It’s highly likely that you came across this article because you’re considering planting cucumbers in your garden and want to ensure that they thrive. Alternatively, you may have already planted your cucumbers, either from seeds or transplants, and have stumbled upon the concept of companion planting via a friend or social media, and want to learn more.
Regardless of your situation, companion planting typically proves to be effective, and you will likely see visible rewards. However, there may be times when it’s more or less effective. Remember that companion planting should not be a replacement for proper care of your garden, such as watering, weeding, fertilizing, and mulching.
Additionally, it’s essential to keep in mind that companion planting cannot control for unforeseeable weather conditions. If it rains for weeks on end, don’t blame the plants or their ability to thrive. Instead, consider it an opportunity to learn and try new strategies for replanting or next year’s gardening.
Gardening is an unpredictable process, so have fun experimenting with what grows, even if some veggies are misshapen, knobby, or if it means eating some weeds. Remember, becoming a master gardener takes time and effort, but with persistence, anyone can become a successful gardener.
Benefits of companion planting
When you dedicate your time and effort to growing a garden, your ultimate goal is usually to produce wholesome, nutritious, and tasty food. To achieve this, you must consider multiple factors simultaneously, each of which demands your attention.
You must think about the type of seeds you use and how you arrange them in your garden, as well as how much sunlight and shade they receive on a daily basis. Depending on your climate, you may also need to take into account factors such as irrigation, crop harvesting, and storage. And if you choose to employ companion planting techniques, things can become even more complicated.
However, if you ask any experienced gardener who uses companion planting, they will likely attest to its effectiveness and recommend that you give it a try.
Some benefits of companion planting include increased productivity, natural pest control, plant support (such as the “three sisters” planting method with corn, squash, and beans), the ability to attract more pollinators, saving space in the garden (e.g., planting deep-rooted asparagus and shallow-rooted strawberries together), and improving the soil.
The overarching objective of companion planting is to establish symbiotic relationships between plants, where they mutually provide benefits such as shade, nutrients, and physical support. So, what are some of the best companion plants to grow alongside cucumbers?
Companion plants for cucumbers
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a popular choice for gardeners, as they can be harvested in just 50-70 days. However, keeping them disease-free can be a challenge. While cucumbers are often touted as easy to grow, experience has shown that they can be problematic, particularly in colder and wetter climates where they may fall prey to bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, mosaic virus, or cucumber beetles. To help ensure a more reliable crop, consider companion planting with the following plants:
Peas and beans, which are legumes, can fix nitrogen in the soil, which is essential for plant growth. Planting bush beans with cucumbers can increase the vigor of your cucumber crop. Using a shared trellis for both pole beans and cucumbers can be even more beneficial. This will not only save space in the garden, but also provide company for both plants.
In companion planting, we sometimes plant specific vegetables together to prevent diseases, while other times it’s a neutral placement where there’s no harm or benefit. Beets fall into the latter category. So, if you want to plant more beets in your garden, you can sow the seeds near your cucumber plants without any worries. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the highly nutritious beet greens, a rare treat you can hardly find in stores.
Celery is commonly grown alongside members of the cabbage family, as its strong scent is believed to repel the cabbage butterfly. Additionally, it benefits from the presence of dill, which we will discuss shortly.
When it comes to planting celery and cucumbers together, there is no compelling reason to do so, nor is there any reason to avoid it. However, this is one of those neutral pairings that makes it simpler to allocate space for the various types of vegetables in your garden.
Regardless of the size of your garden, having as many of these neutral relationships as possible is advantageous.
Rewritten: Just as companions in the human and pet world often help each other out, plants have an innate ability to do the same. In the garden, corn can serve as a natural support for smaller cucumber plants, similar to sunflowers. However, the timing of planting is important, so keep this in mind when starting your spring garden.
Remember to experiment with companion planting and take notes along the way. What works for one gardener may not work for you due to various factors such as soil, climate, and planting order. Don’t get discouraged if one companion plant doesn’t work for you. With time and experience, you’ll find the perfect combination for your garden.
If there is one spice crop that you must grow in your garden, it should be dill. The fresh green leaves, dried flowers, and dill seeds are all ideal for pickling, making it a versatile plant.
Furthermore, dill is an attractive plant for beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps and pollinators, making it an essential plant for organic gardens. Moreover, the flavor of cucumbers can be slightly affected by dill, but this is only advantageous if you enjoy the taste of dill. Therefore, it is advisable to plant dill only if you like the flavor.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance vegetable to grow, lettuce is a great choice. Simply sow a line of seeds and you’ll likely see growth. Although it may not always form a head like store-bought lettuce, growing leaf lettuce can provide an abundance of salad greens that taste great when dressed with homemade vinaigrette.
Lettuce also makes a good companion plant for strawberries, radishes, carrots, and cucumbers. While there is no specific reason for this, these plants don’t have a negative effect on each other, which is enough to consider them beneficial companions.
Marigolds are highly beneficial in the vegetable garden, as they help to repel a variety of beetles and insects. They are known as büdöske in Hungarian, which translates to “smelly”. Despite this, they are a popular choice among gardeners in the countryside, who may not even know the specific reasons for their benefits. These flowers quietly and abundantly do their job of protecting the entire garden with their unique fragrance.
Nasturtiums are a fantastic flower to include in your garden annually. Their versatility is undeniable – they can be eaten straight from the garden, infused into herbal vinegars, or made into a natural antibiotic tincture. When it comes to companion planting, nasturtiums are a great match for cucumbers. Not only do they have a comparable sprawling and low-growing habit, but nasturtiums are also known for repelling insects like thrips, aphids, and other pests that enjoy snacking on cucumbers.
Peas, like beans, contribute to the soil’s nitrogen content. While cucumbers don’t require high levels of nitrogen, it doesn’t hurt to have it as the N-P-K levels slowly adjust over time. However, this also depends on your fertilization practices and the type of fertilizer you use.
In terms of aesthetics, peas and cucumbers make a good pair, at least in the early stages. Timing is also a crucial factor when it comes to companion planting. Since peas can be started and harvested earlier, your cucumbers will have more space to spread out when their time comes to shine.
When planting radishes, it’s best to stagger the planting so you’re not left with an overwhelming number of radishes at once. But have you considered planting them alongside cucumbers?
The root system of cucumbers consists of one larger taproot and shallow roots that won’t interfere with root vegetables like carrots, turnips, parsley, and parsnips. This makes them ideal companions for radishes. Additionally, it’s believed that radishes can help repel cucumber beetles. It’s certainly worth experimenting with companion planting to see the benefits for yourself.
Keep in mind that cucumbers tend to climb, and sunflowers, like corn, can serve as a practical and organic trellis. This not only helps save space in your garden but also ensures that by the time you’re ready to harvest the sunflower seeds, the cucumbers have already been picked.
When trellising cucumbers on sunflowers, it’s best to opt for pickling cucumbers that are lighter in weight. Heavier cucumbers may slip down the sunflowers and become damaged.
3 plants you shouldn’t grow next to cucumbers
Knowing what not to plant alongside cucumbers is just as important as knowing what to plant. While cucumbers are generally easy-going plants without strong preferences, there are three plants that should not be grown near them: aromatic herbs, melons, and potatoes. It’s best to avoid planting these crops next to your cucumbers.
Basil is not a suitable companion for cucumbers, but it pairs well with tomatoes instead. Sage has a reputation for inhibiting cucumber growth. Mints, such as peppermint, can be challenging to cultivate in the garden, as they tend to grow aggressively and spread beyond their boundaries.
Even though you can grow mint in a container to control its growth, it still prefers to have ample space in the soil. As a sprawling perennial herb, it is recommended to plant your cucumbers elsewhere in the row. Instead, consider companion herbs such as catnip, chives, dill, aromatic oregano, and tansy for your cucumber patch.
Insects that feast on melons also have a liking for cucumbers. Once they acquire a taste for cantaloupes, they may find your pickling cucumbers equally appealing.
Planting melons, pumpkins, and gourds alongside cucumbers creates a mini-monoculture, which is disadvantageous. Monoculture farming and gardening require large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to fend off insects and diseases, which is the opposite of what we aim for with companion planting.
Melons, however, can be grown alongside Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, okra, carrots, cauliflower, and kale. Finding space for everything in your garden is like solving a puzzle. The larger the garden, the easier it is to plant. You may also find that the no-dig gardening method, combined with companion planting, is beneficial.
Potatoes are known to be heavy feeders in the garden and can have a negative impact on the quality and size of cucumbers when planted nearby. Additionally, cucumbers may create conditions conducive to potato blight, making it important to keep the two plants separate.
If you must plant them together, make sure to keep a considerable distance between them, especially if you have later varieties of potatoes. This can be a challenge in smaller gardens, so it’s essential to be vigilant and watch out for signs of disease, reacting promptly to avoid any potential problems.
Planning your future garden with companion planting in mind
When designing your garden, keep companion planting in mind as it can greatly benefit your plants. However, don’t stress too much about following guidelines and rules. Through trial and error, you will discover what works best for your garden. For example, when planting potatoes, avoid putting them next to cucumbers as it can affect the quality and size of the cucumbers.
Instead, check out our potato companion planting guide for tips on increasing yield and minimizing insect damage. Tomatoes can be planted with beans, squash, and cucumbers, but avoid planting them with Brassicas like cabbage and broccoli. And never plant tomatoes with potatoes as they don’t get along well in the garden. The key to successful companion planting is experimentation and sharing your experiences with others.
Don’t be afraid to try new methods and share your bountiful harvests with friends and family.