Nothing is more frustrating then going to the garden to harvest a tomato you’ve worked months on growing to find a bug beat you to it! Do you know what to plant with tomatoes to keep the bugs away? Well, I asked a bunch of homesteaders and gardeners what they plant with their tomatoes and here is what they suggested!
Generally speaking, the gardeners and homesteaders I surveyed recommended many different plants, including marigolds, basil, borage, nasturtiums as a companion plant to tomatoes to help keep the bugs away and encourage pollinators.
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Marigolds are by far the most popular response in what to plant with tomatoes. This is because they are thought to help control pests. While there is not a lot of scientific research out there, there was a study done (full study can be found here) that shows marigolds did protect tomatoes from whiteflies through emission of limonene.
In addition, the gardeners mentioned that that they believe the Marigolds protect against worms and other pests and help protect your tomatoes. And they look great while doing it, what’s not to love?
While there may not be a ton of scientific studies out there on this matter, many different gardeners recommend marigolds to me. Enough of them, that I will be in fact purchasing some this weekend to add to the garden!
I did ask what variety gardeners preferred, and there was a lot of mixed answers – including just grabbing whatever is on sale! Some specific varieties mentioned were French Marigolds, including Golden Guardian variety and Queen Sophia Marigolds. But my takeaway was – buy whatever you can get and get them growing!
Basil & Parsley
Basil is also recommended for repelling flies and the hornworms. Parsley will also help keep the lady bugs away. But what is even better is that they taste excellent in your homemade tomato sauce. Practical for both a good growing companion and cooking companion! I’ve even been told planting basil near by can help flavor the tomatoes? Looking forward to finding out!
Here is how we make our no peel tomato sauce, that the basil would go great with! Homemade Tomato Sauce – Easy No Peeling
Calendula is known as pot marigold. Its an annual flower, but can reseed, so you may not need to replant each year. Like the other recommendations, it was suggested because they keep pests away!
Once you have the Calendula flowers in the garden, you can use them to make tea – which is believed to have healing benefits. More on that from WebMD.
Sweet Alyssum is a ground cover flower, that attracts pollinators. It also attracts hoverflies which can help with aphids if those are an issue in your garden. These flowers are annual flowers, so you’ll need to plant them each year. But they make a great border for your garden and can help with weeds as they block out sun if planted correctly!
The flowers also have additional uses, according to healthbenefitstimes.com it is used to treat colds, coughs and abdominal pains, among other things!
Nasturtiums are an edible, annual flower that will also attract pollinators to your garden. In addition, there are claims that these with deter stink bugs which can damage your tomatoes. When they are done helping your tomatoes, you can make tea or add them to decorate a salad or dessert!
According to rxlist.com these flowers also have medicinal properties to treat urinary tract infections, coughs and more!
Borage is another flower, that attracts those pollinators and repels those hornworms. It does self seed, so plant in a spot you’d like it year-over-year. Not only does it have benefits of attracting pollinators and helping keeping pests away, there are many who use this flower for medicinal needs. This article from the blog practicalselfreliance.com discusses the different ways you can use this flower after its done boosting your tomatoes!
When asking for suggestions, I even had one person (Tonya D.) share that she uses Christmas ornaments on her plants to trick the birds. I’ve heard about this for strawberries, but never tomatoes. If you have birds that mess with your tomatoes, put a red Christmas ornament on your plant when it grows. The birds will peck the ornaments and realize they are not food. Then when the real tomatoes come in, they will already be trained to leave them alone. I know people use this same technique for strawberries, by painting rocks that look like strawberries and placing them near their plants. I think this is a great tip for someone looking to keep birds away, thank you for the tip Tonya!
So, What Should you Plant With Your Tomatoes?
What you should plant with your tomatoes really depends on your needs! We do not have a pollinator issue, so I’m not worried about attracting bees and the like. We have plenty in the area. But, those darn worms did get to my tomatoes towards the end of the season. So we will be trying out basil and marigolds this year! A row of basil will be planted with the tomatoes and then I’m thinking if I can find some marigold plants, I’ll grab those as well (since its June, so there is no time to waste!)
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What will you plant with your tomatoes? I’d love to hear what you chose, and if you thought it was successful!