Companion planting refers to growing two or more types of vegetables together in one area or in adjacent areas for the mutual benefit of both crops. Often, one plant serves to repel or control insects. Some plants develop better flavor or show enhanced growth when planted with a companion plant. Native Americans practiced companion planting when they planted potatoes, squash and beans together in hills. Although companion planting can make harvesting difficult for commercial growers, for the home gardener, companion planting can improve production and reduce insect pests.
Plant cucumbers near corn or sunflowers to provide shelter and light shade. Although it is not desirable to create heavy shade, cucumbers benefit from light shade from the afternoon sun.
Sow radishes in cucumber beds to repel cucumber beetles. One or two radishes per hill, or every 3 feet in rows of cucumbers, deter cucumber beetles from attacking and destroying foliage. Marigolds also deter cucumber beetles and make an attractive addition to cucumber beds. Plant marigolds at the ends of rows and interspersed throughout the bed.
Grow nasturtiums near cucumbers to deter aphids, beetles and other insect pests. Nasturtiums are reported to also improve flavor and aid in growth. If you are growing cucumbers on a trellis, grow climbing nasturtiums along the trellis. Not only do nasturtiums improve cucumber production, they add a splash of color to your cucumber patch as well.
Plant cabbage, onions, peas or beans near cucumbers, but avoid aromatic herbs or potatoes because cucumber production may be reduced. Some sources recommend tomatoes near cucumbers. Companion planting also depends on the soil and growing conditions in your area. Take note of your results to determine the most effective planting for your area.