How to Grow Watermelons – A Beginner’s Guide

watermelons plant growing in garden
Watermelons, botanically known as Citrullus Lanatus, are a delicious fruit that you can easily grow at home. Keep reading to master the basics of watermelon cultivation and dodge common mistakes along the way.

Quick Reference Guide for Growing Watermelons

Factors Recommendations
Best Time to Plant Late spring to early summer, once soil temperatures reach 70°F or above
Soil Type Loamy, somewhat-sandy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5
Planting Sow seeds 0.5″ deep, 3″ apart in rows; thin seedlings to 3 plants per hill when 3″ tall
Sunlight Full sun, at least 6 hours or more
Watering Keep soil damp to touch; adjust water as needed
Germination and Growth 6-8 days to germinate; 78 days from seed to harvest
Harvesting When underside of fruit turns from greenish-white to buttery yellow or cream
Food Use Sliced for snacks or scooped into fruit salads
Flavor Profile Crisp and very sweet
Growing in Containers Not recommended
Bee Safety Yes, watermelons are safe for bees

Best Time to Plant Watermelons

Although largely dependent on your local climate, the rule of thumb is to plant watermelon seeds late spring to early summer, when soil temperatures reach 70° F or above. This timing ensures the seedlings’ survival.

Consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine when watermelons are most likely to thrive in your area. For locations outside the US, search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Watermelons the Right Way

By considering several factors, you can avoid common mistakes when growing watermelons in your home garden.

Soil quality is often overlooked, but it significantly impacts your watermelons’ growth. Ideally, use loamy, somewhat-sandy, well-drained soil with a soil pH level of 6.0 to 6.5.

Sow seeds about 0.5″ deep and 3″ apart in rows. Make sure to sow a few seeds for each plant to increase the chances of germination. When the seedlings reach 3″ in height, thin them by cutting to 3 plants per hill.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Watermelons

Proper sunlight is key to a successful harvest. Too much sun will dry out your watermelons, while insufficient sunlight can stunt their growth or even kill them.

Watermelons require full sun, meaning you should provide as much sunlight as possible, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Watermelons

Watering is another critical factor affecting your watermelons’ health. The soil should be damp to touch, neither soggy nor bone dry. Adjust the water if the leaves change color or appear droopy.

Overwatering or underwatering can be lethal, so monitor your plants and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Watermelons to Germinate and Grow?

The exciting part begins as you watch your watermelons grow. Germination takes about 6-8 days, while the entire growth process from seed to harvest lasts approximately 78 days.

When to Harvest Watermelons

Harvest your watermelons when the fruit’s underside or belly transitions from a greenish-white to a buttery yellow or cream color. Watermelons can grow up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter.

What Can Watermelons Be Used For?

Food Use: Watermelons are perfect for slicing as snacks or scooping into fruit salads.

Flavor Profile: Crisp and very sweet.

Can Watermelons Grow in Pots and Containers?

Generally, growing watermelons in pots or containers is not advised.

Are Watermelons Safe for Bees?

Yes, watermelons are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that account for about 90% of the world’s nutrition. Given their crucial role in our ecosystem and food supply, it’s essential to note that growing watermelons is bee-friendly.

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