The little green lanterns of tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica) are a sure sign summer has begun. These fruits are essential for a number of culinary dishes and growing companion plants for tomatillos is a great way to maximize their yield.
This article covers the best pairing partnerships for your tomatillos as well as those that you should steer clear of.
Companion Planting Explained
Companion planting is the practice of growing different plants next to one another that are mutually beneficial. This organic gardening technique can help to enhance the growth, health, and yield of one or both plants.
The “Three Sisters” method is a classic example of companion planting that is used to grow squash, beans, and sweetcorn together.
The leaves of the squash shade the soil which keeps it cool and moist. The beans fix nitrogen into the soil which is an essential element for plant growth. The sweetcorn acts as a natural climbing structure for the beans to grow up.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting results in a variety of benefits. Some of the biggest ones are:
Pest Control: Many highly aromatic companions are excellent at repelling pests with their scent. Other companions attract predatory insects that will keep pest populations down.
Attracts Pollinators: Colorful flowers not only add aesthetic value to your garden but also entice a variety of pollinators that will help to fertilize your crops.
Improves Soil Health: Legumes increase the nitrogen content of the soil. Plants with dense foliage will help keep the soil cool and damp whilst suppressing the growth of weeds. Plants with deep roots will help break up the soil to prevent it from getting waterlogged.
Not every partnership will be successful. There are lots of things you need to consider when choosing your companions.
Pairings will only be successful if plants have similar growing conditions. For example, a shade-loving plant will suffer alongside a sun-loving plant. Similarly, a plant that requires arid soil to thrive would be a bad partner for a plant that needs damp soil to flourish.
Avoid growing plants that are susceptible to the same pests and diseases together, as they will easily spread throughout your plants.
Best Companion Plants for Tomatillos
Tomatillos grow best in warm conditions as they are not tolerant to cold or frost. They are hardy in zones 10 and 11. Tomatillos favor full sun exposure and should be protected from harsh weather.
Ideally, tomatillos should have warm, deep, and well-draining soil. They do best in soil that has a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Some great companion plants for tomatillos include:
Fruit and Vegetables
Asparagus: This vegetable helps to deter nematodes that will otherwise attack the roots of your tomatillos.
Legumes: Legumes such as peas and beans are great companions for your heavy-feeding tomatillos as they can help to increase nitrogen availability by converting atmospheric nitrogen to a fixed form in the soil. Vining beans and peas can share a trellis with climbing tomatillos, plus their flowers will help to attract pollinators.
Carrots: Tomatillos need free-draining soil in order to prevent potential issues such as root rot. Planting carrots with their deep and extensive root system can help to break up the soil, allowing for better water drainage.
Peppers: Peppers can help prevent root rot from occurring in your tomatillos. Spicy pepper varieties act as a natural pest deterrent.
Alliums: Alliums such as garlic, onions, and leeks have a pungent scent that is great for deterring aphids and other pests. They also have shallow roots so won’t compete with your tomatillos for root space. Additionally, onions and garlic are small and low-growing, so can be interplanted with tomatillos.
Basil: The aroma of basil keeps pests like hornworms away from your tomatillos by masking their scent. Basil grows low so can be planted under tomatillos and thus creating much-needed groundcover in hot, arid conditions.
Mint: The fresh scent of mint will repel ants, aphids, and cabbage moths from attacking your tomatillos.
Parsley: This fragrant herb can repel hornworms and other pests. When in flower, parsley also attracts predatory wasps and hoverflies that will prey on any pests.
Cilantro: Tomatillos and cilantro are a great pair in the kitchen and in the garden. Cilantro repels aphids and attracts predators that will prey on pests like cucumber beetles. In return, tomatillos provide cilantro with shade from the summer heat.
Flowering Annuals and Perennials
Marigolds: These fiery-hued flowers add a pop of color amongst the predominantly green foliage and fruit of tomatillos. The vibrant flowers of Marigold companion plants attract beneficial insects whilst also keeping away pests.
Nasturtiums: These pretty flowers will not only add a splash of color to your garden, but they will also attract a variety of pollinators that can pollinate your tomatillos. The fragrance of nasturtiums also has the added benefit of keeping away pest insects.
Yarrow: The delicate white flowers of yarrow release a sweet scent that entices a variety of pollinators. From an aesthetic viewpoint, yarrow offers an attractive contrast to the green leaves and fruit of the tomatillo plant.
Borage: Borage boasts vibrant blue flowers that can also provide aesthetic value. This plant is known to repel caterpillars and tomato hornworms and is also deer-proof. In addition, the flowers attract pollinators, and the leaves make for great mulch.
White Alyssum: This flower is an all-round great companion for many species. Its white flowers are not only attractive but also lure predatory insects to keep pests away from your tomatillos.
Worst Companion Plants for Tomatillos
Plants to keep away from your tomatillos include:
Corn: The tall stature of corn may result in it shading out your tomatillos. Corn also attracts aphids and other pests and an infestation can wipe out an entire season’s crop.
Brassicas: Brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can stunt the growth of your tomatillos if planted together. Brassicas are also susceptible to fungal pathogens that can attack your tomatillos.
Dill and Fennel: Belonging to the Umbellifer family, dill and fennel release compounds into the soil that will inhibit the growth of your tomatillo and other neighboring plants.
Potatoes: Like tomatillos and tomatoes, potatoes also belong to the nightshade family. This means they are all susceptible to the same pests and diseases. If planted together, attacks can spread easily between them.
- Britannica Encyclopedia – Physalis philadelphica
- USDA – The Three Sisters Story
- Nature Education – Nitrogen Fixation
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.