Zucchini companion plants – what to grow alongside zucchini for a bumper crop
Get your best crop yet by choosing zucchini companion plants that will help your plants grow stronger and healthier
Zucchini companion plants are those that are specifically selected to improve the crop, deter pests, or draw in beneficial insects to protect your zucchini plants.
Zucchini, or courgette, is known for being a heavy producer, supplying lucky gardeners with armfuls of fresh, versatile fruits all summer long. Because zucchinis crops very heavily, many gardeners only grow one plant. If that one fails due to pest damage, however, you could be left without any courgettes for the entire season.
Companion planting will help by drawing in predators that will prey on plant pests and improve conditions for your plant to thrive. Learning the best companion plants for zucchini can therefore help to ensure you enjoy a healthy harvest.
Once you know how to grow zucchini you will be able to produce enough of the delicious summer squash to feed your whole family. For best results ensure you know when to plant zucchini.
Zucchini companion plants – to deter pests or provide other benefits
Learning the best zucchini companion plants, as well as companions for other crops, is an important part of planning your vegetable garden ideas as it helps negate the need for pesticides, an important element in creating a sustainable garden.
Zucchini companion plants fall under two main categories: those that help to protect against pests, and those that help improve the general conditions for the plants to thrive.
The main pests of zucchini are:
- Cucumber beetle
- Squash vine borers
- Spider mites
- Leaf miners
There are several different types of zucchini companion plants that can help protect against these pests. These include trap plants that are more appealing to pests than the zucchini crops, drawing them away; others that will attract in beneficial insects such as hoverflies, ladybird and lacewings that predate zucchini pests; and companion plants for zucchini that deter pests from zucchini with strong smells or visual confusion. Keeping pests away from zucchini is important to preventing issues such as zucchini leaves turning white and other plant damage.
There are then zucchini companion plants that improve their general growing conditions. These include plants that do not compete for space or nutrients; those that house nitrogen fixing bacteria within their roots and can help to increase nitrogen levels in the soil; and ground cover plants that cover the soil and reduce water loss.
Herb zucchini companion plants
If you are including herb garden ideas in your vegetable garden plans, then add in some of these herbs as useful zucchini companion plants.
DILL will repel squash beetle and flea beetles and is a great companion plant for lots of crops, including zucchini. It is worth knowing how to grow dill to enjoy as a herb, in itself, and its tasty leaves and seeds are also really good at attracting beneficial insects, such as hoverflies and lacewing that will predate your pests.
'LAVENDER is a great zucchini companion plants as bees pollinate the lavender plant, making their way over to pollinate your zucchini plants as well. As a result, the bees will distribute more zucchini pollen throughout your garden, hopefully yielding more zucchini at the time of harvest,' says Mary Jane Duford from Home for the Harvest.
Lavender is also among the strongly smelling herbs and is known to deter some pests, such as aphids and whitefly.
CHIVES is another strong-smelling herb that will deter aphids with its odour. It’s a delicious and easy to grow herb that will not compete with your zucchini for space and will also attract pollinators when its flowering.
OREGANO, marjoram, sage, and rosemary are all aromatic herbs that pair well with zucchini. They will not compete for water or nutrients, and they will attract pollinators. Their scents also deter aphids, whitefly and even squash beetle.
Flowers as zucchini companion plants
It’s a great idea to have flowers in your vegetable garden, whether or not they are meant as companion plants for zucchini. Attracting and supporting pollinators is a great way to ensure good crops of fruits and vegetables.
If zucchini are not pollinated you will see the end of the small, developing fruit start to rot. It’s tempting to assume that this is due to pests, disease or lack of nutrients, but more often than not it is a pollination issue. This can be avoided by simply planting more flowers.
NASTURTIUMS are a wonderful trap plant that are tasty to aphids and squash beetles, thus drawing them away from your zucchini. They are also great at pulling pollinators into the garden with their gaudy orange, yellow and red flowers. Growing nasturtiums couldn't be easier, and the flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible, and great to use in a salad, or make into a pesto with a beautiful peppery taste.
BORAGE is a brilliant plant for any garden. With beautiful – and edible – blue, pink and white flowers, and large edible stems, they are very attractive to pollinators and insects that will prey on aphids, whitefly and thrips. They are easy to grow and will readily self-seed if allowed.
SWEET ALYSSUM is particularly attractive to hoverflies and parasitic insects that will help to control your pest populations. With its dainty flowers, it also provides good ground cover and will not compete with your zucchini for space.
Vegetable zucchini companion plants
Plant some of these crops around your zucchini plants for increased yields of both crops.
SPINACH and zucchini are mutually beneficial. Zucchini provides shade to the spinach in the summer, helping to keep the leaves nice and tender. Meanwhile growing spinach helps to cycle nutrients back into the soil for the zucchini. When grown together they can both grow healthy and strong.
GARLIC is a strong smelling plant that can help to deter aphids from other plants. When zucchini are small plants they are more susceptible to attack by aphids – who suck the sap out of the growing tips, weakening and sometimes even killing the plant. Garlic will be harvested in the middle of the season, but will offer some protection early on in the season while the plants are still young. Once you know how to grow garlic in your garden you will see it is a great way to deter aphids and other pests.
BEANS and PEAS, are members of the legume family and house bacteria in their roots that fix nitrogen in the soil, putting it into a form that is readily available for zucchini plants. Zucchinis are fast growing, heavy feeding plants that require a lot of nitrogen to grow so growing peas and beans as zucchini companion plants works well
Beans will also draw in aphids, thus drawing them away from your zucchini. As beans are very vigorous, they are good at withstanding aphid attacks, unlike zucchini.
CORN – one of the most common companion planting schemes is that of the three sisters, which includes planting corn, beans and squash together. Zucchinis are a type of squash. Corn and zucchini do not necessarily benefit one another but they do grow well together and enjoy similar soil conditions. Ordinarily, the three sisters would be planted using a trailing squash plant such as pumpkin, but if you are allowing enough space, you can plant zucchini with corn, too. The corn will grow upwards and out of the way of your zucchini plant, and you should get a great crop of both.
RADISH are strong smelling and therefore deter whitefly, aphids and thrips, and squash beetle but they are also really attractive to beneficial predators such as lacewing hoverflies and wasps that are drawn in by the spectacular flowers and will predate your pests.
What is good to plant next to zucchini?
There are numerous companion plants that are good to plant next to zucchini, as listed above. It is important to note that zucchini are very big plants, and they will not enjoy being crowded as they require plenty of space to grow. So when choosing companion plants for zucchini, ensure that the squash plants will have enough space.
Another problem regularly affecting zucchini is lack of pollination. Consider this when planning a kitchen garden, and the zucchini companion plants. Adding in open pollinated flowers in bright colors, such as yellow, white, orange and blue can help to draw in bumble bees, which are the main pollinator for the fruit.
‘Zucchini, or courgettes, have a fair few plants they like to be paired with. Dill repels cucumber beetle and flea beetle, beans fix nitrogen, borage attracts beneficial insects, garlic repels aphids and marigolds attract aphids to them rather than the courgettes. If you have a deer – or rabbit – issue you can use mint to keep them away,' says Sara Venn, gardening activist and community gardener.
What should not be planted near zucchini?
There are a number of crops that should not be planted near zucchini.
It’s not a good idea to plant another squash plant next to your zucchini, unless you are able to give them both a lot of space. Zucchini make very large plants, like pumpkins, and they will compete with one another for space and nutrients.
Potatoes are also particularly heavy feeders and will compete with zucchini for space, nutrients and water. Planting potatoes and zucchini together can also increase the chances of potatoes suffering from blight and zucchini suffering from powdery mildew.
Can you plant zucchini and cucumbers together?
As with other squash plants, it is not advisable to plant zucchini and cucumbers together. Cucumbers are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, just like zucchini and so they will compete for space and nutrients.
Also, growing several similar plants in the same area can make it easier for pests to find the plants. If you are struggling with squash beetle, leaf miners, vine borers or spider mites, planting several squash plants together will mean that if one plant becomes infected, the others are likely to become infected, too.
Can peppers and zucchini be planted together?
Zucchini can offer some shade and ground cover for peppers and the two crops grow well together.
Peppers do not add any specific benefit for zucchini, but you can grow both together and have a good crop of both. Zucchini’s large leaves will help to reduce water loss from the soil’s surface, which will also help peppers to avoid blossom end rot, by keeping soil moisture levels more consistent.
Be aware of planting zucchini too close to peppers though as you may find that the zucchini takes over and crowds out your peppers.
Becky is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. Her blog, Sow Much More and her podcast The Seed Pod are aimed at making organic gardening more accessible and encourage others to grow their own food.
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