Watermelons are a rewarding fruit to grow at home and an excellent addition to any garden. Below we share the basics of growing watermelons in a home garden, as well as common mistakes and considerations.
Watermelons are not a frost tolerant fruit. This means the best time to plant them is mid to late spring, once there is no longer a chance of frost in your area.
If you live in the U.S., check out the Farmer’s Almanac or the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zones for more help regarding frost and the best dates for planting in your area.
Plant your watermelon seeds directly in the soil of your garden or container at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 centimetre). Seeds can be planted outside or you can germinate them indoors and transplant them later. Typically, watermelon seeds take about 1 - 2 weeks to fully germinate.
If transplanting, the best time to move watermelon plants outside is when they reach 3 - 4 inches (7 - 10 centimetres) tall or have at least 3 - 4 true leaves.
When planting watermelons in the garden, it’s best to space them 2 - 3 feet (75 centimetres) away from the nearest plant.
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The key to caring for watermelons in containers is well draining soil and a pot big enough for their root system. Aim for a pot that is roughly 1,155 cubic inches (18,927 cubic centimetres) in size. Five-gallon buckets are a great container option for watermelons. And they’re cheap too!
For more in depth information, check out our full guide on growing watermelons in containers.
On average, it takes about 75 - 90 days for planted watermelon seeds to develop into a fully mature plant.
Typically, watermelon plants reach about 2 - 3 feet (or 75 centimetres) in height. Though this can fluctuate depending on the variety.
Watermelons need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day in order to thrive. Be careful to place your plants in an area that receives adequate sunlight. Otherwise, they may not mature properly.
Watermelons like well draining soil that is kept consistently moist, but not wet or soggy. The amount of water it takes to achieve this effect will differ depending on the type of soil available to you.
Be sure to water your watermelons on a consistent, steady schedule. This will ensure the plant yields a healthy, uniform crop.
If growing your watermelons in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently than watermelons planted directly in the garden.
You will know your watermelons are in need of more water when their leaves wilt, yellow, and/or the plant begins to droop. But be careful, this can also happen if the plant receives too much water. This is a difficult balance for most novice gardeners. But the more time you spend with your watermelons, the better you’ll be able to gauge how thirsty they are.
Your watermelons are ready to pick when their skin shifts from bright to dull green. Leaving a short bit of stem attached, cut the watermelon from the plant with a sharp knife or scissors. Be careful to avoid pulling them by hand, as this can cause vines to break.