How to Grow and Care for Watermelon at Home Garden

How to Grow and Care for Watermelon at Home Garden

The watermelon is an annual fruiting vine that needs a reasonably lengthy, hot growth season in order to produce the beloved summer delicacy that picnickers all over the world are familiar with. One of the many plants in the enormous Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes most vining vegetables including cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins, is the watermelon. All of the cultivars of watermelons found in household gardens are members of the Citrillus lunatus genus. Since it is believed to have started growing over 5,000 years ago in the African Kalahari Desert, watermelons have been cultivated for many years. Slaves from Africa transported seeds to the United States. Watermelons come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and there are more than 100 cultivated varieties as a result of hybridization.

Large, lobbed leaves with a hairy, gritty texture and a sprawling, prostate-vining plant characterize the watermelon. In the middle to end of the summer, they blossom with yellow flowers. The thick-rinded, delectable fruits mature swiftly for harvest in late summer and early fall. From two to four watermelon fruits are produced by each plant.

Juicy watermelon seems to be a summertime favorite for everyone. Melons, which are indigenous to Africa, need warm weather and a lengthy growing season. They should be about ready to harvest by late summer. How to cultivate and harvest watermelons in your garden is provided here.

The four groups into which modern watermelon cultivars fall are as follows:

  • Jumbo picnic melons weigh 15 to 50 pounds.
  • Smaller family-sized fruits, weighing 5 to 15 pounds, are icebox melons.
  • Melons without seeds are self-sterile hybrids. They lug a 10–20 pound weight.
  • Melons with yellow or orange flesh are frequently thought to be sweeter than watermelons with red and pink flesh.
When the soil reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, seeds are usually sown directly into the garden to grow watermelons. Two to four weeks prior to the last date of frost, seeds are started indoors in cool climates with short growing seasons. Although some short-season varieties are ready for harvest about 70 days after the seedlings sprout, most watermelons take 80 to 90 days to reach maturity.

When to Plant Watermelons

  • Start seeds indoors two to three weeks prior to your last date of frost in cool climates with short growing seasons. About two weeks after that date, or once the soil has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C), plan to transplant seedlings into the garden.
  • If the soil temperature has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C), you can sow seeds outdoors directly in warmer climates with lengthy growing seasons one to two weeks after your last frost date.
  • Nursery stores also sell young watermelon plants. They are very tender, so plant them only after there is no longer a chance of a frost. Keep an eye on the weather in your area and exercise caution! To further warm the soil, think about draping black plastic over the planting area.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • Before planting, add compost, seaweed, or old manure to the soil. Due of their intense feeding habits, watermelons require healthy soil with a high concentration of nutrients. Find out more about soil improvements and getting the soil ready for planting.
  • Loamy, moderately sandy, well-drained soil is ideal for watermelons. When the soil is excessively clayey and poorly drained, they may struggle.
  • On the range of 6.0 and 7.5 ("slightly acidic to neutral"), watermelons thrive in soil.
  • Up to 20 square feet are required by each watermelon plant. Plant them in an area where they won't encroach on other crops because their vines need space to spread out.
  • The hills created by growing the vines in higher rows provide proper drainage and prolong the effectiveness of the sun's heat.
  • The plants should be placed in a slope that is 5 feet wide and 2-3 feet apart.
  • Space your traditional row-grown crops at least 6 feet apart.
How to Grow and Care for Watermelon at Home Garden

How to Plant Watermelons

  • Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in seed-starting pots indoors or 1/2 to 1 inch deep outside.
  • Use larger starting pots than you would for most seeds to allow for more root growth. Additionally, think about using compostable containers that can be removed or planted directly in the garden to reduce the possibility of damaging the seedlings' delicate roots during transplanting.
  • If direct seeding outside, plant 4 to 6 seeds per hill and thin to 2 to 3 seedlings later.

After the risk of frost has gone, watermelons can be planted directly in the garden or started indoors in paper or peat pots two to four weeks prior to your last frost date. Wait until the air temperature is consistently between 70 and 80 degrees before planting watermelons, which should happen about the time the peonies start to blossom. For seeds to germinate, soil must be warm. By enclosing outdoor soil in black plastic, the required 70 degrees can be reached.

Since watermelons are big plants that need room to sprawl, they are typically planted in gently mounded hills separated by 4 to 6 feet. In the center of the hill, scatter four to five seeds about an inch deep. When the seeds germinate, thin them out so that each hill has two or three plants. Plant two transplants per hill if using nursery seedlings or seeds started inside.

Row coverings can be used to keep young plants warm in colder climes. Row coverings will help shield the plants from the numerous insect pests that watermelons attract, but they must be removed when the flowers blossom in order to assure pollination.

How to Grow Watermelons


For watermelons to thrive, they need full sunlight. In hotter climates, the plants can tolerate some partial shade, but the melons need a lot of sun to develop their sugars. The quantity and size of the fruits will be reduced in overly shady conditions.


From the time of planting until fruit starts to form, watering is crucial. Melon plants require 1 to 2 inches of water per week while they are growing, blooming, and bearing fruit.
Keep the soil wet but not soggy. In the morning, water the vines at their base, being careful not to wet the leaves or water from above. Once fruit is grown, watering can be reduced. The sweetest melon is produced in dry climates.

Temperature and Humidity

80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher growing temperatures are preferred by watermelons. If the soil moisture is sufficient, they will thrive in both humid and dry conditions.

Flowering and Fruiting

On the same plant, vines generate different male and female flowers. Several weeks before the female flowers develop, they frequently start to produce male blooms. If the male flowers fall off, it is normal. The female blooms will remain on the vine and produce fruit; they have a swelling bulb at the base.
Be gentle to the bees since blossoms need pollination to produce fruit. Discover ways to help pollinators in your garden.
Put cardboard or straw between the fruit and the earth as the fruit ripens to keep it from decaying.


Watermelon plants consume a lot of food. Before planting, make sure your soil has been adequately supplemented with organic matter. When the season first begins, add a slow-release organic fertilizer if your soil is deficient in organic matter. Add a layer of compost to the sides of watermelons in the middle of the season to maintain steady growth.

In order to promote the growth of the leaves and vine, if you decide to use chemical fertilizer, feed your plants early on with a fertilizer that includes more nitrogen than phosphate and potassium. However, treat again when flowering starts using a low-nitrogen fertilizer to promote the growth of flowers and fruits.

Make sure the fertilizer delivers more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium if you choose to fertilize (and many people do), as this will promote the growth of leaves and vines. Use a fertilizer with less nitrogen to promote flowers and fruit instead after flowering starts. We enjoy using a fertilizer made from seaweed.

Typical Insects and Illnesses

The cucumber beetle is the main pest of watermelons. Check early for the eggs. Many of them will be kept away from the vines if you use row covers. Watermelons are also susceptible to mites, aphids, and vine borers.

Fusarium wilt, anthracnose, alternaria leaf spot, and gummy stem blight are a few diseases that may cause issues. Select resistant watermelon varieties if these diseases are common. The powdery mildew that can sometimes affect watermelons is rarely harmful; it is only unsightly. Instead of watering from above, water at ground level to prevent soil spores from splashing onto the leaves and causing mildew.

How to Grow and Care for Watermelon at Home Garden

How to Tell If a Watermelon Is Ripe

  • Push it. The watermelon is ripe when it makes a hollow sound.
  • Look at the top's color. When there is little contrast between the stripes, the watermelon is ripe.
  • Take a look at the bottom color. A watermelon that isn't quite ripe will have a white bottom; one that is will have a cream or yellow bottom.
  • Strike it. The watermelon is ripe if it makes a slight giving sound when tapped. (Note: Rhodes dislikes this technique since it can degrade the fruit's quality.)
  • Verify the tendril. Wait if it's green. The watermelon is ripe or nearly ripe if it is half-dead. It's ripe or overripe if the tendril is completely dead; because it won't get any riper, you might as well pluck!
  • Cut stems close to the fruit using a sharp knife.

How to Store Watermelons

Uncut watermelons can be kept for about ten days. They can keep for about 4 days in the fridge if they are chopped. Wrap in plastic very firmly.

Recommended Watermelon Varieties

Early/ short-season varieties mature in 70 to 75 days:
  • The "Blacktail Mountain" has a dark green rind and red flesh. They lug a 6–12 pound weight.
  • "Faerie" watermelons have a yellow rind and red flesh. At 5 to 6 pounds, they are relatively small fruits.
  • "Golden Crown" watermelons have yellow rinds and red flesh. They lug a 4–7 pound weight.
  • A great red-fleshed cultivar is "Sugar Baby." Melons weigh between 6 and 10 pounds.
Long-season varieties mature in 80 to 85 days:
  • The melons from "Ali Baba" have an oblong shape and red flesh. From 12 to 30 pounds, melon weighs.
  • A hybrid plant called "Moon and Stars" produces lovely melons. There are cultivars with red and yellow flesh.
  • Melons from the variety "New Queen" have orange flesh, few seeds, and a lot of sugar. They are between 5 and 6 pounds.
Varieties marketed as being seedless: While the seeds in these varieties are small, white, and edible, they are not actually seedless. These hybrids are self-sterile. Starting seedless watermelons in peat or paper pots will give you a slight advantage over starting them in the ground because they have a higher germination rate and are less expensive than seeded watermelons.
  • The red-fleshed "Revolution" melon takes 80 days to reach maturity. Melons weigh 20–26 pounds.
  • Melons with red flesh from the "Superseedless" variety are ready for harvest 90 to 95 days after sprouting. Melons weigh 16 to 20 pounds each.
  • Melons with red flesh from the "Sweet Bite" variety mature in about 75 days. Melons weigh 5 to 8 pounds.
  • A yellow-fleshed melon with a 75-day maturation period is called "Triple Gold." Fruits weighed 8–10 pounds.
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