Gardens

Cucumber companion planting – what to grow with cucumbers for a better crop

Learn about cucumber companion planting and you’ll see how growing the right plants alongside your cucumbers can encourage an abundant homegrown harvest

cucumbers growing vertically in a greenhouse
(Image credit: Future)

Once you understand about cucumber companion planting, you’ll see how growing the right veg, fruit, herbs and flowers alongside your cucumbers can encourage the biggest and tastiest homegrown harvest.

Cucumber companion planting will ensure you get the best crop possible from your homegrown cucumber plants. Companion planting is such a simple way of helping your cucumbers to combat pests, as well as provide important nutrients to the soil in which they are growing.

An important part of learning how to grow cucumbers is what others crops you should plant with these popular salad vegetables. Homegrown cucumbers are without doubt the tastiest, and can make the world of difference to the flavor of a salad or sandwich.

Companion planting cucumbers is the simple process of growing them next to different herbs, flowers or vegetables that are known to benefit them as they grow. 

Cucumber companion planting

cucumber growing on a plant

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you choose to grow cucumbers in a greenhouse, or a warm, sheltered spot outdoors, companion planting cucumbers will help as part of your vegetable garden ideas.

You may decide to grow the cucumbers in an unheated greenhouse as you're planning a greenhouse, or outdoors, but at the same time plan what you will be companion planting them with. 

Most cucumbers will be ready to harvest within a couple of months, so you will quickly see the fruits of your planning and forward thinking. Companion planting is still important even if you are growing cucumbers vertically, or as part of your vegetable garden container ideas.

How to prune cucumbers

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What is good to plant with cucumbers?

There are many different crops, herbs, salads and flowers that are good to plant with cucumbers. By growing a community of mutually beneficial plants you can make the most of companion planting and this is especially useful for small vegetable garden ideas as you want to be able to make the most of any crop grown. 

Cucumber companion planting can also help to create a sustainable garden that requires less human intervention to manage pests and improve soil nutrients. planting, and if used alongside crop rotation can help with healthy harvest, year after year. 

Benefits of cucumber companion planting include deterring pests that would otherwise attack the young cucumber plants, improving soil nutrients available to the vegetable plant, or helping to increase harvests. 

Rob Smith, Horti Expert at Dobies (opens in new tab) recommends companion planting as 'a great way to deter hungry insects from feasting on your crops, while being totally natural and organic.

'It's better for the environment, too, by allowing mother nature to keep the balance in your garden. By planning and gardening smart as part of your kitchen garden ideas you can grow a community of mutually beneficial plants so your crops can thrive, and it avoids the use of harmful pesticides,' Rob adds.

Cucumber companion planting, which can include plants for pollinators, can also entice essential pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to the vegetable plants. It can also create a better growing environment as part of you permaculture gardening – be this providing essential shade during the hottest months, acting as ground cover to keep in moisture, or breaking up the soil.

Cucumber companion planting – with vegetables

a trug of harvested vegetables

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Cucumber companion planting with different vegetables can have a range of benefits

PEAS and BEANS 'are helpful, due to their root systems. They add nitrogen to the soil, which the cucumbers in turn will benefit from,' says Rob Smith. 

CARROTS, PARSNIPS, RADISHES and ONIONS are good choices for cucumber companion planting as they do not encroach on each other's territory. The root vegetables primarily grow beneath the soil, whereas cucumbers send down one larger tap root and also a few shallow roots that don't extend far. This means the roots of the cucumber will not interfere with those of the companions, and vice versa.

There are similarly good companions for many other crops you may grow, such as choices for onion companion planting or zucchini companion plants.

Growing CORN can act a support for smaller varieties of cucumbers to grow up, making the most efficient use of space as a vegetable garden trellis idea. The cucumbers will also luxuriate in the shade provided by the taller plants, believes Chris Smith of Pennard Plants (opens in new tab). Corn further adds beneficial nitrogen to the soil.

Some of these good companions are also among the easiest vegetables to grow – even more reason to include them in your crop plans.

Cucumber companion planting – with herbs 

Aromatic herb dill seedheads

(Image credit: National Trust Images / Stephen Robson)

Herbs also play their part when it comes to cucumber companion planting.

If you plant OREGANO as part of your herb garden ideas, this deters insects with its essential oils that act as a repellant for many insects.

'DILL acts by attracting predatory insects – such as wasps – which will help rid your plot of those unwanted pests,' says Rob Smith of Dobies.

Dill also attracts beneficial pollinators, which help to pollinate cucumber plants – and you can never have enough pollinators in an organic garden or as part of your wildlife garden ideas.

CHIVES are an excellent choice of aromatic herb for cucumber companion planting as the oniony aroma deters the cucumber beetle that will feast off the leaves, flowers and fruit of your salad vegetable.

Cucumber companion planting – with flowers 

crops and flowers companion planted next to each other

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

There are many flowers that not only look beautiful planted among your crops, but are also excellent for cucumber companion planting.

Grow MARIGOLDS to repel a wide variety of pests, including aphids – a common pest on cucumber leaves.

Another popular and pretty choice for cucumber companion planting are NASTURTIUM, which attract aphids. While this may seem counterintuitive, ‘they are often used as a sacrificial plant so aphids and and black fly attack them but stay away from your vegetables,' says Emma O’Neill of Garden Organic (opens in new tab). Using them as trap plants for pest control can be highly efficient.

If you're growing SUNFLOWERS, the tall stalks both provide supports for the cucumber vines to grow up, and also help shade the plants in the hot summer sun.

What can you not plant near cucumbers?

Plants you should not plant near cucumbers include some aromatic herbs, such as SAGE and MINT, which have a very strong scent and flavor and may affect the flavor of your cucumbers.

POTATOES are not advisable for cucumber companion planting as they will compete heavily with cucumbers for water and nutrients, which will have a detrimental impact on the harvest. Cucumbers also encourage potato blight, so equally are not good potato companion plants, so the two should be kept far apart from each other.

It is considered a good idea not to companion plant cucumbers next to PUMPKINS or other SQUASH as the gourds attract similar insect enemies. Planting too many close together will be like offering up a buffet style banquet to these pests.

harvesting tomatoes that are companion planted with flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can tomatoes and cucumbers be planted by each other?

Cucumbers and tomatoes can be planted by each other as they share similar growing habits and therefore you can grow tomatoes by cucumbers. 

Greg Volente from Greenhouse Today (opens in new tab) explains that: 'Cucumbers and tomatoes are two vigorous growers in a spring garden. They’re both vining plants and share similar basic needs. When planted together, it’s easy to address their requirements and help them thrive until they are ready to be harvested.'

How close can you plant tomatoes and cucumbers?

When planting cucumbers and tomatoes together, you must ensure there is enough room between them. Not doing this will mean the plants will compete for light, room and nutrients. 

'Space individual plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows that are spaced between 3 to 4 feet apart. The recommended plant spacing varies with the specific variety that you are growing. Bush varieties can typically be planted closer together than vining cultivars,' explains Volente.

bell peppers growing in a garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do peppers grow well with cucumbers?

Peppers and cucumbers can grow well together. The two plants enjoy similar growing conditions and as cucumber is a vining plant and pepper a bush plant, they shouldn’t compete for space. 

Once you know how to grow bell peppers, try growing your cucumbers vertically up a trellis and place the peppers in front. This way, the plants won’t need to compete and should be able to coexist peacefully together. 

Rachel is senior content editor, and writes and commissions gardening content for homesandgardens.com, Homes & Gardens magazine, and its sister titles Period Living Magazine and Country Homes & Interiors. She has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening, historic houses and arts and crafts, but started out her journalism career in BBC radio, where she enjoyed reporting on and writing programme scripts for all manner of stories. Rachel then moved into regional lifestyle magazines, where the topics she wrote about, and people she interviewed, were as varied and eclectic as they were on radio. Always harboring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, then the wider Homes & Gardens team, specializing in gardens.