Basil is one of the most common herbs planted in the garden, no matter how new or seasoned the gardener is. Little wonder it’s such a popular plant, when it can be companion planted with so many other types of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
Basil is easy to combine with other garden herbs such as oregano, cilantro, and parsley. Basil also grows very well with vegetables and flowers in the garden. Try mixing basil with plants such as peppers, tomatoes, and calendulas to maximize space and attract pollinators.
If you want to maximize the amount of basil you can grow to include in recipes and bouquets (Yep! It’s a great addition with flowers), then tuck those plants in wherever you can find room.
Fortunately, basil plays nice with many others, so finding those spots isn’t hard.
Vegetable companion plants for basil
Basil is a tender annual, meaning that it can be started easily from seed once all danger of frost has passed. If basil is started too early the seeds will sit dormant in the soil until it warms up enough to plant. Most of the companions listed here are also warm season annuals, and they all have the same growing needs.
Similar growing requirements between companions is important. You don’t want one plant that needs a drier soil planted next to a water-hungry plant. Doing so will most likely result in one plant’s growth being stunted when its needs are continually unmet.
Size is another important factor. Basil usually tops out at one to two feel tall. Either plant it with similarly sized plants, or be sure to keep it to the side or front of the bed to avoid the basil getting too much shade.
Perhaps the most classic of all basil pairings, tomatoes are an excellent companion plant. Companion planting folklore says that each plant will improve the flavor of the other, but taste tests don’t show that to be the case. Even so, basil and tomatoes are still beneficial to plant together.
Having these garden companions planted side by side makes for quick harvesting when you’re making a dish that calls for them both. Grab a few handfuls of basil leaves at the same time that you’re cutting a branch of ripe tomatoes and you’re done.
Another heat lover, peppers will mature to about the same size as a basil plant, which makes it easy to tuck the plants closely together if you need to save space.
Just like with tomatoes, gardeners say that basil will help improve the flavor of the peppers. As a long-time companion planter, I can’t say that I’ve noticed any difference when I plant these two crops together.
Nonetheless, I do enjoy seeing them grow side by side. The white spikes of blooms contrast nicely with the red and green peppers, and the small basil blooms bring in plenty of bees who then stop by my pepper plants as well.
Flower companion plants for basil
Planting flowers with herbs might be new to you, but just wait until you try it. A small bouquet of fluttering cosmos flowers mixed with the broad leaves and delicate flower spikes of basil makes a gorgeous and rustic arrangement.
The soil and water needs of cosmos and basil make them compatible. Cosmos can tolerate the same full sun that makes basil prolific, and both can grow well with either regular watering or slightly less. Just be sure to plant the basil in front of the cosmos so it doesn’t get shaded out, as cosmos can grow very tall by late summer.
Another flower that has potential as a basil companion is the nasturtium. With edible petals, leaves, and seeds, nasturtium can add spice to your pesto recipe or color to your summer salad.
Both plants have very similar growing needs of regular watering and average soil. Nasturtiums are available as trailing or clumping varieties, and either one is compatible with basil. Just choose a growth habit that works for the space you have available, since both types grow low enough that they won’t shade out the basil plants.
Herb companion plants for basil
Keep that mediterranean theme going by planting basil and oregano together. Oregano has a lower growth habit than basil, sending long runners covered in leaves across the ground.
This makes it a great choice to plant with basil if you want to maximize your garden space, since you can plant them closer than with other companions. As the basil grows upright, the oregano grows outward, so there’s no worry about one plant shading out the other.
Both basil and parsley have similar growing needs and harvest periods that they’re great companions in the garden and in the kitchen. Try adding a few basil leaves with your homemade falafel; it adds some nice variety to the flavor!
If you start both of these herbs from seed, be aware that parsley takes longer to germinate, so try sowing those seeds first so the basil doesn’t get too much of a head start.
Try other combinations
Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive. Most other vegetables, herbs, and flowers will perform just fine with basil as long as the basic needs are met, as mentioned. Just use common sense, and chances are your basil will be plenty happy for the season.