17 Companion Plants to Grow With Cantaloupe
You might think cantaloupe needs to be planted alone in a field to spread out, but that’s not the case! In this article, gardening expert Kaleigh Brillon lists 17 plants that work well with cantaloupe so you can make the most of your space.
Have you ever had a patch of your backyard dedicated to cantaloupe? I once did before I learned about companion planting. A common misconception is that melons and other vining plants need to be planted alone, away from everything else, so that they won’t climb all over everything, but you’d be surprised what you can plant near your melon patch.
Companion planting is necessary for any garden if you want it to run as efficiently as possible. Growing diverse fruits, vegetables, and flowers near each other will have pollinators buzzing around your plants in no time, leading to plenty of pollination and an abundant harvest. You’ll also drive away unwanted pests when you plant certain things together.
Let’s consider at how you can make companion planting happen for your cantaloupe, and you’ll never have a lonely melon patch again!
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is growing multiple species in the same bed so they can help each other out. It has become one of my favorite aspects of gardening. I have limited space for my plants, so I cram as much as possible in a single space!
That hasn’t always worked out until I learned which plants help and which hurt each other. Consider giving it a try in the Birdies 6-in-1 Metal Raised Garden Bed.
Some plants are highly aromatic and will ward off pests. Pairing these plants with others, you’ll see fewer pests because they can’t stand the smell.
Companion planting can also help rejuvenate tired soil. Legumes add nitrogen, so heavy feeder plants will enjoy growing near them.
Interplanting has many benefits, and cantaloupes can also benefit from this gardening method, despite their long vines and thirst for water.
Cantaloupe as Companion Plants
What good can a leafy vining plant with large fruit do? A lot, actually. Though there are some drawbacks to letting cantaloupe near the rest of your garden, a few good things will make you stop and consider it.
Since cantaloupe covers a lot of ground, it can prevent erosion. If you receive a lot of wind or rain, your garden can lose a lot of dirt. Cantaloupe roots will prevent it from washing away, and the dense leaf coverage will prevent the dirt from blowing away.
Cantaloupe can also protect the roots of other plants. There aren’t roots on every vine, so a lot of ground is covered by leaves. So, you can allow the vines to surround other plants to protect their roots so they can grow with little disturbance.
Cantaloupes can rack up a water bill quickly during a drought. (This is why I’m not a melon gardener!) Thirsty cantaloupes shouldn’t be planted next to plants that prefer drier conditions because they’ll drown their neighbors in just a couple of weeks. Hale’s Best Jumbo Cantaloupe is a more drought-tolerant variety that can help you use less water.
Careful planning can help you avoid crowding issues, but these hardy vines can get out of control and start choking out other plants. You’ll need some trellises and twine to keep things under control.
Companion Plants for Cantaloupe
When choosing plants to grow with your cantaloupe, select species that don’t mind a lot of water and draw in pollinators to help your melons produce as much fruit as possible. Here are some great choices to consider.
Basil has a bushy growth habit that can become quite tall, but if you prune and harvest it frequently enough, it won’t be an issue as a cantaloupe neighbor. It has a shallow root system that shouldn’t compete with cantaloupe. If you have doubts, it makes a great container plant when placed near a melon patch.
Beans benefit many plants since they can fix nitrogen in the soil. Cantaloupe plants are heavy feeders and will benefit greatly from having succession-planting of beans in their area.
As the beans are alive, they absorb nitrogen from the air and fix it in their roots; once the older bean plants have died back and you cut them off at the soil, their roots decay into the soil and release all of the nitrogen they’d stored for your cantaloupe plants.
Bush and pole bean varieties will both work. Try alternating rows of cantaloupe and beans. Use trellises or cattle fence panels for pole beans to train them to grow up instead of out since the cantaloupe will have the ground covered.
As you cycle bean plants through your cantaloupe patch, be sure to cut off the ones you remove at the soil level, leaving their roots behind to feed your produce!
While I’m discussing replenishing the soil with plants, I should mention borage! As borage decomposes, it releases potassium and calcium into the soil and helps you grow more cantaloupe.
You can chop and drop borage to add more organic material while keeping these nutrients available for other plants. Potassium is responsible for fruiting and flowering, so plant scientists recommend low-nitrogen and high-potassium fertilizers once plants produce flowers.
If that’s not enough reason to plant borage, they also attract beneficial insects galore. You’ll have more pollinators and predators in your garden, which can lead to more fruit and fewer pests.
Cantaloupe vines will likely choke out borage if things get out of hand, so keep an eye on those vines! If you’d rather just cycle borage nearby to make borage mulch for your plants, plant them on the edges of your melon patch or keep them in containers nearby and resow through the season, chopping and dropping older plants after they flower but before they set seed.
Carrot companions are a great way to help loosen up your soil. Grow this cool-season crop where you want your melon patch to break up the soil to help tender cantaloupe seedlings find their footing.
You can eat carrots at any stage, so you can leave some in the ground even if it’s time to plant cantaloupe seeds. Pull the carrots once the seedlings need more room.
Though cilantro is a cool-season crop that usually can’t take the heat, you can keep it in containers or shady spots near your cantaloupe to reap the benefits.
Cilantro will attract many beneficial insects to your garden. You’ll see many pollinators like butterflies, hoverflies, and bees and predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Aside from bringing in predators, cilantro can also repel many unwanted bugs like beetles, aphids, and spider mites.
Native Americans used a method of gardening called the Three Sisters to grow corn, beans, and squash. This method is still widely used by gardeners today and can be adapted to suit your needs.
Corn provides a natural trellis for pole beans, and squash protects corn roots by acting as a living mulch. You can swap out squash for cantaloupe and grow them with corn and beans to make the most of your gardening space.
Cantaloupe plants need a lot of sunlight. Though corn grows tall, you can plan it out so it won’t cast too many shadows over your melons. The Three Sisters method will help you space everything out to prevent a shady wall of corn!
Dill smells and tastes delicious, so I always recommend planting this one in your garden! But on a more unbiased note, it’s a good plant to keep around because it attracts ladybugs, which will eat the aphids that want to suck up everything your cantaloupes have to offer.
Dill grows bushy but stays compact, so it shouldn’t interfere with your melons. It will work well on the corners of your melon patch or in containers. You can allow the vines to spread around the dill plants. Just ensure there’s enough space so it doesn’t get choked out.
Garlic is a great neighbor to help you fight off pests, so add this one to the collection if critters are always after your cantaloupe. Many insects hate its pungent scent, so pop a few near your melons to help keep them away.
Unless you have elephant garlic, the bulbs shouldn’t get in the way of cantaloupe roots. You can plant them pretty close, if necessary. You can still benefit from garlic’s repelling power if you keep it on the borders or in containers.
Lettuce is an easy, fast-growing plant that can be a companion to almost anything. Plant seeds at the same time as melons and harvest the young greens once the cantaloupe seedlings are a few inches tall and need more room to grow.
The lettuce will act as a ground cover to help suppress weeds, and you’ll get the added bonus of extra greens!
This method may not work as well if you live in a hot climate since lettuce is a cool-season crop, but the watering levels are good for both plants, and some of the shade the vines provide should help your lettuce hang on for a while. You can also use other greens like arugula and spinach.
I love having marigolds in my garden because they’re colorful and useful. You might deal with mosquitoes around your cantaloupes since they need so much water, but marigolds will help repel them.
They’ll also help control the nematode population in the soil, which can inhibit plant growth, and act as a trap crop for aphids to keep them off your melons.
I find that marigolds will grow as big as you allow them. They can get fairly large when planted alone, but they stay compact in shady areas near other plants. If you plant them close to your cantaloupe, they shouldn’t grow so big that they’ll impede your melon vines.
Keep mint quarantined in a container because of its vigorous growth habits, but it’s a good plant near your cantaloupe. Mint will repel various pests, like aphids, squash bugs, whiteflies, ants, and flea beetles. Find a mint you enjoy the smell of and put it all around your cantaloupe patch for maximum benefits.
Some say mint can improve soil quality because of the nutrients it releases into the soil, but its rapid growth rates don’t make it worth a shot, in my opinion! The enjoyable mint smell in my garden quickly turned into a year-long battle trying to remove it. Plant mint in the ground at your own risk!
If aphids are a problem on your cantaloupe, plant nasturtium. Nasturtium is an effective (and beautiful) way to eliminate aphids quickly. Aphids are attracted to the flowers and will congregate there. The blooms also attract hoverflies, which eat aphids. As the hoverflies are drawn in, they’ll stick around for the aphid buffet!
Nasturtium has a rounded bushy growth habit that will look gorgeous on the ends of rows or corners of beds. It shouldn’t need more than a foot or two of space to spread out, so you could intercrop them with melons pretty easily as long as you prevent the vines from wrapping around the plant.
Like garlic, onions have a strong repelling power against many pests like beetles, aphids, and caterpillars. Onions are larger than garlic, so you’ll need to keep this in mind so they don’t interfere with melon’s roots.
The vines will help protect onion bulbs, so you can plant onions close enough to the cantaloupe that vines will surround it. But don’t plant so close that the roots will compete for space and nutrients.
Cantaloupe needs plenty of sunlight, and onions don’t grow enough foliage to cast too much shade, so it’s a good plant to grow nearby. If you’re concerned about spacing, you can always opt for containers throughout the garden.
Oregano can reach two feet tall and 18 inches wide if left to its own devices, but if you love oregano and harvest from it daily, growing it near melons shouldn’t be an issue. You’ll need to grow oregano in a container or far from cantaloupe roots since it prefers dry soil.
Oregano is a good herb to grow near melons because they repel common pests while attracting the predators and pollinators you need in your garden.
If your garden is anything like mine, you’ll need all the anti-aphid recommendations you can get! Radishes are another great trap crop you can grow near your cucurbit vines for most of the growing season. Ladybugs and lacewings are attracted to radishes and will feast on the aphids that also love them.
If you plant radishes and melon seeds simultaneously, you’ll be able to harvest radishes before the cantaloupe needs extra space.
Once the melon has large leaves casting shade, you can grow radishes under those leaves to provide them some shade during hot weather. Succession planting will allow you to trap aphids and enjoy radishes for most of the warm season.
Tansy works wonders for attracting pollinators. You’ll see many bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies fluttering around the bright yellow clumps of flowers.
Though beautiful and useful, this is a plant you’ll want to plant nearby in a different bed rather than right next to your melons.
It can reach up to five feet tall and cast too much shade, and it also readily reseeds itself and can become a noxious weed if left unattended. The vigorous growth of tansy and cantaloupe will result in a competitive battle for space, and I’m not too sure which would win!
This is an immense category, but native wildflowers for your region are so beneficial that I can’t help but mention them! If you need help attracting pollinators to your melon patch, find out which wildflowers are native to your area. Native flowers will help native pollinator populations, which will, in turn, help out your garden.
When planting flowers near cantaloupe, keep the short ones closer to the melon plants and the taller ones further away so they don’t cast too much shade. Place them on the ends or corners of rows, or put them in containers you can move around as needed.
You don’t have to seclude cantaloupe plants to provide them with enough space. There are lots of plants you can pair them with that will help them grow better! Choose plants that don’t cast too much shade and love water; you’ll have a happy neighborhood of plants in no time.