Find companion plants for tomatoes and grow a bumper crop
To grow tomatoes, you need plenty of sun, heat, and moisture. If you live in a warm climate you’ll be able to grow tomatoes outdoors; if it’s a bit cooler, you’ll probably want to grow your tomatoes in a conservatory.
If you already have all of these things sorted, great! But is there more you could do to get your tomato plants to grow really well?
Have you heard of companion plants? We’ll explain all about them below and help you to find the best companion plants for tomatoes. They will help you to grow more tomatoes and deter pests naturally.
Tomato companion plants – what are they?
When you grow plants together that help each other in some way, it is called companion planting. This is often done to keep pests off your plants.
It can also help to improve soil quality and growing conditions for your vegetables and attract insects that pollinate your veg.
The good thing about companion planting is that you shouldn’t need to reach for chemical controls to deal with insects that may otherwise eat your vegetables.
Achieving a natural balance of pests and predators in your garden is always a good thing, and companion plants will help you to do this.
Tomatoes can benefit from being grown alongside companion plants. But there are some plants they don’t like getting close to! Read on to find out more.
Best Companion Plants For Tomatoes
This is our complete list of tomato companion plants, which we hope you’ll find useful in your garden.
By learning which vegetables grow well together, you can make the most of your growing space.
One of the best ways to learn is to try things out and experiment – so have a go with some of these and see what works best where you live.
Choose some friends for your tomatoes; it’ll help you to grow that bumper crop.
Tomato companion plants to keep pests at bay
First, we’ll look at tomato companion plants that help by warding off insect pests of all varieties. As well as their useful attributes, many of these plants look great (and smell good too).
We’ll look at these tomato companion plants in more detail below:
- Bee balm
- Garlic, chives and onions
Both nasturtiums and marigolds planted close to your tomatoes will lure pests away. Aphids will chew on nasturtiums and marigolds instead of your tomato plants. The flowers also attract insects that like to eat aphids.
Marigolds are also thought to help by releasing a chemical into the soil which kills harmful nematodes, protecting your tomatoes from attack. Grow them throughout your vegetable garden, as they are helpful to all plants.
Alongside your super-powered flowers, grow herbs near your tomatoes. The fragrant scents of aromatic herbs can help to ward off pests. Parsley, mint, thyme and oregano are all useful in this way.
Basil is sometimes known as the king of herbs – and it’s the perfect companion plant for tomatoes. It is said to improve the flavor of the fruit, keep tomato plants healthy and repel unwanted insect pests with its fragrance. What more could you want from a companion?
All of these herbs above are also perfect ground cover around the base of tomato plants, whether they are in the ground or in containers, helping to keep the soil moist and reduce evaporation.
Another aromatic herb that can deter pests with its fragrance is bee balm – with impressive magenta flowers, it’s also loved by bees, as the name suggests. Like basil, it is thought to improve the flavour of tomatoes.
Garlic, chives, onions and other alliums all work in the same way – the strong odor is disliked by many insect pests; aphids will be put off.
Borage is an annual herb that looks beautiful growing next to tomatoes with its bright blue flowers. Bees and other pollinators love this plant. Borage is an excellent tomato companion plant because it deters tomato hornworms.
Tomato companion plants to improve growing conditions
Some of the best plants you can grow close to tomatoes work by improving the soil. You can pair up vegetables that have similar growing habits to make the most of your space – like growing vertical climbers together such as beans and tomatoes, for example.
We’ll look at these tomato companion plants in more detail below:
- Lettuce and other salad leaves
Beans are nitrogen-fixers. This means they absorb nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, improving the soil’s condition. This helps other plants (like your tomatoes) to grow. Although tomatoes are not known for needing lots of nitrogen, they are quite happy growing together with beans and the plants can support one another.
Horehound is a low-growing aromatic herb of the mint family. It’s thought to encourage bigger crops of tomatoes, so it’s worth considering as a companion for tomato plants.
Yarrow is also an excellent tomato companion plant. It’s often seen as a weed, but it has many benefits for the vegetable gardener. It attracts insects that eat aphids and improves the quality of the soil: it can be used like comfrey in a compost.
The large spreading leaves of squash can help to conserve moisture around your tomato plants by shading the soil. Squash and tomatoes also work well together because they like similar growing conditions.
Tomatoes can be grown together happily with celery, and the shade from tomato plants may help your celery plants.
Leafy low-growing plants like lettuce and other salad leaves are useful tomato companion plants that conserve moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from invading.
In return, your tomato plants will shade them during the summer. Purslane is a good one to try if water is scarce. You could also try low-growing spinach, arugula and American cress.
Cucumbers are useful tomato companion plants. Tomatoes and cucumbers share the same needs and will grow nicely together up supports. That way you can make the most of a small space.
Asparagus beds become ‘free’ once the crop is picked in spring. Fill the vacancy with tomatoes and other companion plants in late spring and use your space effectively.
The worst plants to grow with tomatoes
Potatoes are not recommended as tomato companion plants. This is because both plants can suffer from a disease called blight, which could spread between plants more easily if they are close to one another.
Similarly, corn and tomatoes are not usually regarded as great bedfellows because they are both affected by the same pests. The pests that attack corn will start on your tomatoes after they are finished with their first course!
If you plant tomatoes with cabbages, the growth of your tomato plants will be stunted. This goes for all types of brassicas including broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts and kale.