Companion Plants for Tomatoes — 7 Best Crops to Grow Alongside Your Tomatoes for a Better, More Bountiful Harvest

These companion plants for tomatoes are the best picks for a gardening match made in heaven

A flourishing tomato plant
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Knowing the best companion plants for tomatoes could make all the difference to your yield. Everyone's been bombarded by home-grown vegetable planting content all over social media, and we can't think of a better way to start off strong than with juicy, lush red tomatoes. But besides the right soil, a strict watering regime, and the best fertilizer, choosing the right complementary crops is key to a healthy harvest.

Tomatoes are a favorite for home growing, and one of the best things you can treat your crop to is a friendly companion plant to help your tomatoes flourish along the way. Having spoken to the experts of the gardening world, we found the best companion plants to boost your tomato harvest for a better yield later this year. So, whether you're growing tomatoes in containers this summer or introducing them to raised beds, why not toss a couple of these plants into the patch for a thriving home garden?

The 7 best companion plants for tomatoes for the juiciest harvest

1. Basil

A blooming basil patch

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When it comes to planting a tasty modern vegetable garden, basil is a must. Better yet, it comes highly recommended as a companion plant for tomatoes. Since they pair so well together on the plate for a Caprese salad, it makes perfect sense that they carry the same energy in the ground.

Niki Jabbour, plant expert at Savvy Gardening and author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (available at Amazon), explains that fragrant basil plants can mask the scent of tomato leaves which makes it more challenging for pests to find the plants. While any type of basil works well as a companion, Niki tells us that Genovese and Greek basil varieties are her personal favorites for a growing tomato patch.

2. Garlic

Garlic growing in soil

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We knew that garlic helps indoor houseplants grow but little did we know that when they're planted alongside tomatoes, they work just as well to promote growth - albeit differently. Gardening expert Tony O'Neill tells us that garlic helps repel tomato pests like spider mites and aphids. 'The strong scent of garlic is a natural deterrent to garden pests which makes it a top contender for companion plants,' he says.

Carrie Spoonmore, co-creator of Park Seed's 'From Seed to Spoon' app, informs us that planting garlic with tomatoes can also help deter certain fungi and diseases. Additionally, she tells us that this planting combination has proven to improve the yield and even the taste of tomatoes - which might be the best benefit yet. So if you're interested in companion planting tomatoes and garlic, Tony recommends placing them in full sun and well-drained soil followed by occasional watering for a healthy garlic crop.

3. Thyme

A patch of thyme

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Thyme is a great addition to any herb garden, and it's also an ideal tomato companion. According to Carrie, the reasons behind thyme being a great option for companion planting are similar to those of garlic. 'Thyme’s strong scent can help deter pests by masking the smell of tomatoes and making them less attractive,' she says. 'Thyme can also attract beneficial insects that prey on pests and help pollinate your tomato plants.'

Having herbs like thyme in your tomato garden makes dining al fresco all the easier and we think that it'll make your backyard smell so wonderfully delicious. And the fact that thyme is a fairly low-maintenance grow makes it an even more attractive garden addition.

4. Nasturtiums

red-orange nasturtium flowers

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Flowers and tomatoes may not seem like a traditional pairing but when it comes to their growing phase, these two work together magically to create a perfectly protected home garden.

Carrie tells us that Nasturtiums attract aphids away from tomatoes, acting as sacrificial plants. 'These clever little flowers also repel whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles,' she says. 'Nasturtiums need full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil and while they're relatively low-maintenance they may benefit from occasional fertilization.' So if you're looking to add some colorful edible flowers to your garden, try companion planting nasturtiums with your tomatoes for the best of both worlds.

5. Carrots

Carrots growing in soil

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According to the experts, carrots are one of the most popular companion plants for tomatoes. Carrie tells us that the reason gardeners commonly reach for carrot seeds in tomato patches is because they provide a habitat for beneficial insects like ladybugs, which prey on aphids and other pests.

Additionally, Tony explains that carrots are beneficial because they loosen the soil around tomato roots, improving air and water circulation. 'This symbiotic relationship allows both plants to thrive,' says Tony. 'Try sowing your carrot seeds directly into the soil for about 3 to 4 weeks before planting tomatoes and remember to thin the carrots to prevent overcrowding as they grow.' Companion planting carrots and onions is also highly recommended, too.

6. Marigolds

marigold plant

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Another beautiful edible flower that doubles as a fantastic companion to tomatoes is marigolds. Not only are these certified easy flowers for beginner gardeners, but they also do wonders for your tomato harvest thanks to their pest-repelling qualities.

'Marigolds are known for their ability to repel nematodes, which can damage tomato roots,' says Carrie. 'Their strong scent also helps deter other pests like aphids, whiteflies, and hornworms.' If you're interested in growing marigolds in your backyard, Carrie recommends planting them in well-drained soil with optimal sunlight.

7. Lettuce

lettuce growing a garden

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A regular companion to tomatoes in sandwiches and salads, lettuce also happens to be a lovely friend to tomatoes pre-harvest. Tony explains that lettuce can be planted close to tomatoes and benefits from the shade that tomato plants provide as they mature. He tells us that they work together to keep the soil moist while also creating a safe growing ground for each other.

'When it comes to planting lettuce, sow in the partial shade beneath tomatoes or in their shadow and keep the soil consistently moist and harvest lettuce leaves regularly,' he advises.

There's truly no better season to get your gardening game on and tomatoes are a seasonally appropriate option for your homegrown harvest. And since there are plenty of options to protect and aid your tomatoes along the way, this makes growing them so much easier. Whether you're new to the gardening game or a seasoned green thumb, we recommend planting your tomatoes with these amicable backyard grows for a flourishing summer garden.

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What should not be planted next to tomatoes?

It's best to avoid planting broccoli, cabbage, dill, and eggplant alongside tomatoes since these crops require high nutrient intake and will likely deprive tomatoes of their fair share. Similarly, crops like corn, okra, and pole beans are also incompatible with tomatoes due to their towering growth which will lead to your tomatoes being overshaded and left with a lack of sunlight.

What should I plant next to tomatoes to keep bugs away?

If you're trying to keep bugs out of your tomato patch, try planting marigolds, basil, and thyme, as they help deter pests purely through the strong scents they carry. Additionally, you can also plant carrots and garlic for their reliable pest-repelling abilities. Carrots draw in ladybugs to prey on aphids and garlic is known to keep spider mites away, making them perfect tomato companions.

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.