Companion Plants for the
Tomato Sauce Garden

Green and purple basil planted with tomatoes.

There are many companion plants for tomatoes. Companion planting involves taking advantage of a symbiotic relationship between specific types of plants. Companions to tomato plants may repel bad insects and attract good insects as well as improve the flavor of the tomatoes. Some companion plants act as ground cover or mulch, shading the ground thus inhibiting weeds and keeping tomato plant roots cool and moist.

Herbs as Companions

Basil and tomatoes grow well together because they have similar soil and watering requirements. Plus, basil repels mosquitoes, flies and hornworms. In my tomato beds, sometimes the basil grow as tall as the tomatoes! It's helpful to harvest the basil right along with the tomatoes because we love the flavor of fresh basil in almost everything we make with our tomato puree. We are able to preserve it fresh for winter cooking by chopping it up and freezing it in ice trays of olive oil. As soon as they are frozen firm, we pop them into airtight bags and put them back in the freezer.

Thyme is another great herb to grow with tomatoes, it tends to be low growing so you'll get the benefits of a ground cover plus thyme is an herb you will likely add to dishes made with tomato sauce. And it also repels bad insects.

Flowering Annuals

Flowering annuals are good companions as they attract pollinators. Since tomatoes are self-pollinating, insects are not entirely necessary, but it can't hurt.

Marigolds are considered a good companion for tomatoes because supposedly slugs don't like them and so they stay away. However, once I left a tray of Marigold plants out by my garden for a couple of days and when I went to plant them, they had been decimated by slugs. So maybe, the idea is for the slugs to eat the Marigolds instead of the tomato plants? I like the colors that Marigolds add to my tomato garden and I've heard that once the season is over, you can turn the Marigolds into the soil where they will compost and repel certain pests next season, such as Nematodes, Whiteflies, Mexican Bean Beetles, and Tomato Hornworms.

More Companions

More tomato companions include carrots, onions, parsley, sage, asparagus, celery, and nasturtiums.


There are also plants that should never be planted with tomatoes, these are: corn, potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower. Be wary of planting tomatoes in beds that previously contained potatoes--I had volunteer potatoes come up in one tomato bed and I let them continue to grow. Soon, the leaves of the tomato plants turned yellow and sickly. I pulled out the potatoes but it was probably too late. The plants seemed to improve a little, but not significantly. 

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