There are some perfect pairings in the world. Peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs and ketchup, and tomatoes and basil all are pairings made in heaven, creating dreamy flavor profiles. Growing basil and tomatoes together in your garden make sense; they’re truly a perfect pairing.

Aside from growing basil and tomatoes together because of their delicious flavors together, there are real benefits to doing so. Gardeners claim that planting these two crops together helps to repel insects and make the tomatoes taste better.

Is that true?

It can be hard to tell. You won’t find any scientific evidence to support the planting basil and tomatoes together. What you will find is that hundreds of gardeners tell you that this companion pairing works, enhancing flavor, increasing yield, and banishing bothersome pests.

Are you ready to learn more about growing basil and tomatoes together? Let’s take a look.

Basil is my favorite herb to grow in my backyard. When I pull weeds, I can smell the strong aroma from a few feet away. It dances in the breeze and makes me think about tossing together a fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad with drizzles of balsamic vinegar.

Doesn’t everyone love the scent of basil?

While humans love the scent of basil, certain insects find the scent offensive. The plants and extracts made from the leaves are useful as a natural deterrent for many pests, such as:

  • White Flies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Tomato Hornworms
  • Aphids
  • Houseflies
  • Asparagus Beetles

Many of these pests can be devastating for a tomato crop. Tomato hornworms can destroy your harvest, aphids suck the juices from the leaves, and beetles eat at the roots.

So, aside from decreasing pests, planting basil and tomatoes together helps to improve the harvest size by pushing away insects that would call your crop breakfast and dinner. Basil and tomatoes can be harvested at the same time so that you can have a considerable yield together.

Sweeter Flavor

Next, gardeners swear that putting basil near tomatoes helps to improve the flavor of the tomatoes. So, where does this idea come from?

The rumor goes that, if you plant these two crops close together, the plants share nutrients under the soil surface. Sharing nutrients will enhance the flavor of the tomatoes because flavor comes from the soil. Add in a reduction in insects bothering the fruits, and the combination seems like a genius idea.

What do these tomatoes taste like?

Some gardeners say that these tomatoes have an enhanced sweetness, so they’re delicious for fresh eating. Other gardeners report that they can taste the basil flavor in the tomatoes. Either way sounds excellent to me!

Companion Planting

Whether or not it causes any change in flavor, basil and tomatoes are natural companions planting partners. It won’t cause any adverse effects such as a significant reduction in yields, so those with small gardens don’t have to worry that they might accidentally cause problems.

If you want to use companion planting to reap the most benefits, you need 2-3 basil plants per tomato plant. Basil attracts bees and other beneficial insects to the garden. Tomatoes need to be pollinated, and the strong scent of basil is pollinator-friendly.

How to Grow Tomatoes and Basil Together

If you want to try this companion planting duo together, you have to learn how to grow tomatoes and basil together. Neither one will thrive and flourish without some help.

So, let’s take a look at what you should know about growing these plants.

Fixing the Soil

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so you need to mix rich compost into the soil. Before you put the plants into the ground, make sure the soil is well-draining. That can be from mixing in compost, rotted manure, shredded leaves, or peat moss. 

Picking the Right Location

Both tomatoes and basil love heat; they originate from the Mediterranean region after all! Wherever you plant them, they both need to have full sun.

Planting Basil and Tomatoes

You have a few options when you plant these together. A few choices include:

  • Alternate tomato and basil plants. You can put two tomato plants and a single basil plant, or whatever pattern you would like to use.
  • Plant tomatoes in a row and put basil plants staggered in front of them.
  • Keep the basil in pots nearby, but that means they won’t share nutrients with the tomato plants.
  • Put basil at the corners of your raised beds with tomatoes in the middle.

First, you have to decide how you want to plant tomatoes and basil. I prefer planting tomatoes in a row and then place the basil in front of a few of the plants. Do what works for you!

Let’s look at how to plant tomatoes and basil.

  • 1. Dig the planting holes for your tomatoes. Make sure the hole is deep enough so that you can bury the first set of leaves. Once planted, make sure you place the stakes or cages immediately. You don’t want to damage the roots later.
  • 2. Depending on the tomato variety that you plant, each one should be 18-24 inches apart. Indeterminate tomato plants are typically larger than determinate ones.
  • 3. Basil needs to be planted 12-18 inches apart, depending on the variety. They need to be 18 inches away from the tomato plants to ensure ample sunlight and air circulation. Tomato plants are so much larger, so they can easily overpower basil plants.
  • 4. Both plants have similar watering needs. At first, water the young plants frequently so that the roots don’t dry out. They need to spread and establish for their health. After that, you can water tomatoes and basil once per week or every 4-5 days.
  • 5. Tomato plants need to be pruned regularly. Aside from removing suckers, you also need to remove the bottom branches, but if the branches and leaves touch the ground, they need to be removed. Depending on the size of the branches and plant, you might need to tie the plant to the cage or stake.

To Sum Up

The jury is out on whether or not basil will alter the flavor of tomatoes, but we do know that they are ideal companion planting partners. Basil will deter pests and attract beneficial pollinators that tomatoes need for a successful harvest.

Since both plants have similar growing requirements, it’s natural to place them in the same garden beds. If you want to give it a try, you won’t have to worry about any adverse effects. It’s a safe experiment for your garden.