Tips for Growing Watermelon in Containers

My Garden Life
June 15, 2022
Table of Contents
We have all the tips you need for growing watermelon in containers. If you love fresh, cold watermelon but limited available gardening space has you thinking that you can’t grow your own, take heart. By growing watermelon in pots, you can enjoy this summer favorite picked fresh from the vine even if your available space is limited to a patio or balcony.

Do Watermelons Grow Well in Pots?

watermelon plant growing in a half-barrel with one small watermelon developing on the vine
Watermelons grow well in pots if you select the right variety, use a large enough container filled with good soil and find a location that gets enough sun.
For each plant, you’ll need a container or pot that will hold at least five gallons of soil. Make sure your pots have drainage holes. The soil you use should be a high-quality potting or raised bed garden mix. Watermelon vines thrive in loose, aerated soil like you’ll find in a good organic mix.
Watermelon planted in shady areas will either produce fruit with poor flavor quality or no fruit at all. For best results, find a location for your crop that gets direct sunlight for eight or more hours daily.
delicious slices of red and yellow watermelon with larger watermelon halves in the background
Watermelon varieties that produce smaller fruits are the best selections for container gardening. They include:

Planting Watermelon in Pots

a tray of watermelon seedlings in starter pots
The first thing to know about planting watermelon in pots is that you should always start them from seeds. Young watermelon plants have very tender roots that are easily damaged when transplanted. When getting ready to plant your watermelon seeds, pay attention to the length of the seeds. You’ll want to plant them in a hole that is around three times deeper than the seed’s length. Plant three seeds per container, each in its own hole. When the seedlings appear and are doing well, thin the plants, leaving only the healthiest one in each pot.
Don’t plant watermelon seeds outdoors until the last frost date for your area has passed. If you want to get an early start on the growing season, you can leave your seeded containers indoors until it’s safe to move them outside.
Another option is to start your watermelon seeds indoors in small biodegradable peat pots, then move them to their larger outdoor containers after the frost danger has passed. This type of transplanting will not damage the roots because you’ll be planting the entire peat pot containing your seedling in the larger container. Peat pots decay, adding nutrients to the soil.

Growing Watermelon in Containers

person with a watering can watering vegetable plants
Growing watermelon in pots or other containers requires some daily maintenance. Watermelon plants in containers need to be watered every day to produce juicy, healthy fruits. If the temperature in your area stays below 80 degrees, a deep watering once daily should be enough. For warmer environments, you may need to water in the morning and evening.
gloved hands scooping granulated fertilizer from a jar to feed potted plants
Because nutrients in container soil tend to leach out more quickly than they do in a garden, and because watermelon plants need those nutrients to produce fruit, you may need to apply liquid fertilizer or compost weekly. Be careful, as over-fertilization can damage your plants. For helpful information about feeding plants in containers, the University of Minnesota’s Extension Office offers some helpful tips. Also, be sure to follow the label instructions when applying fertilizer.

How to Grow Watermelons in a Small Space

watermelon plant growing on a rope mesh trellis with one small watermelon developing
To grow watermelons in a small space, you sometimes need to do a bit of engineering. Installing a trellis is a good solution. As your plants grow, train them by intertwining the vines into your trellis. Also, even the smaller watermelon varieties produce heavy fruit. You may need to provide the melons with some support as they mature on the vine.
a small watermelon on the vine being cradled by a fabric mesh hammock
You can make watermelon hammocks out of materials that stretch, like old t-shirts, plastic mesh or hosiery. Tie the ends of the material to the trellis on either side of the melon, then rest the fruit in the middle. As the melon grows and becomes heavier, the material stretches with it and provides continuous support.

Enjoy Your Fresh Watermelon!

small watermelon and a watermelon slice on a rustic wooden table
Even with limited gardening space, you can grow your own watermelon using these tips and enjoy the fresh fruit on those hot summer days. If you have bright sunlight, are willing to feed and water regularly, and provide your plants with the means to grow vertically, you’re good to go. You can expect to get two to four watermelons per plant when they mature.
There are many options for growing herbs and vegetables in containers. It’s all about choosing varieties that adapt well to growing in a pot. Use our article, Growing Vegetables in Pots, as a guide for creating a diverse edibles garden using just containers.
hand watering large pots of tomato plants with a garden hose

10 Comments

  1. Erik

    I’m trying to grow “early girl” watermelon in Fairbanks Alaska.
    We get lots of sun, temps are low.
    They are supposed to produce in 65 days.
    I’ve planted them in containers with lots of fertilizer.
    Any tips?

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Eric,
      One thing for you to consider: while watermelon plants may survive a cold snap as low as 40°F, they grow best when temperatures are consistently in the range of 70-95°F. You mention that the temperatures in your area are low, so try to grow your watermelon plants in the warmest, sunniest location you can provide. A location that receives at least 8 hours of direct sun each day is ideal. Even though little early melons have a short harvest season, they still need warm weather to grow and set flowers, and for melons to develop properly. Melon sweetness is also affected by sunlight.

      If you are growing your plants in the ground, one technique for raising the temperature around melon plants is to cover rows using black landscape fabric and cut holes where you want to plant. The black fabric will elevate the temperature around the plants and help keep the ground temperature warm as well.

      Reply
  2. Tony G

    how big do watermelon get from pots

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Tony,
      The mature watermelon size depends on the variety you are growing. As we suggest in the article, you might get the best results from growing smaller varieties, like ‘Mini Love’ or ‘Sugar Baby’, when growing watermelon in containers. These would likely provide you with melons in the range of 3-6 pounds.

      Reply
  3. Milton

    Not been able to successfully harvest watermelon because they become soft when not mature and drop off

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Milton,
      There are a variety of reason a watermelon plant might drop young fruits including, stress factors such as over or underwatering, too much sun on the melon, and high heat. Disease is another possibility. If you are growing in containers, it’s especially important to maintain consistent soil moisture during melon development. If the pot isn’t large enough the plant roots may have become compacted and are now cutting off circulation. This results in water stress since the compressed roots can no longer uptake water.

      Reply
  4. Tamatha Harrison

    How many times will the plant produce watermelons..

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Tamatha,
      According to the watermelon experts at watermelon.org, assuming optimal growing conditions, you can expect two harvests of 2-3 melons per plant.

      Reply
  5. Trayson Bartholomew

    Hi, I got some sort of dwarf watermelon recently and have planted it in a wooden planter outside so that it could get more sun. Fall is approaching however and because I live in Western Washington and am fear full that it will die seeing as it’s still very small, I was wondering if I should pot it again and move it inside as an attempt to save it, or will the watermelon just die anyways after a few months?

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Trayson,
      If left outdoors your watermelon seedling will likely die the first time the temperature drops below freezing. If it’s a choice between letting it die and bringing it indoors, it might be fun to experiment and try keeping it alive for a few months until you can return it to the outdoors in the spring, after all danger of frost is past. A bright location will be critical for its survival indoors. Placing it near a west or south-facing window would give it the best chance, or you could consider artificial lighting.

      Reply

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