How to Grow Watermelons from Seed to Harvest
You plan to grow watermelons at home? Great! I provide you with all the information you need to know to grow watermelons from seed to harvest step-by-step.
Moreover, I also share some general tips on how to grow watermelons at the end of this article.
Additionally, I also added some videos of other passionate gardeners so you get a more comprehensive picture and can grow your watermelons in an optimal manner.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it! 😉
Watermelon Plant Profile
|Size||1 to 2 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide.|
|Climate||Watermelon plants grow best in warm to moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Watermelons like the sun and need many hours of sun each day.|
|Soil Requirements||Watermelons prefer acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.2 – 7.0.|
|Country of Origin||Southern Africa.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy to Intermediate. If you are not an expert, you should definitely read this growers guide to grow your watermelon plants in a decent manner.|
|Perennial?||No, watermelons will not survive more than one year.|
|When should you start?||You should start growing watermelons in spring.|
|Expected Yield||You can expect to harvest 2 to 5 watermelons per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||Between 90 and 130 days.|
|What to do with it?||You can eat your watermelons raw or also make several nice salads out of them.|
What Types and Varieties of Watermelons can you grow?
There are numerous different watermelon varieties you can grow at home. I listed the most popular ones for you below:
- Gold Flower
- Golden Honey
- Crimson Sweet
- White Wonder
While I grow Kingman watermelons most of the time since they provide pretty decent yields and also taste quite well, you should find your own favorite watermelon variety to grow.
In fact, I suggest you pick a handful of different watermelon varieties to grow so that you know better what to grow in future years.
Moreover, growing more than one watermelon variety is also more interesting since you will get many different watermelon crops and plants and you will be surprised how different watermelons can actually look.
Alternatively, you could also just go for a watermelon seed mix and make it even more surprising for you 😉.
When should you start to grow Watermelons?
The optimal time to start growing watermelons is between the beginning of March and the end of Mai.
However, especially if you are a beginner, I advise you to start out as early as possible since it can take a significant time to grow your watermelons from seed to harvest and if you start too late, chances are that your fruits will not ripen on time.
Therefore, the sooner you start, the better your chances for decent yields.
Hence, I suggest you start between March and April to get the best results out of your watermelon growing experience.
How long does it take to grow Water Melons from Seed to Harvest?
It usually takes between 90 and 130 days to grow your watermelons from seed to harvest. However, please note that this is just a rough estimate.
In fact, how long it actually takes you to grow your watermelons significantly depends on various different factors, including climatic conditions, the soil mix you provide for your watermelons and also your level of experience.
Sure, experienced gardeners may be able to grow their watermelons to harvest in just 3 months.
However, if you are still a beginner and haven’t grown watermelons before, chances are that it will take you much longer.
Yet, don’t be discouraged if it takes you longer to grow your watermelons than expected.
In fact, I personally love to see my watermelon plants grow and for me, the actual growth process is even more exciting than the final harvest.
Hence, don’t make it about the yield, make it about the process and enjoy every day of your growing career.
If you do so, it will even be positive if it takes you longer to grow your melons since you can enjoy your growing project for longer 😉.
What is the best Climate to grow Watermelons?
Watermelons grow best in moderate to warm climatic zones. Hence, if you live in the US or in Western Europe, you will mostly have pretty decent conditions to grow watermelons.
Even if you live in regions that are not that optimal to grow watermelons, you will often still be able to do so since seed companies did a great job to develop watermelon strains that are suitable to grow in almost all climatic zones of our planet.
Hence, as long as you don’t live in extremely hot and humid or extremely cold climatic zones, you will be just good to grow 😉.
What Temperatures do Watermelons like?
Watermelons like daytime temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, please note that this is the optimal temperature range for growing watermelons at home.
As we all know, life is not perfect and even if you are not able to provide those optimal conditions, you will still be able to produce decent watermelon yields if you follow all the steps in this article as long as you don’t live in too extreme climatic conditions.
What do you need to grow Watermelons?
Growing watermelons requires some equipment that I listed for you below. I suggest you get those things so that you will be able to grow your watermelons in an optimal manner.
Of course, you might already have some of them at home, just get what’s still missing 😉.
- Growing bed (to grow your seedlings)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your watermelon)
- Watermelon seeds
- Fertilizer (you can make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Compost (optional)
- Motivation for growing watermelons 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Watermelons?
If you provide optimal conditions for your watermelon plants, you can expect to get between 2 and 5 watermelons per plant.
However, please note that the overall yield greatly depends on many different factors and that you might not be able to grow decent yields at the beginning of your watermelon growing career.
In fact, if you just start out growing watermelons and have never done it before, chances are that you will not reach the upper end of the range since this will only be possible for experienced gardeners.
Even if you only produce one watermelon per plant, don’t be disappointed.
In fact, one watermelon per plant would already be a success if you have never grown your own watermelons before.
Consequently, don’t expect too much regarding your overall watermelon yield the first year of growing.
Of course, once you get better with it, chances for higher yields will increase over time.
And always remember: Growing watermelons at home is not only about the yield, it’s about loving the growth process.
Hence, just enjoy the ride instead of just the actual harvest.
What Plants should you grow with Watermelons?
To learn more about what to grow with watermelons, make sure to have a look at the best and worst watermelon companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Watermelons?
Many people also don’t understand why they should grow their own watermelons in their garden or on their balcony at home.
In fact, it doesn’t make too much sense from a financial perspective due to all the equipment you need to get to grow your own watermelons.
It will also be more time-consuming and more effort to grow your own watermelons instead of just getting them from the store.
Hence, why exactly should you bother with growing your own watermelons? I tell you why 😉.
First of all, growing your own watermelons can be quite a lot of fun. In fact, I love growing my own vegetables and fruits quite a lot and don’t want to miss out on that experience.
Growing plants is just a nice hobby for me and I really enjoy the overall growth process and the progress my plants make every day.
Second, growing your own watermelons can also give you a feeling of peace and it can also reduce your overall stress level quite a lot.
In fact, if I have stressful periods in my life, I really enjoy sitting next to my plants and I can feel that my overall stress level drops significantly.
In fact, gardening is a great way to reduce stress and if you currently work in a stressful job or experience stress in various different ways, I highly recommend you to grow your own watermelons and other plants at home.
Third, growing watermelons at home can also get you back to the roots.
Our ancestors have grown their own fruits and vegetables for many thousands of years and it was only in recent times that we mainly rely on grocery stores to provide us with vegetables and fruits.
By growing your own watermelons at home, you can get back some original experience and live as our ancestors did for many thousands of years.
Fourth, by growing watermelons at home, you do no longer have to rely on the melons from your local grocery store.
In fact, in conventional agriculture, significant amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used and those chemical substances will also end up in the crops to a certain extent.
In turn, you will consume those chemical substances if you buy melons from your conventional grocery store, which can be quite bad for your health in the long run.
However, if you just grow your own watermelons, you no longer have to rely on melons from the store and can grow your melons in a fully organic manner.
In turn, chances are that your body will thank you for that later on in your life.
Consequently, while it might not make sense to grow watermelons at home from a monetary perspective, it can still make sense due to various other reasons mentioned before.
Growing Watermelons: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Watermelons
Before you can actually start with your watermelon growing project, you first have to do some planning. The first important step is to choose the optimal site for your watermelons.
Do Watermelons like Sun or Shade?
Watermelon plants love the sun and you should choose the site for your watermelons accordingly. If you can, choose a site where your watermelons can get sun all day long. However, if you can’t, it is not a big problem either.
Most of us don’t have a garden that provides sun all day long. Just choose the sunniest spot you can provide in your garden or on your balcony and you will be good to go.
What are the Soil Requirements of Watermelons?
Watermelons typically grow best in soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7, meaning that the soil should be slightly acidic.
For providing those soil requirements, you just need to get some potting soil from your local garden center and you are good to go. You can also mix potting soil from the store with soil from your garden.
Alternatively, you can also add some compost from your garden if you want to. Just make sure that the soil is quite loose and not compact so that the roots of your watermelon plants can develop and expand in an optimal manner.
How much Space do Watermelon Plants need?
While watermelons don’t need much space in the vertical, they will usually need plenty of space in the horizontal.
In fact, I would recommend you plan at least 10 square feet of space for each watermelon plant you want to grow.
Only then will your watermelons get enough sunlight and don’t have to compete for nutrients with each other.
Should you plant Watermelons in a Pot or in your Garden?
While you could grow watermelons in a pot, I would not recommend you to do so since your watermelon plants need plenty of soil and space and you would have to get really big pots to grow watermelons at home.
Moreover, if you grow watermelons on your balcony, note that your watermelon plants may use almost your whole balcony and you may no longer be able to use your balcony for anything else.
Hence, if you have a garden, I suggest you just grow your watermelons there since it will make your life just a lot easier compared to growing watermelons in pots.
2. Plant Watermelon Seeds
After selecting the optimal site for your watermelons, we now have to talk about the actual watermelon seeding process.
Should you buy Watermelon Seeds or Seedlings?
While you could just get your watermelon seedlings from the store, I highly recommend you to grow your own watermelon seedlings. Sure, it would be more convenient to just get your seedlings from the store.
However, you will miss one important step in the overall growth process and if you really want to grow watermelons from seed to harvest to get the full growing experience, this also includes growing your own seedlings from watermelon seeds.
Hence, instead of just getting your watermelon seedlings from your local garden center, I suggest you grow your own watermelon seedlings.
In fact, you will learn quite a lot from it and you will also be able to transfer your knowledge and grow various other seedlings yourself for future growth projects.
And growing your own watermelon seedlings is not difficult at all. In fact, I show you exactly how to grow your watermelon seedlings in the following chapters.
Should you buy Watermelon Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
I hope I convinced you that growing your own watermelon seedlings is in fact a good idea. If I did, you still have to decide whether you want to get your watermelon seeds from a seed company or whether you want to produce your own seeds.
In fact, producing your own watermelon seeds is quite simple.
Just go to your local store, get your favorite watermelon varieties and cut them in halves back home.
You will now see many seeds which you can just collect and you produced your own seeds, congratulations!
How to plant Watermelon Seeds
Now that you either produced watermelon seeds by yourself or just got them from your local garden center or from an online shop, it is now time to really start the growing process.
For that, just fill your growing bed with potting soil. Make sure to leave a little bit of space in the vertical and don’t completely fill your growing bed.
After you filled your growing bed with soil, just place your watermelon seeds onto the soil.
Each seed should have at least 5 inches of space into every direction so that your seedlings will have enough space to grow in a healthy manner.
After placing all of your watermelon seeds, it is time to cover your seeds with an additional layer of potting soil of 1 to 2 inches in height.
After you covered your seeds, make sure to water your growing bed and place it at a warm and bright spot inside your home to provide optimal germination conditions for your seeds.
Please note that not all of your seeds will germinate. In fact, some of them will just rot in the soil.
Therefore, make sure that you plant significantly more seeds than you want to get seedlings. I recommend a ratio of 1:2 between the number of seedlings you want to grow and watermelon seeds.
For example, if you want to get 5 watermelon seedlings, make sure to plant 10 watermelon seeds.
If you really produce too many seedlings, you can still give them away to your friends who will often be quite happy to get them as a present.
How long does it take to see the first Watermelon Seedlings?
After you placed your seedlings and watered your growing bed, it is time to wait a little bit. In fact, it will often take more than one week until you see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Make sure that you continue to water your growing bed on a regular basis since the soil should never dry out during this stage.
After the one-month mark, you should no longer expect any new seedlings to reach the soil surface and if you haven’t produced enough seedlings at this point in time, you might just place additional seeds at the spots where the seeds haven’t germinated in your growing bed.
How to protect your Watermelon Seedlings
As long as you keep your watermelon seedlings inside your four walls, you don’t have to worry too much about any protective measures.
In fact, your watermelon seedlings will be pretty safe since they will not be attacked by snails and other animals inside your home.
However, if you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your watermelon seedlings 😉.
When should you transplant your Watermelon Seedlings?
After several weeks, your watermelon seedlings will get bigger and sooner or later, it will be time to transplant them outside to your garden or to your pots.
I personally wait with transplanting my watermelons seedlings until two main criteria had been met.
First, the overall climatic conditions have to be suitable for transplanting seedlings outdoors.
This means that temperatures should no longer fall below the freezing mark, not even at nighttime. Second, your melon plants should have a minimum height of at least 5 inches.
Only then will they be robust enough to deal with the harsh outside conditions. If both criteria are met, you can prepare your growing site in your garden before actually transplanting your seedlings.
Just dig one hole for each melon seedling into your garden. Each hole should be around 10 square feet in size and should be around one 2 feet deep.
After you dug those holes, mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store. You can also add some of your own compost to the soil mix.
Once you mixed all soil ingredients, it is time to fill those holes with the soil mix. Now that you prepared your growing site, you can place each seedling into one spot in your garden and you are good to go.
Alternatively, if you want to grow watermelons in a pot, you just need to fill your pots with potting soil and transplant your seedlings to the pots.
After you transplanted all your seedlings, make sure to water them and you are done.
What kind of Protection do Watermelon Seedlings need outdoor?
Compared to the protected conditions indoors, your watermelon seedlings will be exposed to various dangers once you transplanted them to the outside world.
In fact, snails and other animals are just waiting for your seedlings to feed on them. Hence, you need some additional protective measures for your watermelon seedlings.
A simple but yet effective way to protect your watermelons is to use a slug fence since it will not only deter snails, but also various other small animals.
I highly recommend you get one of those from your local garden center. Make sure that you don’t use any chemical protective measures.
While those chemicals may work, they are still pretty bad for our environment and you want to make your growing experience as organic and eco-friendly as possible, don’t you?
3. The Watermelon Growth Process
Now that you successfully transplanted and protected your watermelon seedlings, most of the manual work is already done.
However, there are still some things to consider which I discuss in the following.
Should you prune your Watermelon Plants?
While it is no mistake to prune your watermelon plants, I am just not a big fan of it. I personally grow plants since I love nature and natural processes and pruning is not natural at all.
In fact, plants evolved without human intervention for millions of years and therefore, pruning may also be problematic from an evolutionary perspective.
Hence, I would suggest you just let your watermelon plants grow and let nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Watermelon Plants by Hand?
Although there will be no real need to prune your watermelons, you still should make sure to pollinate them by hand if you want to get decent yields.
In fact, it will often not be enough to rely on insects to pollinate your watermelon plants and to optimize yields, you should do so by hand.
Just grab a cotton swab or another soft stick and distribute the pollen across your watermelon flowers.
Make sure that you do so as soon as you see a new watermelon flower opening since watermelon flowers will only be open for a rather limited amount of time and if you miss this window, your watermelons will not produce melons from those unpollinated flowers.
How to stake your Watermelons
Staking watermelons can make sense if you don’t have much horizontal space and rather want to let your watermelons grow into the vertical.
However, I don’t recommend doing so since watermelon crops will get quite heavy and chances are that your watermelon plants will not be able to carry them if you grow them into the vertical too much.
Instead, I recommend you to just let your watermelons grow on the soil surface into the horizontal. If you do so, no further staking efforts will be required from your side.
4. The Watermelons Harvest
If you followed all the steps carefully, you should be able to harvest pretty decent watermelon yields in late summer or early fall.
When should you harvest your Watermelons?
It is time to harvest your watermelons when they reached the right size and color. Of course, if you grow your own watermelons, you might not be able to grow them as big as you know them from the grocery store.
However, if you provided them with sufficient space and nutrients throughout the year, you should still get decent results.
If you are not sure whether your watermelons are ready to harvest, just harvest one crop, consume it and see if it tastes well.
If so, you can also harvest your other watermelons. If not, just let your watermelons grow a little bit longer and try again.
How to store your Watermelons?
You can store your watermelons in a dark and dry spot in your home for several weeks.
However, I still recommend you to eat your watermelons in time since they taste best right after you harvested them and also contain the most beneficial nutrients and vitamins at this point in time.
What should you do with your Watermelons?
I personally love to eat my watermelons just like they are. However, if you are a person who loves to experiment with things, you can also make your own fruit salad or try to make various other dishes with your watermelons.
Watermelon Plant Care Tips
You know got all the instructions for how to grow watermelons at home step-by-step.
However, some general information is still missing which I provide you in the following chapters.
How often should you irrigate Watermelons?
While your watermelons will not need too much water when they are still small, you will have to water them on a daily basis once they get bigger, especially on hot summer days.
Also make sure that you have someone who takes care of your watermelon plants when you are on vacation since your watermelon plants may die off pretty quickly without being watered.
If you are not sure whether your watermelons need water or not, you can just use the following simple trick.
Just dig a small hole with your finger right next to your watermelon plants.
If soil sticks to your finger once you pull it out, the soil is still wet enough and you don’t have to water your watermelons.
If no soil sticks to your finger, the soil is dry and your watermelons need irrigation.
While this trick is quite useful for beginners, you will no longer need it once you get more experienced since you will see intuitively when it is time to water your watermelons.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Watermelon Plants?
You can water your watermelon plants all day long. In fact, while some experts claim that the best time to water your watermelons is in the early morning, I am not convinced about this at all.
In fact, in my opinion, it doesn’t make any difference if you water your plants in the morning, lunchtime or evening.
Just make sure that you provide your plants with the right amounts of water and you are good to go.
How often should you fertilize your Watermelon Plants?
Watermelons need sufficient nutrients to grow and to develop fruits in a sufficient manner. Hence, they also need some fertilizer.
While you already provided a good soil mix before transplanting your seedlings, this should be enough for the first time.
However, after a few weeks, you may want to add additional fertilizer to optimize the growth behavior of your watermelons.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Watermelon Plants?
While you could just buy chemical fertilizer from your local garden center, I would not recommend you to do so since it is pretty harmful to the soil as well as to our environment.
Instead, just buy organic fertilizer or even better, make your own natural fertilizer.
Just collect some stinging nettles, put them into a bucket full of cold water and let them sit there.
After a few days, just remove the stinging nettles and you have a perfectly natural fertilizer which you can just add to your watering can and use it on a regular basis.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Watermelons?
Stinging nettle liquid is not only perfect as natural fertilizer, it can also help to deter many pests.
You just have to spray some stinging nettle liquid onto your watermelon plants and you will just be fine.
To deal with weeds, just remove them by hand.
As you can see, there is no need to use additional chemical pesticides or herbicides for your watermelon growing project and you should just rely on the natural alternatives mentioned before to protect our local flora and fauna.
If you want to get additional information on how to control pests, also make sure to have a look at my article on how to treat melon pests and diseases in your garden.
What’s left to say?
You finally got all the information that is needed to grow your watermelons from seed to harvest at home.
If you read the whole article, thanks for that! I know that it was a pretty long watermelon grower’s guide.
However, I was just not able to make it any shorter without leaving out important information you will need to make your watermelon growing experience as enjoyable as possible.
If you like my article, make sure to share it. Also feel free to check out my other grower’s guides. See you! 😉
You want to learn more about growing melons in general? Make sure to also check out my grower’s guide on how to grow melons.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.