Last Updated on February 5, 2023
Love zucchini and summer squash? Get the most out of your squash patch with these zucchini companion plants, then enjoy your bumper crop of zucchini in these mouth-watering zucchini recipes! Here’s what to plant with zucchini and summer squash and which plants to avoid.
WHY GROW ZUCCHINI COMPANION PLANTS?
If you have a smaller garden, you’re probably looking for ways to grow more in less space. Companion planting is an excellent way to work in more food crops while boosting yields of both zucchini and its companion plants.
Like strawberry companion plants, elderberry companion plants. and spinach companion plants, zucchini and other summer squash benefit from growing alongside plants that can help protect against pests and disease and boost productivity. In turn, planting zucchini near these companion plants can help them thrive as well.
Pests and diseases are more likely when you grow many plants of the same type in one place. When you interplant different crops you can protect them from insects and diseases that can impact your harvest.
WHAT IS COMPANION PLANTING?
Companion planting means placing plants that can benefit one another near each other in the garden. Growing zucchini companion plants alongside your zucchini can improve soil fertility, protect against pest damage, and encourage pollination.
Companion planting benefits your vegetable garden in several ways:
- Encourages beneficial insects while keeping pests at bay
- Saves garden space
- Promotes pollination
- Limits weed growth
- Boosts yields
- Protects the health of plants
- Diversifies garden crops
Sound like a smart strategy? Here are 14 excellent choices for summer squash and zucchini companion plants to try this season as well as 3 to avoid.
WHERE TO BUY SEEDS FOR ZUCCHINI COMPANION PLANTS
You can find many seeds for these zucchini companion plants at garden centers and online from your favorite seed supplier. High Mowing Seeds, Seeds Now Botanical Interests, True Leaf Market, and Eden Brothers carry many of them. You can also find a huge selection of seeds of all kinds from growers selling on Etsy.
BEST ZUCCHINI COMPANION PLANTS
You have several options when choosing companion plants for zucchini. Some crops work to make the most of available space, while others add important nutrients to the soil. Adding flowers to the garden attracts pollinators, while strong scents can repel pests. The pests targeted by zucchini companion plants include squash bugs, vine borers, cucumber beetles, thrips, aphids, whitefly, leafminers and cutworms.
Some zucchini companion plants will attract beneficial insects that can help control these pests, while others emit scents that repel them. Some companion plants for zucchini serve as “trap crops,” luring away pests from your zucchinis.
Below are numerous zucchini companion plants to help you have the most bountiful zucchini harvest this season!
NITROGEN-FIXING ZUCCHINI COMPANION PLANTS
Beans are used as companion plants for many different garden crops because, like all legumes, they fix nitrogen from the air. If you plant pole beans with your zucchini, they will grow upward and use the vertical space, while the leaves of the zucchini plant will shade the soil and help conserve moisture and discourage weed growth.
Best to use pole beans and provide support rather than bush beans, which might get shaded by your zucchini plant’s large leaves. I’m partial to scarlet runner beans, which can be grown as a perennial vegetable in milder climates. Other pole beans include green beans, cranberry beans, and pole varieties of lima beans.
Also nitrogen fixing legumes, peas get planted early in the season, when the weather is still cool. Peas are helpful zucchini companion plants because they add nitrogen to the soil before you plant your zucchini and will get harvested while zucchini plants are still small.
COMPANION PLANTS FOR ZUCCHINI: FLOWERS
A beautiful edible flower, they would be worth growing even if they weren’t valuable companion plants for zucchini. Marigolds not only add cheery color to the garden, they attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They also help lure away pests like slugs that may harm other crops, and their scent repels other destructive insects.
These beautiful spicy flowers make a fabulous addition both to your garden and your salad bowl. Nasturtiums help repel aphids and beetles, and you can eat both the leaves and the edible flowers.
Try planting them around the edges of your garden to keep away insects that damage vegetable crops.
Botanical Interests carries several intriguing varieties of nasturtiums. I love the color of ‘Black Velvet’ and ‘Mahogany’ for adding extra color as well as benefits for your zucchini crop.
Borage is another helpful companion plant for zucchini that will attract pollinators with its plentiful blue blossoms. Its fuzzy leaves can also be used as a vegetable or added to water for a delicious cucumber-melon flavor.
Here’s more about growing and using borage plant.
Composite flowers, those with flowerheads containing many individual blossoms, are especially attractive to beneficial insects like parasitic wasps. Other beneficials like the shelter it provides near the ground. With a long blooming season, it provides food for pollinators over a lengthy period.
You want yarrow in your garden no matter what you grow. This tough, drought-tolerant plant is a valuable medicinal, and its numerous blooms attract beneficials like lacewings. Here’s more about the benefits of yarrow.
COMPANION PLANTS FOR ZUCCHINI: HERBS
Dill is another multitasking plant, making it an excellent zucchini companion plant. Its many flowers attract pollinators and other beneficial insects like soldier beetles while its scent deters aphids and spider mites.
Plus you can use dill in homemade zucchini pickles and harvest its pungent seeds at the end of the season.
In addition to being absolutely delicious, rosemary’s strong scent helps to repel pests in the garden. A perennial in warmer climates, rosemary comes in both upright and creeping forms. Choose the upright varieties so they don’t get shaded by your zucchini’s leaves.
This pungent herb adds its signature flavor to savory dishes of all sorts (like this fantastic ratatouille recipe!) while also helping to deter destructive garden bugs. Plus it’s one of the toughest perennial herbs, making it a snap to grow.
Allow some stems to bloom, and the pollinators will thank you with many visits to your garden
Lavender’s soothing smell doesn’t appeal to the insects coming to ravage your zucchini plant! Enjoy its gorgeous blooms in the garden and harvest some for homemade herbal tea blends. One of the top herbs for sleep, lavender is great for humans as well as zucchinis.
Like other alliums, garlic’s powerful smell may help repel pests such as aphids, slugs, and beetles.
Garlic may deter Japanese beetles, so if you grow plants prone they’re attracted to, like roses, grapes, and elderberries, you might try to locate a garlic patch near them as well.
Garlic gets planted in fall, so you’ll need to leave room for your zucchini plants nearby if you plan to grow garlic as zucchini companion plants.
Here’s how to grow garlic — it’s a fun and rewarding crop!
Another pungent allium, chives are an easy-to-grow perennial herb that can help repel pests from your zucchini plants. Chives come up early in the season, so you can plant your zucchini seeds nearby, or dig up small clumps and place them around your zucchini patch. Snip some chives when you harvest your zucchini and try adding them to your favorite zucchini recipe.
SPACE-SAVING ZUCCHINI COMPANION PLANTS
If you want to make the most of available space in your garden and save on mulch, consider planting zucchini and other squash vines as a ground cover for your tomato plants. The large leaves will shade the soil, conserving moisture and discouraging weeds. Plus zucchini and tomatoes are great together in ratatouille!
‘THREE SISTERS’ (CORN & BEANS)
You’ve probably heard about the traditional “three sisters” companion planting strategy that combines beans and corn with squash plants. As mentioned earlier, beans add nitrogen to the soil, and since they use the corn stalks for support, the ground level is still open for zucchini plants. The broad leaves of the zucchini, in turn, shade the soil and help to inhibit weed growth.
PLANTS TO AVOID WITH ZUCCHINI
Notoriously heavy feeders, potatoes will gobble up nutrients your zucchini plants need to thrive. With all the other excellent zucchini companion plants to choose from, take a pass on planting your potatoes close to your zucchini.
It’s generally wise to keep fennel away from other crops, as it gives off compounds that inhibit the growth of other plants. Not what you want for your zucchini!
Members of the family Cucurbita, including other squashes such as pumpkin, butternut, spaghetti squash, and cucumbers, attract the same pests as those wanting to prey on your zucchini plants. If you plant them all in one place, it’s a little like hanging out a sign that says, ‘Welcome squash predators!’
Best to allow some space between your zukes and other cucurbit crops.
TRAP CROP: HUBBARD SQUASH
Hubbard squash won’t work as a companion plant for zucchini, since you just read that you shouldn’t plant other squashes near your zucchini. But because it’s the preferred food of numerous garden pests (including destructive squash vine borers and cucumber beetles), they’re helpful to have in other areas of the garden to lure these nasties away from your zucchini plants. Hubbard vines are tougher than zucchinis, so you’ll likely get some hubbard squashes as well.
Hubbard vines need to be larger than your zucchini plants, so plant them about two weeks before your zucchinis. They should be planted 5 to 8 feet from your zucchini plants so the bugs stick with the hubbard plant and leave the zucchinis alone.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT COMPANION PLANTING
Interested in learning more about companion planting? Check out Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, a comprehensive guide to using companion planting in your garden. Here are some of the other best gardening books to add to your library.
Save these zucchini companion plants for later!
Additional zucchini companion plants photo credits: carminesalvatore, aimintang, nancykennedy
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.