Planting basil with your tomato plants is one of the best ways to grow healthier and tastier tomatoes – and of course, have plenty of fresh basil on hand all summer long!
Basil has long been the perfect culinary partner to fresh tomatoes in the kitchen. Whether it is enjoying tomato-basil pasta, a tomato-basil & fresh mozzarella salad, or the hundreds of other incredible dishes you can create from these two tasty treats from the garden, they are quite the match made in heaven.
But tomato and basil plants also happen to be great partners in the garden too. In fact, when it comes to companion planting, the two are prime examples of the perfect growing mates.
Companion planting is all about taking advantage of the beneficial relationships between two or more plants. In some cases, it may be that a particular plant helps to repel pests from another.
How Companion Planting Works – Planting Basil With Tomato Plants
A great example of this is with Marigolds. The pungent smell of a marigold’s foliage and blooms repel a long list of pests. And when planted around vegetable plants and other flowers, they can help to keep them safe. See: How To Repel Pests With Marigolds
But there can be other benefits to companion planting as well. Some plants can help increase yields for another by energizing the soil with nutrients. It is even said some plants can help improve another plant’s flavor when growing in close proximity.
So where does basil come in to play concerning its beneficial relationship with tomatoes? Believe it or not, it can do all of the above and more!
But here is the real kicker – tomato plants also play a positive role in helping to grow healthier and stronger basil plants. Here is an in depth look at what each plant does for each other, and how to best plant them together no matter how or where you grow.
The Mutual Benefits of Growing Basil With Tomatoes
Basil actually rivals marigolds in the pest repelling category. It is extremely effective in repelling whiteflies, aphids and tomato hookworm. All three of which can spell big trouble for a tomato plant’s health.
But basil also repels mosquitoes. The mosquito benefit is huge when working in the garden, but you can also harvest some of your basil throughout the year and place in a vase to help keep the pesky biting insects off porches and patios. If that wasn’t enough, basil also helps repel the common housefly.
Beyond repelling pests, basil is also known to help tomatoes to healthier, stronger growth. And perhaps best of all, it is also thought to improve the overall flavor profile of tomatoes when growing in close proximity. Talk about a home run of benefits!
So do tomatoes help basil grow better? The short answer is yes. The large, leafy foliage of tomato plants create a perfect growing environment for basil. Basil prefers moist soil, and the canopy of tomato leaves helps preserve moisture from baking out in the hot summer sun.
The basil thrives, and the tomato plants do too!
How To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants
Although you can certainly plant basil transplants with your tomato plants, growing straight from seed is a much easier and inexpensive method.
Since tomato transplants should not be planted in the garden until the soil has warmed to at least 60° Fahrenheit, that warm soil makes it perfect for basil seed to germinate quickly.
Basil will usually germinate in seven to ten days. In warmer soil, it can pop through in as little as four to five days. With basil’s fast growing habits, if you simply plant basil seeds on the day you plant your tomatoes, it will be up and helping in no time at all.
Add in that basil can actually be ready for harvest (tender baby leaves) in three to four weeks after planting, it is easy to see why planting seeds is the way to go. Especially if you are planting it around a lot of tomatoes!
Plant Spacing For Gardens & Containers – Planting Basil With Tomato Plants
In The Garden…
So how much basil do you need to plant around your tomatoes? And just how close does it have to be to help?
In a traditional garden or raised bed growing space, a couple of plants around each plant is more than enough to do the job. Sow four to five seeds about twelve (12) inches away from the base of each tomato.
As seeds germinate and develop, thin to allow two basil plants for each tomato plant. When you thin, don’t forget that all of those young seedlings make for perfect transplants into pots or other garden spaces – or pot them up and give them to friends!
Basil In Containers…
When growing basil in containers, you can plant basil with the tomato, or in its own pot close by. To get the full benefit, if growing in a separate pot, place the pot right next to where you are growing your tomatoes.
If planting with the tomato, you will want to only plant one basil plant per vessel. Since soil space is limited, more than one basil plant can take too many nutrients from the soil. Nutrients that the tomatoes need to produce and ripen their fruit.
Seed two to three per container at the time of planting, planting the seeds at the very edge of the container space. Once the seeds germinate and grow for a week or two, thin to the single strongest plant.
Wherever you plant your basil, the plants should be able to last the entire growing season. Basil is a prolific self seeder, so you may have new volunteer plants coming up throughout the year as well.
One thing is for sure, growing basil with your tomatoes this year can help protect your plants, grow tastier tomatoes – and give you all the basil you will ever need!
And if you happen to be looking for how to preserve that big harvest, check out our How To Preserve Basil article on our Old World Garden website for a few great options. Here is to growing basil with tomatoes this year!
This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. We publish two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along on Facebook here : This Is My Garden. This article may contain affiliate links.