How to Care for Your Watermelon Plant

Growing a watermelon plant is fun and rewarding. How can you help your plant thrive to maximize the harvest?

Watermelon is a flavorful summertime fruit that everyone enjoys. If you consider growing your own watermelons, make sure you have a spot with a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day and warm nights available.

The watermelon is an expansive, prostrate vine with broad, lobed leaves that have a rough, hairy appearance. In the middle to end of the summer, they blossom with yellow flowers. The thick-rinded, delectable fruits mature swiftly for harvest in late summer and early autumn.

Understanding the principles of care for these summertime delights will ensure a large and healthy watermelon harvest!

Why You Should Consider Growing It

Watermelon (citrullus lanatus) is very nutritious, low in calories, and fat-free. It is a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation. In addition to the flesh, the watermelon’s rind and seeds are also edible.

About 92 percent of a watermelon is water. Each juicy mouthful is rich in vitamin C, lycopene, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Even a little bit of potassium may be found in this fruit. Additionally, the fiber in watermelon supports a healthy digestive system and aids in maintaining regularity.

You can add slices of watermelon to fruit salads and even use the hollowed-out rind as a serving dish or basket. Nothing tastes better than a juicy piece of watermelon on a hot summer day.

a medium sized striped watermelon

Best Time to Plant

When the soil reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you can place the seeds directly into the ground to grow watermelons. If you live in an area with a colder climate and shorter growing season, start the seeds indoors 2 to 4 weeks prior to the final day of frost

Although there are short-season varieties that are ready for harvest approximately 70 days after the seedlings sprout, most watermelon varieties need 80 to 90 days to develop.

small and young green watermelon

General Care

It’s not too difficult to grow watermelons! It has a lengthy growing season and does best in warm weather, but if you allow it room to spread out, it requires very little upkeep.

Water Needs

Watermelons need 1 to 2 inches of water each week to thrive properly, much like the majority of other plants in your vegetable garden. This is crucial while the watermelon plants are producing fruit and setting seeds. Water makes approximately 92 percent of a watermelon, so keep your plants well-watered if you want a large, juicy harvest!

Amount of Sun

Once you’ve located a possible growing location that has space for 10-foot vines, you’ll want to make sure it receives adequate sunlight.

Watermelon plants demand a site with full sun, which means at least 6 hours of direct sunshine. Eight to 10 hours, or more, of direct sunshine each day, are even better.

growing watermelon in an open field


Due to their strong feeding habits, watermelon plants are likely to benefit from regular fertilizer applications. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as diluted fish emulsion, when the plants are developing their stems, leaves, and canopy. 

However, you may switch to a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus and potassium content once the plants begin to set fruit. This will aid in promoting fruit production.

Other Maintenance

The basic care advice above will assist you in growing watermelons in your yard. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind to help your watermelon plants develop even more healthily and successfully.


Mulch around your plants provides several advantages. First, it keeps weeds at bay. If weeds do begin to grow around your seedlings, pull them out carefully so as not to harm the roots of the plants.

Second, mulch prevents soil from drying out. Watermelons require moisture to thrive, so mulching to keep water in the soil is a definite benefit. Mulch also regulates the temperature surrounding your plants. Watermelons are warm-season plants, and they thrive in warm climates

Third, mulch may be put underneath ripening fruits to prevent the fruits from going bad. Nothing is worse than watching a delicious fruit ripen on your watermelon vine and then seeing it go bad.

young watermelon plant on a farm

Crop Rotation

Regularly rotating your garden’s crops as much as possible will help to stave off pests and illnesses. If possible, avoid planting watermelons in places where you grew or are planning to grow other melons or other members of the cucurbit family (winter squash, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, and pumpkins).

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
More ArticlesVegetables and Fruits