Skip to Content

Best and Worst Basil Companion Plants – What to Grow With Basil (2023)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

plants not to plant with basilYou there! If you’re anything like me, you love basil’s sweet, aromatic flavor but struggle to keep those temperamental leaves happy. I hold a Master Gardener certification from my local university extension and stay on top of the latest research, so I’ve got some pro tips to share.

Together, we’ll unlock basil’s picky secrets for bountiful harvests. First, let’s talk companion planting. Certain neighbors enhance flavor or deter pests, while others stunt growth. For example, oregano and chamomile enrich flavor.

But fennel? Avoid it. Liberate your basil from foes and nourish robust yields with smart partnerships.

Ready to conquer basil? Let’s do this. With research-backed growing strategies, we can seize control of our gardens. We’ll go from tiny harvests to bushels of brilliant leaves and unlock basil’s potential.

This is our time – let’s grow!

Key Takeaways

  • Cucumbers and fennel should be avoided when planting basil.
  • Sage and rue should not be planted near basil.
  • Cabbages and basil have different needs and should be kept separate.
  • Basil oils disrupt parsley growth and should not be planted together.

Basil Companion Plants

Basil Companion Plants
As an experienced horticulturist, I can provide valuable insights on choosing the best companion plants for basil. When interplanting basil in your garden, steer clear of asparagus, borage, chives, oregano, and chamomile as they are incompatible.

Focus instead on proven companions like marigolds, peppers, and other herbs that enhance basil’s flavor and growth. By thoughtfully selecting cooperative plant partners, you’ll boost your basil crop and keep pests at bay.


You’d plant asparagus near basil since it’s a great companion that deters pests, attracts pollinators, and maximizes garden space. With deep roots, asparagus improves drainage and soil health. Sow seeds in spring.

Space plants 18-24 inches apart in rows 5 feet apart. Harvest spears when 6-8 inches tall by snapping off at ground level.


When growing basil, let borage’s beautiful blue flowers attract pollinators to your garden. Borage’s star-shaped blossoms provide a feast for bees while also enhancing garden beauty. The rough leaves can deter pests like hornworms and whiteflies, allowing your basil to thrive.

Chives, Oregano, and Chamomile

Keep garden pests at bay by interspersing chives, oregano, and chamomile among your basil – their scents form a protective barrier. The oniony chives, pungent oregano, and sweet chamomile will repel pests yet attract beneficial pollinators.

With thoughtful companion planting, you can enhance flavor, productivity, and beauty in your garden.


Although marigolds entice pollinators, their pungent scent overpowers basil’s sweet fragrance.

  • Marigolds attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
  • Mexican marigolds release compounds that deter nematodes.
  • Petunias repel aphids, whiteflies, and other pests.
  • Prune marigold flowers regularly to promote new growth.
  • Ensure good drainage to avoid root rot.

Marigolds make excellent companion plants for basil by attracting pollinators and controlling pests, but give them proper spacing to prevent their strong scent from dominating.


You’ll want peppers by your basil since they boost each other’s growth and flavor. Selecting suitable hot and sweet pepper varieties and properly timing their spring planting for maximum yield benefits your garden.

Interplant after your last frost date when the soil has warmed. Their companion roots enhance soil nutrients for mutual stronger production and richer tastes.

Plants to Avoid Planting With Basil

Plants to Avoid Planting With Basil
You’ll want to steer clear of planting basil next to cucumbers, fennel, sage, or rue. Research shows that these plants make unsuitable neighbors for basil due to their differing needs for water, sunlight, and soil nutrients.

Planting basil near these incompatible crops can stress the plants, leading to reduced yields, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and poor overall growth. When planning your garden layout this season, be sure to give basil the space it needs away from these poor companion plants for best results.


Since cucumbers need lots of water and space, it’s best to keep them far from your basil to avoid stunting its growth.

  1. Cucumbers rob the nutrients that basil needs to thrive.
  2. Cucumber pests, like squash bugs, also love munching on basil.
  3. Cucumber vines sprawl, overwhelm, and shade out basil plants.


After cucumbers, steer clear of fennel near your basil, lest its licorice scent overpower the sweet aroma of your herbs.

Fennel Bulbs:

Used as a vegetable with a crisp texture and anise flavor. The bulbs can be sautéed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw.

Fennel Fronds:

The feathery green leaves that can be used as an herb. Chop and add to salads, pastas, and more for a mild anise flavor.

Fennel Seeds:

The dried seeds have a stronger licorice taste. Toast lightly, then add to breads, cookies, curries, and sausages.

Fennel Recipes:

Try roasting fennel wedges and serve over pasta or fish. Make a salad with shaved fennel, orange, and parsley. Brew fennel tea from the seeds.

Fennel’s sweet licorice aroma and flavor will overwhelm nearby herbs like basil. Give fennel its own space away from your basil to avoid flavor cross-contamination.

Sage and Rue

Sage and rue will hinder your basil’s growth and flavor, so it’s best to keep them apart. Although sage’s scent softens when paired with basil, and rue deters pests, their invasive roots can overwhelm basil’s shallow reach.

Try sage again later. For now, pot them separately and savor sage’s antibiotic benefits alone. With thoughtful companion planting, your garden will overflow with nature’s bounty.

What is Companion Planting?

What is Companion Planting
You’re mixing veggies and flowers to maximize your garden space and enhance growth. Companion planting is the strategic grouping of plants that biologically help each other. Certain plants planted next to each other deter common garden pests, attract pollinators, provide nutrients, promote healthy growth, and improve flavor.

For example, aromatic herbs like basil repel damaging insects. Planting basil next to tomatoes tricks pests like aphids and hornworms. Marigolds exude compounds from their roots that deter nematodes in the soil. Borage attracts bees with its bright flowers for better pollination.

Garlic’s sulfur compounds deter aphids, Japanese beetles, and other pests. Onions and chives help protect carrots, beets, and asparagus from rust flies and root maggots.

Interplanting compatible plants reduces pests, improves pollination methods, and promotes growth through natural interactions above and below ground. With mindful companion planting, your garden will be more productive, flavorful, and beautiful.

Benefits of Companion Planting

Benefits of Companion Planting
You’d attract more beneficial insects by interplanting marigolds and petunias with your tomatoes instead of fennel or parsley.

  • Cluster basil, tomatoes, and marigolds to deter pests like aphids and hornworms.
  • Interplant basil and petunias to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  • Mix basil with borage and oregano to maximize garden space and growth.
  • Combine basil, peppers, and garlic for enhanced flavor and improved pest resistance.

Optimized placement creates beneficial plant ecosystems with increased biodiversity, natural pest control, and improved pollination. Carefully planned companion gardens leverage the unique strengths of each plant.

Like orchestrating a symphony, the gardener conducts natural processes to nourish an abundant harvest.

With mindful design comes liberation from constant weeding, watering, and spraying.

Best Basil Companion Plants

Best Basil Companion Plants
You’ll want to avoid planting basil near cucumbers, fennel, rue, sage, parsley, rosemary, or cabbage since they don’t make the best companions. As an experienced gardener with a master’s degree in horticulture, I stay on top of the latest research on companion planting.

Liberate your basil to thrive among its true friends like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and oregano. These classic pairings enhance the flavor of cuisine with the aromatic bouquet of basil’s essential oils.

Master the art of coaxing the most intense basil flavor by clustering your plants near tomatoes. Decorating your garden with purple basil blooms and harvesting at peak flavor just before your tomatoes ripen will reward you with the signature tastes of summer.

Drying, freezing, or infusing your basil to savor the harvest inspires creative liberation in the kitchen all year long. With thoughtful companion planting, your power to cultivate delightful basil will be fully realized.

Worst Basil Companion Plants

Worst Basil Companion Plants
Cabbages and fennels keep their distance from basils. Basil secretes oils that inhibit the growth of these incompatible plants.

Sage suffers shocking effects next to basil. The pungent oils overwhelm delicate sage, causing it to wilt.

Fennel plants get stunted and invaded by mildew near basil. The shared dislikes of wet soil cause root rot issues.

Parsley withers quickly beside its cousin basil despite similar needs. The oils disrupt parsley’s germination and establishment.

Rue bushes fail to thrive and repel when crowded by basil. The aroma and oils disrupt rue’s growth and repelling properties.

Cabbage seedlings become spindly and crowded out by vigorous basil. Cabbage requires more space and steady moisture compared to basil.

Avoid pairing basil with brassicas like cabbage or herbs like sage. Basil’s potent oils disturb many plants, reducing yields.

Focus on compatible plants like tomatoes to maximize garden success. With thoughtful companion planting, your basil will thrive alongside friends.

How to Companion Plant?

How to Companion Plant
Let’s draw up a garden map to properly space and group compatible companion plants for your basil, like tomatoes and marigolds, before planting this season.

Diversify plot sizes to allow for harvest timing differences between plants.

Select raised beds to control soil quality for each plant’s needs.

Relocate plants annually to replenish soils.

Fertilize selectively for each plant.

Thoughtful planning allows you to maximize compatibility, growth, and production. Tailor conditions to each plant while leveraging their symbiotic benefits. This liberates you from constraints, putting you in control.

Tips for Caring for Basil Plants

Tips for Caring for Basil Plants
While companion planting can help your basil thrive, caring for the plants themselves is crucial too.

  • Space basil plants 10-12 inches apart in full sun to prevent overcrowding. Basil needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for best growth.
  • Amend the soil with compost or organic matter to improve drainage. Basil prefers moist, well-drained soil and will suffer if waterlogged.
  • Pinch off flower heads to prolong leaf production. Pruning triggers new growth, so don’t be shy about cutting sprigs for kitchen use.
  • Harvest basil by cutting stems above leaf nodes. This encourages bushier regrowth versus stripping leaves off stems.
  • Apply a gentle fish fertilizer or compost tea every 2-3 weeks to provide nutrients.
  • Check soil moisture daily. Basil likes consistently damp soil. Allow it to slightly dry between waterings, then soak thoroughly.

With attentive care, your basil will reward you all season long with its trademark aroma, flavor, and beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of soil does basil prefer?

Basil prefers well-drained, yet moist soil with a neutral pH. As an experienced gardener, I advise mixing compost into the soil to retain moisture while allowing drainage. Test and amend the soil if needed before planting. With proper care and conditions, your basil will thrive.

How much sun does basil need each day?

You’ll want to give your basil at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day for the best growth and flavor production. Be sure to place it in a sunny spot in the garden or rotate container plants as needed to maximize light exposure throughout the day.

How far apart should basil plants be spaced in the garden?

Give your basil plants 12-15 inches of space between them. This will allow them to bush out as they mature.

For a dense crop, try planting the basil plants in rows that are 12 inches apart, with 6 inches of space between each plant.

Plant the basil plants 18 inches away from taller vegetables that could shade them, such as tomatoes.

How do I prune basil for the best growth?

You’ll want to regularly pinch off the top sets of leaves to encourage bushier basil growth. Pruning triggers new shoot production, so keep at it all season long. And always use clean, sharp pruners to avoid damaging the plants.

What pests commonly affect basil plants?

You’ll often see aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and Japanese beetles munching on basil leaves. Hornworms can quickly defoliate plants overnight. Check the undersides of leaves for tiny pests and treat organically with insecticidal soap or neem oil sprays to keep your basil thriving through summer.


Composting your kitchen scraps can reduce organic waste while providing a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your garden. By recycling food scraps like fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and eggshells, you can create an earthy compost to nourish your plants.

Bins and tumblers make composting clean and convenient. Simply layer green and brown organic materials, keep the compost moist but not soggy, and turn or aerate the mixture regularly so it decomposes evenly.

In 3-6 months, you’ll have black gold to spread around your landscape. Composting helps complete the cycle of life in your backyard and is one of the simplest ways to go green at home.

Dig in!

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.