Who doesn’t love fresh basil leaves on fresh pasta? If you said not me, this post is probably not for you, but if you said yes, you want to read on! And to get the most out of your basil plants, you will want to plant them with their best companions. We also have tips and tricks for growing basil plants indoors and out!
What are the best companions for basil plants?
The best companion plants for basil help repel pesky insects, attract beneficial insects, and help improve growth and taste. Plants like asparagus, tomatoes, marigolds, broccoli, chives, oregano, borage, root vegetables, and garlic are just a few companions that work together with the basil to create a healthy growing environment.
Read on to find basil’s best companions and understand why they work together. Be sure to check out the section about what plants to avoid planting beside your basil plant too!
Table of contents
- What is companion planting, and why is it important?
- THE BENEFITS OF COMPANION PLANTING
- What Makes Basil Such a Great Companion Plant in the Garden?
- The Best Companion Plants for Basil
- What NOT to Plant With Basil
- Growing A Basil Plant – Tips and Tricks
- Observe Basil Leaves for Common Pests
- Common basil plant diseases
- Looking for More Companion Planting and gardening Posts?
What is companion planting, and why is it important?
Companion planting promotes a diverse garden more akin to nature. More diverse crops prevent the passing of diseases and pests. So practicing companion planting allows the gardener to dispense with the use of chemicals and leads towards a healthier garden environment and a healthier you.
THE BENEFITS OF COMPANION PLANTING
Companion planting brings many benefits to the homegrown organic garden. Vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs have beneficial partners that can help improve growth, taste, and yield, and deal with pests and diseases. Companion plants can help:
Attract pollinators: Colorful flowers with strong scents and abundant food sources attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Pollinators are beneficial for increasing yields.
Attract beneficial predatory insects: Marigolds, for instance, will help attract helpful bugs like parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and ladybugs. These beneficial insects will help curb pest infestations. It’s a wonderful organic pest control method to try in your gardens.
Deter pests: Some plants, like marigolds and basil, work well to deter common garden pests, such as spider mites, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and tomato worms. Or the plants will attract those harmful pests and trap them away from your primary crop.
Help improve the soil: Flowers, like marigolds, can help destroy and eliminate root-knot nematodes. Other leafy plants, like basil, can act as a living mulch, controlling excess soil moisture evaporation. In other cases, plants with large taproots, like carrots, can help break up heavy soils and increase aeration.
Help control weeds: Densely planted leafy greens or low-growing flowers can act like a living mulch to prevent weeds and to help retain moisture in the soil.
Companion planting can help with disease issues: Many plant diseases can spread quickly through gardens when plants of the same type get planted together en mass. Adding different plants throughout the garden can help break up groupings and can help slow the spread of diseases such as blight and powdery mildew and keep plants healthy.
Companion planting is a fantastic organic garden technique.
What Makes Basil Such a Great Companion Plant in the Garden?
Basil is a very aromatic plant that may act as a pest repellent.
Basil may help repel asparagus beetles, spider mites, tomato hornworms, and pesky mosquitoes simply by masking the smell of the primary crop.
To get the most benefit from your basil, try adding them to the edge of your gardening beds, where you will touch the basil leaves as you walk past. Brushing a basil leaf often helps release the aromatic essential oils that can confuse pests and keep them off your prized crops.
- Learn More: Did you know there are many different varieties of basil plants you can add to your garden? Our entire blog post outlines the other basil varieties and their uses. Check it out!
- Related: Did you grow a bumper crop of basil plants this year and wonder what you will do with all of it this season? We can help! We have a post dedicated to drying herbs and an article that outlines all the things you can do to use up your basil plants. You can enjoy basil with so many beautiful dishes!
The Best Companion Plants for Basil
Here are the top basil plant companions for your vegetable garden:
Anise can help increase the oil production in your basil plants, making them far more robust. Flowers from anise also attract beneficial insects like predatory wasps, which can help with aphid infestations that plague basil leaves and stems.
As a companion plant, basil will help repel the Asparagus beetle. The asparagus beetle is confused by the strong smell of essential oils in the basil and may bypass your bed of asparagus.
We plant basil and marigolds around the perimeter of our asparagus bed and have not yet been hounded by asparagus beetles.
Learn More: For more information check out this post on companion plants for asparagus.
Borage and basil enjoy a similar growing environment and do not compete for nutrients or moisture.
Flowers that bloom from borage will attract beneficial insects like bees. Pollinators love borage flowers and will flock to them throughout the blooming season. Attracting pollinators will not help your basil but will help the garden and increase harvest yields.
Borage is also an excellent provider of potassium and calcium and reliably adds those minerals back to the soil.
NOTE: Be careful, borage can be a nuisance if allowed to self-seed and can be challenging to manage and control, so be sure to remove seed heads before they are allowed to fall.
Basil grown next to broccoli can help deter cabbage worms. The aroma of the leaves confuses the pests away from the crops.
Interplant your basil around your broccoli for the best chance to deter cabbage worms.
- Learn More: Did you know that it is incredibly easy to grow broccoli in containers? We have all the tips you need to know to get started.
Chamomile also increases the aromatic oils in basil, so planting it close by will help improve the basil flavor. The chamomile plant is also said to help enhance the growth of basil.
Chamomile is also reputed to help deter flea beetles, one of the common pests that attack basil plants.
Basil and chives go together like tomatoes and carrots.
Both plants enjoy similar growing environments and do not overly compete for nutrients or moisture.
Chives can also help deter aphids away from basil plants.
- Learn More: Learn everything you need to know to grow lovely chive plants indoors and out.
Basil and garlic also grow well together. Garlic can help keep away small mammals like squirrels and rabbits.
Garlic is also known as a fungicide and will help protect your interplanted basil from fungal diseases.
- Learn More: Did you know you can grow beautiful heads of garlic in containers on your porch or deck? You can, and we have all the steps you need to know to grow garlic in a small space.
Basil and marigolds are a perfect pairing.
Marigolds help repel aphids and a number of garden pests all through the garden season.
- Learn More: Marigolds are workhorses in the garden. See our detailed Marigold companion list.
Basil can help repel some pests attracted to oregano, like spider mites.
Oregano can also help improve the vigor and flavor of basil.
- Learn More: See all our tips and tricks for growing healthy oregano plants all year round. We also have an article on all the different types of oregano you can grow in your herb garden.
Peppers are highly susceptible to spider mites. Planting basil side by side with your pepper and hot pepper plants will help deter spider mites and their damage.
Basil is also reputed to help enhance the flavor of your pepper plants.
Basil plants also act as living mulch if planted around the peppers, which helps retain moisture in the soil.
- Learn More: See what other companion plants work exceptionally well planted side by side with pepper plants. We also have an article on how to fertilize peppers through the growing season for better harvests!
Basil planted around potato plants is said to help improve the flavor of the potato tubers.
Basil will also thrive in the necessary shade and moisture the potato plants provide.
The aromatic scent from the basil plants can also help deter common pests such as thrips, flies, and mosquitoes.
- Learn More: See what other companion plants work exceptionally well-planted side by side with potatoes.
Basil is also a good companion plant for root vegetables such as carrots, beets, parsnips, and turnips.
Add basil throughout the root vegetable bed to help deter thrips, spider mites, and flies away from your crops.
See our companion planting guides for:
We always plant basil with our tomato plants. They share similar growing environment requirements and are beneficial to each other.
Basil will help repel pests, including tomato hornworms and spider mites, and will help improve the taste of the tomatoes.
Tomatoes will offer shade for the basil and improve ground moisture from the shade. But too much shade can impede the growth of the basil plant, so be sure to plant on the south side of any tomato bed to get the best growth potential.
- Learn More: Tomatoes are one of the best crops you can grow in your garden, but did you know you can grow cherry-type tomatoes in containers?
What NOT to Plant With Basil
Basil is generally an all-around good guy companion, and there are few plants it does not get along with. It would help if you avoided Rue and the Mediterranian herbs that like dry, hot growing conditions, like thyme and sage.
Rue and basil have been common enemies for a long time. It’s said that Rue and basil together will impede the growth of both plants.
Rue can also change the flavor of the basil leaves, so it is best to keep these two far apart.
Thyme requires hot, dry, sandy conditions, whereas basil needs wet, cool, and nutrient-dense soil to thrive.
Planting both in the same area is sure to cause a problem for one of the plants.
- Learn more: There are great places to grow thyme in your garden! Check out our article on the best practices for growing thyme indoors and out.
Like thyme, sage also requires hot, dry, sandy soil to thrive. Best to keep these two apart.
- Learn More: Sage can be picky about its growing environment. If you’re considering growing sage this year, please read our article on the best spots and care for growing sage plants in your garden. There are also many different types of sage you can grow in your garden, so be sure you choose the one that is right for you.
Rosemary does not like to be wet or moist and prefers drying out entirely before watering. Basil, on the other hand, requires consistently moist conditions.
If you plat rosemary side by side with basil, the rosemary will likely die due to the wetter conditions required to keep the basil alive.
Learn More: Check out our guide for growing rosemary! Here is every tip you need to know to grow healthy rosemary plants.
Cucumbers will often take on the flavor of anything planted and grown near them.
Herbs, like basil, will alter the taste of your cucumbers and cause them to become slightly bitter.
It’s also said that basil will impact cucumber plants’ growth and yield production.
Learn More: Learn all about growing and harvesting cucumbers.
Fennel is an allelopathic plant, meaning it can inhibit the growth of many garden plants, from vegetables to herbs, fruits, and flowers – basil included.
Growing A Basil Plant – Tips and Tricks
Growing basil is relatively easy, and you can start indoors on a window sill in early spring. You can also find seedling starts at your local garden center in spring.
Planting out: Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out after the last frost date in your region.
Sun Requirements: Sun, partial shade.
Soil requirements: Moist, nutrient-dense soil heavy with organic matter.
Water requirements: Needs a consistent level of moisture and water frequently.
Planting basil indoors or in a vegetable garden is very rewarding. You can grow an entire basil plant in 60 days from planting out; they are fast-growing plants!
Potted basil is also a welcome addition to any indoor herb garden.
Observe Basil Leaves for Common Pests
To have healthy, tasty basil leaves, you must look out for and control pests. Pesky small insects like aphids and flea beetles love basil and will eat small holes in the basil plant until it is entirely skeletonized. Other common pests like Japanese beetles and slugs can decimate your plants in a single evening, so keep looking for basil leaves with holes.
You can sometimes manage common basil pests with insecticidal soaps or neem oil. But the best control method is preventative measures such as good airflow and removing old garden debris, so insects do not have anywhere to nest. Other pests can impact basil, but these 5 are the most common.
Aphids are one of the most common basil pests you will encounter. These tiny insects will find the underside of the leaves and begin sucking out the sap. Unfortunately, they are also highly destructive to other plants in the garden.
Aphids also spread a sticky liquid over the basil plants called honeydew that attracts ants and causes sooty grey mold.
You can manage small aphid infestations with a strong blast from a water hose. The stream of water is strong enough to knock them off the plant.
You only need to use insecticides when you have severe infestations of aphids. Both Neem oil and insecticidal soaps also are effective in controlling the infestation. Neem oil is a natural pesticide found in seeds from the neem tree.
If the infestation is heavy, you can use insecticidal soap. You can make a simple insecticidal soap with a few drops of dish detergent in a water-filled spray bottle. Spray the soapy water over the entire plant, including under the basil plant leaves.
You can also use sticky traps to keep aphid levels down.
We loathe cutworms. They are the bane in our garden yearly and love to eat basil plants’ stems.
A common basil pest, the cutworms, are larvae of different varieties of beetles that live in the soil and love to munch on young seedlings and plants.
If you ever come into your garden in the morning and see an entire plant or seedling on its side and it looks like it has been cut with something, you likely have cutworms in your garden soil.
The best method for dealing with cutworms in your soil is to add preventative collars around the base of your plant.
You can use anything from a yogurt container, create a collar out of cardboard tubes, or use tin foil. The worms cannot get to the stem to eat through it.
The collars need to be at least 1 inch deep with 2-3 inches sticking above the ground.
Flea beetles can cause lots of damage to young basil seedlings. The tiny beetles can drive reduced plant growth, and if the infestation is heavy, it can cause the plants to die.
You can control flea beetles with row covers, diatomaceous earth, and neem oil. Or you can plant a trap crop of radishes around your basil.
Japanese beetles are metallic green bronze beetles that fly and jump around the garden.
Unfortunately, Japanese beetles can cause heavy damage and eat basil leaves until nothing is left.
Floating row covers work wonders to keep the beetles off the basil.
You can also hand-pick Japanese beetles off the leaves and plants and drop them into a bucket of hot soapy water.
Then, spray neem oil or insecticidal soap to reduce Japanese beetle populations.
Check the underside of the basil plant leaves where Japanese beetles will lay eggs. Crush the eggs to help reduce future populations.
Slugs & Snails
Slugs and snails will decimate a basil plant overnight.
Beer traps are highly effective against slugs. We’ve poured beer into red solo cups and put them into the soil. The slugs are attracted to the smell and fall in and die.
You can also spread eggshells and dichotomous earth under the plants. Slugs and snails do not like to travel over sharp ground, so adding anything with sharp edges, like gravel or shells, helps prevent them from getting to your basil plants.
Common basil plant diseases
Sometimes when you think it’s a pest eating basil leaves, it’s actually several diseases that look like pest damage.
Cercospora leaf spot
Cercospora leaf spot is a fungal disease that can infect basil plants through their growing season.
You can identify Cercospora leaf spot by their circular dark spots with light centers on the basil leaves. The spots will gradually increase over time and can cause stunted growth and death of the plants.
To prevent fungal infections, use mulch to help prevent soil born diseases from spreading from soil to plant. You can also water the plants at soil level and not from overhead, as overhead watering can cause splashing of infected soil onto your healthy plants.
If you suspect an infection of the Cercospora leaf spot, the first step is to remove any leaves that show symptoms. After the infected leaves have been removed, use a fungicide that contains potassium bicarbonate and spray your basil plants weekly, making sure to cover all the leaves, including the undersides.
Fungicides will only work for very minor infections; severe infections require the elimination and destruction of the basil plant. Do not compost. If you compost a diseased plant, you may introduce the disease to the rest of your garden.
Downy mildew is a widespread basil disease that will cause plant leaves to turn yellow.
To identify downy mildew, look at the growth on the lower surface of the basil leaves and see if there is a fuzzy or downy-type growth.
If the infection is severe, you will find uneven holes or dark black or brown patches on the plant that appear dead. If you find these patches on your basil plant, it is time to start again.
Fusarium wilt is a death knell for your basil plant. It will present itself with wilting leaves that begin to yellow and eventually impede the plant’s growth.
There is no treatment for fusarium wilt. Once your plant develops the disease, it is best to remove it from the garden and destroy it.
Do not compost any basil plant with fusarium wilt, as it can continue to thrive in the compost heap and eventually make its way back into your garden.
Leaf spot will cause irregular brown spots on the basil leaves and cause streaking on the stems.
There is no treatment for Leaf Spot; if your basil contracts this disease, you should immediately remove the plant and the soil it was grown in and destroy both.
Do not add it to the compost bin, as it can survive and be reintroduced back to your garden.
You can help prevent Leaf Spot by ensuring good air circulation around plants and plant stems.
Looking for More Companion Planting and gardening Posts?
We have a collection of companion gardening posts that you may find helpful:
- The Best Lavender Companion Plants For Your Garden
- The Best Watermelon Companion Plants For Your Patch
- Vertical Vegetable Gardens; High Yields In Less Space
- The Best Corn Companion Plants
- The Best Spinach Companion Plants To Grow In Your Garden
- 28 Vegetables That Grow in Shade For Gardens Without Full Sun