Winter squash is everyone’s favorite winter vegetable. During gloomy and snowy days, butternut squash lasagna and acorn squash soup are comfort foods. But did you know that poor pollination of winter squash can stop you from enjoying this winter comfort food?
Poor pollination results in flowers that bear no fruit. In order to enjoy different varieties of winter squash during the cold days, it is important to know some winter squash companion plants that can ensure bountiful harvests of winter squash in the autumn.
Common winter squash varieties
Winter squash can be distinguished from summer squash by its hard skin and seeds that are larger and tougher to eat. Winter squash are vining plants that spread out as they grow.
It would take them up to 100 days before you could harvest their matured fruits in the autumn. Start planting them in May so that they avoid the first frost. Winter squash requires full sun and rich, well-drained soil. They like soil that has plenty of moisture and lots of nutrients. Wondering what squash variety belongs to the winter squash family? Take a look at the list below.
- sweet dumpling
- sugar pumpkin
- Blue Hubbard
Plants that grow well with winter squash
Winter squash takes all summer and fall to finish growing. During those months, they need proper care for them to bear flowers and bear healthy vegetables.
However, just like any ordinary plant, they too have natural enemies that threaten their growth. Common pests include squash bugs, squad vine borers, powdery mildew, cucumber beetles, and aphids. This is not the only problem that they face during their long growing season. Poor pollination is also a major problem.
Moreover, it is difficult to find companion plants for winter squash because they tend to overwhelm other plants. They take up a lot of room in the garden, and their sprawling habits and long vines block out the sunlight.
Despite this, winter squash makes a great companion plant for other plants because their large leaves are effective ground cover to prevent weeds from growing. Let’s now enumerate plants that can help improve pollination in winter squash and repel pests that can inhibit their growth.
1. The Three Sisters
If you’re a fan of gardening, you’re probably aware of the “three sisters.” This is a great companion planting strategy. Plant corn, beans, and squash at the same time in the same planting area. These three plants are an inseparable pair, and each of them greatly benefits from the other. Farmers even say that these three plants can only grow and thrive when they are together. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which is a helpful nutrient for squash and corn to grow. Corn, in return, offers a sturdy structure for the beans to climb onto. Squash leaves are an effective ground cover to prevent weed infestation.
To improve pollination
The star-shaped blue flowers of this plant are very attractive to insects. Borage draws in many beneficial insects for winter squash to grow at its best. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hoverflies start to gather around borage once it blooms. These insects are key to improving pollination for winter squash. Borage can also help in repelling pests like cucumber beetles and squash beetles that can infest winter squash.
Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that thrives in warm weather conditions. They work the same way as borage and provide the same benefits to winter squash. Its fragrant flowers draw in pollinators and other beneficial insects that can help make sure that winter squash booms with flowers that bear fruit.
Marigolds are a great companion plant for squash in general. Its beautiful flowers attract many pollinators. This plant can also help prevent fest infestations because it emits a strong smell that repels squash beetles. But don’t grow marigolds too close to winter squash because slugs and snails are attracted to them.
To repel pests
Oregano is an aromatic herb. Its strong aroma brings in beneficial insects like lacewings or hoverflies. These insects can help improve the pollination of your winter squashes. But the strong smell can do more than this. Oregano’s strong aroma can help disguise winter squashes from harmful insects. Oregano also offers health benefits to humans, so growing it can not only benefit your winter squashes but also your health.
Nasturtiums can prevent squash beetles from damaging your winter squash crops. They act as trap crops that can prevent aphid infestation. Because they are very attractive to aphids, grow them far from winter squash crops to help prevent aphids from reaching them and the other crops in your garden.
Other Companion Plants for Winter Squash
The vigorous growth of winter squash is not helpful to some plants. In fact, because of their long vines and sprawling habits, they block the sunlight and starve other plants.
But still, there are other crops that benefit from this kind of growth habit of winter squashes. Tall or large columnar plants can benefit from the capability of the winter squash plant to fully cover the ground, thus preventing weed growth. Other plants that grow well with winter squashes include sunflowers, amaranth, and sweet corn.
Winter Squash Companion Plants: Conclusion
It is worth taking note that practicing planting companion for the winter squash plant is only one method of making these crops grow at their best and give bountiful harvests.
Crop rotation and meeting all growth requirements are also necessary strategies to make sure that your winter squash thrives. But still, no one can deny the fact that the plants mentioned above can greatly benefit your winter squashes and ensure that you continue to enjoy this great winter comfort food.
If you are growing butternut squash, we’ve created an entire guide to butternut squash companion plants. Happy planting!