by Bethany Hayes
Cucumber plants are prone to pests and diseases, and one natural way to prevent pests from taking over is to include some cucumber companion plants in your garden. While this technique isn’t the only way to avoid pests, it helps and encourages healthier growth simply by putting certain plants nearby!
Companion plants are one of those gardening tricks that many gardeners ignore for years, assuming that it’s all just a myth. However, the truth is that these shared lessons from gardener to gardener offer more wisdom sometimes than science.
Using the benefits of companion plants helps you come up with a purposeful plan for your garden, growing plants near each other that deter specific pests or offer extra nutrients into the ground.
While it might not make a lot of sense why it works, if you’re dying for a bumper crop of cucumbers, utilizing companion plants to your advantage makes sense. Best of all, it doesn’t require too much work on your end.
Let’s look at why using companion plants with cucumbers is such a good idea and a few plants to consider planting nearby.
Why Your Cucumber Plants Benefit from Companion Plants
All plants benefit from companion plants in some form, and when you spend a lot of time planting a garden, using this simple technique offers a lot of benefits without too much work on your end.
Here are some of the benefits you should know!
1. Increases the Productivity of Your Plants
Cucumber plants need plenty of nutrients to grow, and a few types of crops on this list add nutrients back into the soil.
That’s right – some plants fix nutrient deficiencies rather than only taking what they need. These crops are great to grow nearby because your cuke plants will slowly reap the benefits, leading to increased productivity.
2. Naturally Deters Pests
If you’ve struggled with cucumber pests before, one natural way to stop them from finding your plants is to plant crops nearby that pests don’t like. Typically, these are different plants with strong scents, but that’s not always the case.
Some of these cucumber companion plants deter cucumber beetles and other troublesome insects. These are increasingly helpful for gardeners.
3. Attracts More Pollinators
Here’s another way that companion plants benefit your cucumbers – they attract pollinators.
Pollinators are needed for cukes to produce fruits. So you should see tons of bees and other insects buzzing from flower to flower on your plants.
You might have a pollinator problem if you don’t, but planting flowers and other plants that these insects love nearby will solve this problem.
4. Saves Space in Small Gardens
Cuke plants grow on tall vines, so they need a support system, such as a trellis or an arch. Some tall and robust plants, such as sunflowers, allow cuke vines to grow up the stalks. They act as a natural support system for your plants, saving your space in your small garden.
Another way companion plants save you space in your garden is by allowing you to plant crops with taproots with those who have deep roots. It’s possible to pair these types of crops together, saving space in your garden that you might otherwise waste.
14 Cucumber Companion Plants
Let’s take a look at some of the best cucumber companion plants and why they help your plants grow in the garden.
Beans belong to the legumes family, along with peas, that fix essential nitrogen in the soil. So, when you plant bush beans close to cucumbers, it leads to increased plant vigor.
One of the easiest ways to grow beans and cucumbers near each other is to plant cucumbers on a trellis and put bush beans around the base of the trellis or arch. Another idea is to grow pole beans and cucumbers on a shared trellis; this helps save space.
However, if you have the plants on the same support, they will compete for sun and space, so try to space them appropriately.
Beets are one of those plants that are neutral – they aren’t harmful but don’t offer any significant benefits either. Putting beets near your other plants is a way to save and share space, but remember – beets don’t provide any real benefits to cucumber plants.
Borage is a friendly herb that brings pollinators to your garden. The flowers are edible and taste similar to cucumbers, even when not planted close together.
Borage is a beautiful plant with blue flowers, and it’s known as a self-seeding annual herb. It adds nutrients to the soil and repels several different pests, such as hornworms, that destroy crops throughout your garden.
Often referred to as pot marigolds, calendula aren’t marigolds, but they both have cheerful, orange blooms that look great in your garden. Calendula is an annual flowering herb known for attracting a range of beneficial insects to your garden.
One of the best ways to use calendula with cucumber plants is as a trap that draws aphids away from the vines. But, at the same time, they also attract hoverflies, a beneficial insect that eats aphids, and parasitic wraps that eat cucumber beetles.
Everyone knows that carrots are root crops that need plenty of root space to grow, but other than that, they’re pretty compact and easy to grow. But then, cucumbers grow upward but need little space in the soil because of short taproots.
That means these pair well together, saving you space in your garden.
Carrots grow best when planted in the spring with plenty of time for them to germinate – they take quite a while! Then, once the soil is warm, you add the cucumbers into your garden. Both plants appreciate well-tilled soil.
Gardeners often plant celery near cabbage family members because the strong scent deters cabbage butterflies, one of the most troublesome pests for cabbages. However, when it comes to cucumbers and celery, they aren’t one of the most beneficial cucumber companion plants.
Celery is another neutral companion plant that doesn’t have any actual reason to plant it next to the crop but also has no real reason not to do so. However, it’s easier to space these in your garden compared to the other neutral companion plants.
If you grow smaller varieties of cucumber plants, corn stalks act as a support system. The trick is ensuring the corn stalks are tall enough to do so when the cucumber plants are planted or transplanted.
That means you have to carefully plant these crops if you want to reap the benefits of a natural support system.
Dill is one of the best herbs to plant in your garden; it’s versatile, and even the seeds act as spices in your culinary dishes. When grown as one of the cucumber companion plants, dill attracts a lot of beneficial insects to your gardens, such as parasitic wasps and pollinators.
You can never have too many pollinators!
However, it’s important to note that dill will slightly affect the flavor of your cucumbers. So, make sure you like the taste of dill before planting these crops side by side.
It doesn’t get much easier than lettuce if you’re looking for an easy companion plant for cucumbers. All you have to do is sow a line of seeds, and plants will eventually emerge.
Lettuce acts as an easy, neutral companion plant for cucumbers, along with radishes, strawberries, and carrots. They won’t cause any problems if you plant them, but they won’t help either.
Marigolds are one of those plants that I swear have benefits for most plants; that’s why they end up on most companion plants lists. These flowers repel different pests and beetles that might infect your garden.
While you and I might not think that marigolds have a strong scent, pests believe so, and that’s why these are some of the best cucumber companion plants.
Another one of the best flowers to add to your garden is nasturtiums. Not only are these flowers edible, but they have multiple uses, like making infused bottles of vinegar or using them as a natural antibiotic!
When you plant cucumbers and nasturtiums together, the nasturtium flowers help repel pests, such as thrips, aphids, and other common cucumber pests. One of the best ways to use nasturtiums as a companion plant is to plant them as trap crops; the aphids will flock to them rather than your cuke plants.
At the same time, beneficial insects love nasturtiums, such as ladybugs, that eat cucumber beetles and other pests. Ladybugs also eat aphids, one of the most common cucumber pests.
These plants also have similar low-growing natures and sprawling habits that make them look beautiful when planted close.
Peas add more nitrogen to the soil, so while cucumber plants don’t require high nitrogen levels, it helps fix any deficiencies and keeps the soil around the plants healthy. Planting peas in your garden slowly adjusts the NPK levels, not rapidly.
Cucumbers and peas complement each other as long as you time the plants appropriately. It’s best to start the peas early, and since they harvest early, it gives your cucumber plants plenty of time to sprawl and grow.
Are you still searching for the best cucumber companion plants? Radishes are one of the fastest-growing veggie crops, so you’ll have a harvest in less than two months.
When it comes to growing cucumbers and radishes together, there are three reasons to do so. First, the roots of cucumber plants are semi-shallow when compared to other plants so that they won’t bother each other.
Second, radishes deter cucumber beetles, one of the most devastating cucumber pests that you don’t want in your garden. Some gardeners recommend always planting two or three radish seeds near your cucumber plants to repel these pests.
Third, if you let the radish plants continue to grow until they flower, you won’t be able to eat the roots, but the plants will flower, attracting different pollinators.
Cucumbers have a sprawling, vining nature, so sunflowers make perfect sense as a companion plant. Sunflowers create a natural trellis that the cucumber plants can grow up, saving space in your garden.
By the time that you harvest your sunflowers, the cucumber plants will be harvested and done. However, if you do want to use sunflowers for a natural trellis, consider growing pickling cucumbers because the vines tend to be lighter weight and won’t strain the sunflower stalks too much.
What Not to Grow Near Cucumber Plants
While most plants are either a companion plant for cucumbers or a neutral crop, a few are not friends of cucumbers. These crops are best not grown nearby for various reasons.
1. Aromatic Herbs
Some herbs grow well with cucumbers, like dill, but some aromatic herbs don’t pair well. Here are a few examples of herbs you don’t want near cucumbers.
If there is one herb you don’t want to plant next to cucumbers, it’s basil. It will cause serious problems for your cucumber plants.
Another aromatic herb that is a no-no is sage; this plant will stunt the growth of your plants.
In general, all mint plants are a no-no next to cucumber plants since they tend to sprawl and take over all surrounding plants without mercy.
2. Other Cucurbits
Cucumber plants belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with gourds, squash, and watermelons. It’s a good idea to keep all of your cucumber plants away from them because they all attract the same pests.
When planted as neighbors, they also spread diseases, so these plants end up vulnerable to almost all the same issues.
Fennel is one of those plants that doesn’t work well with others. So, if home gardeners decide to grow them, it’s essential to do so in a separate garden bed. Don’t plant anything with fennel, including cucumbers.
This crop might attract beneficial insects, but it also acts as a growth inhibitor for most plants, including cukes. In some cases, fennel stunts the growth completely or even kills plants.
You don’t want to plant melons and cucumbers in the same area because the same pests that eat melons also eat cucumbers. So when you plant them together, you create a monoculture that is never a good thing.
That means you will need to work even harder with pesticides to keep pests away. So instead, keep your melon plants near broccoli, lettuce, okra, carrots, kale, and cauliflower.
Potatoes are known for being one of the heaviest feeders in your garden, so if you plant cucumbers nearby, they’ll take nutrients away from your plants. You’ll end up with a significant difference in the quality and size of your fruits if you plant potatoes near your cucumber plants.
Another reason that you don’t put cucumber and potatoes close together is because cucumbers encourage the growth of potato blight in the right conditions. Therefore, you need to keep them spaced far away to avoid this problem.
If you want to have a large harvest this year, try adding cucumber companion plants near your plants to increase productivity and deter pests from finding your crops.