An ideal garden is diverse and self-reliant, and it is beneficial to use natural methods to prevent pests, boost yields, and enhance the garden’s overall health.
In this article, we will discuss the most suitable tomato plant companions for your garden. Companion plants can create a beneficial relationship with tomatoes, offering assistance in various ways.
Tomato Plant Spacing
Before discussing companion plants for tomatoes, it is important to consider the spacing requirements of tomato plants. It is crucial to prioritize providing adequate space for your tomatoes.
There are techniques to increase tomato production in limited space, such as vertical growth on a trellis. However, maintaining proper spacing between plants remains essential. This allows for better airflow around the leaves and reduces disease risk.
It is advised to plant tomatoes at a minimum distance of 2 feet (~61cm) from other plants for optimal growth. It is also beneficial to prune the lower 12-18 inches of leaves to enhance air circulation around the base of the plant. Further information on proper tomato spacing can be found here.
These conditions apply to most standard-size tomato plants. Even when planted in isolation, they require this space to grow and thrive in any garden.
Tomato Companion Plants
Now, let’s explore some of the best companion plants for tomatoes. These plants attract beneficial insects, ward off pests, or make harvesting easier.
1. Tomato Companion Plants-Garlic
Garlic can be grown in various climates, and studies suggest that planting it alongside other crops can help reduce pest populations.
Garlic is a beneficial companion for tomatoes in the garden as it can help deter pests. The small plants can be easily integrated with other plants in the garden and are low-maintenance.
Additionally, many people enjoy using garlic in their cooking. If you have a surplus of tomatoes, you may want to consider making a delicious tomato sauce with homegrown spicy garlic.
2. Tomato Companion Plants-Basil
Basil holds the time-honored title of the quintessential companion for tomato plants in culinary and gardening contexts. This flavorful and fragrant herb is effortless to cultivate and provides many advantages for your garden.
Its distinctive scent is known to ward off certain pests, and its relatively compact root system doesn’t interfere with tomato growth. Since basil is a more modestly sized plant, it can be positioned closer to tomatoes than other, larger crops.
3. Tomato Companion Plants-Alyssum
In my garden, flowers serve a dual purpose: they attract pollinators such as bees, wasps, flies, and crops and herbs.
Additionally, flowers can be used to attract predatory insects. Alyssum, for example, is a low-growing plant known for attracting green lacewing and predatory wasps.
These plants are simple to cultivate and are occasionally utilized as a natural mulch around the garden’s foundation of tomatoes and other vegetables. Scatter the seeds around the base of your tomatoes after they have been transplanted outside, and you will enjoy lovely, petite flowers from June until October.
4. Tomato Companion Plants-Borage
Borage is an easy-to-grow, flowering herb perfect for your garden. It can also be beneficial in attracting bees.
Borage is classified as an annual in cold climates. Still, it is also somewhat invasive due to its ability to re-seed easily, often sprouting up as volunteer plants in early spring.
On the other hand, the sprouts are easily identifiable and can be removed to allow only a few plants to grow.
Borage flowers are edible and can be enjoyed fresh in salads or cold water. Borage is beneficial as a tomato companion plant, with its advantages outweighing any potential drawbacks.
5. Tomato Companion Plants-Onions
Onions, like garlic, are a suitable pairing for tomatoes as they belong to the allium family, effectively deterring certain pests.
Onions require minimal space for growth, making them suitable for interplanting with larger plants like tomatoes. One effective method is to trellis tomatoes vertically and plant onions on the south side of the trellis, ensuring both plants receive ample sunlight.
Suppose you want to grow a salsa garden. In that case, planting tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic, onions, and cilantro together is recommended, as they will mutually benefit each other and can be harvested to make a fresh summer salsa.
Pro Tip For Salsa Enthusiasts: consider cultivating a specialized garden. Plant tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic, onions, and cilantro nearby. When harvested, these plants complement each other’s growth and combine to create a vibrant and fresh summer salsa!
6. Tomato Companion Plants-Marigolds
Marigolds are considered a ‘trap crop’ for tomatoes as they attract aphids, spider mites, and snails. Additionally, marigolds have been found to repel whiteflies by releasing limonene into the air, which acts as a pest deterrent.
Tomatoes are known for attracting various pests, and whiteflies can be particularly problematic. Planting marigolds near your tomatoes might help decrease whitefly populations.
Marigolds are known to be effective in reducing populations of root-knot nematodes. Planting marigolds for at least 2 months before growing tomatoes is important to observe this effect.
Marigolds are attractive flowering plants that can attract beneficial bugs to the garden. They are easy to grow, non-invasive, and provide several benefits for the garden.
7. Tomato Companion Plants-Nasturtium
Nasturtium is a commonly used trap crop to divert pests from fruiting crops such as tomatoes. It is highly attractive to aphids, making it a preferred target over tomatoes.
All parts of the nasturtium plant, including the flowers, leaves, and seed pods, are edible, making it a versatile plant with various uses.
8. Tomato Companion Plants-Leaf Lettuce
Lettuce does not attract beneficial insects but can effectively utilize the space between tomato plants. Lettuces are typically grown in cooler weather and may bolt in hot temperatures.
When lettuce is planted between tomatoes, it benefits from the shade provided by the tomato plants, which helps keep it cool. However, removing the lettuce after the initial harvests is recommended to allow the tomatoes to utilize the soil and nutrients fully.
9. More Flowers!
Flowers are excellent companion plants for tomatoes because they attract a wide range of insects, which helps to decrease the likelihood of one pest dominating your garden.
Here are some additional flowers that are beneficial to plant alongside tomatoes.
- Cosmos: Cosmos flowers are visually appealing and attract diverse pollinators and beneficial insects.
- Yarrow: The yarrow plant has large, broad flower heads that produce abundant blooms throughout the summer. It attracts a wide variety of pollinators and predatory insects.
- Echinacea: Echinacea, or coneflowers, are attractive flowers that attract butterflies, birds, and pollinators to the garden.
- Asters: These are known for attracting pollinators and are recommended as a companion plant for vegetable gardens due to their diverse range of colors and flower shapes.
- Zinnias: Zinnias are considered among the easiest and most beautiful border flowers. They are also a personal favorite companion flower. Planting them after the risk of frost has passed is recommended to enjoy big blooms later in the year.
The goal is to plant various flowers in and around your vegetable garden to attract a diverse range of life, making it a haven for wildlife.
Plants That Should Not Be Planted With Tomatoes.
Certain plants can have either positive or negative effects on your tomato plants. To avoid potential problems, keeping certain plants away from your tomato plants is important.
Fennel is often overlooked as a companion plant, but it is a tasty vegetable with fragrant flowers.
It is commonly believed that chocolate negatively affects other plants in the garden. Its roots are known to release a substance that hinders the growth of surrounding plants, including tomato plants.
Based on other growers’ experiences, planting fennel in a container instead of in the garden with your tomatoes may be a safer option.
Corn can pose a problem for tomatoes as the corn earworm is one of North America’s most destructive pests.
The corn earworm targets corn primarily but can also feed on various other plants, including tomatoes. The larvae of this worm typically consume tomato fruits, but they may also eat foliage or burrow into stems.
To prevent the presence of destructive larvae in your garden, it is recommended not to plant corn near tomatoes. If you still wish to have corn, it may be worth considering skipping a year or two to prevent the pests from establishing in your garden.
Harvesting your tomatoes as soon as they are ready to prevent damage from the earworm later in the season is recommended.
Brassicas, such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale, are heavy-feeding plants that require ample nutrients for optimal growth.
When planted near cabbage or broccoli, tomatoes may compete for nutrients, potentially leading to poor growth.
I enjoy planting broccoli and kale; giving these plants adequate space in the garden is important. Tomatoes have a smaller root system, so it is recommended to space them at least 2-3 feet away from nearby brassicas.
4. Potatoes & Eggplants
Potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes belong to the same plant family called Solanaceae, making them susceptible to similar diseases and viruses.
To prevent the spread of diseases, it is advisable to separate tomatoes from potatoes and eggplants to minimize the risk of total loss of your nightshade plants.
In addition to separating them, it is important to properly space your tomatoes and maintain good hygiene in the garden. This will help minimize the risk of disease in your plants.
Despite your efforts to maintain a healthy garden each year, you will inevitably encounter various issues. Having realistic expectations and being prepared to tolerate some pests and diseases is important.
Every year provides an opportunity for growth and improvement in your garden. Take notes on what you observed this year to enhance your garden next year.