Watermelon offers a tasty dose of vitamin C and antioxidants in a low calorie package. If you have enough space in your garden, growing your own watermelon puts this summer treat just outside your door. Whether you grow a large variety or one of the smaller "personal" types, companion plants will help your plants thrive.
Plants for Shade
Although watermelon needs six hours of sun each day to grow well, the large leaves of the plant can burn in the mid-day heat. Planting corn with your watermelon will provide shade for the plants during the hottest time of the day. Allow about a foot between the corn plants so the watermelon plants still receive enough sun.
Insect Control Plants
Young melon plants are susceptible to insect invasion, especially cucumber beetles. Once the plants mature, they can tolerate some leaf loss due to insects, but keeping companion plants nearby helps control swarms of pests. Cass County Master Gardeners recommend marigold, oregano and nasturtium as companion plants for melons.
How They Work
Companion plants can repel harmful insects or attract predatory insects that will eat the bugs that want to eat your melon plants. Typically, the smell or a chemical signal undetected by humans keeps insects away. Plants that attract beneficial insects provide them a place to hide and nest as they wait to ambush their prey. The American Society for Horticultural Science confirms that companion plants help increase watermelon yields.
Just as some plants can help your watermelons, others can hurt them. Potatoes attract many of the same insects that feed on watermelon plants and also introduce the risk of blight that can destroy your crop of watermelons. If you want to grow both potatoes and watermelons, keep your potato patch well separated from your watermelon garden.