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?
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.
Watermelon varieties that produce smaller fruits are the best selections for container gardening. They include:
- Watermelon ‘Sugar Baby’ – compact plant produces small round melons with red flesh, small black seeds and dark green skin.
- Watermelon ‘Crimson Sweet’ – disease-resistant plant produces extra sweet melons with red flesh, small black seeds and striped skin.
- Watermelon ‘Jubilee’ – traditional super sweet melons with red flesh, black seeds and striped skin.
- Watermelon ‘Moon & Stars Yellow’ – oval melons with yellow flesh, white seeds and unusual deep green skin with yellow speckles.
- Watermelon ‘Early Moonbeam’ – compact plant produces charming round melons with yellow flesh, black seeds and striped skin.
- Watermelon ‘Jade Star’ – super sweet round melons with deep red flesh, black seeds and dark green skin.
- Watermelon ‘Mini Love’ – compact plant with small round striped melons, red flesh with black seeds.
Planting Watermelon in 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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.