If you’ve ever tried growing watermelon, you’ve likely noticed it takes up quite a bit of space in the garden! I sure did, so I got to thinking about watermelon companion plants so I could maximize my growing space. I’m happy to share my favorite combinations of what to plant near watermelon and what to avoid.
Finding good watermelon companion plants should be pretty easy, even if you’re a beginner. Melons tend to be fairly friendly in the garden, so you’ve got quite a few choices for plants to grow near watermelons.
Companion planting in general offers quite a few benefits on both sides. Let’s dig into the fun and value of companion planting with watermelons.
Benefits of Companion Planting with Watermelons
When you take the time to really organize your garden, amazing things happen. Consider these benefits of watermelon companion plants, both for the watermelons and for the other plants nearby.
- Attracting Pollinators – Generally, plants that attract pollinators are beneficial to plant near your most desired crops.
- Pest Control and Repellent – Some companion plants may attract predators to watermelon pests. Other plants may discourage or even repel pest insects. A combination of these could be a real winning effort!
- Maximizing Growing Space – Companion planting with watermelons helps to take advantage of the remaining space. Watermelons tend to sprawl out pretty far, so be sure to make creative use of that remaining space.
- Trellising – Smaller varieties of watermelons could benefit from using cornstalks as trellises, helping to grow vertically when possible.
- Nutrients – Some crops can have a positive effect on the nutrient content in the soil. For example, beans and cowpeas can fix nitrogen, increasing the supply for watermelons and companion plants.
Watermelons specifically can serve as a “smother crop,” which means they can keep weeds at bay.
Vegetable Companion Plants for Watermelon
Planting watermelons near vegetables can benefit one or both, depending on the combination.
Try these suggestions for intercropping vegetable and watermelon companion plants:
- Alliums: Chives, Garlic, Leeks, and Onions – Alliums like garlic and onions offer anti-fungal benefits and pest control properties, making them a fine choice for watermelon companion plants.
- Beans – Pole beans and bush beans are generally successful at fixing nitrogen in the soil. This makes them fine bedfellows for watermelons, which grow more vigorously when enjoying sufficient nitrogen in the soil.
- Carrots – Rather than planting in rows, plant carrots intermittently around watermelons to fill the gaps. Do your best to ensure they aren’t fully shaded.
- Corn – Tall cornstalks offer some support for vining watermelons. Just be aware of the shade the corn creates and ensure the watermelons aren’t totally shaded. Try companion planting watermelons with sweet corn or popcorn plants.
- Cowpeas – Like beans, cowpeas can help improve nitrogen content in the soil, converting to nitrates for other plants to uptake. Start cowpeas 2-3 weeks early so they bloom at the same time.
- Lettuce – This favorite crop doesn’t grow tall nor do the roots grow deep. Both of these traits coordinate well with watermelons as a companion plant.
- Okra – Bringing a tall growth habit to the table, okra plays well with sprawling watermelons in the garden. Okra also boasts attractive flowers that tend to lure pollinators to the space.
- Peas – Low-growing pea plants can work nicely as companions for watermelons. Like cowpeas and beans, peas can offer improved nitrogen content in the soil.
- Radishes – Quick growing and taking up only a small footprint, radishes work well as watermelon companion plants. Easy to pull, radishes will be out of the ground before the watermelon harvest time comes.
Beyond these, keep in mind that watermelon and other melons tend to be pretty good planting partners in general. You may find some combinations are better than others, of course, but even the less desirable combinations may not be truly detrimental.
Flowers as Watermelon Companion Plants
Planting flowers as watermelon companion plants can help attract pollinators and beneficial insects. The burst of gorgeous color is also nice to see.
Here are some flower watermelon companion plants to consider:
Herbs as Watermelon Companion Plants
Likewise, herbs have a lot to offer as companion plants for watermelons. Many herbs grow nicely in corners of the garden, almost as an afterthought.
Here are a few herbs that pair nicely with watermelons in the garden.
- Mint – In Pots! Keep in mind mint has a mind of its own and will become invasive. Use extreme caution to keep mint in pots so as not to mess up your gardens for the future.
- Summer Savory
Flowering herbs like borage and lavender can help to attract pollinators and beneficial predatory insects.
Fragrant herbs like catnip and tansy can help ward off pest insects like leafhoppers and flying bugs.
Low growing herbs can serve as a natural mulch and may also offer pest deterrent properties or anti-fungal benefits.
Some herbs as watermelon companions may even help to improve flavor or increase the plant’s growth rate.
Worst Companion Plants for Watermelons
If you’re wondering what not to plant near watermelons, keep in mind some plants would not thrive if planted too close.
Heavy feeders would not do as well if planted near watermelon. For this reason, avoid planting asparagus, broccoli, and pumpkins near watermelons.
- Cucumbers – Because they suffer from the same pests (cucumber beetles), watermelons and cucumbers generally do better when not planted together. That being said, I’ve seen some cases where gardeners did plant them together and things still worked out okay.
- Peppers – Peppers may receive too much shade or too little nutrients if planted too close to watermelons. Also, a study found that crops interplanted with peppers, watermelons and one or two other crops didn’t thrive as well on the whole as a group.
- Potatoes – Potatoes may attract pests and also run the risk of bringing blight to the garden. For this reason, it’s best to avoid pairing potatoes with watermelons.
- Pumpkins – Some say pumpkins are okay to plant near watermelons, but both crops take up a lot of space. Both may also prefer to be heavy feeders. For this reason, consider keeping some space between pumpkins and watermelons.
- Summer and Winter Squash, Zucchini – Due to all the pests, especially the cucumber beetles, consider planting squash and zucchini plants away from watermelons.
- Tomatoes – As many tomato plants grow big and tall, these guys may not be ideal planting companions for watermelons.
Finding the Best Watermelon Companion Plants
All of this being said, I did plant watermelons and tomatoes together out of a lack of space in our 2021 garden, and we still got plenty of Romas and two personal-sized watermelons. It would be nice to see if we can grow a bigger watermelon this year!
I hope this list of watermelon companion plants is helpful. I also forgot to mention that Buckwheat can be a good choice due to its ability to attract predatory insects.
You may also want to try planting Blue Hubbard squash as a trap crop somewhere else in your garden or yard. This can draw pests away from the watermelons, and also may potentially help your zucchini and summer squash crops against the dreaded squash vine borer.
Do you have any other tips on great companions for watermelons? We’d love to hear your experiences so far, or any questions you may have. We are always happy to help!