Tomatoes and strawberries might both be little red jewels of the garden, but that doesn’t mean that they always get along when you plant them next to one another.
The importance of companion planting depends partly on location, experience levels, and how large a yield each gardener is looking for from their gardens. The bigger the yield and the longer they’ve been planting, the more critical finding good companion plants seem to become.
But what about tomatoes and strawberries? Both are common first-time garden plants, considered reasonably easy to grow. Can you grow them together?
It’s not usually a good idea to plant tomatoes and strawberries next to each other. Not only do these two fruits often compete for similar resources, forcing the yield of each plant down as they don’t get all of what they need, but tomatoes can help cause disease in strawberry plants. Not exactly what most gardeners are looking for in a harmonious plot.
In addition to the other problems with planting tomatoes and strawberries next to each other, they also have some shared diseases and other problems that can wreak havoc on a poorly planned garden.
Here’s what you need to know about strawberries, tomatoes and how to plant them to get a good harvest.
How Far Should Tomatoes And Strawberries Be Planted From Each Other?
Ideally, you should keep tomatoes and strawberries at least a few feet apart; far enough, you can keep the soil, mulch, and fertilizer you’re using separately. You also need to remember where you’ve planted tomatoes in the past. You shouldn’t plant strawberries anywhere; tomatoes have been for at least a few years since some of the diseases and problems that can kill strawberries remain in the same soil.
One option is to container plant strawberries or tomatoes, so there’s less chance of the two mixings accidentally. Strawberry towers are a particularly good way to get a good-sized strawberry harvest without sacrificing much garden space, especially if you don’t have much garden room.
However, some gardeners recommend planting tomatoes and strawberries on opposite sides of the garden. That way, you avoid having cross-contamination and don’t have to worry about erosion or the weather moving soil into the wrong plot.
If you’re using raised bed planting, it’s good to put your strawberries and tomatoes in different beds and keep the plants far enough apart they don’t touch.
What Are Companion Plants?
Before we get into which plants work with tomatoes and strawberries, let’s talk about companion plants.
Companion plants are plants that work well together because they help provide for each other’s needs, have similar nutritional needs but don’t compete, help discourage pests, or combine other factors.
Sometimes these plants seem to grow better together; other times, a good companion plant might help fill in the gaps in your garden without reducing crop yield.
Finding a good mix of companion plants can help make your garden planning easier. Plus, you’ll often get bigger yields and better results if you plan for companion planting and how to get plants that work together.
Three of the biggest things you should look for in good companion plants are:
- They don’t share any common diseases or plant disease vulnerabilities.
- Each plant helps attract pollinators to the other.
- They have similar watering and nutrient needs so that you can tend the whole bed at the same time instead of individual plants.
Deterring pests is another big reason for companion planting, but you don’t necessarily have to plant pest deterring plants near their companions. Things like mint, chrysanthemums, marigolds, lemongrass, or garlic work over a relatively large area. So you can plant them around your garden, and they’ll work just as well as they would planted next to your strawberries or tomatoes.
Strawberry Companion Plants
If you’re wondering what other plants you should keep away from your strawberries, you’re in the right place. You don’t need to use all (or even any) of these companion plants to get a good strawberry harvest, but using a couple of companions can help your strawberries thrive.
Usually planted a little later than Strawberries, bush beans aren’t just good for you and your family’s dinner plan. Bush beans help attract nitrogen-fixing bacteria to the soil, which means more nutrition for everything planted nearby.
They’re also a great companion plant to help fight large beetles and insect pests that attack your strawberry foliage.
Onions/Garlic/Chives And Other Alliums
Alliums, the onion, garlic, and chive family, are another great companion for strawberries. These plants mostly work by keeping pests away. But there is another benefit during the flowering season. Most alliums have beautiful purple/lavender flowers, and those flowers can help attract pollinators to your garden, which can boost your strawberry crop.
Sage, Dill, Thyme, And Mint
These herbs might not be related, but we decided to put them together because they work largely the same way and are similarly effective.
These plants have pungent scents that can help deter pests and attract pollinators. Mint also has the benefit of helping prevent erosion by creating thick root beds that hold nutrients and dirt in place.
However, these herbs do come with a small warning. You’ll need to maintain the boundaries of your planted area pretty closely. These can overrun strawberry plants if you don’t control their spread.
Asparagus is a great companion plant to plant directly in with your strawberries. These two plants don’t have the same root length, which means that they can grow right next to each other without competing for resources.
You will need to make sure you’re providing plenty of food for both plants, but planting asparagus and strawberry together can help prevent other plants from forcing their way into your garden bed.
These plants also tend to help each other survive. So, plant them together for one year, and you’ll likely have great companion plants for years to come. Plus, the non-harvested parts of each plant will help mulch and renew their own nutrients year over year.
What Not To Plant With Strawberries
Of course, where there are companion plants, there are also plants that shouldn’t be planted together. These garden antagonists aren’t necessarily going to doom your vegetable patch if you plant them together, but they won’t do as well as they could.
Tomatoes and strawberries making each other sick is the biggest reason these plants shouldn’t be planted together, but there are other reasons. They compete directly and need different nutrient profiles, so these two are hard to care for when planted too close.
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and All Brassica Veg
Brassica is one of the most common and prolific genus of vegetables, but none of them get along with strawberries. In this case, it’s not the strawberries that will suffer; it’s the brassica vegetables.
Strawberries tend to attract slugs, which are harmful to brassica and don’t do anything to help make up for the damage.
Melons are another strawberry antagonist. Melons crowd out strawberries, shading them with large leaves and even crushing the smaller fruit under the developing melon.
Melons also steal nutrients, which means strawberries have less energy to fight back when the larger fruit invades their growing space. All melons should be grown separate from strawberries, even if you mix the fruits in delicious salads and smoothies after harvesting.
Things To Consider
Tomatoes and strawberries might taste great in salads together, but we’ve already talked about why they shouldn’t be planted together.
We’ve primarily focused on how to grow strawberries because, of the two plants, most gardeners have an easier time getting good tomato harvests than good strawberry crops.
But, that doesn’t mean that tomatoes aren’t picky about their best companions. Here’s a little more information about what you should and shouldn’t plant with your tomatoes.
Tomato Companion Plants:
Plants You Shouldn’t Plant With Tomatoes:
- Other nightshades (eggplant, peppers, potatoes)
- Walnut trees
- Brassica (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, etc.)
These aren’t complete lists, of course, but if you plant according to these lists, you’re more likely to have good luck with your tomatoes.
Remember, both tomatoes and strawberries are very sensitive to their growing conditions. Water, sunlight, and soil nutrition all have a huge impact on your harvest. So, companion planting alone doesn’t guarantee a good harvest. You’ll still have plenty of gardening work to get a good harvest.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!