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13 Best Companion Plants for Basil (And 5 to Avoid)

Basil is a delicious herb and one of the easiest to grow. Sprinkle a few seeds in the garden and enjoy homemade pesto, flavorful soups, pasta, focaccia, and more all summer, and even throughout the year (pesto freezes wonderfully!). Sprinkle those seeds in the right places, and you’ll also enjoy benefits from and to basil in the garden. The following lists contain the best companion plants for basil and plants that should not be grown nearby so that you can make the most of your basil.

potted basil and tomato plants

What is companion planting?

Planting several types of plants together in close proximity can result in some pretty handy benefits, like fewer pests or better growth. Doing so intentionally is called companion planting. Learn more about this practice and which plants grow best together in our Companion Planting Guide.

Best Companion Plants for Basil

Being such an aromatic herb, basil deters many pests, making it a great companion for a lot of plants in the vegetable garden. Plus, it also repels mosquitos, which keeps you, the gardener, happier as well. Here are some of the plants that most benefit from growing near basil.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus Seeds for Planting - Mary Washington Non-GMO Perennial Vegetable Variety- 2 Grams Seeds Great for Spring and Early Summer Gardens by Gardeners Basics

Basil repels asparagus beetles, among other pests. When grown together, basil and asparagus seem to attract ladybugs, which in turn help control aphids.

2. Beet

Seed Needs, Rainbow Beet Mixture (Beta vulgaris) Bulk Pack of 1,500 Seeds Non-GMO

With its strong aroma, basil repels some pests and confuses others by masking the scent of target crops like beets.

3. Borage

Sweet Yards Seed Co. Borage Seeds - Extra Large Packet - Over 1,200 Open Pollinated Non-GMO Wildflower Seeds - Borago officianalis

Borage works well alongside basil to repel tomato pests. As an added bonus, it also might improve both the growth and flavor of basil. Here’s how to grow borage.

4. Cabbage

Cabbage Seeds for Planting 5 Individual Packets Bok Choy, Michihili (Napa) Chinese Cabbage, Red, Golden Acre and Copenhagen Market Early for Your Non GMO Heirloom Vegetable Garden by Gardeners Basics

Basil helps deter insect pests that feed on cabbage, broccoli, and other brassicas. Because it grows quickly, basil can also be used as a groundcover while the slower brassicas continue growing.

5. Carrot

Burpee Kaleidoscope Blend Non-GMO Rainbow Carrot Vegetable Planting Home Garden | Five Colors: Red, Orange, Purple, White, and Yellow, 1500 Seeds

Growing basil with carrots may help reduce damage to the greens done by insect pests like flies.

6. Chamomile

Sow Right Seeds - Roman Chamomile Seeds for Planting - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds; Instructions to Plant and Grow an Herbal Tea Garden, Indoors or Outdoor; Great Gardening Gift. (1)

Chamomile is one of the few companion plants that actually benefit basil, rather than the other way around. It is said to increase the concentration of essential oils in basil and other herbs.

7. Chives

Sow Right Seeds - Chives Seed for Planting - Non-GMO Heirloom; Instructions to Plant and Grow Kitchen Herb Garden, Indoor or Outdoor; Great Garden Gift (1)

Chives may also increase essential oils in basil, making it more effective as a pest deterrent in the garden and more flavorful in the kitchen.

8. Marigold

Seeds Of Change 8173 Certified Organic Crackerjack Marigold

Marigolds and basil make a super companion pair in the vegetable garden, as both repel many pests, and marigolds have the added benefit of attracting beneficial insects.

9. Oregano

Sow Right Seeds - Oregano Seed for Planting; Non-GMO Heirloom; Instructions to Plant and Grow a Kitchen Herb Garden, Indoor or Outdoor; Great Gardening Gift (1)

Like chamomile and chives, oregano may improve the flavor and pest-deterring quality of basil. It also pairs well with basil in cooking.

10. Peppers

Sow Right Seeds - Hot and Sweet Pepper Seed Collection for Planting - Banana, Chocolate, Cayenne, California Wonder, Jalapeno, Poblano, Cubanelle and Serrano Peppers - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds to Plant

Nightshades like peppers benefit from pest-repelling basil. Additionally, basil helps increase humidity, which pepper plants love, and shade the fruits from sunscald.

11. Radish

Burpee Cherry Belle Radish Seeds 1000 seeds

Basil helps deter pests from the leafy tops of radishes and provides cooling shade to this spring vegetable, possibly extending the growing season a bit.

12. Tomato

250 Cherry Tomato Seeds Large | Non-GMO | Fresh Garden Seeds

Tomatoes and basil are a winning combination in both the garden and the kitchen. Basil repels the dreaded tomato hornworm and whiteflies, increases tomato yields, and, some gardeners claim, improves tomato flavor.

13. Turnip

Turnip Seeds for Planting (Purple White Top Globe) Heirloom, Non-GMO Vegetable Variety- 1 Gram Seeds Great for Summer, Fall and Winter Gardens by Gardeners Basics

The strong scent of basil helps repel pests that might otherwise munch on turnip greens.

Worst Companion Plants for Basil

With the exception of the few listed above, basil doesn’t typically get along well with other herbs; it tends to prefer the company of vegetables. Here are some plants that should definitely not be planted next to basil.

1. Cucumber

Being mostly water, cucumbers tend to take on the flavor of anything grown nearby, especially pungent herbs like basil. To avoid weird, basil-flavored cucumbers, keep the two plants separate. Some gardeners claim that basil also reduces the yield of cucumber vines.

2. Fennel

Fennel does not grow well with most garden plants, and basil is no exception. Although it does attract beneficial insects, it can stunt or even kill basil and other plants grown too close to it.

3. Rosemary

Basil and rosemary may not be mortal enemies, but they have very different growing requirements. While rosemary prefers dry soil with excellent drainage, basil needs significantly more water.

4. Rue

Never plant basil and rue together, as rue will inhibit the growth of basil, leaving you with too many pests and not enough pesto!

5. Sage

Sage is one of the many herbs that don’t get along well with basil. Like rosemary, sage prefers dry, sandy soil, while basil likes soil that is full of moisture and nutrients.

Basil is such a wonderful herb to have around and so easy to grow, you almost have to have this plant in your garden. Plant it with some of the many companion plants it thrives alongside (avoiding the few it doesn’t like), and your garden will see fewer pests, while you’ll be in pesto heaven. Mmm, I can almost smell it!

13 best companion plants for basil, and 5 to avoid
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Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.

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