Can You Plant Cucumbers With Peppers in Your Garden?
Are you considering planting cucumbers with peppers in your garden this season? Maybe you are wondering if these two veggies make decent garden companions? In this article, gardening expert and homesteader Merideth Corhs examines if it's a good idea to plant peppers next to your cucumbers this growing season.
If you’re considering growing cucumbers and peppers this year, you’re in great company. For many home gardeners, these veggies are considered summer staples. I certainly plant them both each and every year! But can they be planted together in the same space?
As someone who gardens in a small area, I love companion planting. Companion planting is when you plant certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs together in the same space because they benefit each other. Benefits can include pollinator attraction (which helps increase yield), pest and disease management, flavor enhancement, weed suppression, and more.
So do peppers and cucumbers make good companion plants or should we keep them separate in our gardens? Read on to learn about the specific needs of both veggies to see if they make good neighbors in your garden.
The Short Answer
Vining vegetables like cucumbers actually make perfect companions to bushing veggies like peppers. They enjoy similar growing conditions and can grow together in about the same amount of space as a single plant. Ensure you trellis your cukes and plant your peppers in front so they aren’t shaded by growing vines.
The Long Answer
Figuring out whether you can plant cucumbers and peppers together will require taking a look at their growing needs to see if they are complimentary. Do they have similar requirements for sun exposure, soil conditions, and watering?
Will interplanting the two help or hurt each other? Let’s dig deeper into the science around companion planting and why these two make a good pairing in your garden.
Companion Planting Overview
Interplanting (companion planting) has a long history in organic gardening. The idea is based on modeling how plants grow in their natural habitat. In nature, you see different kinds of plants growing in harmony in the same space.
That interconnected ecosystem works holistically, and many plants help each other thrive more than they would on their own. And, the more plants, animals, and yes bugs in space, the more resilient plants will be to issues with pests and disease.
Now think of the modern concept of neat sterile rows of single vegetables. This type of monoculture goes against how plants naturally want to grow. It’s understandable why large growers and farmers choose to go this route; it’s all about economy of scale.
But as a home gardener, you can choose to purposefully interplant certain herbs, vegetables, and flowers to create your own complimentary garden ecosystem.
Reasons to Companion Plant
There are many reasons to choose to companion plant. Benefits include pollinator attraction (which helps increase yield), pest and disease management, flavor enhancement, maximize space and light, weed suppression, and more.
When it comes to both of these veggies, however, we are focused more on interplanting for similar crop needs. When plants have similar requirements for nutrients, water, and soil conditions, it can sometimes be easier to plant them in the same location.
One thing to look out for, though, is that plants with similar growing requirements can compete for vital nutrients. But if you take the proper steps, your plants will grow beautifully and produce a large yield this season.
When it comes to questions about whether these two vegetables can be planted together, it’s helpful to look at a few key things: sun, soil, and water requirements. If these things line up, it’s likely that the two plants should do just fine together.
Fruiting warm season crops like cucumbers and peppers need to be planted in an area that receives full sun, meaning at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.
They really prefer 8-10 hours of sun for maximum fruit production. As with most warm season crops, southern exposure is ideal where plants receive light during the majority of the day but are protected from the strongest afternoon sun.
If you’re unsure how much sun your garden receives, go ahead and measure it. Check to see when sunlight first hits the area, if it’s ever shaded by large trees or buildings, and when it leaves for the day. This will give you confidence that your sun-loving warm season cukes and peppers will get enough light.
To ensure your pepper plants aren’t shaded from growing cucumber vines, plant your peppers and trellis your cukes on the sunward side of your garden bed.
Both of these vegetables are heavy feeders and require an organically rich, fertile, well draining soil to thrive and maximize yield. To set your plants up for success, add compost to the soil about a month prior to planting by gently digging it in.
If you have homemade compost either from a compost pile or vermiculture, this will be perfect. If not, there are a number of options for organic compost at your local nursery or garden center.
Adding compost prior to planting and fertilizer throughout the growing season will be very important to the success of your plants. Since both require a lot of nutrients to produce fruit, there is the potential that they will wind up competing for resources. You can mitigate this by staying on top of the plant’s nutritional needs throughout the growing season.
The good news is that both vegetables need roughly the same nutrient levels in fertilizer. Compost or a balanced fertilizer is perfect for early in the life cycle.
Once the plant starts to flower, shift to a fertilizer that has only moderate levels of nitrogen along with higher levels of phosphorus and potassium. This will optimize flower and fruit production over the continued production of leaves.
Watering is another area where the requirements are the same for both plants. They both need roughly 1-2 inches of water per week depending on your climate and soil type. Peppers are fairly shallow-rooted and need consistent moisture. Water stress will result in small yield or tiny peppers.
The best way to determine if your cukes and peppers need water is to stick your finger in the soil (under the mulch line) about 2-3 inches. If the soil is dry it’s time to water. If it’s still nice and moist, give it another day.
Soaker hoses or a drip system are the best options for consistent and effective watering. But you can use a hose as well as long as you water in the mornings and focus on watering the soil and not the leaves.
There are really only two potential issues you may face when planting cucumbers and peppers together: the cucumber plant shades the pepper plant or the plants wind up competing for resources.
Access to full sun shouldn’t be a problem for your pepper plants as long as you plant them in front (on the sunward side) of the cucumbers. Your vining cukes will climb up the trellis allowing leaves access to plenty of sun, and your pepper plants won’t be shaded.
Since both are heavy feeders, you will need to manage your soil and water well to ensure they don’t compete for limited resources. This is easily remedied, however, if you practice consistent watering and fertilization throughout the season.
An added bonus is that these plants can be placed fairly close together since cucumbers will grow vertically.
Our recommendation is to go right ahead and plant your cucumbers and peppers together. Even in a smaller garden, even just a few peppers and cukes can provide you with an incredible yield this season. Here are a few quick tips for getting the most of companion planting these two veggies together.
Tips for Growing Cucumbers and Peppers Together
- Stake and Trellis. Train your cucumbers to grow vertically on a trellis and use tomato cages for your peppers.
- Soil Management. Ensure you fertilize regularly during the growing season, but especially once your plants start to flower.
- Add Other Companion Plants. Flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds will help both plants by attracting pollinators.
- Avoid Overhead Watering. This is a good tip no matter what you are planting. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation whenever possible.
Now that you know cucumbers and peppers make great garden buddies, it’s time to get planting! You can train your cucumbers on trellises while growing peppers below which will add some visual interest in your garden. With the right care and placement, you will be enjoying these summer staples in no time. Happy planting!