Companion plants for pumpkins can help you whether you want to grow the perfect pie pumpkin or the blue ribbon special at the county fair. Learning what to plant with this garden favorite to be more successful than ever.
Pumpkin Companion Plants
Companion plants for pumpkins will often benefit pumpkins by attracting pollinating insects, repelling pest insects, or by amending the soil to make it more beneficial.
Thankfully, there are many good companions for pumpkins.
The Three Sisters Companion Plants
Probably the most famous companion plant trio is known as “The Three Sisters.” Pumpkins, pole beans, and corn are grown together because they benefit each other in different ways.
Beans fix nitrogen in the soil that can be used by the corn and beans. And the pumpkins provide a natural mulch that shades the soil and prevents weeds.
In order for the “Three Sisters” method to actually work, corn should be planted before the beans and squash to allow it to grow tall and be a strong support to the beans. If all three are planted at the same time, it will result in a tangled mess.
In order to really understand companion plants, it is helpful to know what pests are common for a certain plant. Pumpkins are vulnerable to a variety of pests including aphids, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers.
One of the biggest pests to be managed around pumpkins is squash bugs. These bugs will suck the sap from the plant foliage and cause the leaves to wilt. If the damage is significant, the plant may die.
Japanese beetles are another pumpkin pest. They enjoy the full sun exposure that pumpkins thrive in and will damage the leaves by eating the tissue between the veins causing the leaves to wilt and die.
Table of Contents
24 Vegetable and Herb Pumpkin Companion Plants
Buckwheat is an excellent garden companion for pumpkins for several reasons. It fixes nitrogen in the soils which pumpkins need.
It also attracts so many bees and other pollinators as well as predatory wasps which attack pumpkin pests.
Pumpkins can be planted right in with your buckwheat so that pumpkin plants are completely surrounded by buckwheat.
When corn is planted with pumpkins, its stalks provide a strong structure for small pumpkins and squash to grow on.
The large leaves from pumpkins provide a natural mulch for corn to keep weeds at bay. Be sure to give the corn a good growing start so that it is several feet tall before squash starts to grow near it.
If Japanese beetles are a problem in your garden, consider planting catnip, especially if your garden is fenced. Catnip repels the Japanese beetles from your pumpkins.
However, cats love catnip, so it can attract more cats to your garden. Using it in a fenced garden allows pumpkins to benefit without being overrun by felines.
Chives are a lovely companion plant for pumpkins that should be in every home garden. They deter Japanese beetles, aphids, mites, and even rabbits.
Chives do spread quickly so they should be used carefully in the garden. Some gardeners choose to keep them in pots rather than let them spread all over.
Cucumbers and pumpkins both require a lot of insect pollination to grow fruit. When planted in the same space, they both attract and benefit from the pollinating insects attracted to the area.
Because pumpkin leaves can be overly shady for cucumbers, cucumbers may benefit by growing on a trellis near the pumpkins.
Dill should be planted in the garden to attract Tachinid flies, a type of parasitic insect. These flies lay their eggs right in insects like squash bugs and when they hatch, the larvae kill the host.
The Tachinid flies are attracted to the flat florets that make the umbrella of flowers in dill.
7. Korean Licorice Mint (Agastache rugosa)
Korean licorice mint, otherwise known as hummingbird mint, has beautiful blue flowers that are attractive to both insects…and hummingbirds!
These flowers attract many types of hoverflies which are particularly beneficial to pumpkins and other squash.
Hoverfly larvae eat mites, mealy bugs, aphids, and other pumpkin pests. Adult hoverflies are excellent pumpkin pollinators and will help lead to a larger yield.
As with all mint, use caution planting mint in the soil. It spreads very rapidly and is difficult to get rid of once it becomes invasive. It is best planted in a pot to contain it.
The strong sulfur smells in garlic make this bulb an excellent companion to pumpkins. Garlic repels many pumpkin pests like aphids, mites, beetles, slugs, and more.
Garlic does not repel boring insects.
One effective way to use garlic as a repellant in the garden is to make a garlic spray.
To make a garlic spray, use a couple of garlic cloves crushed in food-grade oil for 24 hours. After 1 day, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 cups of water. Strain the garlic from the mix and add the remaining liquid to a spray bottle to spray on vegetables as a repellent.
9. Hubbard Squash
Hubbard squash as well as other squash enjoy similar growing conditions to pumpkins. Squash bees are a type of solitary bee similar to a honey bee that does a thorough job of pollinating all kinds of squash.
Planting squash in close proximity allows pollinators like bees and hoverflies to have an abundant source of flowers.
10. Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Lovage is a perennial herb related to parsley, dill, carrots, fennel, and celery. It is also known as Mountain Celery.
It makes a great companion to pumpkins because it attracts many pollinating and beneficial predators including lacewings, ladybugs, predatory wasps, bees, and hoverflies.
Lovage in the garden means more pollinators for pumpkins and more predatory insects to kill pumpkin pests!
Leeks belong in any chef’s garden because they are delightful in soups and sauces. But they also repel many common insect pests.
Leeks have a small footprint meaning they can be added into smaller spaces in the garden. When planting with pumpkins, they can be added to nearby beds but should not be planted right next to pumpkins or they will be shaded by pumpkin foliage.
Marjoram is a milder variety of oregano that is sweeter and less spicy. It is said to improve the flavor of things it is planted near, including pumpkins.
Melons can easily be planted near pumpkins as long as the soil has been amended to provide adequate nutrients. Both pumpkins and melons are heavy feeders.
They benefit each other by sharing space well and attracting mutually beneficial squash bees, hoverflies and predatory wasps that pollinate their flowers and eat insect pests.
Many mint varieties attract pollinating insects into the garden like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies.
Of course, mint can be very invasive so it should usually be planted in a pot. Many gardeners enjoy experimenting with different types of mint which can have very different flavor profiles.
Like many other plants in the allium family, onions have a strong sulfur smell that acts as an excellent deterrent for many insects. Onions can be planted with most vegetables with only a few exceptions, so they are a great addition to a practical garden.
Onions repel squash bugs, slugs, aphids, mites, and beetles which can all damage pumpkins. Try planting onions in different places in the garden to see where they grow the best!
When planted near pumpkins they should not be planted right next to pumpkins. As a root crop, they may damage pumpkin roots when harvested.
As a gardener, there are many things to love about oregano, especially where I live in Ohio. First, oregano is a perennial. This is so helpful because it also has amazing insect-repelling properties.
That means that you can tuck oregano in different corners of your garden…or even grow it along your garden fence for more protection and it will come back year after year. I love perennial garden plants because it’s one less thing I have to think about.
Oregano is great planted near pumpkins because it repels squash bugs as well as many other insects!
Peas are often a cool crop that may not be growing at the same time as pumpkins. However, they can easily be growing in a rotation in the same area.
Peas are a legume that is nitrogen fixing, so planting them where pumpkins will be growing is an excellent way to amend the soil. When the peas are done growing, simply cut the pea stalks off at the ground and leave the roots in the ground to break down.
18. Pole Beans
Like peas, pole beans are another excellent nitrogen-fixing plant that can help fertilize pumpkins. Pole beans should be trellised near pumpkins.
As mentioned earlier, they can be grown as part of the Three Sisters Method or they can be grown along a fence near the pumpkins.
When planted near pumpkins, radishes act as an easy trap crop. Beetles which like to feast on pumpkins are more attracted to radishes and will eat them instead.
Radishes grow quickly so it may be worth planting them a couple of times during the growing season, especially if you have young children like me who are always ready to plan something else!
Sage can be effectively used in the garden in a couple of different ways.
First, its natural insect-repellent qualities repel flea beetles, snails, cabbage moths, and beetles. Planting sage near pumpkins can help repel these pests.
Another way that sage is used is to start a small fire and throw sage on the fire to repel insects.
Both methods are effective, especially when used with other garden plants.
Shallots like other alliums are an excellent addition to the garden. They repel many different kinds of pests that eat pumpkins.
They can be planted around a garden bed but will likely be choked out if they are planted too close to pumpkins.
As it turns out, tomatoes and pumpkins are another companion couple that shares space well. Both prefer full sun and the large pumpkin leaves shade out the weeds for the tomatoes.
Both pumpkins and tomatoes have extensive root systems so they should be planted at several feet apart.
In order to have easy access to pick the tomatoes, try planting them on the outside of the pumpkin bed.
Thyme is an herb with a strong scent, but it doesn’t generally repel too many insects unless it is crushed.
However, thyme is another great companion for pumpkins because it attracts beneficial pollinating insects and beneficial predatory insects.
You can add this one to your herb garden or keep it in pots near your pumpkins!
Like other squash, zucchini can benefit by being planted near pumpkins. Both plants have similar growing requirements and need plenty of pollinators to set fruit.
Zucchini can be pollinated by bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and many other insects that are also attracted to the large pumpkin blossoms.
8 Flower Companion Plants for Pumpkins
Borage is a beautiful blue flowering herb that is often grown near vegetable gardens. Its tiny star-shaped flowers attract bees to the garden which is so helpful for pollinating pumpkins.
It should be grown in the general vicinity of pumpkins but not right nearby as the plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall. Borage attracts beneficial predatory insects and pollinators.
Chamomile has a delicate white flower that is the perfect addition to a medicinal garden. Commonly used to make herbal tea, it also has plenty of benefits in the garden.
The strong scent is great for repelling damaging insects like squash bugs and beetles. It is also wonderful for attracting pollinating insects and beneficial predators.
Lavender is known for its attractive blue flowers. It is attractive to pollinating insects which is great when planted with pumpkins.
As an added bonus, it is a strong deterrent to common garden insects and pests like fleas, mosquitos, aphids, and deer.
It does prefer well drained soil, so many gardeners choose to plant it in pots to maintain ideal growing conditions for the lavender and the nearby plants.
Gardeners who have struggled with root-knot nematodes on their pumpkin roots will want to consider growing marigolds. These are especially helpful when grown in an “infested” bed as part of a crop rotation.
The marigolds can be heavily planted for one year and then pumpkins can be planted there the following year.
According to the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center, root-knot nematodes are attracted to the roots of marigolds but a substance in the roots then interrupts the life cycle of the nematodes causing them to be unable to reproduce.
Nasturtiums are a garden gem for pumpkins but also in other places. They are easy to grow from seed when planted directly in outdoor soil.
They generally act as a trap crop when planted near pumpkins and attract insects that like to eat pumpkins.
They are also great for attracting pollinating insects. And lastly, they taste great in a salad if the insects leave any for you!
Petunias make a beautiful addition to the vegetable garden as another flower that repels pests.
Where I live in Ohio, the Amish grow beautiful vegetable gardens and they will often include rows of petunias and other flowers in between their rows of vegetables.
Now your garden can be both beautiful and productive!
Tall majestic sunflowers are both beautiful and useful in the garden. When planted near pumpkins, they can act as the third sister instead of corn allowing beans and small vines to trellis on them.
Of course, the biggest benefit to pumpkins is all the pollinators they attract. They can also be a trap crop for some insects which prefer them over pumpkins.
In order to grow them for trellising, be sure to allow them to grow to several feet high trellising beans or squash on them.
Like many other flowers, tansy has multiple benefits in the garden. These bright yellow flowers are attractive to pollinating insects like bees and butterflies.
They also act as a repellent to some pumpkin pests including squash bugs. Plant them near pumpkins to repel the bad insects and attract parasitic wasps and hoverflies whose larvae feed on the damaging insects.
What Not to Plant With Pumpkins
1. Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, and Other Root Crops
Generally speaking, pumpkins should not be planted with large root crops. Pumpkins have large roots themselves which can damage other root crops.
In order to harvest root crops, you may actually damage the pumpkin roots so it is best not to plant these close to pumpkins.
In the brassica family, you have cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. Plants in this family are heavy feeders and will compete with pumpkins for nutrients.
In addition, brassicas are very prone to insect damage and need careful planting with companions to reduce insects. Planting them heavily around pumpkins could attract insects that will damage your pumpkins.
Fennel is a plant that should basically not be planted with any vegetables. It emits a substance that can inhibit their growth.
It can be planted in flower beds near the garden but should not be planted alongside vegetables.
Can pumpkins be planted near peppers?
Pumpkins and peppers do not provide any specific benefits to each other. Peppers can be planted on the edge of the garden of pumpkins but they risk being choked out by tall pumpkin foliage if they are planted close to pumpkins.
Can I plant pumpkins in a flower bed?
Yes, pumpkins can be planted in a flower bed, but be aware that pumpkins typically have very long vines…sometimes up to 20 feet. If you are planting in a flower bed, be prepared to train the vines so that they don’t grow out into your grass.
Will planting several kinds of squash and pumpkins cause cross-pollination?
Pumpkins that are of the species Cucurbita pepo can cross-pollinate with acorn squash, delicata squash, summer squash, and zucchini because these are all of the Cucurbita pepo species too. Their fruit will not be affected in the first year. However, if you save your seeds, plants grown from those seeds may show characteristics from mixed genes.
What is the best place to plant pumpkins?
Pumpkins prefer rich, well-drained soil that is in full sun. They need a large patch to spread out that is not intertwined with regular garden plants.
Learn From Companion Plants For Pumpkin Success
If you are growing pumpkins in your garden, one of the best things you can do is learn from companion plants. Pumpkin companions moderate unwelcome and unhealthy conditions for pumpkins.
You can help this process along by practically managing pests in the garden. When pumpkins set fruit, something you can do to limit ground contact is lift the fruit onto a pallet, saucer, or another elevated surface (that doesn’t collect water).
This will prevent the pumpkins from rotting and limit contact with soil insects that like to eat them!
Together with rich soil, beautiful companion plants, and managing the environment, you are setting yourself up for pumpkin success!
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