Looking for the best companion plants to grow this year with your cucumbers?
Companion planting can play a role in the health, vitality and yields of many of the vegetables that grow in a garden. And that certainly includes the much beloved cucumber.
What you plant near your cucumber plants can impact their performance. And, depending on what you grow in close proximity, the impact can be either positive or negative. Knowing which plants fall on which side can obviously be a big advantage for a home gardener!
The Ins & Outs Of Companion Planting
Companion planting is all about the positive relationships that exist between two varieties of plants that grow in close proximity to one another.
Some plants can help others by providing a canopy of shade as they grow. Others, meanwhile, help improve the soil for another plant by helping to supply the nutrients they need most.
But the advantages of companion planting don’t stop there. Many plants are wonderful companions for others because they attract beneficial insects to the area. Or, they might even help to repel pests that can bring harm to the companion plant.
A great example of this is the multiple benefits marigolds bring to tomatoes when they grow nearby.
Marigolds are wonderful for attracting wasps. And as it just so happens, wasps are one of the best pollinators for tomato plants. But at the same time, wasps also help by attacking the dreaded hornworm. And as anyone who grows tomato plants knows, hornworms can be a huge issue.
But if all of that wasn’t enough, not only do marigolds bring in the wasps that attack the hornworms lifecycle, marigolds also help repel hornworms on their own with the pungent smell of their foliage and blooms.
It is truly a great example of companion planting at its finest! (See: Why You Should Grow Marigolds With Tomatoes)
The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
The good news is, just like tomatoes, cucumber plants have their own list of companion helpers too. There are plants that can help to give them support, ones that aid in keeping them safe from pests, and others that can even help feed them too.
With that in mind, here is a look at the best of the best when it comes to companion planting for cucumbers:
Corn – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
Whether you like to grow sweet corn, pop corn or flint corn for fall decorating, growing them alongside your cucumbers can provide a boatload of benefits – both for your cucumber plants, and the corn!
Cucumber plants grow best when they have good support for their vines. When a cucumber plant’s vines are left to sprawl across the ground, it can lead to a long list of issues for the plant and its fruit.
For starters, vines on the ground are easy prey for insects to attack both the foliage and fruit. In addition, the foliage is more likely to fall victim to powdery mildew and other diseases that spring up when the leaves cannot get enough air to dry out.
If all of that wasn’t enough, cucumbers growing on the ground spot and rot more easily when their tender skins come in contact with the soil. Luckily, that is exactly where corn stalks come to the rescue.
As the corn stalks grow early in the season, cucumbers send their vines up the stalks. Not only does it help to provide support for the cucumbers and keep them off the ground, it also provides some protection for the corn too.
Raccoon, deer and other animals that love to munch on corn do not like walking on the prickly foliage of the cucumber. As a result, it usually keeps the pesky animals out of the corn patch.
Marigolds – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
You might have guessed early on in the article that Marigolds might make the cucumber companion list as well. And they certainly do – but for a different kind of protection.
In addition to repelling hornworms, marigolds also are incredibly good at repelling aphids- and aphids love to attack cucumber plants. Especially young and tender cucumber plants.
It is thought that the strong odor of the foliage and blooms have a chemical marker that keeps aphids away. Whatever it is, not only can marigolds protect your cucumber crop, they can also add a lot of colorful beauty to your garden with their gorgeous flowers!
Bush Beans – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
Beans are an excellent companion plant to a long list of vegetable crops, including cucumbers. Why are they such a good partner? For starters, beans (as with all legume crops) are fantastic at fixing nitrogen levels in the soil as they grow.
Nitrogen is one of the most important mineral nutrients of all when it comes to powering plant growth. And it is certainly needed by cucumbers to develop strong foliage and bloom sets.
As a bean crop grows, the nodules on its roots help to replenish nitrogen in the soil. As it does, the roots of the cucumber plants can then soak it right in. Bush beans are also fast growers, so they help to provide a living mulch to help keep more moisture in the soil for water-loving cucumbers.
Dill – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
It makes sense that dill would be a great companion plant for cucumbers. After all, they are wonderful companions for making delicious dill pickles!
But beyond adding flavor to pickle brine, dill plants also attract a whole slew of pollinators to their fragrant flowers. Honey bees and wasps both visit the plant regularly, and if cucumbers are growing nearby, they will visit and pollinate their flowers as well.
Sunflowers – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
Unlike cucumbers, sunflowers roots grow deep down into the soil, breaking it up as they do. This is perfect for cucumbers making it easier for them to establish their roots in the softer soil left behind.
Even more, just as when growing cucumbers with corn, the sturdy stalks of a sunflower plant can also serve as a living trellis for cucumber vines as they grow.
Peas – The Best Companion Plants For Cucumbers
Peas and cucumbers are a wonderful pair of crops to grow together in the garden. As another member of the legume family, peas help to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it easy for the cucumber plants to absorb the much needed nutrient as they grow.
Since both crops vine and like to have support, they can also share space on the same trellis or support without issue. Just be sure to have a sturdy support in place to handle both as they grow!
A Few Plants To Avoid Planting
It goes without saying, there are a few crops you want to keep away from your cucumber crop. At the head of that list is potatoes.
Potatoes need almost the identical set of nutrients as cucumbers to grow their root crop. Because of this, planting them together can result in both plants not having enough resources to produce a good harvest. Both plants also attract the same pests and disease, which can also pose problems.
In addition to potatoes, avoid planting cucumbers near cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and melons. All of these vegetable crops either use the same resources, or attract pests that can bring harm to your cucumber crop.
For more on companion planting, check out our article : How To Use Companion Planting In The Vegetable Garden. Here is to getting the most from your cucumber crop this year with companion planting!
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