Basil is one of the world’s most beloved herbs. Basil plants come in many forms, including the classic sweet Genovese basil, lemon and lime, and even crinkly lettuce-leaf basil!
While basils are enjoyable to grow, they can be a target for certain pests and diseases. So, for the best result, I recommend adding some companion plants for basil. These plant partners will help each other in one way or another during the growing season.
In this article, I’ll share the best basil companion plants to include in your herb garden. While many plants can work as companions, this list includes some great choices from a variety of categories. As a bonus, I’ve shared our printable raised bed herb garden plans.
Top 10 Basil Companion Plants
It is hard to choose the best companion plants for basil, since there are so many that do well with it. I have done my best to choose some of the most popular and common veggies and herbs that like to be planted near basil.
Tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven. This applies both in the garden and in the kitchen. But for now, let’s focus on why basil makes a great companion plant for tomatoes.
Basil helps to keep your tomato plants safe from harms way. Basil is said to deter some pests like the hawk moth, which turns into dreaded tomato hornworms.
Tomatoes are also large plants that need lots of space between each other, making basil a perfect plant to fill the gaps. Best of all, when you are harvesting your basil in late summer, you can grab some juicy tomatoes to pair with it!
Peppers are in the same family as tomatoes, so many of the mutual benefits between them and basil are the same. Peppers tend to attract lots of pests, so having an aromatic herb planted nearby can help confuse the bad guys.
Both peppers and basil love full sunshine, so they can be planted next to each other. They both like rich, loamy, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH (6.0-7.0), meaning basil and peppers will both thrive in the same conditions.
Pepper plants of all types (bell peppers, hot peppers, etc.) can be planted in close proximity of your basil. The benefits go both ways with this one.
Tip: If you like making Asian stir fry, I highly recommend growing sweet Thai basil along with some hot chili peppers!
3. Root Vegetables (Beets, carrots, parsnips)
Root veggies are all excellent companions for your basil. In particular, tap-root plants like beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips are among basil’s best companions.
While basil is a larger, bushy plant, root veggies are relatively small and slender. This makes them perfect for interplanting with basil. Plus, most root vegetables love a sunny location just like basil.
Note: While basil makes a good companion for carrots, dill and parsley do not! This is because these other herbs can attract carrot flies, which can destroy your carrot roots.
Basil is usually more beneficial to other plants in the garden. However, this companion is the other way around.
Sweet alyssum produces hundreds of tiny flowers that attract beneficial insects to your garden. Most notably, alyssum brings in countless hoverflies which feed on aphids and other basil pests.
The end result is fewer pests, less disease, and a more attractive border to your garden. Alyssum flowers continuously from summer to fall, and grows very short (6-8″ tall). These low-growing plants can be planted right at the base of your basil plants, acting almost like a “living mulch.”
Peas naturally add nitrogen to the soil they are planted in during their growth stage. The plants literally take nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil via their roots, increasing soil nutrients.
Since we primarily grow basil for the foliage (not the flowers or seeds), higher nitrogen is a good thing.
To get the most benefit from your peas, plant them in very early spring. After harvesting, cut back your pea plants and plant your basil in the same spot after harvest. Leave the pea plant roots in place so that the nitrogen-containing nodules can feed your basil plants!
There is nothing quite like combining fresh basil and garlic. Whether you want to make homemade pesto, or a delicious homemade tomato sauce, you’ll need some homegrown garlic!
Garlic is also a great companion for basil. Garlic (and other alliums) have a strong aroma in the garden, helping to confuse pests. Plus, the smell of basil and garlic in the garden is irresistible!
Garlic is planted in the fall, which can make planning ahead tricky. It can be planted in rows, or sporadically throughout the garden.
Idea: Add garlic plants randomly around your garden. The tall, slender plants take up very little space in the soil, and are great companions for basil and almost all other vegetables.
7. Brassicas (Cabbages, broccoli, kale)
Brassicas (or cole crops) are home to many popular cool-weather crops. These include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. They are all heavy feeders, which means they will thrive alongside basil in rich soil.
While the aromatic basil leaves can confuse some pests, I couldn’t find any evidence of it warding off cabbage moths. If you have cabbage worms, loopers, or butterflies, you’ll have better luck planting dil, rosemary, sage, or thyme to ward them off. In worst-case scenarios, BT is a highly-effective, targeted organic pesticide.
Commonly grown as a “sacrificial” plant, nasturtium is a flowering plant known to attract some pests. Also known as a trap crop, this beautiful flower can take pest pressure away from your basil and other companion plants.
Nasturtiums can also attract beneficial insects that feed on the flower nectar and pollen. There are both bush (clump-forming) and climbing nasturtium varieties, so be sure to plant the right type for your garden.
While it may seem unintuitive to plant a pest-attracting plant, it usually works out for the best. By planting nasturtiums to trap aphids and other pests, along with other flowers to attract beneficial insects, your basil and other herbs should be safe from harm.
Speaking of flowers, zinnias are excellent basil companion plants. These taller plants are strong and incredibly easy to grow, offering bright blooms all summer long!
Zinnia flowers are more than just pretty, though. They also attract a variety of wildlife to your garden. Many insect that like zinnias will also provide benefits to your basil by eating pests.
Zinnias can be direct-sown in late spring or early summer. They are fast-growing plants that will quickly catch up to basil and provide benefits as soon as the first blooms appear.
10. Green Beans
Finally, green beans are a good example of a basil companion plant. Green beans are low-maintenance and enjoy similar soil conditions to those of basil.
Both bush and pole (climbing) beans make for good companions of basil. If you do plant pole beans, just be sure to plant them on the North side of your basil. This way, the tall bean plants won’t cast shade on your basil.
Plants To Avoid Planting With Basil
While negative companions are quite rare (especially for basil), there are a few to avoid. These plants have different soil pH, nutrient quantity, or lighting needs than basil.
- Mint. Mint is an invasive plant, which makes it difficult to control in the garden. Mint is best planted in containers to avoid aggressive spread.
- Fennel. Fennel is said to release growth-inhibiting compounds into the soil. This, in theory, slows the growth of nearby plants, so spacing fennel at least 18″ from other plants is recommended.
- Oregano. Oregano is invasive and will aggressively self-seed. Again, this plant should be planted in containers (maybe group it with your mint plants!).
- (Some) wild flowers. Many wild flowers prefer poor, sandy soil. Purple coneflowers, yarrow, and sea holly all thrive in low-nutrient soil. Basil, on the other hand, prefers a rich soil. If you want to grow a naturalistic meadow full of wildflowers (and you should!), it is best to do so in another area of your garden.
Remember, these are just guidelines! You can make almost any two plants work together. However, some pairings will just take a bit more effort than others.
How Basil Helps Other Plants
It is theorized that the aroma of basil is a natural pest control. Thrips, spider mites, and moths may be deterred from your otherwise attractive vegetable garden. One study showed a correlation between basil companion planting and decreased pest population in cotton fields.
Another student research study showed that basil and tomato plants form an allelopathic relationship when grown together. The tomato root mass, plant size, and yield were all higher when intercropped with basil plants.
Besides all the practical benefits of growing basil, this aromatic herb is a great kitchen companion, too! Garlic, basil, tomatoes, and peppers all blend together nicely to create some truly delicious sauces and meals.
The benefits of companion planting are worth the extra planning. If you grow lots of basil, try some of the fascinating varieties. Cinnamon basil, lemon basil, sweet Thai basil, and purple varieties are all unique and flavorful.
I hope you found some great companion plants for your basil this year. Every home garden can have thriving sweet basil plants with a few beneficial neighbors!