When planning your vegetable garden, it’s always a great idea to think about pests and common fungal diseases that impact the plants you’re going to be growing.
Pumpkins can be so rewarding, but they take up a ton of space in the garden and have quite a bit of issues to look out for.
The Most Common Pumpkin Companion Plants
Some of the most common companion plants for pumpkin vines are corn, beans, and sunflowers. There is an old Native American method called the “three sisters”, which says to plant corn, beans, and squash (i.e. pumpkins, zucchini, etc.) very close to each other.
I did some version of this last year, but the squash tendrils climbed up of the corn stalks and tipped some of those plants over. Maybe I planted them incorrectly, so I’ll have to try again this year.
Common Problems and Pests That Impact Pumpkin Plants
Companion planting is a method that works both ways – plant A helps plant B, and plant B usually helps plant A in some capacity.
Because of this, I like to start with what the most common problems impacting the pumpkin plant is, and work backwards from there.
1. Squash Bugs
Squash bugs were my #1 enemy last year. I started finding patches of their little red eggs all over the leaves, and they wreaked havoc on my plants.
Plants That Repel Squash Bugs
- Bee Balm
2. Squash Vine Borers
Squash vine borers start off looking like little grubs, and then turn into moths eventually. As larva, they bore into the plant stems of pumpkins and other varieties of squash.
These are particularly devastating to your crop because they borer into the base of the plant stems, so there is no saving a plant once this happens.
Plants that Repel Squash Vine Borers
- Alliums like onion and garlic
3. Flea Beetles
Flea and cucumber beetles can be quite annoying to find in the garden.
4. Slugs & Snails
Melon and green peach aphids are some common pests that impact pumpkin vines. I call aphids the glitter of the garden because they seem to come out of nowhere, and once you find one they multiply like crazy.
Aphids are also pretty hard to spot as they live on the underside of leaves and on plant stems.
Plants That Repel Aphids
The Best Companion Plants for Pumpkins
Good companion plants help mitigate the destruction from pests and diseases the plant might otherwise suffer.
Green beans, bush beans, and pole beans can help fix the nitrogen in the soil. Since pumpkins use a lot of it, these plants can put some of that back.
Corn can help improve soil conditions, as well as provide some support for squash and pumpkin plants. Planting pumpkins with corn is part of the 3 sisters method.
Marigolds are a great companion plant for a lot of garden vegetables. They attract bees and other helpful insects.
If you look at the list of common pests for pumpkins above, you might notice that nasturtiums seem to help repel quite a few of them.
The beautiful flowers also help attract beneficial insects and those that can help pollinate the pumpkin flowers.
There are a lot of pea varieties that can help benefit your pumpkin patch. They help fix the nitrogen in the soil, just as beans do.
Radishes grow quickly and can help break up the soil around your pumpkin plants.
Companion planting pumpkins among some of these winners can help attract beneficial insects, repel some harmful pests, and help your pumpkin crop grow.
What NOT to Plant Near Pumpkins
While there are quite a few helpful other plants to put near your pumpkin crops, there are also some you should avoid planting nearby as well.
Watermelon & Zucchini
Watermelon and zucchini also suffer from vine borers and squash bugs, so you’ll just be increasing the colony size by planting them nearby. They’re also heavy feeders of nitrogen so they’ll further deplete the soil instead of helping each other grow.
Carrots can damage the roots of the squash plants, and the big pumpkin leaves can cover the carrot tops, making it hard for them to get enough sunlight.
Potatoes are said to damage the roots of pumpkin plants because they grow in all different directions under the soil.
Brassicas like cabbage and broccoli aren’t great nearby either, as they take nutrients out of the soil that pumpkins need to grow.
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting in my eyes is figuring out which plants and herbs to put near each other in the garden (and which to keep far apart) based on the insects they attract, as well as the soil conditions they promote.
A plant that generally grows well in sandy soil won’t do as well next to a plant that needs a ton of nutrients and a good potting soil. Some plants in the garden like extra sunlight, while some do well with some shade.
What Are the Benefits of Companion Planting?
There are a lot of benefits to companion planting, but the two most important in terms of pumpkin plants are pest control and beneficial insects.
Organic Pest Control
Companion planting is a good way to control garden pests in an organic way. By planting an herb that repels beetles, a common hindrance to pumpkin plants, you’re able to better control that beetle population and have a more bountiful pumpkin harvest.
Attracting Beneficial Insects
Some pumpkin companion plants help to attract pollinators and beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies to your garden. These can help pumpkin plants grow larger and stronger.
Pumpkins Grow Better Near Certain Plants
Companion planting is a super beneficial way to help get higher yields out of pumpkin plants and make sure there isn’t a ton of pests and animals eating them when growing.