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!
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 with the basil to create a healthy growing environment.
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!
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 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 are beneficial partners that can help improve growth, taste, 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.
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Help improve the soil: Flowers, like marigolds, can help destroy and eliminate root-knot nematodes. Other leafy plants, like basil, can act as 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 simply help repel asparagus beetles, spider mites, tomato hornworms, and pesky mosquitoes by masking the smell of the primary crop.
To get the most benefit from your basil, add 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 confuse pests and keep them off your prized crops.
- Learn More: Did you know you can add many different varieties of basil plants 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 everything you can do to use up your basil plants. You can enjoy basil with so many beautiful dishes!
Good Basil Companion Plants
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 nearby 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, a 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 several 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 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 fertilizing 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. However, 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.
- Related: Tomatoes are a staple in the modern garden. They are easy to grow, producing fruit far better than anything you can buy at the grocery store. We’ve got plenty of articles to help you maximize your tomato potential:
- Over-watering and under-watering are both causes of tomato splitting, but there are many other environmental reasons. If you are having issues with split tomatoes, check out our troubleshooting guide to help you prevent tomato splitting in the future.
- 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?
- Nearly anyone who has ever grown tomatoes has experienced the disappointment of finding blossom end rot. Luckily, you can take steps to prevent and manage tomato rot.
Bad Basil Companion Plants
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. It is 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.
Editors Note: This post was first published on November 30th, 2022, and updated on October 6th, 2023. The update included grammar, formatting, and removing some information that made the post unnecessarily long.