Melon Growing Problems

‘Little Baby’ Flower is super early and high yielding. (My kids love them!)

“Second year trying to grow melons. Can’t seem to get fruit, and if I get one it’s too late for the growing season. Is it a lack of pollination…I always plant them early. Thanks!” Question by Chris of Orange, Connecticut

Answer: It’s so frustrating when you get lots of vine and no fruit. Several factors could be at play, whether you are growing watermelons or muskmelons. Let’s start with the essentials for good melon growth. Melons need:

1. At least 8 hours of full sun

2. Warm summer weather

3. Fertile, well-drained soil with excellent drainage

4. Quality fertilizer formulated for fruiting veggies

5. Reliable pollination

6. Plenty of space

7. Good variety selection for a given region

First, choose early fruiting varieties that will yield fast to ensure you get a reliable crop. ‘Early Granite‘ is a super early-to-ripen muskmelon to try, and ‘Little Baby Flower‘ is very early and my favorite ice-box-sized watermelon. Both are also high yielding.

Next, make sure you are meeting all of the cultural requirements. Planting melons in well-amended mounds (I amend with OMRI Listed Black Gold Garden Compost Blend) that are well-fertilized really helps. Sun and warmth are essential.

Finally, make sure they are getting pollinated. Melons have two flower types, male and female, and they are strictly bee pollinated. The male flowers (these have no underdeveloped melons at the base) are produced first, followed by the female blooms (these have underdeveloped fruits at the base). If you see female blooms on your plants, and no bees, lack of pollinators could be the problem.

Without pollination, the developing fruits just shrivel. You can try a hand-pollinating method, if you think this is the problem. Simply use a small brush to move pollen from a newly opened male flower to a newly opened female flower. It’s fast, easy, and will yield melons!

I also recommend you watch our recent video about melon growing! Happy Gardening, Jessie Keith



Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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