Image by Shinichi Sugiyama
By Heather Rhoades
Growing watermelons in containers is an excellent way for a gardener with limited space to grow these refreshing fruits. Whether you are doing balcony gardening or are simply looking for a better way to use the limited space you have, container watermelons are possible and fun. Understanding how to grow watermelon in containers successfully just requires a little bit of knowledge.
How to Grow Watermelon in Containers
Successfully growing watermelons in pots starts before you even plant your watermelon seed. You need to choose a pot that will be large enough for your container watermelon to thrive. Watermelons grow rapidly and require plenty of water, so it is recommended that you go with a 5-gallon or larger size container. Make sure that the container you will be growing watermelons in has enough drainage holes.
Fill the watermelon container with potting soil or other soilless mix. Do not use dirt from your garden. This will compact quickly in the container and will make growing watermelons in containers difficult.
Next, you need to choose a variety of watermelon that will do well in pots. When planting watermelon in pots, you need to look for a compact variety that grows small fruit. These may include:
- Moon and Stars watermelon
- Sugar Baby watermelon
- Crimson Sweet watermelon
- Early Moonbeam watermelon
- Jubilee watermelon
- Golden Midget watermelon
- Jade Star watermelon
- Millennium watermelon
- Orange Sweet watermelon
- Solitaire watermelon
Once you have selected the container watermelons you will grow, place the seed into the soil. The seed should be plant 3x deeper than it is long. Water the seed well. You can also transplant a seedling that has been started indoors into the soil. Whether you are planting seeds or a seedling, make sure that all chances of frost have passed outside.
Caring for Watermelons in a Pot
Once you are done planting your watermelon in pots, you will need to provide support for the plant. Most people are growing watermelons in containers because they lack space. Without some kind of support, even water melons growing in containers can take up and enormous amount of space. Support for your watermelon can come in the form of either a trellis or a teepee. As the vine grows, train it up the support.
If you are growing watermelons in containers in an urban area or a high balcony, you may find that you do not have enough pollinators to pollinate the watermelons. You can pollinate them by hand and directions on how pollinate melons by hand are here.
Once fruit appears on your container watermelon, you will need to provide additional support for the watermelon fruit as well. Use a stretchy, flexible material, like a panty hose or a t-shirt, to create a hammock under the fruit. Tie each end of the hammock to the watermelon’s main support. As the watermelon fruit grows, the hammock will stretch to accommodate the size of the fruit.
Your container watermelon will need to be watered daily in temperatures under 80 degrees F. and twice daily in temperatures over this. Use a water based fertilizer once a week, or a granulated slow release fertilizer once a month.