The best watermelon companion plants will benefit both crops and help deter pest and provide a symbiotic growing relationship. Companion planting allows gardeners to increase overall yield and soil health by carefully selecting the right plants to grow alongside each other.
Companion planting is a traditional gardening method that developed over centuries of trial and error. More recently there is some science to back up companion planting – you can read more about it this study from Montana State.
We’ve been using companion planting in our garden for many years and appreciate the diversity it creates. You can read more about how to use companion planting planning in your garden in our post: 10 Best Ways for Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit for a Better Harvest.
A Brief Overview of the Best Companion Plants for Watermelon
If you want to maximize your watermelon patch, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick rundown of the top companion plants to consider for your watermelon garden. Looking for more resources on growing watermelon? Check out our growing guide.
Top Picks for Watermelon Companion Plants
The best watermelon companion plants include nasturtiums, marigolds, and radishes. Not only do they help repel pesky pests, but they also contribute to healthier growth in a harmonious companionship setup.
Plants to Keep at a Distance from Watermelons
Steer clear of planting watermelons in close proximity to potatoes. Their cohabitation can invite unwanted visitors like squash beetles and foster nutrient competition, potentially stunting the growth of both crops.
Companion Planting Strategies for Watermelon: An Overview
Watermelon plant benefit from thoughtful and beneficial plantings. Below are some common strategies around companion planting in general.
- Natural Pest Control: By strategically pairing certain plants, you can naturally deter pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and promoting a healthier, more environmentally friendly garden.
- Enhanced Plant Health: Companion planting enriches soil fertility and facilitates better nutrient absorption, resulting in stronger, more resilient plants.
- Efficient Space Utilization: Thoughtful placement of compatible species maximizes garden space, leading to increased overall yield.
- Weed Suppression: Some companion plants possess weed-suppressing properties, curbing weed growth and minimizing competition for nutrients.
- Improved Pollination: Attracting pollinators through companion planting boosts fruit set and yield for a variety of plants, including watermelon.
- Disease Prevention: Certain companion plants harbor properties that can help prevent the spread of diseases, offering protection to vulnerable plants.
- Support for Climbing Varieties: Companion planting can provide natural support for climbing plants, reducing the need for artificial structures like trellises or stakes.
- Nematode Repellence: Select plants have the ability to repel or suppress harmful nematodes, safeguarding the roots of susceptible plants.
- Seasonal Succession Planning: With companion planting, seamless seasonal succession planting becomes possible, ensuring optimal use of garden space year-round.
- Aromatic Ambiance: Mixing fragrant herbs and flowers enhances the sensory experience in your garden, creating a delightful atmosphere.
- Complementary Growth Patterns: Pairing plants with different growth habits optimizes resource utilization, fostering a balanced garden ecosystem.
- Protection from Elements: Taller companion plants offer shelter from harsh winds and excessive sunlight, creating a microclimate that supports the growth of more delicate species.
- Habitat for Beneficial Insects: Attracting beneficial insects through companion planting aids in natural pest control, promoting a healthier garden environment overall.
Advantages of Companion Plants for Watermelon
In our experience, one of the greatest perks of companion planting alongside watermelons is the significant reduction in weed growth. Watermelon vines, though sprawling, start small, leaving ample space for weeds in the early weeks. Introducing crops like corn or others with swift growth or tall stature into the mix maximizes the use of available space and yields additional harvests. Here are some notable benefits we’ve observed:
Enhanced Pollination: Incorporating vibrant flowers that attract pollinators has led to marked improvements in pollination, fostering healthier watermelon growth and boosting harvest yields.
Nutrient Enrichment: Selecting companion plants with similar nutrient requirements helps to enrich the soil surrounding watermelon vines and bolstering their overall health. Common choices like beans or peas contribute to this nutrient balance.
Weed Control: The presence of natural weed suppressors among companion plants has transformed our watermelon patch into a tidier, weed-free environment, reducing competition and enhancing overall aesthetics.
Optimal Space Usage: Thoughtful placement of companion plants has allowed us to optimize garden space, maximizing efficiency and creating an aesthetically pleasing layout.
Biodiversity Promotion: Diversifying the plant life surrounding watermelon vines has attracted a wide array of beneficial insects, fostering a dynamic and harmonious garden ecosystem. Additionally, this diversity can help mitigate the impact of pests like squash bugs through reduced plant intensification.
Weather Resilience: Taller companion plants not only add vertical interest but also offer shade and protection against adverse weather conditions, contributing to the resilience of watermelon plants in varying climates.
Top Companion Plant Options for Watermelon
Discover the best companions for watermelon to enhance your garden’s health and productivity.
Nasturtiums: These vibrant blooms not only lend beauty to your watermelon patch but also serve as a natural deterrent against pests such as cucumber beetles and squash bugs, safeguarding your watermelon plants from potential harm.
Marigolds: Renowned for their pest-repellent qualities, marigolds effectively deter nematodes and other harmful insects that may threaten watermelon crops. Additionally, their vivid hues contribute to the overall visual appeal of your garden. We plant nasturtium all around our garden as they are truly companion planting power houses.
Radishes: Planting radishes alongside watermelon can discourage pests like cucumber beetles, providing an early harvest while creating space for the expanding watermelon vines to flourish.
Beans: Whether bush or pole varieties, beans make excellent companions for watermelon. They aid in nitrogen fixation, enriching the soil and supporting the nutrient requirements of watermelon plants. Moreover, the climbing nature of pole beans maximizes vertical space in your garden.
Corn: Embrace the “Three Sisters” planting tradition by interplanting corn, beans, and squash (including watermelons). Corn offers natural support for climbing beans, while beans enrich the soil with nitrogen. Watermelon vines, acting as living mulch, suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture, contributing to a thriving garden ecosystem.
Plants to Avoid Planting Near Watermelons
While selecting suitable companions is crucial, it’s equally important to be mindful of plants that may hinder the growth of watermelons.
Potatoes: Both watermelons and potatoes are vulnerable to common pests like squash bugs and beetles. Planting them in close proximity could exacerbate pest issues and lead to competition for vital nutrients, potentially compromising the health of both crops.
Fennel: Fennel releases substances that can inhibit the growth of neighboring plants, including watermelons. Planting watermelons near fennel may impede their development and overall productivity.
Cucumbers: Although some gardeners experiment with companion planting involving cucumbers and watermelons, there’s a risk of these plants competing for space and essential nutrients. Furthermore, both are susceptible to similar diseases, which could escalate if planted together. We don’t avoid planting these nearby, but we do avoid planting them together.
Sunflowers: Sunflowers possess allelopathic properties, meaning they emit chemicals that can stunt the growth of nearby plants. If planted too close to watermelons, sunflowers may negatively impact the development of watermelon plants.
Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower): Brassicas such as cabbage and broccoli are not recommended companions for watermelons. Both plant families attract similar pests like cabbage worms and aphids, leading to increased pest pressure and potential nutrient competition in the soil, which could hinder watermelon growth.
Utilizing Companion Planting to Design Your Watermelon Garden
- Choose Compatible Plant Pairs: Select plant combinations that complement each other’s growth and provide mutual benefits. For example, planting mint near watermelons can help deter pests that commonly afflict watermelon vines.
- Leverage Natural Relationships: Consider the inherent qualities of certain plants that can benefit others. For instance, planting marigolds alongside watermelons can help repel pests like nematodes, safeguarding the health of your watermelon crop.
- Embrace Diversity: Create a diverse garden layout by intermingling plants with varying needs and characteristics. This diversity optimizes nutrient absorption and fosters a balanced ecosystem within your garden.
- Keep it Simple: Start with straightforward combinations and gradually experiment with different plant pairings to observe their effects on pest management, soil enrichment, and overall plant vigor.
By integrating companion planting strategies into your watermelon garden design, you can enhance the health and productivity of your crops while fostering a harmonious and sustainable gardening environment.