Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a herb that is widely known for its culinary use and numerous health benefits. It is also a great choice for companion planting, as it goes well with many different plants and herbs.
Basil is one of the best companion plants. With its many beneficial properties, basil provides protection to a number of plants by attracting pollinators and keeping away destructive pests.
However, just like every other plant, basil also has some good companion plants as well as bad companion plants that should be avoided.
Companion planting involves a lot of planning and effort, but it is well worth it in the end, as it ensures a good yield.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is defined as “the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests”.
In simple terms, companion planting means planting together two or more plants that help each other grow better.
Companion planting is done for a number of reasons, as it has numerous benefits. It is a type of polyculture, wherein two or more species are grown together, like in a natural ecosystem.
10 Best Basil Companion Plants
Following is a list of 10 plants that can benefit from or are beneficial to basil. Thus they can be planted near to the growing Basil.
A match made in heaven both on and off the plate, basil and tomatoes are great companion plants.
Tomato plants are plagued by pests like thrips, whiteflies, mosquitoes, spider mites, aphids, and the Tomato Hornworm. The scent of the basil herb repels these insects and keeps them away. This leads to better growth of the tomato plants.
Additionally, the scent of basil attracts beneficial insects and pollinators such as bees. Tomato plants need to be pollinated and basil helps them with that.
The growth requirements of tomato and basil plants are also similar – both require 6 to 8 hours in the sunlight, and the same amount of water.
Many gardeners believe that basil improves the flavor of tomatoes, although there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this notion.
Tip: We would recommend planting 2 to 3 basil plants for each tomato plant.
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When asparagus and basil are grown together, they attract ladybugs. Ladybugs help to get rid of aphids and other pests, which harm these plants. Basil also helps to repel the asparagus beetle, a pest that feeds on the tender tips of new asparagus shoots.
Borage is an edible herb known for its attractive purple flowers. It extracts essential minerals from the soil and brings them to the surface which can be absorbed by basil.
Borage attracts pollinators and repels bugs that are harmful to basil and its companion plants. It also helps to improve the growth and flavor of basil.
Chamomile has two main varieties – German and Roman. While chamomile is mainly an annual herb, Roman chamomile is perennial. It requires more care but it lasts for a longer time.
Gardeners claim that chamomile increases the concentration of oil in the other herbs planted nearby, although there is no scientific proof for it. It can also enhance the flavor of basil and helps in controlling pests.
Oregano and chives
Oregano is a perennial herb and a staple in Italian cuisine. It does not require a lot of maintenance and is a great companion plant to a lot of herbs and plants.
Oregano and basil also make good companion plants. Like basil, oregano also repels pests and attracts beneficial insects. Oregano also helps to increase the strength of essential oils in your herb garden.
Chives and basil also have similar requirements for growth, which makes them good companion plants.
Marjoram is similar to oregano in terms of aspect and flavor. It is an excellent companion to many herbs and plants. It attracts insects that prey on pests like aphids that plague the basil plant.
Bell-peppers and basil have similar growth requirements.
Bell-pepper, too, needs ample sunlight to grow. And watering a bell pepper plant also needs monitoring. Both plants are insect repellants and provide good ground cover. Growing bell peppers next to basil also boost their flavor.
Bell-peppers prefer humidity, while the basil traps heat and moisture, making them good companion plants.
Chilies are good companions to a lot of plants. Growing chilies with basil enhance the flavor of chilies. It helps deter garden pests like aphids, thrips, mosquitoes, and flies. Basil provides ground cover to chilies.
Like bell-peppers, chilies require humidity which the basil provides.
Traditionally used as border plants by gardeners, marigolds segregated the different flower beds and vegetable gardens.
The pot marigold variety repels certain beetle species, while the fragrant marigold deters beetles and some nematodes as well.
Marigold and basil make a very effective insect-repellant shield with their strong aroma. Planting them together doubles up protection against pests that feed on crops.
Tip: The best way to plant them together is to plant the basil plant first and planting the marigold around 2 feet away from the basil plant.
This is close enough for the plants to benefit from each other, but also allows the space that basil requires to grow.
Green leafy root vegetables like carrots, radishes, parsnips, turnips, and beets are all good companions to basil. The scent of a basil plant planted near these vegetables is a sure way to keep pests away.
Some other plants that can be good companions to basil are:
- Brussels sprouts
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Worst Basil Companion Plants
Let us look at few plants which should not be planted next to Basil.
Basil and cucumbers are the worst companion plants.
Planting a cucumber near any aromatic herb should be avoided. This is because cucumbers have high water content and are prone to take the flavor of whatever grows near them.
The herbs with their strong flavor affect the taste of cucumber and reduce their yield.
Fennel attracts beneficial insects, yet it is not recommended to be grown near other plants. It does not grow well with most plants and even acts as an inhibitor for their growth.
It is a depressant that can stunt the growth of other plants or even kill them off. That is why, although it is relatively easy to grow fennel, they are best grown separate from all other plants.
Mint is an invasive herb. Its roots grow fast and wide, taking up most of the nutrients in the soil for itself. That leaves practically no nutrients for other plants which stunts their growth or even kills them.
Basil generally prefers vegetables as companion plants to herbs. Chamomile, oregano, and chives are some of the very few herbs that basil grows well with.
Avoid planting sage and rue near basil. It has been noticed that rue inhibits the growth of basil through production of certain chemicals.
Herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary require vey less water, whereas basil requires plenty of water. Due to this difference in water requirement, it is better to plant them separately.
Benefits of companion planting
Companion planting has been done for a long time. Let us look at some of the benefits it brings.
There are so many pests that plague crops and hinder their growth. Planting companions together for a natural pest-free area has been in practice for a long time.
This is one of the most beneficial reasons for companion planting, and one of the easiest ways to keep pests at bay. Planting certain plants together repels insects and pests.
For example, basil acts as a pest-repellant for a number of plants by creating a shield with its scent.
Attract beneficial insect
Apart from repelling pests, plants like basil or fennel also attract insects like ladybugs, who are predators to the pests. Planting attractive flowers like borage bring in pollinators like bees.
Improve soil nutrients
Crops require nutrients like any living being in order to grow.
The roots do the work of taking in nutrients from the soil to help create energy for the plant. This leads to a loss of nutrients in the soil, and the soil becomes barren and infertile eventually.
The gardener has to work on providing nutrients to the soil to keep it well-fed. Planting companion plants together helps in this process. There are several crops that add nutrients back to the soil.
Companion plants like peas and pole beans add nutrients like nitrogen to the soil, making it richer and benefiting other plants.
Many companion plants when planted together release certain chemicals that are beneficial to the other plants in order to grow better. Besides, when companion plants repel insects and attract pollinators, it helps the other plant to grow healthier.
Although a lot of these claims are not backed by scientific proof, many gardeners claim that planting certain crops together helps enhance the taste and flavor of certain plants.
Basil, for example, when planted near tomato, makes the tomato taste sweeter.
Provide ground cover, shade, and scaffolding
Plants that grow bushier and spread low act as a cover for the soil. It keeps away the harsh sun helping to keep the soil and the plants that grow around it cool.
Tall plants provide shade for the shorter plants and keep the area cool.
A plant that grows tall can be planted around a plant that requires support to grow, providing a natural scaffold.
For example, planting creepers and vines next to companion plants that grow tall and firm can save space as grow well together.
Serve as markers
With slow-growing plants, it is often difficult to tell where they will grow. Farmers often plant fast-growing plants like radishes to create clear segments.
Many times, companion plants are complementary. Intermingling plants that benefit each other is not only nutritious but also saves space in the garden.
For example, a plant with deep roots can be paired with a plant with shallow roots which can help both plants grow together in harmony.
Companion planting encourages you to try out different plants together, thus increasing the variety of plants and simultaneously the diversity.
Companion planting helps control pests, assists in pollination, and saves space. All these factors eventually increase the productivity of your plants and help in the long run.
Supports nature’s cycle
The method of companion planting is just the way things exist in nature naturally. A variety of plants growing together and helping each other grow without any outside help is how nature works.