Tomatillo Companion Plants: 11 Plants To Plant With Tomatillo
Looking to add a few companion plants to your tomatillos in your garden? Companion planting can be tricky, as you want to only plant the right plants that will be beneficial for your garden. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey walks through the best plants to companion plant with your tomatillos in your garden!
You know summer has arrived when the little green lanterns of tomatillo husks begin to dangle from these tomato-family plants. This essential ingredient for salsa verde, chili, salads, and garnishes has a unique, tart flavor and lovely refreshing texture.
While you may know what to pair tomatillos with in the kitchen, you might be wondering what pairs best as companions with tomatillos when growing tomatillo in your garden. You’ll be pleased to know that these amazing little plants actually pair quite well with a wide number of different garden veggies.
Growing companion plants alongside tomatillos can help reduce their susceptibility to certain pests and diseases while simultaneously maximizing your garden space, biodiversity, and soil nutrient availability. Let’s dig into the top 11 companion plants to improve the performance and resilience of tomatillos in your garden.
Companion plants are flowers, vegetables, or herbs that complement the growing requirements of a specific crop in your garden. They are planted in the same beds or between rows of your crops to enhance their growth in a symbiotic way.
Companion planting is a great way to maximize the biodiversity of your garden while mimicking nature’s tendency toward polyculture (as opposed to boring monoculture of all the same species). This helps create a more ecological garden that doesn’t rely on pesticides or fertilizers to keep it healthy.
The primary purposes of companion planting are:
- Repelling insect pests
- Attracting beneficial predatory insects
- Attracting pollinators
- Making certain minerals or nutrients available in the soil
- Using unoccupied space
- Acting like a trellis or support for another plant
- Adding biodiversity to a bed
- Protect your crops from disease-causing pathogens
- Fill in bare spaces to prevent weeds
Why Companion Plant with Tomatillo?
Tomatillos are vigorous, resilient plants that can be grown in a wide range of climates. They yield heavily all summer long with very little maintenance. However, they can be susceptible to an array of fungal diseases and annoying pests.
If you love salsa verde or tart summer slaws, you probably want to protect your tomatillo plants from anything that may attack them. Unfortunately, a lot of the pests and diseases that attack potatoes, tomatoes, and pepper will also go for your tomatillos.
Aphids, cucumber beetles, potato beetles, and tomato hornworms can all be extremely problematic in your tomatillo patch. Early blight, late blight, and root rot can also cause some major issues.
Luckily there are an abundance of species to companion plant alongside your tomatillos. Most of them also happen to look beautiful or taste delicious!
Best Companion Plants for Tomatillo
Next up, we take a look at our favorite companion plants for tomatillo in a bit more detail. You’ll learn why they pair up well, and the benefits of each plant. Let’s take a deeper dive to see which of these companions will pair the best in your own vegetable garden.
One of the most fragrant and delicious herbs, basil is a great pest repellant. The luscious Italian aroma keeps hornworms away by masking the scent of your tomatillos so that the hornworm moth can’t find them. Basil is also low-growing, so it can maximize the space under and alongside trellised tomatillo plants where there would otherwise be bare soil.
You can direct seed basil at the time of transplanting your tomatillos or transplant baby basil starts alongside the trellised areas. Just be sure to give your tomatillo plants at least 8-12” of space from the basil. You don’t want anyone to feel too crammed, otherwise the basil plant can end up crowding your tomatillos.
Sometimes companion plants in the garden are perfectly aligned with their culinary pairs. Cilantro tastes incredible with tomatillos and its aroma repels annoying aphids. It also helps attract beneficial insects that eat aphids and cucumber beetles.
As a bonus, trellised tomatillo plants can provide cilantro with the shade it needs to make it through the summer heat. Cilantro tends to bolt when in the direct hot summer sun, so its pairing alongside tomatillos or tomatoes is a win-win for both plants. However, keep in mind that some bolted cilantro is a good thing because the flowers are such great nectar for beneficial predators. I like to pinch a few flowers and leave some to grow herby leaves.
The strong smell of garlic is another excellent deterrent for aphids. Planting one row of garlic bulbs close to the tomatoes and tomatillos can repel sap-sucking pests. Garlic is also shallow rooted and has a thin stalk, so it won’t interfere with your tomatillo’s root zone or sun access.
Marigolds are not only gorgeous, but they’re the perfect companion plant! They get along with pretty much every vegetable in the garden. They repel nematodes, mosquitoes, and beetles while also attracting pollinators.
Hover flies, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps are also attracted to marigolds, meaning they will be hanging out near your tomatillos ready to snatch up any annoying aphids. Not to mention, marigolds add pops of color in all the right places.
Yarrow is lovely white flower that benefits almost every plant in you may grow. This medicinal and ornamental blossom has a beautiful honey-like aroma that encapsulates its creamy white umbel blossoms and frilly fern-like leaves. Yarrow attracts all the best pollinators while adding a splash of beauty.
Yarrow can grow quite tall and wide under the right conditions, so it is best to scatter more toward the margins of your tomatillo beds to avoid shading out the main crop.
Borage helps deter tomato hornworm and other hungry caterpillars. The tiny vibrant blue flowers attract pollinators and the leaves can be used to improve the soil or add to your compost. Borage loves being planted with tomatoes and tomatillos, and as a bonus: it’s deer-proof!
Borage plants can get quite large, so they are often best planted on the ends of your tomatillo rows rather than in between plants. Their vivid blue flowers are easy on the eyes, too!
The Allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions) is known for its pungent aroma that repels many types of pests. Onions are low growing, shallow rooted, and easy to tuck in alongside tomatillo plants.
It is said that parsley leaves sprinkled on tomatillo plants can repel hornworms. This fragrant Italian herb is another great pest deterrent. If you let parsley go to flower, it also attracts predatory wasps and hoverflies to keep your pest populations in check.
Nitrogen fixing legumes are always a good idea for heavy feeding crops like tomatillo and tomatoes. Sugar snap peas can vine along a tomatillo trellis, however pea varieties with a bush-habit tend to make the best companions because they stay small, low-growing, and compact.
As peas form symbiosis with bacteria in the soil, they make nitrogen more bioavailable to your tomatillos. Their flowers attract pollinators and their crisp pods make a great snack while you’re weeding or trellising your tomatillo patch.
Peppers are known to prevent root rot in tomatillos and tomatoes. If this isn’t beneficial enough, they also repel pests with their spicy scent. Low-growing bush peppers like habanero or cayenne peppers are perfect for tucking in alongside tomatillo rows because they won’t compete with your plants.
Last but not least, you can’t talk about companion plants without mentioning white alyssum. This quintessential companion flower is low-growing, beautiful, and extremely attractive to predatory insects. It lures aphids away from tomatillos while also attracting aphid-eaters like ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory syrphid flies.
You can tuck alyssum at the ends of beds or in the partial shade of tomatillos. In fact, toss it into any bed around your gardening space for a gorgeous white floral display that also benefits your crops.
Tomatillos are friendly with most plants in the garden, but there are a few species that are best kept at a distance.
Cole crops from the Brassicaceae family (kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) may stunt the growth of tomatillo and tomato plants. They also can harbor fungal pathogens that may attack your tomatillo plants.
Dill and Fennel
These lovely umbel-family herbs are delicious in the kitchen and beautiful in the garden, however they secrete substances into the soil that can harm other plants. The substance emitted from the dill and fennel root zones is a growth-inhibitor of other plants. In the wild, this is very beneficial for these herbs because it allows them to compete and grow big populations. But in your tomatillo patch, it could be problematic. It’s best to keep fennel and dill at a distance.
Corn is not a good companion plant for tomatillos for two main reasons: it’s tall and could potentially shade out the plants, and it also attracts aphids and other pests to your tomatillo patch.
Tomatillos, tomatoes, and potatoes are all in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which means they attract the same pests. Potatoes are particularly attractive to potato beetles that can wreak havoc on your tomatillo plants. It’s best to keep these crops at a distance and regularly rotate them around the garden.
Companion planting with tomatillos can help maximize your yields while minimizing crop problems like pests and diseases. These plants also add more diversity to your garden and utilize otherwise empty space.
Just be sure that your companion plants don’t detract from the growth of your tomatillos by shading them out, competing for nutrients, or getting planted too close to the main crop.