Watermelons are naturally BIG fruits and most people believe they can’t be planted in a container, but you can actually plant watermelons in your home in a container just right in your backyard, terrace, or garden! Watermelons, in spite of their size, are actually perfect for starter container gardeners, they are low effort and high reward.
● Watermelons are warm loving plants, so the insulation of a container allows them to sprout faster in a warm environment that might be more difficult to mimic directly in soil.
● Watermelons also love water, which is easier to supply in plentiful amounts in containers. Groundwater might not soak in as well, even with irrigation.
● One notable benefit of planting watermelon in containers is that container-grown watermelons ripen on decks, patios, and porches instead of on bare soil, which means fewer chances of slugs, pillbugs, and other ground-level pests infesting the plants or the fruits.
Growing watermelon is super easy, all you just need is a little guidance to get you started.
Selecting the right watermelon is very important at the start of your gardening experience, there are over 1000 different varieties of watermelon and not all of them are container garden-friendly.
It is important to note that watermelons are heavy fruits, so you should avoid varieties that grow very big fruits. Also, their vines tend to grow up to 10 feet, which might be more space than you can spare in your container garden, and one vine might only produce one or two fruits. It’s important to keep this in mind when mapping your watermelon garden space, especially managing your expectations on how many fruits to expect from each container.
One of the most popular watermelon variants for container planting is “Bush Sugar Baby” watermelons. They have compact vines which only grows about 24 to 36 inches. They also produce good fruits that weigh about 10 to 12 pounds.
Another variety that is okay for planting in a container is “Sugar Pot”. This is a good alternative but it is rare to find the seedlings.
if you decide to opt for normal-sized watermelons, be prepared to create enough space, use large containers and trellises and water vigorously.
Location, lighting and climate
Watermelon loves warm temperatures up to 80°F, it allows for faster growth and produces the best and juicy watermelons. This is why this fruit is popular in tropical countries.
Watermelons can also survive in cool regions if they’re started indoors and kept warm before they’re transplanted.
Watermelons are sun-loving plants, so ensure that your plant gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight with no obstruction. Put your container in the sunniest spots in your garden.
Nursery and transplanting
There are two major ways of planting watermelon: planting from seeds or transplanting already established seedlings.
When planting seeds, make sure the soil is warm enough and plant at least 1 inch deep. Planting with seedlings works because you can plant the exact variety you want, but you have to wait about 2 to 3 weeks before it sprouts. It is also less expensive to plant from seeds.
When using seedlings, always check the seed packets for guidelines on how to plant your watermelon variety.
For already established transplants, take care when transferring them to a container in your garden. Strawberry roots are sensitive to depth, so transplant them at the same depth they were in their nursery.
Containers and spacing
Watermelon plants love their space, keep this in mind when planting your watermelon. Get a container that can hold about 7 to 10 gallons of soil, at least 18 to 24 inches wide and 20 to 24 inches deep. If you opt to plant the normal-sized watermelons, you have to use containers and spacing twice as much as the given dimensions since they occupy more space.
Also, ensure that your containers have enough holes at their base to allow for proper drainage.
Loamy, rich and well-draining but moisture-holding soil is the best soil choice for planting watermelons. Though it is not picky, a good soil mix that provides the necessary nutrients will give your strawberries a good foundation to grow in.
You can use a standard vegetable potting mix, but it’s a rule of thumb to enrich the soil before planting. Mix soil well with compost and other soil additives like coco coir and coco peat to provide enough nutrients for your watermelon because watermelons are heavy feeders and need a lot of plant food.
Watermelons are nitrogen loving plants that also need a good amount of phosphorus and potassium. When planting begins, fertilize them regularly with plat food containing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in a ratio of 10:10:10.
As soon as it starts to flower and fruits, reduce the amount of nitrogen given in a ratio of 5:10:10, as nitrogen might affect the fruiting and flowering.
Watermelons are made up of 90% water, so you know they need to be watered heavily. When watering your melons, drench the soil deeply. This is why it’s important to ensure that your containers have good drainage.
Moist soil keeps your watermelons happy and fruitful. Water twice a day even when it’s raining. You’re more at risk of underwatering your watermelon plants than overwatering them, especially during the warmer months.
Once your watermelon fruits start ripening, increase the time between waterings to encourage more sugar production and sweeter fruits.
Diseases and pest
These are common pests and diseases affecting watermelon plants:
● Cucumber Beetles
● Fusarium Wilt
Watermelons and other fruits are bait for insects and birds, so protect your fruits as they start to form. Some gardeners shield the young fruits with gauze to hide them from pests.
Harvest and storage
The harvesting is the most important part of watermelon planting, it’s the part every gardener looks forward to. Harvest watermelons when they are fully ripe as they don’t ripen after they’ve been plucked unripe. You should watch your melons closely as the fruits grow bigger and start to ripen.
Here’s how to know that your watermelon is ready for harvest:
● The stripes on the fruits change to a lighter color as the flesh of the fruits fades from a deep to a lighter green.
● Check the underside of the fruits for cream-colored patches that signify that the fruit is ripe for plucking (best sign to watch out for).
● Seasoned gardeners use the “thump test” but you might miss it if you’re not experienced. Thump on the watermelon and if it gives off a hollow sound, it is ready for harvest.
Growing watermelons in containers can be fun and simple!
Share your container watermelon planting journey with us.