If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a guide of plants that work well together and help one another grow healthy and strong. You might notice that some of these combinations also make good plate friends, too!  

  1. Tomatoes and basil. Not only do these two go together in the kitchen, but they also pair well in the garden. Basil helps the tomato plant produce more tomatoes and repels flies, mosquitos, and tomato hornworms. When you start your tomato seeds indoors, be sure to start plenty of basil seed as well.
  2. Peppers and basil. Much the same as tomatoes, the basil will repel unwanted pests such as aphids and spider mites, as well as mosquitos and flies. It is also believed that basil improves the flavor of the peppers.
  3. Carrots and onions (and tomatoes). Onions repel the carrot fly. Parsnips are also attacked by the carrot fly, so plant onions near them too. Another companion for carrots are tomatoes. The tomato plant will provide some heat-protection from the summer sun and produce solanine, which is a natural insecticide for the pests that attack carrots. At the same time, the carrot will help aerate the soil and allow more water to be absorbed by the tomato. So when you are planting your vegetable seeds, be sure to sow carrot seeds next to your tomato and onion plants.
  4. Marigolds and most vegetables. Marigolds should be planted throughout your garden because they repel so many pests. One important companion role is in and among your cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage plants. The marigolds are very effective at repelling the small white cabbage moth, which lays its eggs on your cabbage family plants. When those eggs hatch and the caterpillars start eating, they can destroy an entire small plant in no time. Marigolds are also good at deterring nematodes in the soil.
  5. Dill and cabbages. Plant dill near your Brassicas (cabbage family). The dill will attract the beneficial wasp that will attack the cabbage looper. Dill is also said to improve the flavor and growth of cabbage family plants.
  6. Nasturtiums throughout the garden. Nasturtiums work by repelling aphids and beetles, such as the pesty bean beetle. It also is effective against the squash bug and potato bug, as well as white flies in the greenhouse.
  7. Summer savory and beans. Summer savory also repels the bean beetle and is believed to improve the growth rate and flavor of its companion  beans..
  8. Garlic and vegetables. Garlic will deter the Japanese beetle and aphids in the garden, plus, a garlic oil spray is an effective way to deter rabbits and deer.
  9. Borage and strawberries. Borage is a great plant to include in your garden to attract pollinators. They love the edible flowers, so it’s great to plant borage near strawberry beds.
  10. Chives and fruits. Chives are good companions to apples, berries, roses, grapes,  carrots, peas and tomatoes. Chives are also said to repel aphids and Japanese Beetles while improving the flavor and growth of their companion plants.

Have fun with companion planting. While some combinations are the result of scientific testing and knowledge, a lot has been passed down through gardening families and may or may not be valid. Still, don’t be afraid to experiment. Think of it this way, if you are going to plant chives anyhow, why not plant them next to the peas? If you are planting a number of tomatoes, do your own experiment and surround half with basil and the other half without basil.  

Some things to consider first are access to sunlight. Don’t position large plants in a location that will shade other plants. Don’t plant two water seekers in the same bed where they will have to compete with each other for moisture. The same is true with heavy feeders. Don’t place them where they have to compete. If you are planting a vining crop and you can’t grow vertically, don’t place it next to a vegetable that could be smothered. 

Gardeners should be ready to learn something new every season, as there is no shortage of gardening best practices. Experiment with these friends and enemies in the garden to see if all goes as expected or if you discover something new. Have fun! 

Need more info? email: forevergardener@yahoo.com 

Joan Johnson

Rutgers Master Gardener

Rutgers Environmental Steward