Did you know that cucumbers are the second-most popular vegetable in home gardens? Bite into one, and it’s easy to understand why. We aren’t the only ones who love cucumbers, though. This cool veggie is beloved by numerous pests, as well. That’s why cucumber companion plants are so helpful in the garden.
Think about it. What’s not to love about cucumbers? They’re crisp, refreshing, and they go great in a martini! One beetle likes cukes so much that it’s even named after the vegetable. The infamous cucumber beetle will, at various stages, eat anything from roots to fruits. Worse, though, is that cucumber beetles often carry Erwinia tracheiphila, better known as the cause of bacterial wilt.
Along with cucumber beetles, cukes are also susceptible to squash beetles, whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, slugs, and snails. There are ways to get rid of these pests, but prevention is always the most effective approach. One way to deter these pests is by planting cucumber companion plants nearby.
Plant these cucumber companion plants to benefit your garden
Many cucumber companion plants offer benefits to other vegetables in your garden, so companion planting can often help your entire garden. Companion plants accomplish several things: they can deter pests, attract pollinators, provide nutrients, offer shade, and provide support (think beans and corn, for example).
Oh! And many of them are delicious in their own right. Here are 9 of the cucumber companion plants we love, and one to stay away from.
1. Beans. Beans are good companion plants for several garden vegetables. The most significant benefit is that they release nitrogen into the soil, so nearby plants have a little nutrition boost. With cucumbers, one of the biggest benefits might come in the form of space-saving. Since they’re both climbers (assuming you plant pole beans), you can use one trellis to support both of them.
2. Dill. This should be no surprise. Dill and cucumbers are among the most popular flavor combinations in the kitchen, right up there with basil and tomato. Dill also attracts predatory insects like hoverflies, garden spiders, and ladybugs. Plus, the bright yellow flowers look like little starbursts, so they add an eye-catching aesthetic to your garden.
3. Marigolds. Marigolds are a wonderful addition to any garden. Their bright orange and yellow flowers add pops of color to a sea of green. They’re also one of the best cucumber companion plants you could ask for. Marigolds are known for attracting pollinators, predatory insects that feed on harmful pests, and as a trap crop, luring pests away from your fruits, herbs, and vegetables. They’re also quite resilient and easy to grow.
4. Mint. The truth is, mint “might” be a little tricky as a companion plant. Mint and cucumber taste superb together, and mint is known to deter a wide variety of pests. Additionally, once it flowers, mint attracts bees. The problem with mint is that it will take over your entire garden if you aren’t careful. Your best bet if you want to grow mint (and there are lots of good reasons to do so) is to plant it in a separate pot and set it out next to your cucumbers.
5. Nasturtiums. This pretty little flower is a powerhouse in saving cucumbers and other garden veggies from pests. Why? It would appear that nasturtiums are the preferred food choice for many harmful insects. The flowers are most often used as a trap crop, and as a bonus, nasturtiums are some of the tastiest edible flowers around. If you have some that don’t fall prey to pests, toss them in a fresh garden salad for a sweet and spicy pop of flavor.
6. Oregano. Here’s another herb that falls into the cucumber companion plants list and benefits large sections of your garden. Oregano is well-known as a pest deterrent; it’s easy to grow and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
7. Peas. You could say the same thing about peas as you could for beans. Peas and cucumbers can share a trellis, saving space in your garden, and peas add nitrogen to the soil. Everybody wins.
8. Radishes. Radishes are thought to deter the dreaded cucumber beetle. Plus, you can plant and harvest them all in about three or four weeks. So your cucumbers can grow without the worry of pests, while you can enjoy fresh, spicy radishes in short order.
9. Sunflowers. Fast-growing sunflowers offer great support for vining vegetables such as cucumbers and pole beans. And they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
10. And one not-so-companionable plant: Sage. While there are plenty of herbs on our list of cucumber companion plants, a lot of gardeners swear that sage and cucumbers are a terrible mix. Some gardeners say the strong scent of sage may impact the flavor of cucumbers, and other sources suggest that sage inhibits the growth of cukes. In either case, with so many different possible garden companions, there’s no good argument for taking a chance. So go ahead and plant it over with the tomatoes or with the thyme, then you don’t have to worry about it!
Ready to learn more about cucumbers? Be sure to check out The Cucumber Grower’s Guide: All You Need to Know About Growing, Harvesting, Cooking, and Eating the Garden’s Coolest Crop. This gardening guide includes information about the history of this delicious plant, different types of cucumbers, and how to grow cucumbers, complete with how much water and sunlight cucumbers needs. You’ll also get profiles of six popular varieties of cucumbers, plus several mouth-watering cucumber recipes. Open up the gardening guide today and start growing cucumbers!