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Botanical name: Citrullus lanatus

Plant type: Fruit

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy

Everyone seems to love juicy watermelon in the summertime. Native to Africa, melons need warm temperatures (up to 80 degrees during the day) and a long growing season. Gardeners in colder climates can still have success in growing watermelon by starting seeds indoors and choosing short-season varieties. Days to maturity range from 70 to 90, depending on the variety.


  • If you live in warmer climes, you can direct sow seeds outdoors, but wait until the soil temperature warms to at least 70 degrees to avoid poor germination.
  • Watermelon vines are very tender and should not be transplanted until all danger of frost has passed. (To be safe, wait at least two weeks past your last frost date.)
  • If you are in a cooler zone, start seeds indoors about a month before transplanting. 
  • Amend soil with aged manure or compost before planting. Watermelons are heavy feeders.
  • Watermelons prefer a soil pH between 6 and 6.8.
  • Growing the vines in raised rows, known as hills, ensures good drainage and will hold the sun’s heat longer. Space the plants about 2 feet apart in a 5-foot-wide hill. 
  • If you're growing in rows, space 6 feet apart by 6 feet apart. 
  • Watermelons like loamy, well-drained soil. Handle them gently when you transplant. 
  • After you transplant, cover the plants with row covers to keep pests at bay. You'll remove the row covers when you see both male and female flowers on the vine.


  • Mulching with black plastic will serve multiple purposes: it will warm the soil, hinder weed growth and keep developing fruits clean.
  • While melon plants are growing, blooming, and setting fruit, they need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Water at the vine's base in the morning, and try to avoid wetting the leaves and avoid overhead watering. Reduce watering once fruit are growing. Dry weather produces the sweetest melon.
  • Pruning isn't necessary, but vine productivity may be improved if you do not allow lateral (side) vines to grow and stick to the main vine. When the plant is young, just cut off the end buds as they form (before the side shoots become vines). You can also pinch off some blossoms to focus the energy on fewer melons (though it's a challenge to kill off a potential fruit!).
  • Vines produce male and female flowers separately on the same plant. They often begin producing male flowers several weeks before the females appear. Do not be concerned if the male flowers fall off. The female flowers (which have a swollen bulb at the base) will stay on the vine and bear fruit.
  • Blossoms require pollination to set fruit, so be kind to the bees! 
  • As fruit is ripening, prevent rotting by gently lifting it and putting some cardboard or straw between the fruit and the soil.



Watermelons don’t sweeten after they are picked, so harvest time is important. They generally ripen over two weeks so keep you eye on them.

Dr. Bill Rhodes, professor of horticulture at Clemson University, offers the following advice on how to tell if watermelons are ripe:

  • Thump it. If the watermelon sounds hollow, it's ripe.
  • Look at the color on the top. The watermelon is ripe when there is little contrast between the stripes.
  • Look at the color on the bottom. A green watermelon will have a white bottom; a ripe melon will have a cream- or yellow-colored bottom.
  • Press on it. If the watermelon sounds like it gives a little, it's ripe. (Rhodes doesn't like this method because it can ruin the quality of the fruit.)
  • Check the tendril. If it's green, wait. If it’s half-dead, the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe. If the tendril is fully dead, it's ripe or overripe; it’s not going to get any riper, so you might as well pick!
  • Stems should be cut with a sharp knife close to the fruit.
  • Watermelons can be stored uncut for about 10 days. If cut, they can last in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Wrap tightly in plastic.

Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Sugar Baby’ 80 days to maturity. Produces 10-pound melons with bright red flesh. This variety of smaller fruit can be planted just 4 feet apart.
  • ‘Sweet Beauty’ 80 days to maturity. A 2004 All-America Selection. Bears 6-pound, oblong melons with red flesh.
  • ‘Golden Midget’ 70 days to maturity. Bears petite, yellow-skinned 3-pound melons with pink flesh. Good for Northern gardeners.


Wit & Wisdom

What’s in a name? Watermelon is 90% water.

The pumpkin vine never bears watermelons.


I live here in South Florida,

By Charles Goldy on April 20

I live here in South Florida, Zone 10,
I planted watermelon 1 month ago, March, I have a nice vine growing now. How much direct sun should this plant get? Should I have it grow on the ground or set up a trellis?

Watermelons grow in full Sun

By Almanac Staff on April 22

Watermelons grow in full Sun and love hot, humid weather and light, moist, fertile, well-draining soil. During harvest, watermelons must be shaded from burning sunlight to minimize heating and sunburn. The dense leaves help provide that shade.
Many people just grow the melons on the ground, however trellising would improve air circulation and reduce disease problems. If growing melons on a trellis, support fruit with slings made from netting, fabric, or pantyhose. Choose a smaller-fruited variety for trellising.

I have planted water melons

By Muyonga Dickson

I have planted water melons at the Kenyan coast.They're turning yellow before even growing fruits.What can i do to remedy this?

Newbie here. Have started

By Courtntx

Newbie here. Have started seedlings indoors and done built our raised boxes. Live outside of Houston Texas. We have 4 4x4 boxes, and We did kind of a wrap around box that is 8 ft on left and right and 24 feet in the back but 2 ft wide. Wanting to know best place to plant what where. I am doing watermelon and cantaloupe. was hoping the long 24 ft but 2 feet wide with maybe a trellises on the back would be enough room but doubting myself. Cucumbers I thought would go in its own 4x4 box. And then we also have tomatoes, onions, broccoli, carrots, green beans. I am maybe wanting to do another box of undecided size for strawberries, and maybe blueberries if they grow well here. My boyfriend, wants to get the miracle grow soil, and I want reassurance that is enough fertilizer and whatever is needed to use for soil and I am digging up the ground beneath the boxes to get rocks,grass and roots out. And we are going to use newspaper and cardboard to line in between. Anything you see that I shouldn't do or make any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks in advance. :)

You can use trellises for the

By Almanac Staff

You can use trellises for the vining melons and the cucumbers. Just be aware that the melons may need extra support when the fruit starts developing. Cucumbers will do well on a trellis. Mix compost and/or aged manure into the soil in the raised beds. Make sure that the soil drains well. During the growing season you can add more compost or use fertilizers for the specific needs of the different veggies and berries. Note that blueberries need acidic soil.
almanac.com/content/raised-garden-beds-how-build has more information about raised bed gardening.

What is the best soil for

By Matt Ron

What is the best soil for growing watermelons? I hear sandy type soil, but I never heard anyone mention the names of the soil, and where it can be purchased? Example, can you give me an example of sandy type soil? What other minerals need to be added?


Hi Matt, Watermelons like

By Almanac Staff

Hi Matt,

  • Watermelons like rich soil that drains well. Amend the soil with aged manure or compost before planting. If you have clay soil you can mix some sand into it. Watermelons are heavy feeders and prefer a soil pH between 6 and 6.8.

I live in kenya, coast

By Benard

I live in kenya, coast province, specifically kilifi. I want to plant watermelon. when is the right time to do that

the right time would be just

By Levi Simiyu

the right time would be just before the end of the short rains to allow for germination and early vegetative growth using available rainwater .
For more info contact me at siyulesi@gmail.com. Am in Kitale Kenya working as an agronomist.

approximadetly how many

By sonny lopez

approximadetly how many watermelon plants can you grow in 1 acre of land how many fruits does each plant harvest ,thank you

The fruit size of a

By Almanac Staff

The fruit size of a watermelon varies from 5 to 30 pounds, depending on variety. See this page for more information about producing watermelons for market:


I am presently in Nigeria and

By Adewale Oke

I am presently in Nigeria and about to start watermelon for the first time. Is this the right time for me to start planting. Here we have two seasons(Rainy season and Dry Season). We are presently in the dry season when we have much sunlight and higher temperature. is it compulsory I have to raise them in the nursery before transplanting them?

i grew my mellons five days

By lawi ngetich

i grew my mellons five days ago,which pesticides should i use and when.

Does underground salty water

By dennis paschal

Does underground salty water suitable for watering watermelon?

No . They will not grow if

By Mark Bohrer

No . They will not grow if the water has too much salt . Even ground water .

I am planning on planting

By Anne K.

I am planning on planting water melon here in Kenya however my concern is the climate of the area i want to farm. Its at the foot of Mt. Kenya and the temperatures are very low and especially during the rainy season. Generally its a cold place. Would watermelons do well in such climate? What advice would you give to a first time farmer like me and considering the climate i intend to work under.

Thank you. Will be grateful for the feedback.

I would like to see the video

By willie James Wilburn on April 21

I would like to see the video on the square watermelon, or how , or what to use to make it that way...

No . Watermelons want a warm

By Mark Bohrer

No . Watermelons want a warm climate ..21-37 c. If you would like to grow a crop there . Just tell me a few things about your farm . Exposure when is you longest day of the year . When is your rainy season . When is your dry season water source ? Flat or hillside ? Mark

Hi I'm trying growing

By achapa vincent

Hi I'm trying growing watermelons in the greenhouse in Kenya.The most obvious challenge here is limited space.After my first harvest,I realized I have to invest heavily in pruning.An experiment I carried out on the same revealed that watermelon can actually be made to have two stages of growth,i.e primary and secondary stage.I am still working on the research that is aimed to produce nothing but extra large fruits for competition.
I just needed to know if you can help me with some tips,please.

Hello, What is the

By Kt_US

What is the temperature in the greenhouse?
We planted seeds in April in an old bathtub in specialized vegetable soil, and the vines started coming up in the next couple of months.
You WILL need plenty of space because the vines get very long.
We also tried transplanting some of the vines and those died very quickly because they weren't watered as often, so they dried up.
We had a VERY hot summer so we had to water twice a day.

So, Miracle-Gro or fertilized soil, Plenty of sunlight, warm temperature, and water once a day. DO NOT over-water, too much and the vines will drown.

After the peak of harvest, we had some vines sprout in the soil patch of an old chicken coop. We had fed them some rinds and they digested the seeds!

Good luck. I am also looking to try a greenhouse for watermelon. Let me know the results!

I'm growing watermelons for

By Poe Dean

I'm growing watermelons for the first time and i think i'm doing o.k. After so many weeks i finally got my first watermelon fruit growing. As it's growing bigger i'm starting to wonder if i actually did do o.k because it's growing like the shape of a pear. What does that mean?

Usually, an odd melon shape

By Almanac Staff

Usually, an odd melon shape is related to poor pollination which can happen because of weather conditions, lack of bees, or too little pollination. You can always try pollinating by hand by using a Q-tip to transfer pollen from the male to female flower.

Thanks alot for the tips.Iam

By Aidah walakira

Thanks alot for the tips.Iam anew farmer and planted my watermelon this season,I didn't know anything about watermelon growing but just planted as a test.

It is mid September and my


It is mid September and my watermelon are not ripe yet? It is starting to get cool and I am worried that my babies might go bad before they ripen. They are in great sun and morning temps are in 60's for now. When should I get worried?

Watermelons require a longer

By Almanac Staff

Watermelons require a longer growing season with constant warm temperatures--which is why the plant favors the southern regions and can be a challenge to grow in northern regions. At this point, you can try to cut back any leaves that block the sun and stop providing water to speed up the ripening process. However, the day length is shortening as we near the autumnal equinox and nature is taking its course.
If you try again next year, you've gained some learning. Consider using transplants and selecting early varieties with short growing seasons. Mulch with black plastic film to warm the soil. Use floating row covers to protect from cooler temps.

I mistakenly cut the vine of

By JoEllen

I mistakenly cut the vine of my watermelon. Is there any chance I can get the vine to stay alive until the melon ripens? If so, what should I do?

Did you completely cut the

By Almanac Staff

Did you completely cut the main vine? If so, there's not much you can do. The watermelon can no longer receive the nourishment and water and will stop growing. If it's just a slit, then you could try some pine tree gum and duct tape!

Yes, unfortunately it's all

By JoEllen

Yes, unfortunately it's all the way through. I figured there wouldn't be anything I could do. Thank you very much for replying. I'll be much more careful in the future. :)

My watermelons are getting

By gardner_jones

My watermelons are getting big, about the size of a cantaloupe, but none have stripes. I think I have 'Sugar Baby' watermelons. Does that variety get stripes?

Sweet Baby Watermelon has

By Almanac Staff

Sweet Baby Watermelon has district stripes when immature and become almost black when ripe.  A Bush Sugar Baby has a dark green rind with no stripes.

My watermelons never seem to

By Jennifer T

My watermelons never seem to ripen. I keep checking them but no ripe melons. I have had actual melons growing for 4 months. Cut them open and still not rip. This happens every year. What am I not doing? Can't seem to grow radishes either. Thanks.

We can only suspect the

By Almanac Staff

We can only suspect the weather conditions. Melons need heat to ripen properly. Cool cloudy weather in the spring will slow down thier development. Also, have you used plenty of fertilizer and water? Watermelon plants are heavy feeders.

You provide spectacular

By Jodi N.

You provide spectacular information on this website. Thank you for your help!

How many melons can be

By Javy

How many melons can be harvest from a single vine. This is my first time gardening watermelons. I have followed every step one by one. I lived in Puerto Rico and the temperature is aroumd 90 degrees all year around.

There are lots of opinions

By Almanac Staff

There are lots of opinions about how many watermelons to expect—or let grow—on one vine. Consider that if several fruits get started, it might be to your benefit to remove the weakest or smallest ones, so that a few do very well. Of course, in your environment, many may do very well. Watch your plants and decide as they appear and grow.

I have a lot of watermelons,

By Shirley12

I have a lot of watermelons, some that are older than others are smaller than the newer ones? And I can't figure out when they will be ready to harvest? They have been growing for a couple months now and they are still white on the bottom?

Water melon do not slip from

By Almanac Staff

Water melon do not slip from the vine or give off an odor to indicate they they are ripe. People use all kinds of methods: First, check your seed packet for the number of days to maturity, consider when you planted these and count the days since then. Some say that a "waxy" rind means a watermelon is ripe. The "thump" test involves knocking on the rind with a knuckle and listening for a dull, muffled sound. (Some say a watermelon always sounds dull and muffled when rapped that way.) White colr means only that that side was away from the sun.
When you harvest your melon, cut it from the stem, do not pull it, and do it in the morning.

My volunteer melon was

By grammamil

My volunteer melon was growing well, until placed on a flat brick. It grew for a.couple of days, then stopped. I checked the bottom and it had split. What happened?

Oh, so sorry to hear.

By Almanac Staff

Oh, so sorry to hear. Typically excessive watering or heavy rain will cause a ripening watermelon to split.
The rule of thumb is water less as the melon is ripening; this improves flavor.

hi. I live in south Texas and

By Keyanna

hi. I live in south Texas and it's my first time planting watermelon, and I was wondering how you could keep bugs away and some tips. thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

how offten should i water the

By louise johnson 1956

how offten should i water the melons when they have gotten a little big but not ready to come off yet.

Water your melons until one

By Almanac Staff

Water your melons until one week or so before you're ready to harvest. At this point, stop watering in order to sweeten the melon's taste. The same goes for feeding/fertilizer.

I am a first time grower and

By Gigi0430

I am a first time grower and just realized that I will need to hand pollinate. I have three females that are getting ready to flower. If the pollination takes, is it too late for them to grow and ripen before fall? I live in northern Ohio so we can never tell if we will have an early autumn or not.

I pollinated the females and

By Gigi0430

I pollinated the females and now have 5 melons growing! I have plenty of bees but they aren't interested. Will they have time to ripen before fall?

If your melons are growing,

By Almanac Staff

If your melons are growing, the bees already did their job pollinating. Check your seed packet for days to maturity to get a sense of timing.

I am growing where there

By In Demand Organics on April 8

I am growing where there really arent any bees . . . is the only way to get watermelon to pollinate them myself with a Q-tip?

You can use a Q-tip or select

By Almanac Staff on April 9

You can use a Q-tip or select a newly opened male flower and gently remove the petals surrounding the male stamens. Brush them against a nearby female flower 10 to 15 times. Hand pollination requires patience and may be effective only 50 percent of the time; bees are a far more effective option. Also, research shows that hand pollination is most effective between 6am and 9am.

Or bugs for the matter?

By JordanRW

Or bugs for the matter?

I did not pollinate my

By JordanRW

I did not pollinate my flowers and they are bearing fruit! Do you not have bee's in Ohio?

I have four boys who wanted

By WendiV143

I have four boys who wanted to try planting something from seed, so last fall I was busy and gave them some watermelon seeds from the watermelon we had gotten at the store. Well, we now have a watermelon plant with about six watermelon on them. I have been reading the posts and have gotten most of my answers but I still have one. Should I try to expose the watermelon that are under the foliage or just let them sit where they are? Thanks!

I am a grower as well and

By JordanRW

I am a grower as well and have not heard if moving the melon helps or not. However while weed picking, I typically rearrange the vines to expose the fruit and even sometimes rotate them. I have not seen a negative effect from doing this.

Sun on the melon is not as

By Almanac Staff

Sun on the melon is not as important as sun on the plant. Leave it go for now and give the plant lots of water, a drip hose, if possible, except of course when it rains. If you have several melon on the same vine, you might have better luck with one strong one by sacrificing the others.

I live in New York. This is

By BCohen

I live in New York. This is my first time planting watermelon. We started getting male flowers last week, but the female flowers haven't opened yet. How long does it take for them to bloom?

Every seventh flower on a

By Almanac Staff

Every seventh flower on a plant vine is female. Flowers open one to two hours after sunrise and female flowers are receptive to pollen throughout the day, although usually pollination occurs by noon. Flowers close in the afternoon and never reopen, pollinated or not.

How long from flowering stage

By Tomoscalini

How long from flowering stage to ripe fruit?

I live in Tennessee & i

By dorothy brasel

I live in Tennessee & i bought 6 watermelon plants in June. I planted them on June 5. When should i expect to see watermelon start to come out. There are many yellow flowers on there, but all I see is more male them female. I think there is about 8 male two females. The vines are around 3 to 5 feet long. Thank U,

The male flowers, which open

By Almanac Staff

The male flowers, which open first, will often fall off. The female flowers will follow about a week later so if you have a couple, you're on your way. Both flowers need to open at the same time in the morning with nice warm weather conditions so that your bees can pollinate them. 

I rotate my watermelon

By Melonhead2808

I rotate my watermelon (carefully); will I still have a white or yellow mark on the bottom?

We do not advise that turn

By Almanac Staff

We do not advise that turn your watermelon or you risk having the vine snap. It is better to place a flat rock, board, or hay underneath the melon to avoid rot or pests.

I planted melon and its grow

By Salam Rahmon Amobi

I planted melon and its grow well,i counted like 8 melon and funy part is everything was turn black.what will the way out?.

I want to grow square

By Mark Villafane

I want to grow square watermelons by putting them in square plastic bins. Does the plastic need to be clear? , does the fruit need sun or just the leaves?
I have the same question for pumpkins.

Hi, Mark, See a video on how

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Mark, See a video on how to grow square watermelons by Almanac editor Janice Stillman here: http://www.almanac.com/video/how-grow-square-watermelon

Have one acre of land in the

By Franco Ochola

Have one acre of land in the Northern region of Uganda. Just inquiring what type of watermelon can do well their. Secondly, Like how many harvests can be made on a single melon plant.

Please advise.

Sorry, Franco. We are a North

By Almanac Staff

Sorry, Franco. We are a North American publication and only know about our regions. We harvest two to three fruit per plant.

This is my first time growing

By Lakisha Webster

This is my first time growing watermelons and i just planted the seeds a week ago and there are buds already is that normal? because i am pretty excited right now .

Hi Lakisha, If the soil is

By Almanac Staff

Hi Lakisha, If the soil is nice and warm, watermelon four to six days to emerge. Make sure you keep up the watering (see above) and have plenty of compost for them. Watermelon is a heavy "feeder"!

am a Nigerian, i planted

By udobang Inemeno

am a Nigerian, i planted watermelon, seeds were treated, soil well drained loam. i discoverer that at the point of bearing fruit, when it bore the fruit where becoming soft and decaying at very tender point. am losing out. need some help please, thanks for your assitance

Could you have bloom rot?

By watermelon

Could you have bloom rot?

Blossom-end rot is a common

By Almanac Staff

Blossom-end rot is a common problem. It's caused by a calcium deficiency during fruit development. Avoid Watermelons by providing very steady watering throughout the season--usually, about one inch per week.

Hi, I wish to know how many

By Julius Lubanga

I wish to know how many seeds of water mwlon can be planted in one acre and how many fruits can be harvested on one plant.

from 1 to 4 seeds

By saeed

from 1 to 4 seeds

what kind of plant food do I

By david j

what kind of plant food do I need for growing watermelon?

Watermelons sing summer,

By Almanac Staff

Watermelons sing summer, don't they?
Before your plants flower, use a high nitrogen fertilizer. Once flowers emerge, switch to a fertilizer with less nitrogen and lots of potassium and phosphorus. Liquid seaweed is a good choice.

What are the best companions

By cornbread23

What are the best companions for melons in the garden?

All of the following are good

By Almanac Staff

All of the following are good companions for watermelon: nasturtiums, marigolds, oregano, basil, radishes, corn, and pumpkins.

how fast will my watermelons

By dave evans

how fast will my watermelons grow once they come out of the ground. when will they start to vine etc. pleasegive me a month . update on what I am looking foe.
first time grower

Hi, Dave, It's not possible

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Dave, It's not possible for us to give you this kind of schedule. There are too many variables. Ask around where you got your seeds or transplant; someone there may have grown this variety of watermelon in the past and can draw on their experience. Even with that, you have to consider weather, the quality of your soil, your growing season (number of days of optimum conditions) vs the growing time needed for your chosen variety...among other things. Good luck!

Can I add compost on top Of

By Anonymous

Can I add compost on top Of the planted seeds? Or will it affect it?

Check you package directions

By Almanac Staff

Check you package directions to see how deep the seeds should be planted. You don't want to pile on and make the seed struggle unnecessarily. You could spread compost near the seeds, or better: Wait for the seedings to become established (several inches tall) and sprinkle compost around them then.

Sugar baby watermelon question

By Anonymous

I just planted My sugarbaby watermelons outside. But I forgot to add compost to the mixture. Do you think it will be alright and grow big and healthy? It is my first time growing this and I just read the instructions on the back of the seed package. I hope they will be alright.

Compost is only one of the

By Almanac Staff

Compost is only one of the factors involved in your plants growing big and healthy. Once the plants firmly establish themselves in the soil, you can sprinkle compost around the stems. Do that a few times during the growing season, increasing the amount each time.
Next time, put down and mix compost into your soil FIRST. (Have you started a compost pile? are you aging manure in a pile for use next season?? These are things you can do year round--and so always have healthy soil for your plants.)

First time watermelon grower

By Anonymous

OK, I am a first time watermelon grower. My question is #1 I don't have compost can I use regular potting soil ,if not can I use regular garden soil ? I live in central Fl. and the soil here is very sandy #2 I'm only growing some for me and my husband and maybe a couple of neighbors so can I plant my seeds along my fence? #3 Can I make the hills a little closer than 3 to 7 feet apart? Is there anything else other than whats on the package that I should know?

first-time watermelon

By Almanac Staff

You can use the soil you describe but you probably will not have great results. Sand does not hold water; water filters through it. "Water"melon plants need quite a bit of water as they grow; if there is no soil to hold the water around the plant's roots, you will be watering all the time (almost literally).
If you are going to buy regular potting soil, as you describe, ask at the place you buy it if they have compost. It usually is available in 20- to 40-pound or so bags. (You do not have to use fresh from the farm compost.) You can mix the compost with potting soil. How much?? Maybe 50-50. The goal is to have "soil" with ingredients that hold moisture. (This is desirable for almost any plant, certainly edibles. Many tropicals or types of plants that you see thriving around you in the sandy soil would not do well in compost because they like the dryness that sand enables.)
As to the fence and hills, sure. Those decisions are secondary to the soil. And, by the way, sun. Do not plant the watermelon in shade. It needs about 8 hours of sun per day.
We hope this helps. Good luck!

is it okay

By Anonymous

is it okay to plant it on a base ?

Your question is not clear,

By Almanac Staff

Your question is not clear, but by "base" if you mean a stump or other firm surface, no. The roots need some place to go.

Pink Flesh

By Anonymous

I have had a garden for two years. Planted Crimson Sweet both years,have gotten 5 melons last year 4 this year. I look for the bottom side to turn yellow or cream, I had 2 that were almost the same green color all over. But when I cut them open, only 3 of all of them were red inside, all the others were pink. What did I miss to know when to pick the ripe ones.

how to tell if it is ripe...

By Anonymous

The main ways to check and see if your watermelon is ripe is by checking the tendril (the one little vine that looks like a piggy tail closest to the watermelon). The tendril should be completely brown. Also there is another leaf that you should check on the vine. It is called the spoon leaf. This leaf is just a small cup shaped leaf and if it is also located near the watermelon. This leaf should also be brown and dead. If both of those leaves/vines are dead then the watermelon should be ripe. I hope this helps :)

Lots of gardeners have a

By Sarah Perreault

Lots of gardeners have a difficult time determining when watermelons are ripe. Use a combination of the following tips:
light green, curly tendrils on the stem near the point of attachment of the melon turn brown and dry
the surface color of the melon where it was once powdery or slick takes on a dull look
the skin resists penetration by a fingernail and is rough to the touch
the bottom of the melon (where it lies on the soil) turns from light green to rich yellow


By Anonymous

We are first timers and have a beautiful watermelon plant. There are blooms, and some fruit has started. The only problem is, our fruit will get about thumb size, and the bloom will turn brown, and a few days later the fruit starts to turn black. This has happened with all 6 watermelons. We are in a severe drought this year, and I water my plant 3 times a day. Am I over watering or is it something else? Is there a way to save future fruit that may come on this plant? Nothing else is planted, just this one plant. We are hoping to get at least 1 watermelon off this plant since our daughter brought it home from school in early April.

Several folks have had this

By Almanac Staff

Several folks have had this problem this year (read some below). Your plant probably has a fungus. This can be brought on/introduced several ways; one common one is failure to rotate crops. Curcubits, such as watermelon, should be rotated properly with other crops and not return to the same place/soil in the garden for at least 3 years.
So,okay, you say, you’ve rotated or maybe this is your first year with watermelon. The fungus overwinters in the soil from a previous vine crop. It might be carried by a cucumber beetle. And frequent rains (or watering; you might be giving it too much) can help to spread the fungus. Some sources suggest spraying plants. Certainly some fertilizer—chemical or organic—can help a struggling plant; try it. Can’t hurt. (BTW, I recently heard a farmer observe: If we all drank just water, we’d grow some but we’d be thin and unhealthy.)
If possible, in future, grow cultivars that are resistant to fungus, and control weed growth.
We hope your daughter is not discouraged by this experience. Next year, try a few more kinds of plants. The chance of having greater success is more likely.
Then go to a farmer’s market and buy one, and ask the local grower what he would do or thinks was the problem, too. Sometimes, local conditions indicate more than we can know from here.

watermelon black spot and drying up

By Anonymous

I am new to this but I have some water melon that are about the size of a football but some are shrivleing up at the end not where the stem is but the opposite side and another one has a black spot in the same place at the very end what is this from and what can I do to save my plants please help.....

it sounds like flower end rot

By Anonymous

it sounds like flower end rot to me. I had it really bad on my tomatoes last year. it's aparently common to tomatoes, peppers and some squash. my research told me it was due to a calcium deficiency, and that in most cases the soil has enough calcium, but the plant is unable to absorb it usually due to not enough watering, or irregular watering. I've watered my garden more consistantly this year and have not come across any black spot, or flower end rot so far.

Bite marks

By Anonymous

I'm a first time grower and have been anxiously waiting for my watermelon plants to produce but every time I get a fruit it gets bite marks within a few days. The fruit then turns black and dies. I'm trying to figure out what the pest could be. I have eggplants and cucumbers that haven't had this problem. Also I have some watermelons that are off around level that are doing fine. Please help!

Bite marks

By Almanac Staff

What type of bite marks? Small, insect holes or canine tooth marks? Animal pests might include racoons, deer, crows, and coyote. They like fruits and melons. Look for tracks near the garden.
If your fruit is turning black and dying, this is usually a different problem called blossom end rot. Usually, the reason is dry weather and lack of water. Watermelon needs adequate moisture, especially as it matures.

bite marks

By Anonymous

Go to your local dollar store or costco and buy crushed red pepper and put it on the outside of your planter box or about 6-12 inches from your plant.. It will keep and of the large animals away

Definitely not an animal

By Anonymous

I have a fence surrounding the garden so I'm assuming it's an insect. It does turn black and shrivels but only the fruit that has the bites. I live in the northeast so I don't think it's aphids which are normally south.

This site suggests cucumber

By Almanac Staff

This site suggests cucumber beetles: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/tog/insect.cfm
This site suggests ticks: http://www.princeton.edu/~lawrapts/gardeningtips.html
This site suggests pickleworm: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_pests/veg_fruit/hgic2207.html

The best thing might be to camp out in the garden and keep an eye on it. And consult your local extension service. It might be something local and the experts there might be hearing about this from several people. Here's our handy list of Cooperative Extension links: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services

Black and mushy watermelon

By Anonymous

This is our first time growing watermelon, hopefully we didn't start too late. We are just getting fruit. We recently had a lot of rain in the past week and my husband just noticed that our biggest watermelon (about the size of a ping pong ball) is black and mushy on the bottom. Does anyone know if this was maybe caused by the rain we got or a possible disease? Thanks!

Sounds like black rot (unless

By Sarah Perreault

Sounds like black rot (unless it is at the blossom end of the fruit, in that case it would be blossom end rot). It is a fungus that affects much of the cucurbit family. Immediately remove the infected melon. Ensure proper drainage so that when wet weather strikes, your melons are not sitting in water. Treat the remaining plants with fungicide. Good luck!


By Anonymous

can a watermelon grow well in 55 degree weather year round ? What can I do to help it along.

No. Pumpkins need warm soils

By Almanac Staff

No. Pumpkins need warm soils (65°F at 2” soil depth) to germinate or transplant.

turning black and drying up

By Anonymous

I was excited to see 5 small watermelons starting on 3 different plants a few weeks ago, but most of those turned black and dried up. Two of them are growing, but still small like a baseball. I have seen more start, but turn black and shrivel up as well. Today I noticed a few more starting, so I am hoping they survive. What causes them to turn black and dry up? I was surprised, since some of them had been golf ball size, though most are very small, like marbles.
Thanks for your help!

turn black and shrivel

By Anonymous

Few things are as disappointing as seeing fruit shrivel and die on the vine. Hearing about it is almost as bad. Sorry to say, your watermelon is infected. The disease that your fruit appears to have is Anthracnose. It is a fungus that occurs most often when the season has been warm and there has been a lot of rain (or, possibly, watering). There are numerous steps to take to avoid this—but nothing you can do now. In future, rotate your crops (did you plant this in the same place in last year or in recent years? That is a common mistake.). Do not cultivate or touch the plants when they are wet. If, possible, grow cultivars that have a resistance to this disease. In a move to eliminate any traces of the fungus, you should completely clear the area of this plant——now or at harvest time.
Sorry the news is not better . . .
–Almanac editors

When to Harvest

By Anonymous

My watermelon has rough skin is dull and the tendril is dead as well as the tendril on both sides of it. However, the bottom of it is still white. It is growing on black weed blocker could that keep the ground spot from turning yellow. I do not want it to get to ripe

Pick it!

By Anonymous

If the tendril is dead, the melon is ready ripe. As we suggest above:
• If the tendril is green, wait.
• If it’s half-dead, the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe.
• If the tendril is fully dead, it's ripe or overripe; it’s not going to get any riper, so you might as well pick!
It is not uncommon for the bottom to be white; it doesn't get any sun!
Enjoy your fruit.
–Almanac editors

Multiple Fruit

By Anonymous

This is my 1st year growing and I have some pretty robust Georgia Rattlesnake vines with one fruit that is yellowing on the bottom so getting ready to pick. No other fruit has set except this past week now I have one that has began to grow. My question is how is the best way to pick the ripe one and keep the other growing? More specifically, reducing the watering to sweeten the ripe one without killing off the other? I'm in the high desert of California, and we see temps in the upper 90s, low 100s in the day and upper 60s at night. Thanks!

Wow—lucky you! By most

By Almanac Staff

Wow—lucky you! By most accounts, Georgia Rattlesnake is on the best tasting watermelons. We suggest that the best way to pick your near-ripe melon is...very carefully. As advised above, use a sharp knife to cut the stem close to the fruit. Be careful not to cut the vine, as it will support the next melon.

As to keeping the new fruit growing: One of our sources suggest that one fruit on the vine inhibits the setting of another plant on the same vine—as if the plant knows that it can only grow one at a time! It sounds like your plant knows that its first harvest is near. Carry on with what you are/have been doing: reduce watering when the new fruits are about the size of a baseball; when the fruit achieves that size, water only when the plant is completely dry.

It sounds like you are having a great summer, with the garden and the weather.

Thank You!

By Anonymous

Thanks for the response. Great advice and it looks like I'll have another watermelon to refine my skills (watering & harvesting).

After picking watermelon

By Anonymous

After i pick all my watermellon what do i do with my plants? This is my first year to grow watermellon.

After harvesting the

By Almanac Staff

After harvesting the watermelons, remove the plant. Clean-up the vines to keep insects and diseases from overwintering.


By Anonymous

How do I protect the watermelons from bugs since i have a few thumb sized melons started? And we're suposed to get 3 days of thunderstorms and rain will I have problems with splitting or anything else?

Compared to other crops,

By Almanac Staff

Compared to other crops, watermelons aren't usually attacked by bugs. However, if you wish to be safe, a good control is the use floating row covers for the first few weeks; you must remove the covers to allow pollination of the flowers by bees. If you spot aphids under the leaves, spray with insecticidal soap. If you spot cucumber beetles, a spray application of rotenone or sabadilla is advised, but speak to your local garden center first. Avoid watering from overhead; water at the soil line. In terms of rain, make sure your soil drains well and the roots won't stay wet. If the melon splits, pick right away and cut out the split area.

How do I pick out the watermolen?

By Anonymous

Do I pick it out of the vine or just cut the split out but still on the vine,and how do I cut out the split area?Thank You.

Pick the split melon off the

By Almanac Staff

Pick the split melon off the vine right away so it doesn't go bad. Then just cut the split out of your fruit.

How do You prune the Plants?

By Anonymous

How do You prune the Plants? Do I need to Pinch off the smaller melons ( size of a lemon)?

You do not need to prune

By Almanac Staff

You do not need to prune watermelon vines. If you want to try and grow an extra-large melon for a competition, you could cut off the lateral vines (as the best fruit is often on the main fine), but there's really no need to prune watermelon vines. You could also pinch off some of the blossoms to focus energy on less fruit.

beginner 2

By Anonymous

This my 2nd time growing melons (sweet babys)Last year I planted to late and the frost got to them. this year I planted in March and I have melon thats almost ready to pick and four more that are just beginning get larger. I been wating for the little curly do dad to dry up before I pick the first one. I'm also waiting to see the bottom of the melon turn yellow.I just read on this site to water less about once a week with two inches of water . please advise

Beginner 2

By Almanac Staff

After the fruit stops growing reduce watering and stop all watering a week or two before harvesting. This allows the flesh to crisp and the sugars to concentrate.

beginner 2

By Anonymous

Thanks for that advise. I got empatient and cut that first melon too soon,it was ony red around the seeds but still juicey, but I was still thrilled that I even have melons and will wait the full term for the next pick. I've got five more with more comining. Oh by the way I live in lancaster CA. thanks again

burned leaves

By Anonymous

I have a lovely watermelon plant that produced a huge and sweet melon then about a week later has sprouted 12 new ones. They are about thumb size now. The plant overall covers about a 4x6 wide area. My son used a mix of soap and water to spray for some aphids (I think) and now half the leaves are burned to a crisp! Should I remove those leaves? Remove some of the fruits? Leave it alone? I will be so sad to loose this plant!! Also, the plant next to it is a smaller one and has bowling ball size fruit but it also is terrible burned! Not sure if the fruit will make it with so much damage!! :(

Burned leaves

By Almanac Staff

You may have a fungal leaf disease. Symptoms begin as small yellow areas on the upper leaves and then turn brown. The entire leaf may wither and die. Remove the "burned" leaves and also remove about half of the small melons. The melons left will then have a chance to grow bigger.

burned leaves

By Anonymous

Thank you! I'm pretty sure the burn is from the spray, not any disease, based on the location and quick show up (no yellow at all, just burned on the specific sprayed areas. I'll do the removal and see what happens! thanks!


By anonymous

this is my first time growing watermelons im still unsure if im watering them enough are to much. And it has male flowers and i just saw a female flower that bloomed and has a ball on the bottom how long does it to take fully grow once the female flower starts will i see a melon grow? and do you know about pumpkin plants and honeydews?


By Almanac Staff

While melon plants are blooming and setting fruit they need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Reduce watering once fruits are growing. If the female flower is pollinated the fruit will mature in about 60-90 days depending on the variety of melon and your weather conditions.

split watermelon

By Anonymous

We did reaally well this year on watermelons we seen about 5 begin to grow but rotted off. However one did make it to about 4 pounds and when I check the garden it was split. Why is that? We have another growing and its about 1 pound and I wanna try to prevent spliting

Watermelons split when the

By Almanac Staff

Watermelons split when the plant absorbs water too fast. The watermelon will channel that extra water to the fruits (which split).
Did you get extra rain? Or perhaps too much irrigation? Cut back and water consistently. Hope this helps!

split watermelon

By Anonymous

Unfortunely the one pounder has split! We've been getting lots of thunderstorms lately and havent had to water the garden. Is it too late to start planting again?

my watermelon plant

By Anonymous

My watermelon plant fully came out. Its only growing leaves. It sheds them once and while. Is it still alive or no. Please write me back Lilly

Hi, Lilly, On watermelons,

By Catherine Boeckmann

Hi, Lilly, On watermelons, you should see flowers on the vines first (not fruit). The first flowers to appear on the vines are male. The female flowers, which open later, have a swelling at the base that forms the fruit (the ovary). After bees pollinate these female flowers, the fruit develops. Poor fruit set in watermelons is usually a result of poor pollination. Bees are necessary to transfer the pollen from the male to female bloom. Common causes of poor fruit set include lack of bees for pollinating or cool, wet
weather that slows bee activity during bloom. Also, very hot weather or water stress could be a problem.


By Anonymous

Hi! This is my first time planting a garden and we have watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, collard greens, cabbage and okra. My melons are all producing blooms but no fruit. We live in the south and the weather has been alot warmer earlier in the year and we haven't had much rain. I planted in late March and I water them every other day and use miracle grow once a week. Could you please tell me what we're doing wrong?

Melons have female and male

By Almanac Staff

Melons have female and male flowers. Bees have to transfer pollen from one to the other. 1. Check your fruit. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to see the female flowers and you'll just see male blooms. The females have swelling balls (little melons) underneath. 2. If you have female blooms and no fruit, the usual reasons are high temperatures or lack of pollinators. Do you see lots of bees in the morning visiting the flowers? If you don't have bees, you could explore hand pollinating (and planting bee plants next year!).


By Anonymous

thanks so much for your speedy response. i will continue to check my plants. i haven't seen many bees, only wasps and that could be because of the unusually high temps this year.


By cassie10654

last year I planted watermelons and I had vines galore but only a few melons developed but didnt grow very well. this year I have melons galore but they are spliting open before they are completely ripe. the heart is ripe and sweet but they are all splitting open. what can I do to stop this if I can. Its been really really hot here everyday in the 90's.

 Even though it sounds like

By Almanac Staff

 Even though it sounds like it's been hot where you are, rain can cause melons to burst before they're ripe. It depends on where you are located, too. You may have poorer gardening conditions then you had previous years. 

Watermelons Splitting

By Jhanimo

Cassie...This is happening in our garden as well!! If you received any good advice please let me know! Thanks :)


By Jamie Lollar

I do like the sugar baby watermelons. My absolute favorite is the Georgia Rattlesnake variety. Charleston gray is good also. Never cared that much for those with other than red flesh. Thanks for the ripeness tips!

Testing ripeness

By Brenda Gale

I have another option for checking ripeness. An older Hispanic man saw me struggling to pick out a watermelon at the store one day. His suggestion was to first look at the end opposite the stem end to see if the little "button" is black. That's a good thing. Then, he said to rub my fingers across the rind. If it feels sticky, it's ready. I haven't picked a bad one since he offered his wonderful advice!

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