How To Grow Watermelons

Watermelons are greedy. They need a lot of room to spread, a lot of water, good drainage, lots of sunlight and lots of nutrients. Despite all these needs, they are very easy to grow.  Watermelons grow from seed. However, don’t use seed out of melons you bought because they probably hybrids which are special crosses that don’t grow true to type.

Planting watermelons

Watermelons are heavy feeders. Therefore you need to prepare soil adding compost or rotted manure. The pH of the soil should be 6-6.8, but the plants can also tolerate a pH as low as 5. Work the compost or organic slow-release fertilizer into the top soil. Then mound the soil into small hills spaced about 100 cm apart. If you can, try to cover the hills with black plastic to control weeds,  maintain soil moisture and speed growth.  Plant the watermelon seeds 2.5 cm deep in each hill. When seedlings sprout, thin them to only two plants per hill.

Caring for the plants

Watermelon vines bear female and male flowers. Therefore, some of the male flowers which appear first will fall off shortly after they open. The female flowers which blossom about a week later have a small swelling at the base of the flower. These stay on the vine to bear fruit.

Get rid of weeds before the vines start running because it will be difficult to tackle a weed problem at a later stage without crushing the watermelon plant. You ca also mulch the soil under the vines to help suppress weeds and slow moisture evaporation.

To keep the vines healthy , you need ensure there’s enough water. The plants are very sensitive to drought especially from planting time to when fruits start to form. However, you need to avoid overhead watering. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, which will kill plants. Therefore, try to water early in the morning so that the leaves can dry throughout the day. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to soil, helping prevent possible spread of fungal diseases among wet foliage. It’s normal for leaves to wilt under the hot sun. However, they shouldn’t stay like that into the evening.

Watermelons need to keep ripening from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and protect fruit from pests. To do this, place the fruit on a bed of straw or cardboard when it’s about the size of a softball. Avoid light-reflecting surfaces such as aluminum foil which can concentrate heat and speed up ripening.

If you’re using fertilizer, use a fertilizer with more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium during the period between planting and when the first flowers open. Once flowering begins, use a fertilizer with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium.

Some people believe that pinching shoots as watermelons start to ripen causes the plant to ripen well. However, the vine’s leaves produce the sugars that sweeten the watermelon. So, reducing the total number of leaves available for sugar production by trimming actually lessens the sweetness of the watermelon.


Approximately one week before a melon is ripe, only water to keep the vines from wilting. Too much water will reduces sweetness. Watermelons mature within about 80 to 100 days. You’ll know they are ready when they easily break away from the vine when twisted. If you try to pick a watermelon and it doesn’t twist off easily, it probably isn’t ready for harvest yet. Another sign that the melon is ripe is when the underside changes color from white to rich yellow.

49 thoughts on “How To Grow Watermelons

  1. What you are doing is really commendable. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Do you also hold Agriculture Workshops on various topics? Do you have this topic on watermelon in PDF? I would love to have a copy.

    Thank you very much in advance.


    1. Thank you for visiting Reuben. We’re not hosting any workshops yet but we’ll let you know when we do.
      Unfortunately we don’t have any of our content in pdf. It’s copy protected because it gets redistributed everywhere.

    2. sir ,how are you ? have just come across the lesson on how to grow the melons… do you mind helping me, I really want to try farming and dont know what to start with.
      I only have about hundred by fifty meters land, I really want to farm yet I do not know what to grow.
      I will be glad if you help.

      1. Grow something that you know how to grow. Your space is small so use it to train yourself. Easy things to grow are things like chillies. Potatoes in bags are a good option if you want to make some money. Speak to marketeers around you and find out which vegetables you can supply them.

  2. Thank you for the information.very educative.I have never planted water melons before. But a few friends who have done that have told me you have to apply chemicals frequently to protect them from rot.Is that the only way of keeping the fruit safe.I don’t like too much application of chemicals on fruits.

      1. The information is helpful, donu gave groups such as online Farmers where we can contact u for help. I wat to grow melons this year

  3. You are really educating me with this invaluable knowledge. I’m only 18 years of age but I want to enter into small scale commercial farming, my favourite is Cashew nut growing. Please don’t stop, keep it up, keep on educating us.

  4. Thank you, this has been helpful. Am thinking of starting to grow watermelons and this has helped me have a perspective of what I’ll be getting into.

    1. Thank you for dropping by Acty. We’ll let you know once we have some information on wheat and Bee keeping.

      1. Is it good to plant water melon in April ? I’m asking because I want to plant some ,my field is near Chong we river or is there anyone here who stays in Chongwe area and planted w/melon?

  5. Thanks for sharing this information. I’ve learnt a lot. What’s the best time to grow watermelon in Zambia? Is okay to grow it under rain fed irrigation? Thanks in advance.

  6. What you are doing is so good helping out rather giving approximately the message of watermelon plantation… Am so glad are you having any workshop this year??


  7. If I use plastic mulch I planting early May, can watermelon crop survive our cold season in Zambia?
    What is the spacing if am using drip irrigation?

  8. Thanks for the article useful

    I am from DR Congo I would like to know.

    Can I plant watermelon during the rain season as well or what do I need to do during this season

  9. Thank you so much for this educative info.
    Someone asked a question that watermelon needs chemicals which ones are these away from the D- fertilizer and nitrogen?
    You also commented on the the best period to plant watermelon.
    Is planting in third week of December to late.

    Enjoy your your work

  10. thanks for this good article. which variate gives the biggest fruits and how best can drop irrigation be used for watering?

  11. This is really interesting, you didn’t answer two questions my corigue asked you about planting season, but my question is, his it good to plant watermelon in May to June when it is cold answer me my inbox this is my line plz 0977322578/0962402886

  12. Good morning Reuben.
    Your article makes an interesting reading and makes me a melon farmer already for the coming season. When is the best planting season for the copperbelt? Am putting logistics together to start with a lima for piloting.
    Have a good day and enjoy your work, not forgetting to staying safe.

    Mob: 0977740374, Whatsap: 0968121950.

  13. hope u r well and heathy ,i wish to grow watermelons on a 1 hectare space of land hw many seeds can i plant per hole? ,and what is the best chemical to be applied before putting the seeds in the seed holes?.thank you.

  14. Greetings, I have just stumbled on this wonder bread. i want to grow water melon in my small yard which is full of other plants lol Please keep educating us

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