When it comes to companion planting, some plants are compatible growing in the garden with cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and promote a beneficial relationship. Benefits include increasing resistance to pests and diseases, improving soil structure, or producing shade. Continue reading as we cover which plants grow well with cucumbers.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting, or “intercropping”, can be defined as growing two or more different varieties of plants in close proximity that produce some cultural or mutual benefit to each other. These benefits may include higher harvesting yields, enhancing your crops’ growth, and decreasing potential pest and disease problems.
Some of the benefits include:
Increased Harvest Yields
Intercropping complimentary plants can increase the yields of the others. This may be due to the nutrients that certain plants bring to the soil or the shade that they provide.
Protection of Crops
Companion plants grown next to each other can offer protection from harsh environmental conditions like wind and sun.
Intercropping offers an organic option in pest-control. When placed close to each other, some plants can repel or lure unwanted pests away from desirable crops.
Hosts Beneficial Insects
Intercropping producing surpluses of pollen and nectar attracts beneficial pollinators and insects to the garden area. Increasing the population of beneficial insects can help control unwanted pests, and beneficial pollinators help pollinate your crops.
10 Companion Plants
Like people, some vegetables get along better with different varieties over others, promoting a happy and beneficial relationship.
Tomatoes belong in the Solanaceae family, commonly known as the nightshade family. Like other nightshades, tomatoes contain toxic alkaloids that are detrimental to the growth of various vegetables. However, cucumbers aren’t affected.
Tomatoes compliment cucumbers well because they both require the same cultural conditions and care for robust growth. Additionally, tomatoes produce vertical growth, usually supported by cages or trellises.
Cucumber vines crawling on the ground will benefit from the shade the tomato produces, especially during hot afternoons. If your cucumbers are being grown vertically, then the two can share the same supporting structure to grow vertically along.
Bush and Pole Beans
Whatever type of bean (Phaseolus spp.) suits your taste buds, they all make good companions. These garden workhorses improve soil conditions by fixing nitrogen, which helps promote healthy growth.
Whether growing bush beans or pole beans, sowing them interspersed among your cucumbers assures that everything will get a dose of beneficial nitrogen. Beans can also offer a bit of shade.
If growing pole beans, you can have the vines share the same climbing area. Just make sure you assemble a large enough structure where each plant’s vines have room to grow properly without interference from the other.
Corn is another vegetable to consider because they both offer benefits to each other’s growth. If you live in an area that experiences problems with raccoons foraging in the garden, cucumbers are known to repel the pest from a corn crop.
Cucumbers growing close to corn receive beneficial shade from the taller stalks. This is especially helpful if your area experiences hot weather. Additionally, if you seed them at the base of corn stalks, their vines the corn stalks as a structure to attach to and crawl up, keeping the plants off the ground. They also help reduce weed growth around the corn stalks.
Although most varieties of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) are cool-season crops and cucumbers are a warm-season crop, both grow well together. Sow your cool-season lettuce varieties along with cucumbers when the weather warms at the beginning of spring. You can also consider finding a lettuce that tolerates warmer temperatures to grow later in the season.
Both of them have the same preference in cultural conditions, making them good companion plants. Also, cucumbers grown vertically up a structure like a trellis provide some shade to lettuce. This is helpful when temperatures start rising in late spring or early summer, especially during the afternoon hours when conditions are the hottest.
Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) and cucumbers belong in the same family Cucurbita and therefore, have the same requirements for good growth. In addition, they are both warm-season crops that require warmer temperatures to thrive. This is also the reason intercropping with winter squash is not ideal. Winter squash flourishes in cooler weathers, while cucumbers don’t.
When laying out your garden and determining what goes where, remember that summer squash and cucumbers produce large growth, particularly if you will not be growing vertically. Be sure to allow enough space between vegetables for proper air circulation to help prevent disease problems.
Although a cool-season crop, cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is another good companion. However, since cucumbers are a warm-season crop, it’s best to grow both together when the weather warms in springtime.
They have a beneficial relationship in that cucumbers grown vertically offer cabbage a bit of shade. This also helps conserve soil moisture around the vegetables, as both of them are thirsty plants and require frequent water applications.
If planting them next to each other, be sure to irrigate regularly, so one vegetable doesn’t rob the other of its much-needed water. You can consider watering with a water soaker to simplify the watering process and also to prevent water from getting on the foliage.
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are one of the easiest and quickest vegetable crops to grow with harvesting happening in as little as three weeks after planting. Besides adding its sharp flavor to salads, radishes offer a huge benefit. They repel the dreaded cucumber beetle.
Planting four to six radishes spaced around each cucumber hill is sufficient. However, you don’t want to harvest these radishes. Instead, allow them to continue growing and going to seed. This allows you to receive the maximum benefit of the radish’s pest-control abilities.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) add a cheery appeal to gardens and are very beneficial. Tall varieties like Russian Mammoth or Skyscraper, both growing up to 12 feet tall, produce shade during the heat of the day. Also, the thick sunflower stalks are perfect for vines to attach.
Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are another workhorse when it comes to intercropping. They tolerate various conditions. It’s thought the flower’s pungent smell helps in deterring different pests like cabbageworms and various beetles.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) not only make good companion plants, but the showy flowers and foliage are also edible. They also assist in repelling aphids, beetles, and various bugs.
There are also plants that antagonize cucumber growth. Similarly, cucumbers can also negatively affect the development of certain vegetation.
Cucumbers shouldn’t be placed in the same garden bed with Irish potatoes or late potatoes. When grown in the same area, they can cause late blight in potato crops, negatively affecting their growth.
Many aromatic herbs shouldn’t be planted close to cucumbers as they can negatively affect their growth. This is especially true of sage.
With these companion plants, you will be successful with your cucumber growing endeavors in no time. Make sure to check out our comprehensive cucumber grow guide by clicking here.