How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes

When planting a spring garden, many gardeners wonder how far apart to plant cucumbers and tomatoes for healthy growth and best harvest. As warm-weather crops, tomatoes and cucumbers have much the same requirements but can they be planted next to each other?

According to garden experts, cucumbers and tomatoes share similar growing habits and grow well when planted in proximity. Since both are vining plants, space them at least 18 inches apart and install stakes to train them vertically as they grow. 

Besides growing them vertically alongside each other, there are different ways you can couple these vines to achieve different benefits. Continue reading and you’ll learn all about growing cucumbers, tomatoes and some other popular summer crops together in a small garden. 

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes

Cucumbers and tomatoes are both vining plants and expand vigorously through the growing season. 

Without ample spacing between the plants, they will be left competing for space, sunlight, nutrients and water. 

Besides a shortage of resources, lack of air circulation between the plants is a major contributor for many diseases and pest problems. 

Space individual plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows that are spaced between 3 to 4 feet apart. The recommended plant spacing varies with the specific variety that you are growing. Bush varieties can typically be planted closer together than vining cultivars. 

Spacing Plants

When planting cucumbers and tomatoes alternately in the same rows or in adjacent rows, make sure you read the seed packet of both varieties.

Make sure that the spacing requirements of both are well covered by your garden plan. 

Find out how far apart to plant tomatoes in our full article.

Can You Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes Close Together

Can You Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes Close Together

Cucumbers and tomatoes are two vigorous growers in a spring garden.

They’re both vining plants and share similar basic needs. 

When planted together, it’s easy to address their requirements and help them thrive until they are ready to be harvested. 

Other than the requirements, there are also some important benefits you can achieve from planting cucumbers and tomatoes together. 

For example, you can grow tomatoes vertically, supported by stakes and allow cucumber vines to sprawl the ground in the space between the tomatoes. The large cucumber leaves act as live mulch to retain soil’s moisture and keep the weeds out for both the crops. 

You can also practice diversified planting, which involves training the two plants on the same supports, making it a challenge for the pests to find their preferred crops.   

However when intermingling the plants through diversified planting, make sure that there’s plenty of air circulation between the plants to prevent fungal diseases.

While there are benefits of planting cucumbers and tomatoes close together, you can’t overlook the possibility of shared diseases.

Cucumber mosaic virus and phytophthora blight are two diseases which affect both the crops, in addition to several others. 

Adequate spacing, crop rotation and good irrigation practices can help keep most problems at bay. 

You’ll probably also be curious to see how long it takes for a cucumber to grow.

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers

Cucumbers are one of the favorite varieties to grow in home gardens. 

They are easy to grow if you can provide full sun, warm, rich soil, and plenty of moisture. 

Spacing is another important requirement that you need to fulfill if you want the vines to grow to their fullest potential. 

Sow the seeds 6 inches apart in rows that are spaced 3 to 5 feet apart. For bush varieties, a 3-foot spacing between rows is sufficient. Once the seedlings emerge, you can thin them to maintain a 15 to 18 inches spacing between the plants. 

Cucumbers are usually planted on small ‘hills’ of soil. 

These mounds or hills should be spaced 3 to 5 feet apart within the rows so you can grow 3 to 4 cucumber plants on each hill. 

Stakes or cages are also installed at the time of planting to avoid disturbing the roots once the plant starts developing. 

In larger gardens, you might want to let the vines sprawl the surface and skip staking; however, the plants will need to be spaced further apart with this technique to prevent diseases.  

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Melons

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Melons

Both cucumbers and melons are members of the cucurbit family. 

Cucumbers and melons can be planted in proximity without any problems, despite the myths circulating the internet regarding cross-pollination. 

So, cucumbers and melons are unlikely to cross-pollinate. And even if they do, they’ll only affect the seeds of the fruit so the changes will reflect in the next-generation crop.

Unless you plan on saving seeds for next year’s crop, planting cucumbers and melons together works well and doesn’t affect the taste or other characteristics of the current season’s fruit. 

While cucumbers and melons grow well together, ample spacing should be provided. That’s because both varieties expand vigorously and can encounter diseases if there isn’t enough air circulation.

Cucurbits are typically planted on hills spaced 4 to 8 feet apart, with 2 to 3 plants growing on each hill. Different varieties have slightly different spacing requirements, so you will have to check the seed packet to be sure. 

Most gardeners start with a smaller spacing when planting seeds and thin the seedlings to the required spacing once the first few true leaves develop.

Both cucumbers and melons can be trained onto trellises to keep them off the ground. Trellising also allows ample air circulation between the plants. 

How Far Apart Do I Plant Cucumber Seeds

How Far Apart Do I Plant Cucumber Seeds

Cucumbers can be planted by direct seeding in the field 2 weeks after the date of the last spring frost, once the soil temperature is at least 70ºF. 

Alternatively, you can start an earlier crop by planting indoors, 3 to 4 weeks before you plan on transplanting it in the garden. 

When planting in containers indoors, plant 2 to 3 seeds per container and thin to one plant per container once the seedlings emerge. When planting in the field, plant 4 – 6 seeds on each hill. Once the seedlings emerge, snip off the extra plants, keeping 2 – 3 plants growing on each hill.

When thinning the extra seedlings, make sure that the remaining plants are between 15 to 18 inches apart.

Planting extra seedlings ensures that even if a few seeds fail to germinate, enough plants will emerge to start off a decent crop. 

Additionally, it also allows you to select the strongest plants from multiple seedlings. This ensures that the plants that progress through the growing season are healthy enough to produce a good harvest. 

You might also want to check out our complete article on how to grow English cucumbers from seed.

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumber Transplants

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumber Transplants

Cucumber transplants can be purchased from the nursery or started indoors.

This is a good option for gardeners who get only a short growing season for growing warm-season crops. 

However, since cucumbers don’t like any disturbance to their roots, take care while transplanting them to prevent transplant shock. 

Also since cucumbers are prone to transplant shock, you may want to plant more plants that you need. Then, space them close together and thin them to the required spacing once they are a little bigger.

Space transplants ~6 inches apart in the ground. Once the plants develop further, snip off the extra plants using sharp shears to cut them at ground level and allow the strongest plants to continue growing. Make sure that the remaining plants are spaced at least 15 to 18 inches apart. 

Keep the soil moist for the new transplants and mulch the soil with 2 inches of straw. This preserves moisture and prevents pests.

As the plants develop further, twine the tendrils around the trellis so that the plants train vertically. 

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Squash

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Squash

Cucumber and squash both belong to the cucurbit family. But, they’re different species and can be planted together in the same garden without any fears of cross-pollination. 

However, since squash needs a lot of room to expand, you will need to maintain ample spacing between the plants to ensure a good crop.

Space the plants between 24 to 30 inches apart, depending on the specific varieties that you are growing in combination. If you have limited space, use a trellis to allow the plants to climb up rather than sprawl on the ground. 

Growing cucumbers with squash allows you to utilize space more efficiently.

However, there are some shared problems you need to watch out for. 

Both species are susceptible to powdery mildew, cucumber beetles, aphids and squash vine borers. 

Certain plants, when planted as a border to your vegetable crops, can help repel the common pests.

Marigolds and garlic are good pest repellents.   

How Far Apart Do You Plant Cucumbers In A Raised Bed

How Far Apart Do You Plant Cucumbers In A Raised Bed

Any type of cucumbers can easily be planted in raised beds. 

The major benefit of choosing a raised bed to grow cucumbers is the good drainage it provides. 

Other than that, it also allows you to use light, fertile soil to grow healthy cucumber vines. Even if your garden soil isn’t satisfactory. 

Maintain a spacing of between 12 to 18 inches between cucumber plants growing in raised beds. 

Raised beds are a favorite gardening technique used by many gardeners. 

It makes it easier to grow plants since some of the common gardening problems, like weeds, pests and drainage are well catered by the design. 

For tomatoes, check out the full article on how far apart to plant tomatoes in a raised bed.

Conclusion

How Far Apart To Plant Cucumbers And Tomatoes

Other than light, water and nutrients, spacing is also an important concern when growing cucumbers and tomatoes. 

These vining plants need lots of room to expand. So, unless you can provide them with their preferred spacing, you won’t get those sweet juicy fruits that you have been waiting for all summer!

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.