautiful blue star-shaped flowers, and it is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes. Borage attracts bees, which are essential for pollinating tomato flowers and ensuring a good fruit set. The flowers of borage also produce nectar, which attracts beneficial insects such as hoverflies and parasitic wasps, which prey on tomato pests like aphids and caterpillars. Planting borage near your tomatoes can help improve pollination and attract beneficial insects to your garden.
Chives are a versatile herb that can be grown alongside tomatoes. They repel pests such as aphids and Japanese beetles, which can damage tomato plants. Chives also attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, which help with pollination. Additionally, chives have a shallow root system that does not compete with the deeper root system of tomato plants, making them compatible companions in terms of water and nutrient requirements.
Garlic is known for its pungent aroma, which can help repel pests in the garden. When grown near tomatoes, garlic can deter aphids, spider mites, and other harmful insects. Additionally, garlic has antimicrobial properties that can help protect tomato plants from soil-borne diseases such as damping-off and root rot. Planting garlic near your tomatoes can provide a natural defense against pests and diseases.
Carrots and tomatoes are compatible companions in the garden. Carrots have a deep root system that helps break up the soil, improving drainage and aeration for tomato plants. In return, the tall and bushy tomato plants provide shade to the carrots, keeping the soil cool and moist. This pairing can be beneficial for both crops, as they have different root systems and growth habits that complement each other.
Companion planting is a sustainable and natural way to enhance the growth and health of your tomato plants. By choosing the right companion plants, you can repel pests, attract beneficial insects, improve pollination, and enhance the flavor of your tomatoes. Some of the best companion plants for tomatoes include basil, marigolds, nasturtiums, borage, chives, garlic, and carrots. Experiment with different combinations in your garden to find the ones that work best for you. Happy gardening!