A squash plant is one of the most versatile crops available for gardeners. One of their biggest strengths is their ability to grow with other plants alongside them. Companion planting squash is easy because other crops benefit from sharing their space with squash if planted in the right combination.
The practice of companion planting involves planting certain crops and herbs together to benefit each other mutually or achieve a specific goal with your garden. With the right variety, your plants provide protection from pests, keep weeds at bay, and boost your soil quality by adding nutrients.
With companion planting comes planning for your garden to ensure your plants have enough space to grow and thrive. Spacing is crucial as some plants grow aggressively and take up ample space. Many plants make good companion plants for squash, and this article addresses some of the best choices.
- Companion Planting for Squash Plants
- Trap Crops to Grow with Summer Squash
- What to Grow with Squash to Attract Pollinators
- Add Herbs to Your Garden to Keep Pests Away
- Growing Radishes With Squash
- Planting Brassica with Squash
- Plant Legumes in Your Garden
- What to Grow with Squash for Vine Support
- Growing Mint Plants with Squash
- Attract Natural Predators with Dill
- What to Plant with Squash for Fall Harvesting
- Crops to Avoid When Companion Planting Squash
- Dealing with Squash Plant Diseases
Companion Planting for Squash Plants
When considering squash companion planting, the best plants to look for grow well alongside heavy feeders like squash plants. Because of their habit of growing long vines and large leaves, plants that benefit from shade and soil moisture do well when planted near squash.
It’s also possible to practice companion planting when planting squash in pots. While the soil is not affected, you can draw helpful pollinators and chase away pesky bugs.
Trap Crops to Grow with Summer Squash
Flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds should be on everyone’s list when looking for what to plant with squash. These flowers add pops of color to the garden, and their petals are edible.
Nasturtium petals add a bite of spice to any dish, while marigolds fall on the other end of the spectrum, adding sweetness. These flowers, along with chamomile, benefit plants near them by creating a barrier to deter pests from harming your squash plants.
Aphids and flea beetles, two pests that damage the leaves of plants, are drawn to marigolds. Marigolds are beneficial for keeping nematodes away while nasturtium flowers repel vine borers. Even if you don’t plan on eating them, these plants function as trap crops for pests.
If you need to get rid of white aphids, a stream of water from the hose usually does the trick. Otherwise, use a DIY neem oil solution.
What to Grow with Squash to Attract Pollinators
Pollination is essential for gardeners as most plants require the assistance of beneficial insects like bees to pollinate their flowers to allow fruit production. Although some plants rely on the wind to pollinate, adding plants that boost the odds of pollination never hurts.
Borage and hyssop, two blooming flowers, attract insects like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds when butternut squash growing. Hyssop is also beneficial to other plants by repelling flea beetles. Summer savoy is a versatile plant as it attracts honey bees to its flowers and benefits other plants like beans and onions.
Add Herbs to Your Garden to Keep Pests Away
Some of the most common herbs you find in the pantry serve essential roles when looking for what to plant with squash plants. As most herbs are fragrant, their aroma keeps pests from finding other crops like squash in your vegetable garden.
When growing strong-smelling plants, like when you grow basil, be mindful of their spacing as herbs tend to alter each other’s taste if grown too close. Herbs can also be heavy feeders, like when growing spaghetti squash on the vine, so growing them too close to squash plants creates competition for nutrients in the soil.
Growing Radishes With Squash
Radishes are excellent additions to vegetable gardens due to their fast growth and ability to quickly break up soil for the roots of other plants. Grow radishes three to four feet away from squash to avoid possible damage.
Aside from breaking up compact soil, radishes also keep squash bugs away. Radishes have shallow root systems, so they don’t often compete for space or nutrients with other crops, and they benefit plants like beans and marjoram in your garden.
Planting Brassica with Squash
Some plants within the cabbage family do well when growing near summer squash as they benefit from the shade they provide. A perfect example is growing zucchini and allowing Brassica plants to grow in its shadow.
However, proper spacing is required to add Brassica plants to the same garden as squash. Both families of plants are heavy feeders, and without adequate nutrients in the soil, one of them may not grow properly. Brussels sprouts, for example, are heavy feeders and are not helpful near squash plants because of their growth pattern.
Plant Legumes in Your Garden
A legume refers to plants within the Fabaceae family or the seeds of those plants, including beans, soybeans, peas, and lentils. When you grow squash with peas and legumes, they fix nitrogen levels in the soil which benefits all the plants.
Bush beans and pole beans are good companions for squash plants because they add nitrogen to the soil. Due to their considerable leaf growth, squash plants provide beans shade and protection from harsh sunlight.
The way to grow bush beans alongside squash is not a new concept, as the Native Americans used it to boost crop yields. Because nitrogen is essential for the growth of all plants, beans make excellent companions for heavy feeder plants.
What to Grow with Squash for Vine Support
Native Americans used the system of planting corn, squash, and beans together to improve the harvests of their essential crops. This system is still heavily relied upon today by home growers. Corn thrives in similar soil conditions as squash. Basil is an herb to plant with corn that benefits both plants.
Corn stalks provide excellent support for the vining varieties of squash, and if planted first, they act as a trellis. Bush-variety squash grows outward and covers the ground, limiting the appearance of weeds that threaten the growth of corn.
Growing Mint Plants with Squash
Mint plants are known for their intense aromas, and while humans enjoy them, many pests do not. Plants like peppermint and catnip are easy to grow and, when added to your garden, help keep away bugs pests like cucumber beetles, thanks to the smells they produce.
Peppermint is also beneficial at keeping away cabbage worms, which is essential if you grow Brassicas in the same garden. If you’re dealing with mosquitos in your garden, catnip doubles as a repellent for these biting insects as well.
Attract Natural Predators with Dill
Another herb beloved by humans that serves an essential function in your garden is dill. The aromatic herb is helpful because it attracts insects like lacewings and ladybugs. While drawing more insects should typically be avoided, these bugs are beneficial in targeting other insects to eat.
Squash bugs are common problems for gardeners, and if left untreated, an infestation may ruin your yield. Add dill to the garden to attract the natural predators of squash bugs to keep the squash bug population under control through natural methods.
What to Plant with Squash for Fall Harvesting
Winter squash, like pumpkins, are known for their growth rates and long vines. This growth pattern makes picking companion plants difficult as whatever you add to the garden needs to survive next to your winter squash.
To avoid being overshadowed or deprived of sunlight, pick plants that grow tall to plant with your winter squash, like sunflowers or amaranth.
Sunflowers are notoriously tall plants, and don’t have to worry about losing sunlight for your squash. Sunflower plants can even provide a bit of relief from the sun to your squash plants.
Amaranth plants grow well with various plants, including many companion plants that benefit squash. Planting amaranth helps keep insects at bay as beneficial beetles that visit amaranth enjoy feeding on small insects that may damage your squash plants.
Crops to Avoid When Companion Planting Squash
Not every plant grows well together, and to bring your squash plants to harvest, avoid plants that compete with squash plants for nutrients or threaten to stunt their growth. When you pick squash, you want a decent-sized crop.
Melons and potatoes are examples of plants you should avoid. Melons are heavy feeders, and potatoes are known to suck up all the nutrients around them, causing your squash plants to grow poorly without proper nutrition.
Alternatively, if you add these plants after your squash is thriving in the garden, you’re not likely to see any yields for your melons or potatoes.
The root system of squash plants is sensitive, and they do not typically do well when transplanted. Avoid adding plants that may disturb your squash’s roots, like beets.
Fennel is a unique plant in that it has few companions because of its growth habit. Fennel roots produce a substance that stunts the growth of plants like squash, beans, and tomatoes. The only known plant that is not severely affected by fennel is dill, but their cross-pollination creates an undesirable crop.
Dealing with Squash Plant Diseases
While companion planting answers many gardening questions, such as soil quality and how to protect your squash from bugs, diseases are another obstacle. Luckily, you avoid diseases commonly carried by vector insects like bacterial wilt with the right companion plants.
Squash Blossom Blight
Squash blossom blight is a fungal disease that targets squash, cucumber plants, and okra. The fungus infects blossoms and develops cotton-like masses that grow black whiskers.
The fungus is most active in damp climates with warm temperatures over 75°F. Remove the infected blossom that hasn’t rotted and prune nearby fruits attached to this blossom to save your plant.
To prevent this blight, grow your squash plants with wide spacing to minimize contact between leaves. Add mulch around your plants in the summer to create a barrier between the soil and your foliage to avoid any fungus in the soil reaching your plants.
Recognizing Downy Mildew
Cucurbit downy mildew occurs when temperatures are between 60 and 70°F. Downy mildew on plants usually follows periods of cool, wet weather and takes the appearance of yellow spots on the leaves. Mold then develops underneath these yellow spots.
Mildew on your plant is not fatal, and if your plant is healthy or near maturity when it becomes infected, you are still likely to harvest good crops. If your plant loses more than a third of its leaves to this mildew, the yield of your plant will probably be affected.
To avoid this problem, purchase seeds bred to resist this disease and ensure your plants receive good air circulation and nothing obstructs the plant from getting sunlight. Airflow and sunlight are essential for your plant to dry following rainy weather. Rotating your cucurbits after each season helps avoid disease buildup in the soil.
Treating and Preventing Powdery Mildew
Like downy mildew, powdery mildew targets your plant’s leaves but thrives in warmer weather. When temperatures range between 70 and 80°F, plants are at risk of being infected.
Unlike downy mildew, the weather does not always contribute to the spread of this fungus. The wind carries the spores for powdery mildew fungi, and rain splashing on infected plants only helps spread the infection.
Mildew clogs the pores of leaves and, in turn, blocks sunlight to photosynthetic cells. As your plant becomes unable to use light as an energy source, new growth stops, and leaves begin to fall off. Depending on when your plant is affected, it may struggle to remain alive.
Winter squash that grows fruit while affected by powdery mildew may suffer from a lack of flavor. Produce grown from infected plants may also lose quality in storage. To prevent powdery mildew, use disease-resistant seeds and allow proper spacing between plants to ensure your squash plants receive enough sunlight.
If mildew is a concern for your area, get rid of powdery mildew on squash by treating your plants with a milk spray made of one part milk and four parts water early in the morning. Allow the sun to warm the milk to create an antiseptic that prevents mildew from forming.
While problems like insect pests, disease, and poor growing conditions are common for gardeners to encounter, they don’t have to ruin your gardening experience. Take full advantage of seeds available to you in the growing season and craft your perfect garden arrangement for success.
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