Cucumber Companion Plants: 17 Plants To Grow With Cucumbers

Growing cucumbers with companion plants can benefit your garden by giving you added planting space, and creating a biodiverse garden. It can help with pest control, and disease as well. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey takes you through her favorite cucumber companion plants for veggetable gardeners.

Cucumbers in Garden With Companion Plants

A hot summer day isn’t complete without the hydrating and refreshing crunch of a juicy garden grown cucumber. These heat-loving Cucurbit vines are eager to ramble and vine throughout your garden, yielding an abundance of nutritious green fruits all season long.

As long as they have room to roam or a trellis to climb, cucumbers are fairly easy to please. They love full sunlight, consistent moisture, and rich soil. However, a cucumber crop can quickly get destroyed by cucumber beetles or fast-spreading powdery mildew. But when you don’t want to use pesticides or fungicides in your garden, prevention is key.

Beneficial neighboring plants can help repel hungry pests, facilitate pollination, or maximize space for a more fruitful crop. There are an abundance of companion plants that help cucumbers grow more quickly and remain resilient in the face of common growing challenges. Here’s the top 17 time-tested companion plants for cucumbers as well as those best kept at a distance. Let’s dig in!

Cucumber Companion Planting Benefits

cucumbers and marigolds
Good neighbors for cucumbers: corn, lettuce, peas, beans, radishes, onions, and sunflowers.

Companion planting is an age-old technique that involves planting certain species together for mutual benefits. This form of symbiosis maximizes biodiversity and resilience in the garden.

As opposed to monoculture (growing large plantings of just one crop), polycultures use companion plants to mimic natural ecosystems wherein lots of plants work together to enhance each other’s growth.

For cucumbers in particular, companion crops can dramatically increase yields while reducing pest and disease pressure. Beneficial herbs, flowers, and vegetables can be paired with cucumbers to help:

Repel Pests

The most popular reason for companion planting is to keep pests at bay. The fragrant aroma of certain herbs and flowers deter hungry insects like cucumber beetles, thrips, aphids, and spider mites.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Many companion plants act as a beneficial insectary to attract beneficial bugs. By magnetizing predatory insects, they help create a dynamic ecosystem around your cucumber beds so that pest populations are kept in check. Certain herbs and flowers are specifically helpful for bringing in parasitic wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, and spiders that feed on all the nasty cucumber-eating pests.

Attract Pollinators

Most cucumber varieties rely on proper pollination for an abundant fruit set. Without pollinated flowers, there are no fruits! But sometimes cucumber flowers aren’t enough to lure in the volume of bees we need for ultra high yields. Symbiotic flowers serve as an alternative nectar source to get the cucumber patch buzzing with activity. You also enjoy the added bonus of beautiful pops of color and maybe even some butterflies!

Living Trellis

In the spirit of ancient traditional farming practices, some plants can be paired with cucumbers to act as a living trellis. These sturdy stalks allow cucumber vines to wind up their stems and remain upright so that fruits don’t rot in the soil. This form of companion planting takes a bit more planning, but can create an impressive natural ecosystem when executed correctly.

Weed Suppression

Thanks to their broad flat leaves, cucumbers typically compete fairly well with weeds. But a little extra help from low-growing, weed-suppressing companion plants never hurts. These plants act as ground cover to keep weeds at bay while simultaneously insulating the soil and conserving moisture.

Improve Vigor and Yield

The high fertility requirements of cucumbers mean they want as many minerals as they can get. Nitrogen-fixing legumes and mineral-mining taproot plants help draw up nutrients from the soil to fuel plant growth and improve yields.

Save Space and Maximize Yields

As gardeners, we want to grow as much delicious food as possible in a small space, with as little effort as possible. Companion plants make that dream closer to reality by coupling edible plants alongside your cucumbers to make use of garden areas that may have otherwise remained barren.

Needless to say, the benefits of properly-designed “plant guilds” (companion plant combinations) can dramatically improve your cucumber production and yield a bunch of bonus crops from the same space.

But just like people, cucumbers don’t get along with all plants in all settings. There are some important things to consider before tossing a bunch of species in a bed together.

Mistakes to Avoid

cucumbers, salad, fennel, an oregano grow in the garden
Avoid planting herbs with cucumbers that are deeply rooted and can rob them of moisture.

Symbiotic plantings are undeniably fun and exciting for any gardener. You get to experiment with creating your own unique ecosystem filled to the brim with an abundance of flowers, herbs, and veggies! However, it’s easy to get a bit overzealous with companion planting.

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure that your companion plants actually help your cucumbers rather than inadvertently setting back their growth:

Not Enough Spacing

Nobody likes to be overcrowded, so it is especially important to ensure that companion plants don’t accidentally overgrow into your cucumbers’ personal space. Always take into consideration the fully mature size of a plant and how far from the crop it needs to be to ensure plenty of airflow and space to grow.

Competition for Water

Shallow-rooted crops like cucumbers have a harder time hanging onto water. When choosing companion plants, be sure that deep rooted veggies or herbs won’t accidentally steal moisture away from your cukes. Mulches are a great way to retain water for all the plants in a bed.

Competition for Nutrients

Cukes are moderate to heavy feeders that need ample fertility to crank out juicy fruits all summer long. Be sure that the soil has enough fertility to supply your cucumbers as well as neighboring companions.

Shading Out Your Crop

Most of the benefits of a symbiotic plantain get wiped away if one plant overgrows and shades out the other. If cucumbers are vining along the ground, be careful that companion plants don’t create a shady canopy above them. Most garden crops need full sunlight, therefore low-growing companions or trellising are great ways to keep cukes in the light.

17 Cucumber Companion Plants

Companion planting can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it. Sometimes it’s as easy as tossing some flower seeds in a bed. Other times, getting the right species, spacing, and timing takes some research and attention to detail.

Not all companions integrate into cucumber plantings perfectly. but with a little bit of experimentation, you can figure out what works best for your region and garden setup. Just don’t forget to document your successes and failures for future seasons. 

Here are 17 beneficial cucumber comrades and how to plant them with your crop:

Oregano

Oregano
Oregano is a very popular herb for pest control, so it works well as a companion for cucumbers.

This spicy Italian herb is a great companion for most vegetables, but especially cucumbers. Its peppery aromatic leaves repel sap-sucking aphids and squash bugs.

When it is allowed to flower, the eye-catching purple blossoms provide both habitat and food for important beneficial insects like lacewings. The lacewing larvae are hungry predators of aphids, flea beetles, and cabbage looper eggs (cabbage loopers don’t only eat cabbage)!

Benefits

Repel pests and attract beneficial predators.

How to Plant It

Oregano is as versatile in the garden as it is in the kitchen. You can sow it in borders or around the corners of a raised bed, maintaining space of about 14-18” from neighboring crops. It has a low-growing habit that pairs best with trellised cucumbers as long as it has enough sunlight.

Marigolds

Marigolds
Marigolds repel beetles, aphids and even rabbits.

Known for their bright oranges and yellows in Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, marigolds are also a highly effective pest repellant plant. Their sticky, resinous blossoms and musky floral aroma repel cucumber beetles, aphids, and even hungry rabbits. They bloom all season long and lure in beneficial predators like ladybugs to hunt down pests for you.

Benefits

Repel pests and attract beneficial predators.

How to Plant It

Seed marigolds around the same time as cucumbers in the early spring, or transplant into the garden, leaving 8-10” from nearby plants. Be sure that you have the stout French marigolds because African marigolds can grow quite large.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum
With a high concentration of pyrethrum, chrysanthemums serve as a wonderful natural insecticide in all respects.

Chrysanthemums are the original “natural pesticide” that inspired the creation of modern organic pyrethrum sprays. This naturally-occurring compound repels spider mites, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and more by disrupting the nervous system of insects, leading them to get confused and disoriented while trying to feed on your crops.

You can even soak chrysanthemum flower heads in water, add 1 teaspoon of soap and 1 teaspoon of oil, then use as your own DIY pyrethrum spray.    

Benefits

Natural insecticide that repels pests.

How to Plant It

Because chrysanthemums are herbaceous perennial shrubs, they are best kept outside of annual vegetable beds. Plant them in border margins close to your cucumber beds to get their benefits year after year.

Calendula

Calendula
Calendula is able to attract bees and butterflies that feed on pests.

Commonly confused as “pot marigold”, Calendula spp. are actually a separate group of daisy-family plants that contain resinous fragrant flowers in vibrant hues. Bee and butterflies, as well as pest-eating lacewings and hoverflies are drawn to calendula’s ultra high pollen content. It’s a wonderful companion plant and can grow in tough soil conditions.

Benefits

Attract beneficial predators and pollinators.

How to Plant It

Calendula can be scattered throughout your garden, even every 6-12” along cucumber plantings. As long as they don’t get shaded out, they do great when planted along trellised cucumber rows. Don’t forget to scatter dried calendula seed heads to keep the patch expanding. You can also easily collect the “C” shaped seeds for the next year.

Dill

Dill
Dill is a popular and beneficial aromatic plant that attracts insect pollinators such as bees and parasitic wasps.

Cucumbers and dill are an iconic combo that happen to be just as compatible in the garden as they are in pickles. The big umbel flowers of dill attract an incredible diversity of parasitic wasps, ladybugs, hoverflies, and other predators of aphids, mites, thrips, and cucumber beetles. Experienced gardeners also anecdotally report that young dill plants enhance the growth of neighboring crops.

Benefits

Enhance growth and attract beneficial insects.

How to Plant It

Dill is best transplanted into the garden at the same time as cucumber starts. Keep the plants 12-16” from neighboring cucumbers and allow them to bolt with the summer heat. You can repeatedly harvest the leaves and blossoms to encourage continuous herbal goodness for pickles and salads.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are beautiful flowers that are a natural trap for aphids, diverting the attention of the pest to themselves.

If you’re tired of the dreaded striped or spotted cucumber beetles anilahtin gyour cucumber leaves and flowers, nasturtiums are like a dream come true.

The vibrant flowers and foliage of nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) have a special knack for repelling cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and aphids from the garden. They also magnetize pollinators and predators like hoverflies to keep aphids in check.

As an added bonus, their edible flowers make a delightful peppery garnish for summer dishes. The one thing to be aware of with nasturtiums is that they can also double as a “trap crop”. Pests often get lured from your crop toward the nasturtium plants and they may need to be removed if they begin to become a breeding ground for destructive insects.

Benefits

Repel pests, attract pollinators, and attract beneficials.

How to Plant It

Nasturtiums can be climbing vines or big bushes that need plenty of space from your cucumbers. Plant two or three per bed, leaving at least 1 foot from neighboring cucumber plants. It helps to interplant them between cucumber plants. You can allow nasturtiums to vine up a cucumber trellis or opt for a dwarf variety in smaller spaces.

These flowers thrive on neglect, so you don’t have to worry about watering or fertilizing them. Hanging baskets are also a great option for container gardeners.

Borage

Borage
Borage repels cabbage worms and pesky wireworms.

This deer-proof plant has dazzling blue flowers in the shape of little stars. Borage works its companionship magic both above and below ground. They are incredible for deterring cabbage loopers, armyworms, and pesky wireworms away from cucumber plants.

At the same time, their blossoms draw in pest-eating predators and pollinators to help increase your cucumber fruit yields. Borage is also a bioaccumulator. Its deep roots are known to pull up vital trace minerals from the soil and make them available to shallow-rooted cucumber plants.

Benefits

Enhance growth, accumulate nutrients, repel pests, and attract beneficial predatory insects.

How to Plant It

Borage plants can grow quite large in full bloom, so keep it at row-ends or in garden margins. If trellising cucumbers, it is okay to plant borage 10-12” from the base of the trellis on the sunny southernmost-facing part of the bed.

Corn

Corn
Cucumbers will provide the corn with a natural mulch under the stalks, retaining moisture and preventing weed growth.

Corn and cucumbers are one of the most unique garden combos. For one, corn can act as a “living trellis”. In other words, the stalks are poles for cucumbers to vine up and keep the fruit off the ground. Together, the corn and cucumbers also create a dense canopy that suppresses weeds and adds a little bit of shade for cukes in the heat of the summer.

You essentially get twice the harvest from the same amount of space. Plus, this planting looks really cool and is a great way to teach children about the ways plants can collaborate in natural ecosystems. 

Benefits

Living trellis, summer shade, and weed suppression.

How to Plant It

Plant the cucumbers two weeks after you direct seed the corn to allow ample time for stalks to begin growing. The cucumber seeds should be 12” apart directly adjacent to the corn rows or in between each row of corn.

Once the corn is at least 2-3 feet tall, start to train the cucumber vines to climb the stalks by twisting their tips around the base. Be sure there is plenty of fertility available, as these are both heavy feeding crops.

Peas

Peas
Peas are able to increase access to nutrients and nitrogen for cucumbers.

Cucumbers benefit from plenty of nitrogen, so legumes are always a great choice for interplanting in your cuke patch. Summer field peas will eagerly vine alongside a cucumber trellis to add an extra harvestable crop from the space while simultaneously increasing nutrient availability. The peas have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the soil that make nitrogen accessible to your cucumbers.

Benefits

Increase nitrogen availability and maximize space.

How to Plant It

When vining multiple crops in a bed, it’s best to run your trellis north to south. Directly sow the pea seeds at the time of cucumber transplanting. Consider planting groups of peas about 2” apart in alternating sections of cucumbers. Maintain at least 6” of space between the pea groups and neighboring cucumber plants.

Pole Beans

Pole Beans
Pole Beans are also able to provide additional nitrogen to cucumbers without competing with them for space.

Like vining peas, pole beans fix nitrogen and wind up a trellis alongside cucumbers without competing for light or space. Keep in mind that this combo is really only beneficial when trellising cucumbers upward.

Benefits

Fix nitrogen and maximize space.

How to Plant It

Plant pole beans just like peas. You can train the vines to stay straight upward.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers
The sunflower is a shade providing favorite with it’s taller stature.

Sunflowers can be a living trellis for cucumber plants. Be sure that you choose jumbo sunflowers with strong stalks. The big flower heads can protect cucumbers from intense summer heat in southern climates.

Benefits

Living trellis and dappled shade.

How to Plant It

Grow just like the corn combo described above.

Radishes

Sunflowers
Since radishes ripen earlier than cucumbers, they add a lot of variety to the garden.

As one of the fastest growing vegetables, radishes are a great companion for cucumbers because they’re ready to harvest before the cukes begin to overgrow them. While radishes don’t necessarily improve the growth of cucumbers, they add more diversity to the bed and give you an extra harvest from the same space.

Benefits

Maximize harvestable space.

How to Plant It

Sow radish seeds in a row 6” from newly transplanted baby cucumber plants. Leave 4-6” between each radish. In about 30 days, the radishes will be ready to pull so the cucumbers have plenty of space to continue their growth.

Onions

Onions
Onions repel aphids and Japanese beetles.

Alliums of all types naturally repel aphids, Japanese beetles, and rabbits. Onions, in particular, have a pungent smell and complimentary growth habit to help cucumbers. Their low growth  habit and shallow roots won’t compete with cucumbers for fertility, light, or water.

Benefits

Repel pests and maximize harvestable space.

How to Plant It

Transplant onion starts or sets in a row 6-8” from trellised cucumber plants with 4-6” between each onion plant. Avoid this pairing for cucumbers vining along the ground, as the onions will get outgrown.

Lettuce

Lettuce
Lettuce is able to prevent shooting in hot weather.

Whether your trellising cucumbers up a cattle panel, A-frame trellis, or fence, lettuce is the perfect light-feeding ally to grow along summer cukes. While the effects on cucumbers are neutral, the lettuce enjoys the dappled shade to prevent bolting in summer heat.

Benefits

Utilize unused space.

How to Plant It

Transplant lettuce starts 8-10” from the base of trellised cucumbers in a single row. For head lettuce, keep 6-8” between each plant. A straw or chipped leaf mulch will help conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.

Beets

Garden Grown Beets
An excellent companion for cucumbers, beets do not interfere in space and loosen the soil with their bulbous roots.

Beets are another root veggie that can be tucked alongside cucumbers to maximize space. They add diversity to the bed and subtly loosen the soil with their bulbous round roots.

Benefits

Loosens soil and maximizes harvestable space.

How to Plant It

At the time of transplanting cucumbers, sow beets in a row 6-12” from the base of the trellis. Space seeds 1-2” apart and be sure they have their own drip irrigation line to ensure even germination. Beets should be ready to harvest just as cucumbers begin to shade them. If you’re vining cukes along the ground, don’t try this pairing.

Carrots

Carrots
Carrots is a neutral companion as it does not add any nutrients to the soil.

Like beets, carrots are a neutral companion for cucumbers. While they don’t add any benefits to the crop, they do make use of the bare soil and dappled shade by trellis cucumbers.

Benefits

Maximize harvestable space.

How to Plant It

Sow carrots at the same time as beets about 12-16” from the base of a cucumber trellis. Thin seeds to 1” apart and ensure that they are on the southernmost-facing side of the trellis.

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum
Sweet Alyssum is able to attract pollinators and predatory insects to increase the yield of cucumbers.

It can be really frustrating to grow big lush cucumber plants that aren’t yielding any fruit. A lack of flower pollination is often an issue for gardeners without enough native bees. Sweet alyssum is a delicate, beautiful white flower that magnetizes the hardest working pollinators and predatory insects to help improve your cucumber yields.

Benefits

Attract pollinators and beneficial predatory insects.

How to Plant It

Plant alyssum at all row ends or scattered throughout the bed. The more the merrier! Alyssum won’t compete with cucumbers and is very adaptable. Leave 10-12” of space between alyssum plants and cucumbers.

What Not to Plant with Cucumbers

Potatoes
It is not recommended to plant vegetables such as brassicas, melons, zucchini, squash, potatoes, sage, mint, and fennel with cucumbers.

While cucumbers are fairly easygoing, there are a few plants that are best kept at a distance in the garden. Avoid planting these in your cucumber bed:

Brassicas

Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and their cousins are notoriously thirsty, heavy-feeding crops. They compete for space, water, and nutrients. They can also attract some of the same pests as cucumbers.

Melons, Zucchini, and Squash

Other members of the cucurbit family like cantaloupe and zucchini have the same pest and disease problems as cucumbers. Plant them in other areas of your garden as part of a seasonal crop rotation. 

Potatoes

The bushy growth of spuds and their need for hilling doesn’t compliment cucumbers very well. While they aren’t the worst companions, potatoes are also not the best. The whole purpose of planting plants that compliment each other is to get the benefits each plant brings.

Sage

There is some evidence that sage may stunt cucumber’s growth. So, even though it can be a potent insect and wildlife repellant, look to other plants before settling on sage as a tandem plant.

Mint

This fairly aggressive herb can quickly overtake a bed and may taint the flavor of your cucumbers. While like potatoes they aren’t awful to pair with cucumbers, mint certainly isn’t the best and can be a hassle to care for if not properly managed.

Fennel

Fennel is an allelopathic plant, meaning it releases compounds into the soil that inhibit growth of neighboring plants.

Final Thoughts

Cucumbers are delicious, easygoing, and vigorous plants that will eagerly yield refreshing fruits until the first frost. Companion plants are the best way to maximize the use of your space, improve pollination, and deter annoying pests like cucumber beetles.

The most important things to remember are:

  • Maintain plenty of space between cucumbers and their allies.
  • This will help prevent competition for light, water, or nutrients.
  • Remember that without airflow, they are prone to disease.
  • Pay close attention to where the sunlight hits your garden.
  • Before choosing a companion pairing, visualize the crops at their full maturity.
  • You want to ensure that one isn’t shading out the other.
  • Seed your companion plants at the right time.
  • This way, you can get an extra harvestable crop from a small area.
  • Trellised cucumbers are the easiest to companion plant with.

Now that you know all there is to know about what to plant with cucumbers this season, it’s time to get planting!

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