Selecting the right basil companion plants is a smart, low-effort way to get more of those flavor-packed leaves we all love so much. And while companion planting in general is a pretty simple concept, basil makes it even easier by getting along well with many other plant neighbors.
The best companion plants for basil include tomatoes, peppers, other basil varieties, borage, garlic, nasturtium, onions, eggplant, root vegetables, asparagus, marigolds, leafy greens and other herbs. Companion planting helps maximize garden space, attracts friendly insects, deters pests and enhances the growth of compatible plants.
In my experience, basil planted by itself does pretty well. But when I placed it next to other plants with similar growing needs, it really exploded in growth.
In this article, you’ll find out which plants are the best for interplanting with your basil, and I’ll also cover which plants to keep on the other side of the garden.
Let’s jump in!
Best Basil Companion Plants
Companion planting is the practice of growing compatible plants next to each other with the goal of one or both plants benefitting from the other.
The University of Minnesota Extension lists some of the benefits of companion planting:
- Ensures efficient use of space in your garden
- Attracts beneficial insects while repelling pests
- May improve soil health
The most important thing about companion planting is that the growing requirements (soil pH, moisture, drainage, sunlight, etc.) should be similar for all plants to succeed.
Let’s take a look at which plants make good neighbors for basil:
It’s really a match made in heaven- gardeners have turned to tomatoes as basil companion plants for centuries. Both plants enjoy full sun, well-draining soil and warm temperatures. Some growers claim that basil helps improve tomato flavor, and it’s also a deterrent for several common tomato pests:
Plus- who doesn’t like to have basil for their homemade tomato sauce? Keep it simple and grow these two best friends next to each other.
2. Leafy Greens
I always plant my basil in my leafy greens patch, and I typically have a bumper crop of both. And fresh basil leaves are an excellent addition to green salads, so I think it’s convenient to have both in the same place.
Leafy greens like lettuce, romaine, spinach, and kale benefit from basil’s ability to deter pests that would otherwise destroy their tasty leaves. And leafy greens also thrive in similar environments as basil.
Peppers are a close relative to tomatoes, and peppers of all kinds are ideal companion plants for basil.
Basil and peppers prefer similar growing conditions, and peppers benefit from basil’s repellent properties for spider mites, flies and mosquitoes. Also, basil can benefit from tall pepper plants’ protection from too much sun and high temperatures.
4. Other Basil Varieties
There are several varieties of basil, including:
- Thai basil (pictured above)
- Holy basil
- Red rubin basil
- Lime basil
- Lettuce basil
This video from Country Flower Farms has a nice explanation of several varieties:
And since they’re so closely related, these other basil varieties make great neighbors to one another.
However, if you plan on collecting seeds from your basil at the end of the season, planting different varieties is likely to result in cross-pollination.
According to the University of Florida, cross-pollination can happen if you plant different basil varieties within 150 feet of each other. While it won’t make any difference this year, you could end up with a strange basil hybrid if you plant the crossed seeds next year.
Borage makes an excellent basil companion plant since it attracts pollinators and beneficial insects that prey on basil pests.
And some growers believe that planting borage with basil may help improve its flavor!
Garlic is a great basil companion plant because it repels spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids- in other words, basil pests. Plus, growing these two high-flavor plants next to each other can actually help both taste even better.
Aphids are a common problem for basil, and take it from me- you want to do whatever you can to keep these little pests away.
Nasturtium is a perfect basil companion plant for this very purpose. Aphids are attracted to the bright nasturtium blooms, so your basil leaves remain untouched.
Much like their relative garlic, onions are great basil companion plants because they deter aphids and thrive in similar growing conditions to basil.
Both eggplant and basil thrive in direct sunlight and don’t compete for soil nutrients like nitrogen. Basil is also great at deterring pests that would otherwise affect eggplant production including garden moths and mealybugs.
Asparagus attracts ladybugs, who are predators of a common pest for basil: aphids. In return, basil repels asparagus beetles, preventing damage to new sprouts on asparagus.
Plus, both plants thrive in full sun, making them great for companion planting.
11. Certain Herbs
If you’re planting a kitchen mixed-herb garden, be sure to include basil. Ideal companion herb plants for basil include:
Marigolds make great basil companion plants because their fragrance deters many pests including aphids, nematodes and slugs. Marigolds are also excellent for attracting ladybugs, hoverflies and other beneficial insects.
13. Root Vegetables
Basil can help improve root vegetables’ flavor and growth, and basil also acts as an insect repellant to soil-boring pests. Root vegetables attract pollinators and generally have the same care needs as basil.
Here are a few examples:
What Not to Plant with Basil
Even though many plants grow happily next to basil, some don’t. Here are five plants that you should keep away from basil:
Rue releases certain chemicals from its roots, which isn’t good for basil for a few reasons:
- Stunted growth
- Higher vulnerability to diseases and pests
- Bitter-tasting basil
So if you’ve got rue on your garden plan, keep it away from your basil.
Sage doesn’t grow well with basil because their growing needs are very different: Basil prefers moist soil while sage thrives in drier conditions.
If you want to grow both herbs, a good solution is to use separate pots for each.
Thyme is an herb that prefers sandy and dry soil, which is the opposite of what basil requires for healthy growth. These differences in requirements make thyme and basil poor companion plants.
Here again, separate pots are a great idea.
Fennel is another herb not to plant with basil as it attracts some pests to basil. Fennel will also stunt basil growth as well as some other neighboring plants.
Cucumbers tend to pick up flavors from neighboring plants, making them a poor companion plant for basil. Cucumbers will also compete with basil for water and soil nutrients, which negatively affects basil growth.
Frequently Asked Questions about Basil Companion Plants
Fresh basil is a summer garden treat, and I’ve found that I have more than I know what to do with when I add my basil to my leafy greens bed. Companion planting with basil is a great way to maximize your garden space while minimizing the need for pest control through natural methods.
I hope this post has given you some inspiration to find out what grows well with basil in your garden!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on the subject of basil companion planting. Have you found any other plants that help your basil grow like crazy? I believe we learn best from one another, so please feel free to share in the comments!