9 of the Best Companion Plants to Grow with Zucchini

When zucchini are happy, they’re really happy.

So much so that you might find yourself begging the neighbors to take a few of those green nutritional powerhouses off your hands. But when disease or pests strike, it can be a disaster.

Chemicals can help, but who wants to use them when you can use natural methods like companion planting, also known as intercropping?

A close up vertical image of zucchini flowers and fruits growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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There are a lot of misconceptions out there about companion planting.

Some people want to believe that the practice can be used to solve any problem, while others think it’s a worthless gardening myth.

Fortunately for us, scientists have been busy testing the practice to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

We’ll discuss their findings and how you can put companion planting to work in your garden.

Here are the plants that work wonders that we’ll be going over:

Part of the key to companion planting is knowing how to use the plants. Some need to be closely planted, others can be a bit further apart. And some need to be planted as living mulch.

If you need a refresher on how to grow zucchini, check out our guide.

 Let’s discuss the top companions to grow with your zukes:

1. Blue Hubbard Squash

Sometimes, in order to protect your most important plants, you have to use others as a sacrifice.

While zucchini is one of the favorites of squash bugs (Anasa tristis), these pests also adore ‘Blue Hubbard’ squash.

A close up horizontal image of a 'Blue Hubbard' squash growing on the vine surrounded by foliage.

The same goes for squash vine borers (Melittia cucurbitae), and spotted (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) and striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum).

All of these insects will choose ‘Blue Hubbard’ over pretty much anything else.

If you really want to ensure that your zukes thrive without becoming an all-you-can-eat-buffet for these bugs, plant some ‘Blue Hubbard’ squash nearby.

This is a practice known as trap cropping and it’s highly effective.

Even better, go out and hand-pick the inevitable bugs as they tuck into the meal you’ve provided.

A close up square image of 'Blue Hubbard' squash set on the ground in the garden.

‘Blue Hubbard’ Squash

You can also regularly spray your ‘Blue Hubbard’ plants with an insecticide containing pyrethrins. Just make sure your ‘Blue Hubbard’ is within 10 feet or so of your zucchini crop.

To bring home an eighth of an ounce of seeds, head to High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Learn more about how to grow winter squash in our guide.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) kick butt as a companion plant. They effectively repel whiteflies and root-knot nematodes, and they attract slugs and snails away from more valuable crops.

They also draw aphids away from squash crops.

Plus, they’re extremely prolific and colorful. We have a guide that explains how to best use marigolds in the garden as a companion plant if you’re looking for all the details about this cheerful flower.

Plant them within a few feet of your zukes.

A close up of colorful marigolds growing in the garden.

Happy Days Mixed Marigolds

Happy Days Mixed is a vibrant, varied mixture of red, orange, and yellow two-inch blossoms. You can snag seeds at Burpee in packs of 150.

You can find more information about growing marigolds in our guide.

3. Marjoram

To know marjoram (Origanum majorana) is to love her, and sadly, not enough people know her.

If you haven’t tried growing marjoram before, and you want your zucchini to grow well, it’s time you gave it a try.

Besides the fact that the herb tastes fantastic chopped on baked zucchini, marjoram repels whiteflies, so you get two benefits for the price of one.

Be sure the marjoram is within a few feet of your squash.

A close up of sweet marjoram foliage in the garden.


Marjoram is a handy herb to have around the garden, so purchase packages of 2,000 seeds or live plants in three-inch pots at Burpee.

Learn more about growing marjoram in our guide.

4. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) are a triple threat: they taste delicious and add color to culinary adventures, they self-seed reliably so they return year after year, and they attract aphids and flea beetles away from your zucchini.

Don’t panic that these pests will destroy your beloved nasturtiums, though. These colorful beauties are tough.

Plant them within a few feet of your squash. The beautiful flowers are just a giant bonus.

A square image of 'Salmon Baby' nasturtiums growing in the garden.

‘Salmon Baby’ Nasturtiums

‘Salmon Baby,’ for instance, has elegant pink and salmon flowers and you can bring home a packet, ounce, quarter-pound, or pound of seeds from Eden Brothers.

You can find more information about growing nasturtiums here.

5. Okra

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it repels silverleaf whiteflies (Bemisia argentifolli) and may help increase yields in your zukes, so keep it around even if you don’t have plans to eat it.

Red Burgundy’ is a lovely ornamental variety with attractive flowers and red pods.

A square image of freshly harvested 'Burgundy' okra in a wicker basket set on a wooden surface.

‘Red Burgundy’ Okra

Want some? Packets of seeds are available at High Mowing Seeds.

Silverleaf whiteflies are worth avoiding because they spread diseases and viruses, and they can cause silverleaf disorder, which makes zucchini leaves turn yellow.

If they’re grown within a few feet of your summer squash, they can help drive this annoying pest away.

Learn more about growing okra here.

6. Radishes

Radishes (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) are useful for controlling squash bugs (Anasa tristis), and we all know these bugs love zucchini.

Pick your favorite variety so you can eat the radishes, and plan to plant two rounds in succession within a few feet of your squash.

A square image of 'Fresh Breakfast' radishes, whole and sliced, set on a wooden chopping board.

‘French Breakfast’ Radishes

‘French Breakfast’ is a classic option that’s reliable and delicious, and it’s available at Eden Brothers in small packets and in bulk.

Find cultivation tips in our guide to growing radishes.

7. Sunn Hemp

Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) isn’t common in many gardens, but those who can grow this plant should consider it. It repels silverleaf whiteflies, and it can help increase yields.

A close up horizontal image of the yellow flowers of Crotalaria juncea growing in bright sunshine.

Sunn hemp hails from tropical regions and suppresses nematodes. It also fixes nitrogen in the soil, acting like a natural fertilizer.

The trick is to grow it as a living mulch, but cut it down to below seven inches tall and keep it below that height. If it grows taller, you actually run the risk of reducing yields.

A close up of a bag of sunn hemp seeds isolated on a white background.

Sunn Hemp

For 10 pounds of seed to add to your garden – and maybe share with friends – visit Walmart.

8. Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) shows all kinds of promise as an effective cover crop.

It has been the subject of numerous studies and these have shown that sweet alyssum attracts beneficial predators like parasitic and predatory wasps, and flies that help control whiteflies, leaf miners, thrips, mites, and aphids.

A horizontal image of a carpet of colorful sweet alyssum growing in the garden.

Plant this pretty ground cover near your zukes to attract the good bugs that will help you eliminate the bad.

Beyond their ability to bring in the good stuff, sweet alyssum plants make a dense, colorful ground cover for shady areas. That means you can plant them under your zukes, and they’ll be fine.

Or, plant them around your zucchini instead. Sweet alyssum can tolerate sun, so these flowers can adapt to all kinds of spaces.

‘Carpet of Snow,’ with its thick growth habit and abundant white flowers, gives the impression of a beautiful blanket of snow covering your garden without the cold temperatures.

A square image of 'Carpet of Snow' sweet alyssum growing in a garden border flanked by stones.

‘Carpet of Snow’ Sweet Alyssum

Bring home some seed for planting from Eden Brothers in small packets, one-ounce, and quarter-, one-, or five-pound containers.

Learn more about growing sweet alyssum in our guide.

9. White Clover

Along with okra, white clover (Trifolium repens) keeps silverleaf whiteflies away.

It also fixes nitrogen in the soil and loosens it up, too. Grow some between your plants to work as a green walkway.

A square image of a field of white clover in bloom.

White Clover

Bulk packages of one, five, 20, or 40 pounds of seed are available at High Mowing Organic Seeds so you can spread the clover love far and wide.

What to Avoid

Black-eyed peas (Vigna unguicalata) are an important crop in many parts of the world and this species has been the subject of numerous studies to see if they can provide any value as a companion crop.

A close up horizontal image of cowpeas growing in the garden.

Turns out, they can. Just not with zucchini.

Cowpeas attract beneficial hoverflies, ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, and parasitoid wasps.

One study by entomologists Lorena Lopez and Oscar E. Liburd published in the journal Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata found that more beneficial insects hung out around squash plants, including zucchini, in greater numbers than when planted alone.

Sounds promising, right? Unfortunately, cowpeas also attracted lots (and lots) of aphids.

In the study, the aphids secreted honeydew which attracted mold, and the squash plants ended up suffering from aphid infestations and fungal issues.

“Despite the important role that cowpeas played as refugia for beneficial arthropods in our study, it also became a reservoir of aphids that were dispersing towards the neighboring squash and put the crop at risk. Therefore, cowpea is not recommended as a companion plant or trap crop within squash cropping systems,” the study concluded.

“You’re My Best Friend”

Plants can be best friends or the worst enemies, and knowing which ones work together and which don’t will make all the difference in the health of your plants and your yields.

Try experimenting with one or two of the plants described above and see what they can do for your garden.

A horizontal image of a gardener holding a freshly harvested, single green zucchini pictured on a soft focus background.

What kind of zukes are you growing this year? Will you be trying one of these companions? What are you trying to attract or avoid? Share with us in the comments.

If you’re looking for some other tips to help your zucchini thrive and you found this guide useful, we have a few others that you might consider checking out:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.

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Randy Lisa Brutcher
Randy Lisa Brutcher (@guest_28016)
1 year ago

Wonderful article. Definitely going to try.

Digene (@guest_28032)
1 year ago

Some “scientific” studies are so laughable that is embarrassing.
If you have aphids on your crops is not because cowpeas but because you have unhealthy soil and plants this a basic knowledge to have how is possible that “scientist” test don’t take in account this information. Really embarrassing.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Digene
1 year ago

Did you read the original text of this study, following the link in our article? I think you may have misunderstood the intended meaning here. Various types of aphids are common pests of squash plants, both in home garden settings and in commercial agriculture, and treatment options are limited for organic farmers. It’s actually healthy plants that these pest insects – as well as beneficial predators – are lured to, though weak and unhealthy crops are more likely to succumb to infestation. Higher numbers of aphids were recorded on the leaves of cowpeas planted alone in the cited study.