Cultivated on a large scale commercially, and also in small gardens, watermelons are versatile juicy fruits of the Cucurbitaceae family .
Moreover, companion planting can help your crop receive proper pollination, encourage better taste and faster growth, and control insect pests.
Below are plants that grow well with watermelons and some you should avoid planting near them.
Best Watermelon Companion Plants
Here’s what to plant next to watermelon:
- Beans, including pole and bush beans
- Alliums, including chives, leeks, onions, and garlic
- Brussels Sprouts
- Lamb’s quarter
- Blue Hubbard squash
Some plants assist melons in combating insect pests. These include catnip, dill, and garlic that prevent attacks by aphids.
Additionally, many gardeners like to plant nasturtiums for the same purpose. You can also use mint to deter pests.
Striped cucumber beetles are also a menace to watermelons, and marigolds can help deal with these pests. Besides, marigolds also give a show of brilliant colors and help attract beneficial insects. Scented lavender is another option.
What Not to Plant With Watermelon
These are some of the worst companion plants for watermelons. They tend to attract the same pests and diseases as melons or compete for nutrients and space.
- Summer and winter squash varieties
This is not such a daunting task as might appear at first. Watermelons sprawl or curl around borders, trellises, and poles and require plenty of space. Therefore, choosing an appropriate site is the first consideration.
Also, keep companion plants some distance to allow for the melons to spread. These melon fruits will also need supports as they develop, or firm trellises to avoid the vines collapsing.
Moreover, if using bean poles, take care that any bean teepees do not cast too much shade and obscure the sun from your crop.
The correct soil is next on the list. Melons will need plenty of moisture when growing. They also prefer well-drained sandy loam soil with plenty of organic matter. Additionally, maintain a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5 .
Growing pole beans and peas alongside watermelons will help ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil. Another consideration is exposure to the sun. Watermelons require up to 10 hours of direct sunlight every day during the growing season.
When to Plant
Grow watermelons from seed for successful harvests providing there is plenty of warm, sunny weather to bring them on.
The plants are sensitive to the cold, so plant seeds directly outdoors once the frost has passed and the soil is warming up. You can also plant seeds indoors and transplant them in the ground 6 to 8 weeks later.
When the earth has warmed up, prepare the soil and start planting.
In well-drained fertile soil, rake up soil mounds 18-24 inches from each other and sow 6 to 8 seeds per mound about one inch deep. Of course, you will have to thin them out later, leaving 3 to 4 plants per hill.
Cover over lightly and water gently until germination in about 10 days. Thin out when a few inches tall, selecting the best to keep and thrive.
Pots and Containers
There are many varieties of melons, and some are suitable and decorative to grow in large pots and containers. However, the large vines will need sturdy trellises for support.
Care and Maintenance
As mentioned, watermelons will thrive best in well-drained soil plus plenty of sunlight. In very hot, dry conditions, mulch can help preserve the moisture and reduce soil erosion in heavy rainfall.
Another key to good growth is water — frequent and evenly applied to avoid the fruits cracking. Reduce a little after the fruits have developed but never let them dry out completely.
Companion planting can help control pests and plant diseases that may cause damage. Plus, you can research other natural ways to control these problems.
Pests and Diseases
Companion planting of some of the ‘good neighbor’ plants can help deter aphids, whitefly, beetles, and other insect pests. Bright colorful plants like lavender, marigolds, and nasturtiums also attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
Moreover, you can practice crop rotation where fungal diseases are obvious. Rotating with non-cucurbits every other year can keep problems down.
Additionally, the melons need plenty of water. However, avoid overhead watering to reduce the chance of mildew developing. Plant in nutrient-rich soil to raise strong and healthy watermelons.
Watermelons take 80 to 90 days to grow to maturity. These fruits will not continue to ripen after harvesting, so it’s important to pick only when fully ripened.
This is a tricky stage as the fruits can easily spoil if left too long. Therefore, carefully check the vines daily. When ready for harvesting, the undersides will turn yellowish. The tendrils and leaves nearest to them will also look brown and dry.
Additionally, the skin of the fruits will look shiny, and the blossom end soft when ready to harvest. Furthermore, if the vines look dead then pick at once – they will not ripen more.
Watermelons do need space but are delightful to grow as companion plants. Moreover, bright flowers like marigolds will attract beneficial insects and give a gorgeous splash of color to the garden.