Skilled gardeners use a special technique called companion planting to maximize the health and yield of their vegetable garden. Planting certain plants side by side helps ward off pests and disease, keeps the soil moist, and, in some instances, saves space in your garden (a plus for those growing in a greenhouse). While some popular companion gardens, like the Three Sisters Garden, use vegetable plants as companions, herb plants also make great pairs. In fact, the beneficial properties of herbs complete the garden ecosystem, allowing all the plants to synergistically thrive.
Here are some of our favorite companion herbs for growing both indoors and out:
Basil is a remarkable greenhouse herb. While this plant can be finicky at high altitudes, planting it in a greenhouse next to tomatoes allows both plants to thrive. Basil’s scent attracts insects like butterflies who help pollinate the tomato flowers, aiding in the production of more fruit. Basil’s distinctive scent repels harmful aphids, hornworms, and whiteflies. Growing basil and tomatoes together also enhances the flavor of each crop and the bounty can be harvested simultaneously for the perfect Italian pairing. (Margherita pizza, anyone?)
Keep basil away from rue and sage, as basil loves moist soil and the others need it fairly dry.
Not only is parsley simple to grow, but, like basil, it attracts beneficial insects to your garden. Parsley’s flowers appeal to hoverflies, a larva that eats aphids and other harmful insects. The plant pairs well with asparagus, onions, tomatoes, and roses (of which it’s said to enhance the flowers’ fragrance). It’s also a biennial herb, so let it flower and go to seed, and then enjoy a two-year harvest.
Avoid planting parsley next to mint. Mint’s renegade growth will overtake this herb’s biennial pattern.
The fragrant feathery dill plant grows well alongside anything in the cabbage family, as it hinders the dreaded cabbage worm from invading your crop. Plant it alongside flowering plants, too, as the beautiful yellow blooms attract pollinators of all types. However, you may want to do so with caution, as dill’s flowers may compete for pollination with the flowers of tomatoes and cucumbers. Still, if you choose to plant them side by side with these veggies, simply trim the dill when it flowers and let your tomatoes take center stage.
Avoid planting dill next to corn, asparagus, or lettuce, as it attracts predatory insects.
Chives’ bulbous and edible flowers are a delight to any vegetable or herb garden, and, similar to other herbs, they attract pollinators too. When chives are planted near carrots and beets that have been allowed to bloom, the flowers confuse each other’s flying pests, thus protecting them both from the invaders. Chives planted next to roses prevent black spots, and a tea made from chives can be sprinkled on growing cucumbers to combat the infamous fluffy mildew. Chives also enhance both the growth and the flavor of carrots and—get this—strawberries, when planted alongside these plants.
Don’t plant chives next to beans and peas, however, as they can deter the growth of these vining treasures.
The mother of all companion herbs, rosemary requires little fussing and grows well in dry soil. Rosemary’s aromatics repel the bean beetle, cabbage fly, cabbage moth, and carrot fly. This plant helps beans, broccoli, cabbage, and hot peppers flourish, too. The best companion for rosemary, however, is broccoli, as the herb wards off broccolis’ offenders, while at the same time, broccoli enriches the soil around the herb.
Rosemary is one of the only herbs that does not get along with other herbs, with sage being the only exception.