Tomatoes are a popular and versatile vegetable to grow in home gardens. They are relatively easy to cultivate, and with proper care, can yield a bountiful harvest. However, not all plants make good companions for tomatoes. Some plants can compete for nutrients, attract pests, or even inhibit the growth of tomatoes. In this article, we will explore what not to grow with tomatoes to maximize their potential.
Plants That Compete for Nutrients
Tomatoes have specific nutrient requirements, and growing certain plants nearby can deplete the soil of these essential elements, resulting in stunted growth and reduced yield. Here are some plants that should not be grown with tomatoes:
- Potatoes: Both tomatoes and potatoes belong to the nightshade family, and they are susceptible to similar diseases and pests. Growing them together increases the risk of disease transmission.
- Corn: Corn is a heavy feeder that requires a lot of nitrogen. Planting corn next to tomatoes can deplete the soil of this essential nutrient, negatively impacting tomato growth.
- Brassicas: Plants like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are known for their high nutrient requirements. Growing them near tomatoes can lead to competition for nutrients, affecting the growth of both.
Plants That Attract Pests
Some plants are known to attract pests that can damage tomatoes. These pests can include aphids, whiteflies, and nematodes, which can cause yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and reduced fruit production. Avoid planting the following plants near tomatoes to minimize pest problems:
- Marigolds: Despite their reputation as pest-repellent plants, marigolds can actually attract spider mites, which can infest nearby tomato plants. It is best to keep marigolds away from tomatoes.
- Beans: Beans are a favorite food source for aphids. Planting them near tomatoes can attract aphids, which can then spread to the tomato plants.
- Petunias: While petunias are often used as companion plants for their ability to repel certain pests, they can also attract tomato hornworms. These pests can devour tomato leaves and fruits.
Plants That Inhibit Tomato Growth
Some plants release certain compounds that inhibit the growth of tomatoes. These compounds can affect the development of roots or interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Here are some plants to avoid planting near tomatoes:
- Walnuts: The roots of walnut trees release a chemical called juglone, which can be toxic to many plants, including tomatoes. Avoid planting tomatoes near walnut trees or using walnut tree leaves as mulch.
- Fennel: Fennel produces allelopathic compounds that can inhibit the growth of nearby plants, including tomatoes. Keep fennel away from tomato plants to ensure their optimal growth.
- Black walnut: Similar to regular walnuts, black walnut trees release juglone, which can inhibit the growth of tomatoes. Avoid planting tomatoes near black walnut trees.
When it comes to companion planting, it is essential to choose the right plants to grow alongside tomatoes. By avoiding plants that compete for nutrients, attract pests, or inhibit tomato growth, gardeners can ensure that their tomato plants thrive and produce a bountiful harvest. Remember to keep potatoes, corn, and brassicas away from tomatoes to prevent nutrient competition. Avoid planting marigolds, beans, and petunias near tomatoes to minimize pest problems. Lastly, keep tomatoes away from walnut, fennel, and black walnut trees to avoid growth inhibition. By selecting suitable companions for tomatoes, gardeners can optimize their growing conditions and enjoy delicious, healthy tomatoes.