There are many good and bad options to consider when companion planting for pumpkins. In this article, we will discuss what will grow best alongside this classic fall crop and what plants will make the worst neighbors for your pumpkins. The benefits of choosing the right plants to surround your pumpkins with are numerous. So let’s get started and read on for everything you need to know.
In This Article
Good Companion Planting for Pumpkins
Pumpkin patches can take up a lot of ground space and have shallow roots. Plants that you choose to grow near them should accommodate for this. They need to occupy either the space above the patch or need to be harvested before your pumpkin plants begin growing vigorously. This vigorous growth also makes them very heavy feeders. Therefore, good companion plants should help add nutrients to the soil or at least not compete for them.
When considering good companion planting for pumpkins, the insects that plants attract or repel is big factor. It’s important to note that for pumpkins to grow the plants flowers must first be pollinated. This means that plants that attract pollinators to your pumpkin patch make great garden buddies. Pumpkins are also vulnerable to pests such as aphids, cucumber beetles, vine borers, squash bugs, slugs and snails. Luckily, there are plenty of plants that can help deter these pests from harming your pumpkins.
Legumes Make Excellent Companion Plants for Pumpkins
As we have mentioned, pumpkins are heavy feeders and love soil rich with plenty of nitrogen. Legumes just so happen to fix nitrogen to the soil, which will help your pumpkin plants thrive. Specifically, pole beans and peas are best because they can grow up upward and occupy the space above your pumpkins that is not being utilized. For even further synergy, a tall sturdy plant such as corn or sunflowers can be used as the support for the pole beans or peas. These three plants can coexist perfectly with pumpkins occupying the ground and the corn and vine growing legumes occupying the space above.
Bush and Pole Beans
Pole beans are the perfect garden neighbor for pumpkins. They will grow upward and stay out of your pumpkin plant’s way. All the while, they will be adding plenty of nitrogen to the soil for your pumpkins to feed on. It is a perfect pairing. Bush beans can also be planted near your pumpkins early in the spring while they are small. The bush beans will be ready to be harvested early in the summer before your pumpkin patch has really started growing outward. Simply pull them out when harvesting them, and the resulting space and nitrogen rich soil is left behind for your pumpkins to expand. Just don’t plant them too close or you risk harming the roots of your pumpkin plants when pulling the bush beans out. Alternatively, you can cut the bush beans at the base to minimize this risk.
Like pole beans, peas will grow up some sort of support and stay out of your pumpkins way. With the ground space free, your pumpkins will be left to thrive on the nitrogen rich soil. They are equally as great of an option when companion planting for pumpkins as pole beans are. So add some peas to your pumpkin patch and maximize your garden.
Tall Crops Optimize Space
Tall crops that do not block out too much sunlight can be planted right alongside pumpkins. Since pumpkins prefer to sprawl out over the ground, they get along great with plants that occupy vertical space. Most tall plants can also act as a trellis for climbing plants such as pole beans and peas. This creates a harmonious group of three that will make the most out of the space in your garden.
Planting corn and pumpkin together is a good idea. They occupy different areas of your garden and will not compete with each other. Pumpkins grow horizontally while corn grows vertically. With corn’s sturdy stalk, climbing legumes can use it as a trellis. This provides nitrogen for your pumpkins and the corn both to grow. This is the most iconic example of companion planting.
Sunflowers are very similar to corn when it comes to companion planting for pumpkins. They will grow above your pumpkins and can be used as support for climbing crops. Sunflowers have one excellent perk though. Pollinators love sunflowers and will be attracted to the area which will benefit your pumpkins. A pumpkin plant needs these helpful insects to pollinate its flowers in order to grow its pumpkins. This makes sunflowers an amazing flower and tall crop to pair with pumpkins.
Flowers Attract Pollinators For Pumpkins
Since pumpkin plants need their flowers to be pollinated in order to produce pumpkins, flowers that attract a lot of pollinators make great neighbors. Putting beautiful flowers in and around your pumpkin patch is sure to make it a popular location for beneficial insects. Some flowers even provide pest repellant qualities or act as trap crops to draw pests away from your pumpkin plants.
As this flowers name suggests, beebalms are a favorite among bees and other pollinators. These fragrant flowers come in many vibrant colors and are easy to grow. Pollinators will flock to get the nectar from these plants and while they are in town, they will visit your pumpkin plants as well.
Similar to beebalms, tansy is beloved by pollinators. This wildflower will ensure your pumpkins get pollinated. That’s not all, this flower even repels pests like cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Just be careful because this flower can become a weed if not kept under control.
Marigolds are a classic companion flower that attracts beneficial insects and repels harmful ones. Of course bees and other pollinating insects will come to its flowers, but so will predatory insects. Ladybugs and hoverflies love marigolds and will help control aphids. Additionally, marigolds strong scent repels pests like squash bugs, snails and slugs that may threaten your pumpkins.
Next up is a trap crop that is a favorite among pollinators. Nasturtiums attract good and bad insects alike. However, this can be used to draw helpful insects to the area and keep harmful insects distracted. Aphids will flock to this plant instead of your pumpkins. Hoverflies will then show up to feast on the aphid population. Having some of these gorgeous flowers near your pumpkin patch is a great idea.
Petunias also attract pests that would otherwise harm your pumpkins. This makes it another choice for a trap crop flower to plant near your pumpkins. Petunias bring in plenty of pollinators to help your pumpkins, all the while giving harmful pests a place away from your pumpkins to hangout. That is until the predatory insects show up and make a meal out of them.
Shallow Root Crops Are Nice Neighbors
When companion planting for pumpkins, you have to consider their shallow but very vast root systems. Crops with larger and deep root systems can disrupt a pumpkin plants root system and steal nutrients if planted too closely. However, smaller root crops can coexist near pumpkin plants without bothering their roots. They also grow extremely quickly and can be planted near pumpkins and harvested before the vines start to overwhelm the area. Just don’t plant these crops too closely or you risk damaging the pumpkins roots when harvesting.
As a classic root crop, carrots can be planted in an area near pumpkins. When planted in the early spring, they will reach maturity in just 70-80 days. You can harvest them and make room for vines from your pumpkins that will be reaching out for space. In the meantime, your carrots will control weeds in the area until your pumpkins can take over the space.
Radishes are another great plant to consider planting near your pumpkins patch. They grow even faster than carrots and will be out of the way long before your pumpkins expand their growing area. Not to mention, they also repel several pests such as squash bugs and cucumber beetles. So, continuously planting some on the edges of your pumpkin’s growing area is a great way to help deter these pests.
Turnips have some benefits as a root crop companion. They grow quickly and won’t disrupt your pumpkin’s roots system. Aphids love turnips, so this crop can be used as a trap crop to keep your pumpkins safer. Just don’t plant too many too close and risk an aphid infestation right next to your pumpkins.
Leafy Greens Can Be Planted Near Pumpkins
Leafy greens are fast growers and do not grow very large. This means that they can coexist well with pumpkin plants. Plant them in the cool early spring near your pumpkin patch and they will be ready for harvest before your pumpkin vines expand. This can help control weeds in the area and make good use of the space until it is needed by the pumpkins. Leafy greens to consider include: Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Arugula
Herbs Are Always Great Companion Plants
Herbs bring so many benefits to your garden and should always be given thought when companion planting for pumpkins. Many will bring pest control benefits that can help keep your pumpkins safe. Beneficial insects such as pollinators and predatory insects are often attracted to them as well. With so many great options to choose from, there is sure to be something to pair with your pumpkins.
Lavender is a wonderful flowering herb that pollinators love. Having some growing near your pumpkin patch will attract plenty of them. Its calming scent even keeps many annoying bugs like flies and mosquitos away.
Another flowering herb you should try is borage. Pollinators love its nice blue flowers and so do beneficial insects that will prey on pests. It is a great plant to attract the right insects to your pumpkin patch.
This herb not only flowers but has many culinary uses as well. Bees will be sure to come to a garden with planted rosemary nearby. Its delicious scent also repels pests such as slugs and beetles.
Dill is another flowering herb that is frequently used in the kitchen and brings plenty of pest control advantages. Its yellow flowers are a hit among pollinators and its tall height means that your pumpkins vines won’t overwhelm it. This herb is known to deter aphids and squash bugs because it attracts insects that prey on these pests.
This delicious herb has a wonderful scent. A scent that also attracts many predatory insects that eat aphids. This will can help control the aphid population to keep your pumpkins safe. Once it flowers, pollinators will also love this herb.
Basil is another tasty herb that goes great in the kitchen and in the garden. Just like thyme, it attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects. Additionally, it can help deter beetles from gathering in the area. Pumpkins will appreciate all of these benefits.
Sage is known to deter some of a pumpkin’s more annoying threats such as snails, slugs and beetles. This means that they will make a great pair in your garden. When this herb flowers, it will even bring plenty of pollinators to the area.
Up next is the herb oregano. It deters cucumber beetles, which are major threat to pumpkin patches. In addition to that, this plant attracts lacewings which are one of the best predatory insects at controlling aphids populations. Oregano is a great choice to have as a neighbor for your pumpkins.
Beneficial insects love parsley. From pollinators to predatory insects, all will flock to the area where you plant this herb. Putting some near your pumpkins is sure to help your crop.
Cilantro has a very unique smell and it happens to be one that aphids do not like. It can grow quite tall, so do not fret if your pumpkin vines begin to grow around it. Just make sure that this plant isn’t going to shade your pumpkins too much, as its foliage can be very dense and leafy.
Bad Companion Planting for Pumpkins
The biggest mistake that you can make when companion planting for pumpkins is by choosing plants that attract similar pests as pumpkins. This can lead to an infestation because this area of your garden will be too good of a feast for these pests to miss out on. The second error that you can make is choosing heavy feeders that will suck nutrients from the soil that pumpkins need to thrive. An additional concern that you should consider is making sure not to have plants that will compete for space since pumpkin plants have vines that grow over a large area. Finally, plants with extensive and large root systems can disturb the shallow roots of pumpkins if planted to close.
Squashes are very similar to pumpkins. They need a lot of space and nutrients to grow. Therefore, they will compete with pumpkins for resources if planted too closely. Even if they are not planted very close, having them in a similar area also risks an infestation. This is because the same exact pests that are attracted to pumpkins will be attracted to squashes. Plant these crops separately and try masking their scents with other better companions.
Similar to squash, melons do not get along well with pumpkins either. For the same exact reasons as stated above. They are heavy feeders that need space for their vines to grow, and they attract the same pests to the area. Keep your melons, squashes and pumpkins all in their own area if possible.
Pumpkins are vulnerable to cucumber beetles and, unsurprisingly, cucumber plants attract this pest. If you plant your cucumbers too close to your pumpkins, you risk these beetles attacking your pumpkins as well. Not to mention, cucumbers grow in a vining pattern that competes with pumpkins for space.
Members of the brassica family like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel’s sprouts and kale are heavy feeders that require a lot of nutrients. Therefore, when planted too close to pumpkins they can steal nutrients from the soil. This can hinder the growth of your pumpkins, so it is best to plant them separately and find better companions.
Large Root Crops
It is best to consider options other than large root crops like potatoes and onions when companion planting for pumpkins. This is because they have large extensive roots that can disrupt your pumpkin’s shallow roots and hinder their growth. Not to mention, they tend to be heavy feeders that will deplete the soil of nutrients your pumpkins need.