How To Grow Watermelon

Watermelons are a delicious and refreshing fruit that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. They are also relatively easy to grow, making them a great option for home gardeners. Ace’s guide makes it easy covering everything from how to grow watermelon from seed to fruit harvesting techniques.

Ready to grow your own watermelons? Grow your own delicious and refreshing watermelons by following these steps:

When To Plant Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds like warm weather. You need to plant watermelon seeds when your soil temperature is approximately 70 degrees. In Colorado Springs, planting seeds takes place in early June, but it’s best if you start watermelon seeds indoors then transplant when the weather stays warm for the season.

When planting your watermelon seeds you do in in groups of three, then thin to the strongest sprout.

When planting outdoors you should leave approximately three feet between each seed. Also, pay attention to the type of seeds you are using. Watermelons come in both bush and vine varieties.

If outdoor space is limited, you can also plant your watermelon seeds indoors. Make sure your container is a minimum of 16 inches wide by 16 inches deep. The same rules apply, planting three seeds in a group, then thinning to the strongest sprout after germination.

A healthy indoor watermelon will produce two to three watermelons per plant. Pollination and light are the two biggest obstacles when growing indoors. Do not try to grow watermelon in a tent, they will do much better near a window with natural light, and supplemented with an auxiliary indoor grow light.

How Long For Watermelon Seeds To Germinate?

The germination time for watermelon seeds can vary depending on various factors such as environmental conditions, seed quality, and seed variety. On average, watermelon seeds typically take about 7 to 14 days to germinate under ideal conditions.

For successful germination, watermelon seeds require warm soil temperatures between 70°F (21°C) and 95°F (35°C). The optimal temperature range is around 80°F (27°C). Lower temperatures can delay germination, while higher temperatures can cause poor seed viability or lead to seedling damage.

Proper moisture levels are also crucial for watermelon seed germination. The soil should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to rotting of the seeds or damping-off of the emerging seedlings.

Watermelon seeds are usually sown directly into the soil, approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. The germination process begins when the seed absorbs water and swells, followed by the emergence of the radicle (the primary root) and subsequent growth of the seedling.

While most watermelon seeds germinate within the 7 to 14-day timeframe, it’s important to note that some seeds may sprout earlier, while others may take longer. Patience is key during the germination process, and providing the optimal growing conditions will increase the chances of successful and timely germination.

How Much Water Do Watermelon Need?

The hardest part of growing any fruit of vegetable is making sure your plants get the proper water intake.

Watermelon plants require consistent moisture throughout their growth cycle, especially during germination, flowering, and fruit development stages. The amount of water needed for your watermelon plants depends on several factors, including climate, soil type, and stage of growth. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how much to water your watermelon:

  1. Seedling stage: After planting watermelon seeds, you should keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated. Water lightly to avoid disturbing the seeds or causing waterlogging. Aim for about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week during this stage.
  2. Vegetative stage: As the watermelon plants grow and develop leaves, increase the amount of water to promote healthy growth. Provide approximately 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation. Water deeply and less frequently, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. This encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil.
  3. Flowering and fruiting stage: Watermelon plants require more water during flowering and fruit development to support proper pollination, fruit formation, and size. Increase the watering to approximately 2 inches (5 cm) of water per week.

Remember to adjust the watering frequency and amount based on your specific conditions. Once you know how to grow watermelon it will be easy to replicate the process if you track your steps. Simply write down how much and how often you are watering.

Factors such as temperature, rainfall, and soil drainage can influence the water needs of your watermelon plants. Regularly monitor the soil moisture by checking the top few inches of soil with your finger. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

How Much Sun Do Watermelon Need?

Watermelon plants are sun-loving plants and require a substantial amount of sunlight to thrive and produce healthy fruits. Here are some guidelines regarding the sun exposure requirements for watermelon plants:

  1. Full sun: Watermelon plants perform best when grown in full sun, which means they should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Ideally, aim for 8 to 10 hours of sunlight for optimal growth and fruit production. More sunlight generally results in better fruit development and sweeter, juicier watermelons.
  2. Partial shade: While watermelon plants prefer full sun, they can tolerate some partial shade during certain parts of the day, particularly in regions with extremely hot summers. If intense midday sunlight is causing excessive heat stress on the plants, a bit of afternoon shade or dappled shade from nearby structures or taller plants can be beneficial. However, prolonged periods of shade can negatively impact the plant’s overall growth and fruit production.

When selecting a location for your watermelon plants, choose a spot that receives the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day. Ensure there are no large trees or structures that cast shadows over the planting area, as this can limit the sunlight exposure.

Additionally, proper air circulation around the plants is crucial to minimize the risk of diseases. Make sure the watermelon plants have enough space between them to allow for good airflow and prevent the development of fungal or bacterial issues.

In summary, providing your watermelon plants with full sun exposure for a significant portion of the day will promote healthy growth, maximize fruit production, and enhance the flavor of the watermelons.

If you are growing watermelon indoors, set your grow light to an 18-6 light cycle.

How Much Space To Grow Do Watermelon Need?

The amount of space required for watermelon plants depends on the specific variety and growth habit, which can be either vining (trailing) or bush (determinate). Here are some guidelines regarding the space requirements for each type:

How To Grow Vining Watermelon

Vining watermelon varieties have long, trailing vines that can spread extensively. They require ample space for the vines to grow, spread, and bear fruit. It is common for vining watermelon plants to occupy a significant area in the garden.

  • Plant spacing: Allow a spacing of 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 meters) between vining watermelon plants to provide sufficient room for their sprawling growth. This spacing allows the vines to spread out and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to poor air circulation and increased risk of disease.
  • Row spacing: Leave approximately 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters) between rows of vining watermelon plants. This wide spacing accommodates the lateral growth of the vines and allows easy access for maintenance tasks such as watering, fertilizing, and harvesting.
  • Trellising: If you have limited space or want to maximize vertical growing, you can train vining watermelon plants on trellises or supports. In this case, you may reduce the plant spacing to around 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) apart, as the vines will be trained to grow vertically instead of sprawling on the ground.

How To Grow Bush Watermelon

Bush watermelon varieties, also known as determinate or compact watermelons, have a more compact growth habit with shorter vines. They generally require less space compared to vining varieties.

  • Plant spacing: Plant bush watermelon plants approximately 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) apart to allow for their compact growth and development. This spacing provides enough room for the plants to form bushy mounds and produce fruit.
  • Row spacing: Maintain a row spacing of around 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) between rows of bush watermelon plants. This spacing ensures proper airflow and facilitates easy access for maintenance and harvesting.

In both cases, providing adequate space allows the watermelon plants to receive sufficient sunlight, airflow, and nutrients, which promotes healthy growth, reduces the risk of diseases, and allows the fruits to develop properly.

Remember to adjust the spacing according to the specific recommendations provided by the seed packet or the instructions from the variety you are growing, as some watermelon varieties may have specific requirements.

If you enjoyed Ace’s guide on how to grow watermelon, make your next read his guide on How To Prevent Garden Pests.

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