Pumpkins are such friendly looking gourds, aren’t they? It’s hard not to smile when you see them adorning peoples’ porches in the fall.
But what’s even better is watching them grow into big, orange beauties in your garden.
There’s something even better than that, though: watching the pumpkins grow alongside their best companions, each plant providing a benefit to the others.
Okay. Let’s get started on making your garden into a joyful gathering of pumpkins and their dear friends.
They’re big, they’re beautiful, and like people, pumpkins benefit from having companions nearby. Sometimes, placing friendly plants close together simply helps you save space in the garden.
I, for instance, have just two deep raised beds to work with. If I didn’t use companion planting, I wouldn’t be able to grow such a wide array of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
In addition, monocropping or filling an area with groups of the same vegetable serves as an open invitation to that plant’s most common pests to come hither and feast.
A cucumber beetle, for example, will spot a row of pumpkins and think it’s his luckiest day ever.
Since gourds are susceptible to attack from many pests – aphids, squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles, for example – it’s important to think about how to combat infestations.
Planting an array of pest-repelling flowers among your pumpkins can help to keep those bugs away. Plus, gardening legend has it that all the different colors – a sea of lavender, marigold, and nasturtium, for example – can serve to confuse potential pests.
Some companion plants will also act as trap crops, attracting the pests that might otherwise target your gourds. Some trap crop plants may even kill the pests they attract.
But companion planting doesn’t just save space and help protect your crop against pests.
Trailing pumpkin vines, with their large leaves, can act as a living mulch for crops with an upright growth habit, and help to keep their roots cool, and the soil moist.
Pumpkins are heavy feeders, and legumes such as beans and peas “fix” nitrogen, or add more of this essential plant nutrient to the soil.
Best of all, in my opinion: some companion plants, like lavender and sunflowers, also attract bees, which are important pollinators.
Ready to reap all these benefits for your gourds? Let’s go!
Pumpkin Companion Plants
These tasty summer annuals require companions who favor similar growing conditions.
Squash thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-10 as long as you keep plants warm in cold weather, and provide some protection from excessive heat.
Choose the companion plants that best suit your environment, and you’ll be good to grow.
Let’s check out some of the best companions for your gourds:
Along with beans and squash, corn makes up the trio of perfect companion plants known as “The Three Sisters.”
‘Stowell’s Evergreen’ Sweet Corn
The best varieties of corn to plant in the Three Sisters method are large and sturdy – try the heirloom cultivar ‘Stowell’s Evergreen,’ a sweet corn that produces eight-inch ears.
Seeds are available from Eden Brothers.
You can read more about how to grow sweet corn in your garden here.
2. Korean Licorice Mint
Korean licorice mint, , attracts several types of beneficial hoverflies.
The hoverflies will lay their eggs on the leaves, and the larvae that hatch out love to feed on aphids, mealybugs, mites, and other pumpkin pests.
member of the mint family is also deer-resistant and heat tolerant, for those of you in warmer climes.
You can find ‘Little Adder’ plants available at Nature Hills Nursery.
Read more about growing anise hyssop and other types of here.
This is my personal favorite companion plant for my pumpkins. And it’s one of my favorite herbs, hands down.
grow it indoors from cuttings to enjoy those deep purple blooms and their divine scent all winter long.
This year, I also planted English lavender smack-dab in the middle of my pumpkin patch.
I’ve already seen bees bumbling around the lavender, which means they are also bumbling around my squashes. Perfection!
That’s the benefit lavender provides for pumpkins: it helps attract bees, which are an important pollinator for these plants.
Find your own ‘Hidcote Promise Compact’ lavender seeds to plant with your gourds at Eden Brothers.
Learn more about how to grow lavender in the garden with this guide.
Often touted as a deterrent for a multitude of pests, the humble marigold isn’t quite as powerful as some might say.
But there is truth to this popular piece of garden folklore.
But it trap and stop or even kill the root-knot nematode, a harmful pest that can plague your pumpkin crops.
Marigold roots secrete bioactive chemicals that suppress the root-knot nematode.
Planting just about any variety of marigold next to your pumpkin plants will help keep the root-knot nematodes away. Plant them among the vines, as close as you like.
You can plant them as a cover crop, and till them into your garden at the end of the season to help improve the soil and keep it nematode-free.
You can find seeds for a specific variety called ‘Nema-Gone’ available at Burpee.
Check out our marigold growing guide here.
Not to be confused with its close cousin, oregano, marjoram tastes sweeter, with a lightly spicy, floral scent.
Growing this in your garden means you can enjoy a bevy of tasty dishes, like this fresh tomato, egg, and goat-cheese tart from our sister site, Foodal.
But it also can mean tastier pumpkin flesh. Garden legend has it that marjoram can improve the flavor of many veggies, pumpkins included, if the sweet herb is planted among the vines.
So not only will you enjoy fresh herbs for your cooking, but you may have more flavorful gourds as a result.
Find three marjoram plants or a packet of 2,000 seeds today at Burpee.
Learn how to plant and grow marjoram in this guide.
According to Louise Riotte, author of “Carrots Love Tomatoes,” available on Amazon, colorful nasturtiums help keep squash bug infestations down.
Plant compact nasturtiums in the middle of your patch, like the ‘Dwarf Apricot,’ available from Eden Brothers.
Read more about some of our favorite varieties of nasturtiums here.
7. Pole Beans
Along with corn and pumpkins, as mentioned above, pole beans are the third sister in the “Three Sisters” companion planting method.
‘Blue Lake’ Pole Beans
Any legume can perform this beneficial task, but pole beans are ideal for the Three Sisters grouping because they climb up corn stalks, and save space in the garden.
You can find ‘Blue Lake’ pole bean seeds available at Eden Brothers.
Often referred to as the Fourth Sister, sunflowers can attract pollinators to the pumpkin patch and help distract birds away from juicy corn kernels in a companion plant grouping.
Wild Sunflower Seeds
The squash vines will provide a ground cover… It will be just gorgeous, don’t you think?
Find seeds for wild sunflowers available at Eden Brothers.
Check out our guide to growing sunflowers.
What Not to Plant with Pumpkins
Now that you know what you can plant alongside your gourds, let’s take a quick look at what not to sow near them.
check out our pumpkin growing guide.
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“Best Companion Plants to Grow with Pumpkins” was first posted here