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Why To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants – 5 Great Ways Basil Helps Tomatoes Grow Better!

Did you know that one of the best ways to help your tomato plants grow healthier and stronger – and produce better tasting tomatoes is to plant basil nearby?

When it comes to dynamic duos in the kitchen, it doesn’t get much better than basil and tomatoes. Whether you are enjoying a fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, or a rich pasta sauce, the two couldn’t pair any better together!

But as it turns out, tomatoes and basil also go perfectly together in the garden as well. In fact, planting these two crops next to one other is one of the greatest examples of companion planting around. 

Basil and tomato plants growing together
Basil and tomato are more than just a great pairing in the kitchen. Growing them together can benefit both crops all summer long!

Companion planting is the practice of growing two or more different plants next to one another in order to help one or both of the crops perform better. Sometimes it’s to help repel certain types of pests. Other times it can be to help bring in pollinators. And in the case of basil and tomatoes – it can even be to help improve the flavor of the tomatoes!

Whatever the reason, companion planting can be a huge advantage in your garden if done correctly. And with tomato and basil, the benefits are bigger than ever.  

Whey & How To Plant Basil And Tomato Plants Together

Let’s first take a look at just how beneficial it can be to grow basil with tomato plants- starting with two of the most important – how it can help increase yields and improve your tomato’s flavor profile!

Increasing Yields 

Basil and tomato plants both have similar growing requirements when it comes to soil. They both require a well-draining soil that is fertile and filled with organic matter. Because of this, they easily grow right next to one another.   

In addition, both need full sun as well. However, a bit of protection from the hot afternoon sun can benefit basil plants. As the tomato plants fill out with foliage, they help to provide sun protection to the shorter basil plants. The foliage also helps to keep the soil moist, and basil loves to grow in moist soil.  

But in addition to the mutual benefits above the soil line, some studies suggest that basil can actually help increase the yields of nearby tomato plants. It accomplishes this by adding nutrients back to the soil that tomatoes then use for better production.

harvested basil and tomatoes
Growing basil near tomato plants can improve your yields as well as the flavor of those harvested tomatoes!
Improving The Flavor Of Your Tomatoes – 5 Reasons To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants!

This is one of those benefits that you might just have to try to believe! Planting basil near tomato plants can actually improve the flavor of the tomatoes. Scientific studies are a bit limited on this topic, but there are many gardeners and a slew of top chefs that swear by planting basil near tomato plants.

In order to test the theory yourself, plant around a few basil plants around the root zone of each tomato plant. You can plant basil transplants or you can easily – and inexpensively – grow basil from seed. Product Link: Sow Right Seeds – Genovese Sweet Basil Seed

Repel Whiteflies – – 5 Reasons To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants!

Basil is extremely helpful in keeping away common pests, like the dreaded whitefly. Whiteflies are tiny, white, moth-like insects that thrive during the warmer months. They frequently take over tomato plants, feeding on the sap produced by the plant’s leaves. 

Large populations of whiteflies are not only annoying, but they can cause big damage to your tomato harvest if left unchecked. Their feedings can cause wilting and yellowing of leaves. Ultimately, it can take out the plant completely. 

Whiteflies on tomato foliage
Even though whiteflies are tiny, they can cause massive destruction to your tomato plants.

Whiteflies easily fly from plant to plant, sometimes transferring plant viruses between plants. Not only can your tomato plants suffer from a whitefly infestation, but they can also take over other vegetable and flower crops in your garden as well. 

The good news is that the strong aroma of basil can be used as a natural deterrent to whiteflies. Whiteflies simply can’t stand the scent, and when basil is planted around the base of tomato plants, they won’t go near them. 

Repel Hornworms – 5 Reasons To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants!

If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, it’s likely that you’ve encountered hornworms in the past. Hornworms are massive caterpillars that can grow to be up to four inches in length. And can they ever destroy the foliage of your tomato plants in a hurry!

Tomato hornworms feature green skin with white V-shaped markings. Due to their coloring, they are a bit tricky to find among the foliage of tomato plants. Often, they go undetected until large amounts of damage have already occurred. 

Hornworms start by feeding on the upper leaves and slowly work their way down the plant. A large infestation can quickly defoliate entire plants in no time at all. 

Closeup of tomato hornworm
Tomato hornworms are one pest that can decimate your tomato harvest in no time at all.

But again, basil can come to the rescue. Just as basil repels whiteflies, its strong scent also works to help repel hornworms. Even tomato plants growing in containers or pots can benefit from having pots of basil nearby to help repel tomato hornworms.   

The Perfect Ingredient Partners – 5 Reasons To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants!

Last but definitely not least is the pairing of basil and tomatoes in the kitchen. The flavors and aroma of the two just go perfectly together. And there are so many different dishes and recipes that call for using tomatoes and basil together, that it’s hard to run out of recipes to make!  

Basil and tomato plants (especially indeterminate varieties) will continue to grow and produce up until the first frost. This gives you ample opportunity to try recipes like caprice salad, tomato basil quick bread, baked stuffed tomatoes, tomato soup, and so much more! See:  Tomato Tomato Basil Quick Bread Recipe

How To Plant Basil With Tomato Plants – A Few Simple Tips & Tricks

When planting basil and tomato plants together for companion planting, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to gain the full set of benefits.

First, in a traditional garden space or raised bed, you want to aim to have one to two basil plants per tomato plant. Keep plants about 12 inches away from the stem of the tomato plant. This keeps the basil close enough to reap the benefits – but far away enough away to still grow and thrive.     

For tomato plants growing in containers, as long as the pot is large enough, you can plant basil right in the same container. For pots and containers, one plant is a good rule of thumb due to limited space.

Hands holding potted basil
Even potted basil can benefit tomatoes due to its strong scent.

You can also grow basil in its own container and place it nearby. If using separate containers, the tomatoes won’t gain all of the benefits like nutrient transfer. However, you will still gain the help of pest control which is a huge plus when it comes to growing healthy and strong tomato plants.

Why Seeds Are The Way To Go!

So what is the best method for planting? Although you can use transplants, they really are not necessary with how well and quickly basil grows from seed.

On the day you transplant your tomatoes into your garden, simply pop a few basil seeds around the base of each tomato. The basil will germinate in around 7 to 10 days and be up and growing to help in mere weeks.

Once seeds have germinated and started to grow, thin so you have one to two plants per tomato. Those plants you thin can be transplanted to pots, or simply discarded to the compost pile. It’s best to always sow more seeds to ensure enough germinate to help your tomatoes.

Here’s to growing basil and tomato plants together for a perfect pairing – both in the kitchen and in the garden!

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