Zucchini is one of the most versatile veggies you can add to your garden. You can fry, grill, bake, or stuff it. It can be added to soups, pasta, breads, or cakes. Of course, for these tantalizing meals, you first need a healthy crop of zucchini from your garden. Part of growing this summer squash is learning how to pick the right companion plants for zucchini to ensure they have everything they need to thrive. Let’s take a closer look at companion gardening and how it can benefit your zucchini plants, and also look at some of the best companion plants for zucchini.
Why Companion Gardening?
Companion gardening isn’t a new fad. The technique originated centuries ago by Native Americans who practiced “Three Sisters” planting, which included planting corn, beans, and squash together due to the benefits each one offered to the other plants.
These days, gardeners have expanded companion gardening to include several other plants that can aid in the growth of those nearby. There are several traits to look for when choosing companion plants for your garden. Some repel harmful pests, while others encourage beneficial insects to pollinate or eat the insects that would otherwise feed on your plants.
Crops absorb most of the nutrients in the soil, so having a few that replace those nutrients keeps nearby plants healthy. Tall plants provide shade for smaller plants, while the spreading crops offer protection for cooler, more moist soil. There are even a few plants that release chemicals that can increase growth and improve the flavor of nearby plants.
Regardless of the reason for companion gardening, you do need to do a bit of research on which plants to place near your zucchini. Not every plant will offer the same benefits, and a few can even hinder the growth of this summer squash. It’s essential to plan your garden accordingly to ensure every plant is happy with its neighbors.
Best Companions For Zucchini
When planning your garden, a few options will ensure a healthy, abundant crop of zucchini. Let’s take a look at the best companion plants.
As we mentioned above, beans are one of the “Three Sisters.” The reason beans are such an essential part of this trio is due to this plant’s nitrogen fixer ability, which means it can replace the nitrogen in the soil for other plants to absorb. Beans also help balance the soil’s pH levels, which ensures the zucchini can absorb the nutrients it needs.
Corn is a fine companion to zucchini for a few reasons. First, the space between the stalks gives the spreading zucchini leaves and vines room to grow. Corn also has similar growing conditions, including plenty of water and sunlight, and regular fertilizing. Zucchini repays the corn by shading the soil and acting as a natural mulch.
Peas provide zucchini and other summer squashes with the same benefits as beans. Peas are nitrogen fixers, pulling in nitrogen from the atmosphere and sending it into the soil for other plants to absorb. Peas also help to maintain the pH balance in the soil for leafy plants, lots of flowers, and more veggies to harvest.
Blue Hubbard Squash
The most common squash pests are squash bugs and squash vine borers. To prevent these bugs from decimating your zucchini crop, plant blue Hubbard squash a few weeks before your zucchini goes into the ground. The hardy blue Hubbard squash draws the pests away from your zucchini, taking the damage without limiting its own crop.
Borage is an edible herb with leaves that smell and taste similar to cucumber. As a companion plant to zucchini, it does double-duty with the insects in your garden. First, this herb’s blue star-shaped blooms attract pollinators, like bees and butterflies, which then pollinate the zucchini flowers for a larger crop. Borage also repels pest worms that could damage your zucchini crop.
Dill is a fragrant herb that accentuates several tasty dishes. Of course, not everything loves the scent of dill. Many pests, like cucumber beetles or flea beetles, are repelled by its aromatic fragrance. Many beneficial insects are drawn to the dill as well. These include pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as pest-eaters like ladybugs, lacewings, wasps, and the praying mantis.
Marigolds seem like an odd companion plant for zucchini, or anything else for that matter, but are actually quite beneficial for your garden. This lovely flower attracts several pests, such as squash bugs, squash vine borers, mosquitos, and aphids. That attraction makes this such a great addition to your garden, as long as it is planted far away from the zucchini. The bugs will stay close to the marigolds and leave your zucchini plants alone.
Worst Companions For Zucchini
Not every plant benefits zucchini growth, there are some that will hinder growth for various reasons. Here are a few you should avoid planting near your zucchini plants.
Potatoes need a great deal of room to spread, so can overtake zucchini when planted next to them. These plants also require high nutrient levels, so they use the majority of the nutrients in the soil, leaving little for the zucchini plants to absorb. Blight is a common problem for potatoes and zucchini, so planting them close together increases the risk during those damp, humid months.
Though pumpkins and zucchini are from the same family, they don’t get along when planted close together. Both need the space to spread their vines and leaves, which they can’t do when planted near each other. Pumpkins are more aggressive, so they will choke out the zucchini, overtaking the area and limiting your zucchini crop.
Fennel may seem like an obvious choice for companion planting due to the beneficial insects it attracts. Unfortunately, fennel doesn’t play well with other plants. It drops seeds that germinate freely, spreading across your garden. A substance is excreted from its roots that stunts the growth of neighboring plants, reducing their size and output. Planting fennel too close to your zucchini is likely to stunt the zucchini’s growth and lead to a less than stellar harvest.
Companion Plants For Zucchini
Companion plants for zucchini can benefit this summer squash in many ways, including deterring pests, attracting pollinators, and enriching the soil. Planning your garden using the options we’ve described above will ensure a healthy crop of zucchini for all the delicious meals you have in mind.
Do you utilize companion plants in your garden? We’d love to hear about how it’s working for you, and which plants you grow together.