Can Watermelons Be Grown in Containers?

Here is a watermelon that I grew in a pot a couple of years ago.

“Can watermelon vines be grown in containers?” Question from George of Hagerstown, MD

Answer: Watermelons can be grown in large containers if you choose a compact variety. Here are my recommendations regarding potted watermelon culture.

Growing Potted Watermelons

First, choose a more compact, short-vine watermelon variety suited for container growing. ‘Cal Sweet Bush‘, a 2019 AAS award winner, has excellent melons and vines that do not take over, and ‘Bush Sugar Baby‘ is another small-vined type with tasty melons. Next, choose a large container that’s between 18 to 24 inches. There must be holes at the bottom for drainage. Plastic or glazed containers hold water better in the heat of summer. Fill the pot with quality, porous potting soil that holds water well. I would choose Black Gold Natural & Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix. Place the pot in a spot where it gets full sun, and the vining stems can hang down and spread a little. Patios or open garden areas work well for large potted vegetables like this.

Plant one or two watermelons in the pot in spring after the threat of frost has passed. Keep the soil moist. When the vines have reached a good size in summer, water daily in the absence of rain. Fertilizer well from the beginning. A good slow-release fertilizer formulated for vegetables is ideal. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.

Melons should start to appear by late July or August.

Happy melon growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

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