A centuries-old planting technique is going viral on TikTok, proving that at some point, everything old becomes new again.
In her video, gardener Megan London (@gardeningsimplified) shares how well the so-called “companion planting method” works for tomatoes. As she demonstrates, growing basil next to your tomato plants can lead to better-tasting, pest-free produce — all without wasting your money on toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Companion planting, also known as intercropping or interplanting, involves planting different plants in close proximity, so they can mutually benefit each other. Companion planting in the Americas began thousands of years ago in ancient Mesoamerica, where it was used by Puebloans, Mandans, Iroquoians, and other Indigenous peoples.
The planting technique works in many situations — whether your garden consists of only a couple of potted plants, or sprawls across acres.
In the clip, London explains that she plants basil near her tomato plants because “basil acts as a deterrent for those damn hornworms.”
Basil’s aromatic oils naturally repel hornworms, which, when unchecked can wreak havoc on home gardens. Basil also protects against other invasive insects that feast on tomato leaves and stalks.
And in return, tall tomato plants provide shade for the basil, preventing it from burning in the sun. Plus, as London claims, basil and tomatoes aren’t just a natural pairing in pasta sauce — they also enhance one another’s flavors in the garden.
Companion planting isn’t limited to two plants. London adds that you can also grow basil and tomatoes alongside lettuce, peppers, and squash — to the benefit of each, individual plant.
“They thrive tremendously,” she notes. “Your garden becomes its own little ecosystem.”
Companion planting is both land and cost-effective. It allows gardeners and farmers to prevent infestations in a natural and non-toxic way while yielding flavorful, nutritious, and hearty produce.
Under London’s TikTok video, many users shared their own tips.
“As a Native American, we were taught to plant Corn, Beans, and Squash/pumpkins together,” one commenter wrote.
“Plant dill close to anything in the cabbage family. No bugs,” another user recommended.
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