Companion planting is a proven gardening technique that protects vulnerable crops while attracting pollinators and more. Each plant has unique, ideal companion plants, and when you grow cucumbers, you want to pick the right cucumber companion plants to plant nearby.
Don’t be tempted to plant only one type of plant in each garden bed. Using polyculture techniques, which is when you plant two or more different crops in one garden bed, increases biodiversity and creates a healthier, happy garden.
Let’s look at why you need to practice companion planting and the the best and worst companion plants for cucumber.
The 7 Benefits of Companion Planting
If you never used companion planting before, you’ll be upset that you’ve missed all of them when you learn about all the benefits.
It’s not too late to start using companion planting. Here are some of the fantastic benefits and why gardeners swear by it.
1. Repels Harmful Insects
The list of harmful pests that could invade your garden feels never-ending, but many of the most common pests can be warded off by using companion planting. Cabbage worms, whiteflies, aphids, cabbage moths, and squash bugs are just a few repelled by specific plants.
Incorporating plants, such as marigolds, catnip, basil, chives, and rue, helps to repel specific pests, and they should be planted near crops that need pest control naturally.
At the same time, other companion plants, such as nasturtiums, act as a trap crop and attract certain pests, luring them away from the vegetables that you want to keep,
2. Attracts Pollinators
Bees and ladybugs, just a few of the essential pollinators, sometimes need encouragement to visit vegetable gardens.
Since your veggie garden needs pollinators, adding companion plants draw them to where you want them to be. Plants such as borage flowers encourage pollinators.
3. Improves Soil Nutrients
Crops take up valuable nutrients from the soil, so gardeners must continually renew the soil’s nutrients each year or risk the next year’s crops.
Like bush beans or pole beans, many companion plants add valuable nutrients to the ground, such as nitrogen. That helps to keep nearby plants healthy.
4. Encourages Faster Growth
Some companion plants release chemicals that encourage faster growth in nearby plants or improve their flavors. Examples of these plants are chamomile, marjoram, and summer savory.
5. Provides A Necessary Ground Cover
Consider growing some creeping, low to the ground plants, such as oregano. Ground cover plants act as a blanket over the soil, protecting it from the sun and erosion, as well as keeping soil cooler.
6. Adds Necessary Shade
Some plants need shade for ideal growth. In these cases, planting near tall, leafy grow, such as asparagus, provide welcome shade for sun-sensitive plants, like lettuce.
7. Acts As Markers
Other plants are slow-growing, such as carrots, and it’s easy to forget where you plant them. Gardeners often use fast-growing plants, such as radishes, to mark the slow-growing crops.
11 Best Companion Plants To Grow With Cucumber
Cucumber plants have several companion options, including other vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
Let’s look at the most common cucumber companion plants to help you decide what to plant in the same garden bed.
Corn is one of the most common cucumber companion plants because the corn stalks act as a support system for smaller varieties of cucumbers. The corn does need to be tall enough when the cucumber plants are sowed or transplanted into the garden.
Another consideration is that you need to pick a cucumber variety that is small and light; pickling cucumbers are great options. Corn stalks aren’t too strong, so too much weight causes them to bend or snap.
In return, the cucumber vines act as a mulch beneath your corn stalks, helping to retain more moisture and suppressing weed growth.
Legumes, such as beans, fix essential nitrogen in the soil. Planting bush beans with cucumbers will help to increase the vigor of your cucumber plants.
Instead of planting beans alongside cucumbers, try growing both beans and cucumbers on a shared trellis. These two plants enjoy each other’s company while saving you space in the garden.
One thing to note is that all beans are cucumber companion plants. Legumes, in general, are fantastic choices for cucumber companion plants.
Like beans, peas add nitrogen to the soil, making them a great addition to any garden. While cucumbers don’t require a lot of nitrogen, it won’t hurt them to have extra available.
Cucumbers and peas complement each other. It’s essential to be mindful of planting times because peas can be planted earlier, giving your cucumbers more time to grow when it’s their time.
One reason to use companion planting is that it helps decrease disease problems. Other times, the placement is neutral, which means it doesn’t help nor harm the plants. Beets fit into that category.
If you want a place to add more beets to your garden that won’t be harmful, consider sowing seeds near cucumber plants.
All root vegetables, including carrots, parsnips, and turnips, are awesome companion plants for cucumbers. Since cucumbers have shallow roots, you don’t need to worry about root interference.
Planting celery near the cabbage family members is a common gardening trick because the strong scent deters cabbage butterflies. The same theory works for planting celery near cucumbers, but it is more of a neutral pairing.
When growing a large garden with various plants, neutral pairings are essential to discover. If you need to add more celery, put them alongside cucumbers. The pairing might ward off some pests, and if it doesn’t, it won’t cause any harm either.
Lettuce works as a companion plant next to strawberries, cucumbers, radishes, and carrots. There is no significant reason for this pairing other than they don’t dislike each other.
You don’t need to worry that the lettuce plants will hinder the cucumbers’ growth and vice versa.
Planting several rows of radishes serve as some of the best plant markers. You might not want to be overrun with radishes, but they help show you where your plants are.
If you’re worried about planting root vegetables with cucumbers, it’s good to know that cucumbers have one larger taproot and several shallow roots that don’t extend too far into the soil. That means the roots of cucumber plants and root vegetables won’t interfere with each other.
The best herb to plant near cucumbers is dill, hands down, which is ironic because they make some delicious dips and snacks together.
Dill attracts a lot of flying and crawling insects, including parasitic wasps and other pollinators. You can never have too many beneficial insects in your garden.
Dill might have a slight effect on the flavor of your cucumbers. If you enjoy the taste of dill, that won’t be a bad thing, but if you don’t like the flavor of dill, avoid this pairing.
Marigolds are some of the most useful flowers to plant alongside many vegetables. They repel many different insects, such as beetles, in the garden because of their strong scent.
At the same time, marigolds attract pollinators to your garden. Since cucumbers need to be pollinated, it’s nice to add some pollinating attracting plants.
Here is another flower that deserves a constant spot in your vegetable garden. Not only are nasturtiums edible, but they also can be planted as a companion plant for cucumbers.
They have a low-growing, sprawling habit that makes them look beautiful while also repelling a range of pests, such as thrips, aphids, and munching bugs.
Many cucumber varieties are crawling plants, so planting cucumber vines near sunflowers makes sense. Some sunflower varieties can reach up to 12 feet tall and measure several inches thick, providing perfect support systems for cucumbers.
If you use this method, you must pick smaller cucumbers that won’t weigh down the sunflower plants too much.
5 Bad Companion Plants for Cucumbers
Now that you know the best cucumber companion plants, it’s a good idea to know what plants don’t belong beside your cucumbers.
For the most part, cukes are easy-going plants without strong likes or dislikes, but that doesn’t ring true for other plants.
Here what not to plant with cucumbers:
Potatoes are some of the heaviest feeding crops in the garden, and planting potatoes and cucumbers together is a no-no.
The biggest reason of not to plant cucumber plants alongside potatoes is that potatoes will take away vital nutrients that your cucumber plants need.
Another problem is that cukes encourage potato blight if the conditions are right. That kills off entire crops of potatoes.
2. Aromatic Herbs
The aromatic herbs you know and love don’t work alongside cucumbers. Here are a few examples to keep away from your cukes.
This is a huge no-no next to cucumbers. Stick your basil plants close to tomatoes; it improves the flavor of tomatoes but not cucumbers.
Some gardeners claim that sage stunts the growth of cucumbers.
Peppermint And All Mints
All mint plants, including peppermint and spearmint, escape their boundaries and suffocate other plants nearby.
Since it’s a sprawling perennial, keep it away from your cucumbers, even if it’s a pot. They don’t get along.
The pests that love to snack on cucumber plants also love to snack on melons. Planting cucumbers and melons together is like creating a buffet for insects. It creates a small monoculture for plants, and that makes it hard to get rid of pests.
Melons belong next to other plants, such as:
Fennel doesn’t play well with other vegetables in the garden, so it’s not recommended to stick with other plants.
It does attract other beneficial insects, but the fennel acts as an inhibitor to most vegetables’ growth. In some circumstances, the fennel stunts or kills other plants entirely.
Most plants in the brassica family have mixed relationships with cuke plants. Some gardeners believe that brassicas improve their cucumbers’ growth, but brassicas are thirsty plants, as are cucumbers. That means they’ll compete with the cukes for water in the soil, potentially decreasing their growth.
Brassica family members that shouldn’t be planted with cucumbers include:
Learn how to use companion planting to better your garden and vegetable growth. When growing cucumbers, make sure you use the best cucumber companion plants to decrease pests, encourage pollinators, and increase the soil’s health.
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.