Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is an annual, vining fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family. Though cucumbers are technically fruits, they are used as vegetables in the kitchen. Humans have been growing cucumbers for at least 3,000 years.
Their cultivation began in India and the Romans brought them over to Europe. Cucumbers lost their popularity in England sometime in the 1400s then reemerged in gardens in the 1600s. European settlers introduced them to North America and traded them with Native Americans.
Cucumber companion plants will help increase soil nutrients, repel pests, and attract pollinators. Companion planting with cucumbers can significantly increase plant health and yields. It will also help limit the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Below we’ll explain the benefits of cucumber companion planting. We’ll also give you a list of the best and worst cucumber companion plants.
Benefits Of Companion Gardening With Cucumbers
Cucumbers are considered to be heavy feeders. This means they need a lot of nutrients from the soil to grow well.
Certain companion plants can be used to increase the nitrogen in the soil. Other companion plants can help increase good soil bacteria which benefits cucumbers.
A variety of insects and diseases can also negatively impact cucumbers including:
- Bacterial wilt
- Banded, spotted, and striped cucumber beetles
- Leaf miners
- Melon aphids
- Powdery mildew
- Spider mites
- Squash vine borers
Companion plants can be used to help reduce insects and diseases in cucumbers. Some companion plants act as repellents against insects. Others can reduce the number of fungi in the soil.
Pollination is another issue that can cause your cucumbers to produce less fruit. If there aren’t enough pollinators around, the cucumber fruits won’t develop properly. There are several companion plants you can use to increase pollinators in your garden. This will help ensure your cucumbers get pollinated.
Cucumbers also make great companion plants. They can help repel raccoons and ants from your garden.
Things To Consider When Companion Planting With Cucumber
When it comes to selecting companion plants for cucumbers, consider their growing requirements. You should select plants that require similar pH, soil type, nutrients, water, and light exposure.
Avoid planting anything that attracts the same pests as cucumbers such as melons. If you grow two plants together that attract the same pest, you increase the odds of those pests visiting your garden.
Lastly, you should consider the space requirements and growth habitats of companion plants. Avoid planting things that will overcrowd cucumbers like mint.
The Best Cucumber Companion Plants
Below are the plants that perform well with and improve the growth of cucumbers. We’ve outlined the benefits each plant provides to cucumbers. Companion planting will reduce the fertilizer and pesticides needed to successfully grow cucumbers.
Companion gardening with a pole or bush beans can increase the nitrogen in the soil. They have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the soil. This allows them to pull nitrogen from the air into the soil through a process called nitrogen fixation. This is ideal for cucumbers since they are heavy feeders.
Chives have a strong scent that will help repel insects like aphids and mites as well as rabbits. It can spread rapidly once it flowers. Remove them when flowers appear if you want to reduce their spread. Also, keep chives away from beans and peas or they won’t grow well.
Corn pairs well with cucumbers to increase your garden’s productivity. Save space by planting them together, allowing the corn to serve as a natural trellis for cucumber vines. Corn can also help decrease cucumber beetles.
Dill will help your cucumbers by repelling aphids, spider mites, and squash bugs. It can also attract pollinators when it begins to flower.
English peas are another nitrogen-fixing plant. It can help increase the amount of nitrogen in your soil naturally.
Garlic helps repel aphids, cabbage looper, snails, and ants from cucumbers. It can also help deter rabbits from your garden.
Researchers have shown that garlic can increase beneficial soil bacteria. It can also decrease fungi when grown with cucumbers. Garlic prevents peas and beans from growing well so don’t plant them together.
Marigolds will repel slugs and several insects in your garden. They repel aphids, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs.
Marigolds can also attract insect predators like ladybugs. Predators will further reduce insect pest populations. The flowers will also attract pollinators.
Like garlic, onions increase good soil bacteria and decrease fungi when grown with cucumbers. Their pungent smell can also repel some insects and vertebrates like moles. Keep in mind that peas and beans won’t grow well with onions.
The smell of oregano plant oils can help repel whiteflies which are a common pest on cucumbers.
Radish will help repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs when used as a companion plant with cucumbers.
Sunflowers can also be used as a natural trellis for cucumber vines. They do best with smaller cucumber varieties like those grown for pickling. Larger varieties may be too heavy for sunflowers to support. Sunflowers will also help attract pollinators to your cucumber plants.
The Worst Cucumber Companion Plants
When it comes to cucumber companion planting, there are a handful of plants to avoid. They compete with cucumbers for nutrients, attract insect pests, or impact their flavor.
Cucumbers have a mild flavor which can be impacted by aromatic herbs. Basil, mint, peppermint, and sage shouldn’t be planted near cucumbers. They will impact flavor.
Gourds and Melons
Gourds and melons attract many of the same pests as cucumbers. When planted together, you increase your chances of dealing with insect pests.
Mint can impact the flavor of cucumbers but it can also compete with them for space. It spreads vigorously in the garden, negatively impacting the growth of cucumbers.
Potatoes are heavy feeders that will compete with cucumbers for nutrients and water. Planting them together will cause both plants to struggle.
Here’s a table you can reference when planning your companion garden for cucumbers.
|Beneficial Cucumber Companion Plants||Benefit||Detrimental Cucumber Companion Plants||Detriment|
|Bush beans||Increases nitrogen||Basil||Impacts flavor|
|Pole beans||Increases nitrogen||Gourds||Attracts pest insects|
|Chives||Repels insects and rabbits||Melons||Attract pest insects|
|Corn||Natural trellis||Mint||Impacts flavor, competes for space and nutrients|
|Dill||Repels pest insects, attracts pollinators||Peppermint||Impacts flavor|
|English pea||Increases nitrogen||Potato||Competes for nutrients and water|
|Garlic||Repels pest insects, increases good soil bacteria, decreases fungi||Sage||Impacts flavor, may stunt growth|
|Marigolds||Repels pest insects and slugs, attracts pollinators|
|Onion||Repels pest insects, increases good soil bacteria, decreases fungi|
|Oregano||Repels pest insects|
|Raddish||Repels pest insects|
|Sunflower||Natural trellis, attract pollinators|