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Planting Basil With Tomatoes – How Basil Makes Tomato Plants Better When They Grow Together!

One of the best ways to grow healthier and more productive tomato plants is to companion plant basil with your tomatoes. In fact, not only can it help you to a bigger harvest, but an even tastier one too!

So what exactly is companion planting? In a nutshell, companion planting is the art of growing plants that can help one another when they grow in close proximity. Some companion plants are used to improve soil quality and add much-needed nutrients back into the soil that other nearby plants need to grow.

Others companion plants can deter dangerous insects and pests from nearby companion plants, helping to keep them safe from attack and damage. And if that wasn’t enough, quite often, companion plants can also help to attract much-needed pollinators to other nearby plants for better production.

Tomato and basil plants growing together
Tomato and basil are a perfect match not only in the kitchen but in the garden, too!

Most often, with companion planting, one plant variety is much more helpful to the other. And usually in just one or two ways. But when it comes to tomatoes and basil, they are equally and incredibly helpful to each another in a myriad of ways.

So much so that growing tomatoes and basil together is truly one of the best examples of all for companion planting perfection. And that is exactly why you should be planting them together in your garden, raised beds, containers – or wherever you grow them this year!

Growing Basil With Tomato Plants

Not only are basil and tomatoes great to plant near each other, as you will see below, the art of planting them together is also extremely easy to do. With that in mind – here is a look at how the plants help one another, and how to plant them together with ease.

How Basil and Tomato Plants Benefit Each Other

Basil is known for being an aromatic herb with an inviting fragrance. You can enjoy its aroma whether you are smelling it in your culinary dishes or directly on the plant when roaming in the garden. But that scent can help tomato plants even more!

Along with being noticeable to humans, the fresh aroma of basil is also quite aromatic to insects as well. However, unlike humans, most bugs consider the pungent smell to be the opposite of appealing – which can help nearby tomato plants in a big way! 

A tomato hornworm on a tomato plant
Planting basil nearby can help deter pests like this tomato hornworm, which happens to be one of the most destructive pests of all for tomato plants.

When it comes to tomatoes, many different insects are attracted to these heavy producers. And many can be quite dangerous to tomato plants – like tomato hornworms, whiteflies, and aphids. All of which can decimate tomato crops in no time at all. 

But when you grow basil near your tomato plants, the strong scent of its leaves helps to deter the hungry pests. In fact, they detest the smell so much, it usually protects plants all over the garden from attack.

Healthier  Plants

More than just keeping pests away, basil plants can also help to keep your tomato plants healthier as they grow. And, to reciprocate, basil can grow healthier when tomatoes are around too!

For tomatoes, growing basil nearby has been found to increase root growth, plant size and overall tomato production. And for basil, planting the seeds near tomato plants can help both with faster and better germination, and stronger growth.

Basil, growing under the canopy of large tomato plants, can also grow faster and more easily. The shade of the tomato foliage provides protection, and also helps the soil retain more moisture, both of which can be incredibly helpful to basil as it establishes in the soil.

tomatoes and basil
Tomatoes and basil go together incredibly well. In fact, many gardeners believe tomatoes gain more flavor when planted with basil.

Finally, and maybe the most impressive trait of all for growing the two together, companion planting basil and tomatoes is thought to improve the flavor of both! In fact, many well know chefs and home gardeners swear to it, noting that their tomatoes and basil both have a much greater depth of flavor when they grow together.

Pest protection. Better germination. Faster root development and tastier harvests – who knew that tomatoes and basil could pair just as well in the garden as they do in the kitchen! And best of all, planting them together is a snap!

How To Plant & Grow Basil Near Tomato Plants 

Growing From Seed

One of the best aspect of planting basil with tomatoes is that you can simply sow basil seeds around your tomato transplants. Even though you can use and plant basil transplants, basil grows so quickly and easily from seed, it’s not necessary.

In fact, not only is it cheaper to plant with seeds – they will usually establish quickly and grow better than transplants. As for varieties, you can plant any basil type you like, from traditional sweet, to Italian basil, purple basil and more. Affiliate Seed Links : Basil Seed Varieties

To plant basil seeds, wait until the soil is at least 60º Fahrenheit before sowing seeds outside. Luckily, this is also the perfect temperature for planting your tomato transplants outside as well. You can simply sow the basil seeds at the same time you plant your tomato transplants.

A man's hands holding basil transplants.
Basil grows easily from seeds, so there is no need to mess with transplants.

Typically, basil seeds will germinate in around a week to ten days. Don’t be surprised if you see it happening sooner in warmer soils. You can typically start harvesting tender baby basil leaves in about three to four weeks – making it an early harvest crop too. Just be sure to leave enough to help the tomatoes!

Planting Specs

In most situations, you can get the benefits of basil companion planting by having two to three plants per tomato plant. Keep seeds about a foot away from the base of your tomato transplant when sowing. Place a few seeds per hole and lightly cover with soil. Water well to help set seeds.

If needed, thin basil seedlings once they have at least one set of true leaves. Don’t just toss those thinned basil seedlings though. You can transfer them to pots or containers to have even more basil on hand indoors in your windowsill too.

Growing In Containers

You can also place potted basil plants around your tomato plants. However, you won’t gain all of the benefits of companion planting with this method since the plants won’t be sharing the same soil and nutrients below the ground. But you will gain a bit of pest control for sure.

basil and tomato plants together in a reddish pot
You can even add basil to potted tomato plants as well. Basil is a low user of nutrients, so a single plant will not take much in the way of nutrients from your tomato plant.

If you are growing tomatoes in containers or buckets, you can also plant basil directly in the same container. For best results, only add one basil plant to the same container. There is a limited amount of nutrients and resources per container and too many plants will cause competition. 

Sow the basil seeds around the outer edge of the container. Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin down to the strongest plant. No matter which method you use, you will be able to continually harvest fresh basil whenever you need it.

With all of the added benefits, growing basil and tomatoes together is definitely something worth trying this growing season. You might just end up with the best-producing, tastiest tomato crop you’ve ever grown before – with plenty of basil to go along with it! 

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