Companion Plants | Featured | Vegetables

Cucumber Companion Plants – What to Grow Nearby (and Not!)

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Cucumbers tend to be a favorite garden plant to grow for lots of people. Fresh and crunchy, it’s great to have a healthy crop. In trying to optimize my garden layouts, I started looking for cucumber companion plants – what grows best near cucumbers!

I know I would not be the only gardener to find this information helpful, so I created this post to share the best cucumber companions with you.

Finding good companion plants for cucumbers is pretty easily actually, once you know the plants that play well together and those that don’t.

Cucumber Companion Plants - Bright Green Cucumber hanging out of a raised garden bed
Cucumber Companion Plants – Bright Green Cucumber hanging out of a raised garden bed

I’ll share all of that with you in this post. Let’s get started learning all about some good cucumber companion plants to try this year.

What are some benefits of good cucumber plant companions?

When looking for veggies, herbs, fruits, and flowers to plant near cucumbers, keep these helpful factors in mind:

  • Shared Growing Conditions – Cucumber companion plants should be compatible with the ideal growing conditions for cucumbers themselves. Soil type, watering needs, sunlight requirements, and feeding should help to narrow down what works and what doesn’t.
  • Symbiotic Relationships – Some plants offer what other plants need to thrive. For example, vining plants like cucumbers can help to shade plants that can’t tolerate harsh sun, such as lettuce. Meanwhile, cucumbers can enjoy the support structure of tall, strong plants like corn and sunflowers.
  • Insect Potential – Companion plants can attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They can lure predatory insects that attack specific pest insects. Some plants can serve as trap crops or literally repel the bad guy bugs. Look at all the possibilities of how plants can benefit each other!

What can be planted with cucumbers?

Lots of different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers can be planted with cucumbers. Some great choices to consider may include beans, peas, sunflowers, lettuce, corn, and carrots, but many others will do great as cucumber planting partners as well. Keep reading for a list of many plants that seem to work well when planted near cucumbers.

Fruit & Vegetable Companion Plants for Cucumbers

Several vegetable plants work well as cucumber companions.

  • Beans – Bush beans, pole beans, drying beans, and other varieties offer nitrogen fixing properties in the garden. Since cucumbers require nitrogen as heavy feeders, growing beans nearby can be very beneficial.
     
  • Carrots – Crunchy carrots require only a small footprint in your garden, so you can tuck them into little spaces throughout your cucumber bed.

  • Corn / Popcorn – Corn works well as a cucumber companion, especially when the cucumbers like to climb up the cornstalks. We grew popcorn in our 2021 cucumber bed!

  • Lettuce – Lettuce tends to bolt in the hot summer sun, so you can grow some in between your cucumber plants where hopefully the shade can extend your harvest.

  • Peas / Snow Peas – Peas and other legumes do well when planted alongside cucumbers. Like beans, peas also add nitrogen to the soil, which cucumbers need to thrive. (By the way, you can also check out our suggestions for snow pea companion plants!)

  • Radishes – Try growing radishes nearby to repel the cucumber beetles.
Pickling Cucumbers and Snow Peas and Beans Harvest from our 2021 Garden in an orange colander
Pickling Cucumbers and Snow Peas and Beans Harvest from our 2021 Garden in an orange colander

What about planting tomatoes and cucumbers together?

Tomatoes and cucumbers planted together seems to be an undecided topic amongst gardeners. Some say never to plant tomatoes and cucumbers together. Others say it’s no big thing and you can totally grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the same space.

My best advice is to try it and see, or not. A lot of companion planting advice is anecdotal and not scientific. Some even call it gardening folklore. If you want to try growing cucumbers and tomatoes together, give it a whirl.

But, please be sure to come back and let us know how it goes for you!

Companion Herbs for Cucumbers

Tuck some herbs throughout your garden to maximize space and increase the productivity of your garden. Herbs can improve the growing environment for a large number of other plants.

Try growing these companion herbs for cucumbers in your garden:

  • Borage – This edible herb is great for attracting pollinators to the garden! More bees buzzing around means more pollinated cucumber flowers!

  • Calendula – Calendula appreciates the shade provided by the cucumber vines. Expect to see some beneficial insects arriving on account of the bright and cheery calendula. Predatory insects as well as pollinators like this flower.

  • Dill – Are you growing a pickle garden? Plant your dill and cucumbers together to enjoy some good guys like ladybugs finding your garden. This should help cut down on the aphid population, as well as spider mites. As an added bonus, you may also see some beautiful butterflies, as dill is a host plant for their caterpillars.

  • Tansy – I wrote up this whole section on tansy before I knew it had serious health and safety concerns. Please use caution if growing this and do so when there’s not a risk to children or pets. This powerful little herb packs a punch by helping to repel quite a few bad insects, like Japanese beetles, cucumber beetles, and mosquitoes, among others. Boasting bright yellow flowers, tansy also invites pollinators to the garden and even helps to accumulate potassium in the soil. Still, tansy is considered toxic to humans and livestock, so  

Flowers as Cucumber Companions

Growing flowers with cucumbers adds visual appeal to your cucumber patch. Flowers help to attract pollinators and can even lure beneficial insects. For example, nasturtiums make great plant buddies because they help to repel pest insects like cucumber beetles while also enhancing the cucumbers’ flavor.

Sunflowers, meanwhile, can offer a natural trellis and climbing support for cucumbers.

Consider these flowers as some good cucumber companion plants.

  • Cosmos – These pretty flowers attract parasitic wasps, a beneficial predatory insect. Enjoy flowers for your indoor vases while also warding off some of the most dreaded garden pests like squash bugs, aphids, and cucumber beetles.

  • Marigolds – Growing marigolds and cucumbers together works well because these pretty flowers can repel pest insects.

  • Nasturtium – Choose nasturtium as a trap crop to lure aphids away from your precious veggies. You can also expect some beneficial insects like ladybugs to help fend off the bad bugs.

  • Pansy – Pansies are believed to deter the cucumber beetle, which has been our biggest cucumber pest to date.

  • Petunias – Look forward to increased pollinators and fewer aphids when you grow petunias and cucumbers together.

  • Sunflowers – Cucumbers enjoy the climbing support from a strong, tall sunflower plant. Sunflowers also attract bees and other pollinators to the garden.
Cucumber Companion planted near sunflowers
Cucumber Companion planted near sunflowers in 2021 garden

Worst Cucumber Companion Plants

While we’ve covered lots of positive plant pairings for cucumbers, it’s also important to mention the worst companion plants for cucumbers.

If possible, avoid planting these guys near your cucumbers:

  • Potatoes – Cucumbers and potatoes don’t grow well together. Both crops tend to like a lot of water and can compete in that sense. Another issue arises when it’s time to harvest potatoes, as they grow beneath the ground and you’ll need to disturb the garden bed or container to access them.

  • Sage – The robust aroma of sage and other deeply fragrant, aromatic herbs can alter the taste of your cucumbers. This could be a gardening myth or there could be some truth. Either way, you’ve got a lot of other cucumber companion plant choices to consider.

  • Squash, Zucchini, and Other Cucurbits – Cucurbits grown together can quickly tangle each other up in the garden. They tend to suffer from the same pests and can quickly get overwhelmed by and increased volume of bad bugs.

Mixed Reviews – Brassicas

Anecdotally, some say that broccoli and cucumbers grow well together. Elsewhere you’ll see advice stating to avoid planting cucumbers and brassicas together. There’s not much definitive information available on this combination.

Cucumbers are often able to help keep down weeds, which could be good for broccoli. However, cucumbers and brassicas tend to be thirsty plants, so they may compete for water. These plants could also compete for nutrients in the soil.

Brassicas include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and others. If you can find other companions for cucumbers, you might as well avoid brassicas just in case.

What about planting cucumbers near fruit?

You may not find a lot of fruit cucumber companion plants hailed as great buddies in the garden.

In one possible pairing, cucumbers are vining plants and so are melons. Both like to roam and ramble through the garden if not trained up a trellis. They can both be susceptible to cucumber beetles, as well. So, while you could probably plant cucumbers and melons together, it’s tough to say what the result would be.

Growing strawberries and cucumbers together could be tricky as well. Strawberry runners can overtake a garden when the plants focus intently on propagating themselves. You can try it and remove and transplant the baby strawberries instead of leaving them to their own devices, but that sure sounds like a lot of extra work.

After all, isn’t the point of companion planting to make things better and easier?

Please keep in mind – a lot of the advice on companion plants in the garden is purely anecdotal and a bit of a tribal knowledge passed down, rather than research and study-based fact.

For this reason, consider it a trial-and-error process as you go. And, be sure to document your wins and losses in a gardening journal so you keep improving every year.

Tips on Choosing Cucumber Companion Plants

Choosing the best cucumber companion plants depends on what else you’d like to grow in your garden.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to start any plants grown as natural trellises a few weeks or so in advance of your cucumbers.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help choose the best cucumber companion plants.

  1. Do you have any succession planting plans for this garden space? If so, read about seed to harvest time and try to choose companions that you can harvest on a rolling basis.

  2. Do you need this garden space for your next round of crops? If you’re planning a winter garden bed, try to avoid companion planting crops with a long season that grow all the way until the frost.

  3. What do you really want to grow? Just because something is listed as a good companion plant for cucumbers doesn’t mean you have to grow it! If you don’t like eating peas, skip them and choose something else.

  4. Are there any crop rotation criteria? I am only just beginning to learn about this concept, so I will come back and update when I have more knowledge here. For now, I encourage you to research specifics to your own garden!

What Cucumber Companion Plants did we choose?

Here in PA, we grew two different cucumber beds in raised garden bed planters.

Regular Cucumber and Pickling Cucumber on wooden deck from our 2021 harvest
Regular Cucumber and Pickling Cucumber on wooden deck from our 2021 harvest

Cucumber Garden 1

In the first one, we grew pickling cucumbers, leaf lettuce, carrots, snow peas, and popcorn. This was one of my favorite garden beds in our 2021 garden!

Cucumber Garden 2

In the second cucumber garden bed, we grew cucumbers, nasturtium, sunflowers, and some pole beans.

We also ended up with an accidental squash plant that got mixed in with the cucumber seedlings somehow. That soon succumbed to the awful squash vine borer. Hopefully this growing season we’ll have better luck!

Do you have any favorite cucumber companion plants? Have you tried anything not listed here and had success? Have you found any pairings to be problematic?

Please share in our comments and always feel free to ask questions!

We love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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