Rapid Growth Secrets: How to Grow the Fastest Watermelons

Rapid Growth Secrets: How to Grow the Fastest Watermelons

Fastest growing watermelon?

Bring a taste of summer to your garden with homegrown watermelons.

These heat-loving plants thrive in the Southern sun, offering a rewarding and relatively easy growing experience.

An image of the fastest growing watermelon
Grow the sweetest summer treats in record time! Discover the fastest-growing watermelon varieties and enjoy juicy rewards sooner./Photo courtesy: Freepik

Depending on the variety, these juicy fruits can weigh anywhere from six to fifty pounds each.

Impress your guests at your next barbecue by learning how to grow and care for watermelons, then share the bounty with family and friends.

Plant Attributes

Attribute Details
Common Name Watermelon
Botanical Name Citrullus lanatus
Family Cucurbitaceae
Plant Type Annual, Vine
Mature Size 16 to 24 in. tall, 48 to 96 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type Moist but Well-Drained
Soil pH Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.0 and 8.0)
Bloom Time Spring, Summer
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones Not Winter Hardy
Native Area Africa
Toxicity Non-toxic


Types of Watermelon

When selecting watermelon varieties for the garden, your first consideration is how much space you have available to grow the crop.

Many watermelon varieties require up to 18 to 24 square feet per plant. That’s a lot of garden real estate.

For gardeners with space limitations, there are plenty of options including smaller icebox varieties and bush-type melons.

Seed formation is another consideration in selecting melons. Many seedless varieties are available, though you won’t be able to host the annual watermelon seed-spitting contest.

It is also a good idea to select disease-resistant varieties. Finally, if you are interested in producing a fast crop, you might look for an early-producing variety.

Standard Varieties

These watermelon varieties produce large fruits on long vines.

Most are seeded and many have been bred for disease resistance against fusarium, anthracnose, and other common ailments.

Cultivars include Charleston Grey, Crimson Sweet, Jubilee, Sangria, Moon & Stars, and Royal Sweet.

Icebox Varieties

Icebox is a catch-all term for medium-sized watermelons produced on shorter vines. Most varieties produce melons weighing six to 15 pounds.

These small fruits are juicy and incredibly sweet and do not sacrifice flavor.

Though they didn’t gain popularity until the 1990s, icebox melons include many heirloom varieties. Some favorites include ‘Sugar Baby’, ‘Sweet Beauty’, ‘Mickylee’, and ‘Yellow Doll’.

Seedless Varieties

As their name suggests, seedless watermelons do not produce the brown or black seeds found in standard watermelons.

They do often have rudimentary seed structures, but these are small, soft, and tasteless, and can be eaten along with the melon.

Seedless varieties are all hybrids, meaning you cannot save seeds to grow plants the following season, as the seedlings will not be true to type.

Good varieties for Southern gardens include Supersweet, Genesis, King of Hearts, Majestic, and Cotton Candy.

Bush Varieties

Taking up the least space in the garden, bush varieties produce medium-sized fruits on compact, bushy vines that can also be grown in containers.

These smaller plants typically produce fewer fruits, around two to three per plant depending on the variety.

Try ‘Bush Charleston Gray, Bush Jubilee, or Cal Sweet Bush.

Early Varieties

This grouping includes some of the fastest-ripening varieties for an early crop.

Most are icebox plants, producing medium-sized fruits: Bush Sugar Baby, Golden Crown, Yellow Baby, and Early Crimson Treat.


How To Grow Watermelon from Seed

Watermelons are easy to grow from seed, but melon seeds won’t germinate well in cold soils.

Wait to plant watermelon seeds until the soil has warmed to 60°F to 65°F at a depth of four inches.

Watermelon seeds (as well as closely related cucumber and squash) are commonly planted on small mounds or hills of soil to help warm the soil.

Hilling hastens germination and promotes faster growth, as well as improving soil drainage.

If you are planning to grow a seedless variety, it is best to start with small plants, as described in the next section.

Refer to your seed packet for plant/hill spacing, as different varieties require more space to grow than others.

If you are uncertain about the required spacing, use the common spacing for standard vines, spacing plants 36-48 inches apart, in rows six to eight feet apart.

How To Start Watermelon Seeds

  • Prepare the planting bed and incorporate fertilizer.
  • Create small hills of soil, 6-8 inches high and 18-24 inches wide, spaced according to a variety of recommendations.
  • Sow 4-5 seeds per hill at a depth of 1 inch.
  • Water the hills well and maintain even moisture during germination.
  • One week after seedlings emerge, thin them to two per hill, keeping the strongest plants and removing the others with scissors or flower snips.
  • Mulch the plants with dry, weed-free grass clippings, straw, cottonseed hulls, or wood chips to control weeds and conserve soil moisture.

How To Grow Watermelon from Transplant

Alternatively, you can purchase young watermelon plants from garden centers for transplanting into your garden.

When growing seedless varieties, it is best to start with purchased plants, as the seeds are expensive and slow to germinate.

One advantage of growing from transplants is an earlier harvest date, as fruits typically ripen up to two weeks earlier when plants are grown from transplants versus seed.

Use the same spacing as described for seeds, setting two strong transplants on each hill at the recommended spacing.

Handle seedlings carefully as watermelons have sensitive roots.

To minimize stress to young plants and root systems, look for seedlings grown in peat pots which can be torn from the root ball.

Water plants thoroughly and irrigate regularly to a depth of six inches, ideally through a drip system.

Watermelons can also be grown in containers from either seed or transplant. Compact, bush-type varieties are best for container production.

Choose a large container, one that holds at least 8 to 10 gallons of soil per plant.

Make sure the container has good drainage holes and be prepared to water and feed plants regularly.

How Long Does It Take for a Watermelon To Grow

Watermelons are not a quick crop. Plants require between 65 and 100 days from the time of planting until the fruit is ripe, depending on the variety.

Smaller melon varieties often mature more quickly, but this is not always true. When selecting varieties, look for information on seed packets and in catalogs regarding maturation time.

This is typically listed as days to maturity or simply written as a number followed by the word days, such as 75 days or 80-90 days.

If you are looking for a quicker-maturing melon, select a variety with the fewest days to maturity, many of which include the word “early’ in their name.

You might also consider purchasing transplants rather than starting from seed, which cuts about two weeks off the time to maturity, as the plants are already up and growing.

You can use approximate maturity times to help plan for an extended harvest.

If you have the space available, you might consider planting an early-ripening variety as well as one that takes longer to mature.

With this strategy, you can have melons ripening from mid to late summer.

Harvesting Watermelon

Determining when to harvest a watermelon can be a bit tricky.

Watermelons do not ripen off the vine once they have been harvested, so it is important to wait for them to be fully ripe before picking.

For many varieties, the rind of the melon changes colors as it matures, but this is not a reliable indicator for all varieties.

Likewise, the portion of the melon touching the ground often changes color from creamy white to yellow, but again, this will vary with the cultivar.

One of the more reliable indicators of ripeness can be found by looking at the tendril (the curling bit of vine) at the base of the leaf closest to the fruit.

When the melon is ready to harvest, the tendril will turn dry and brown. Other cues to look for include a dusty coating that gives the skin a dull appearance.

You might also find that the rind becomes hard to pierce with your fingernail and the blossom end of the fruit plumps up.

These indicators are not much to go on, but they are a start. The only true way to know if your melon is ripe is to cut it open.

Experience will help you determine the best time to harvest different varieties.

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