|Written By Lara Wadsworth
Watermelon is one of the most popular summertime fruits. The crisp and sweet flesh is undeniably delicious and nostalgic. But what if you can’t devote a garden plot to these delectable fruits? The good news is that you don’t need to give them up completely! Here we have compiled some of the BEST watermelon varieties for growing in containers or small spaces. While watermelons can be grown in pots as small as 5 gallons, we recommend containers with a capacity of 7 gallons or more.
Container Watermelon Recommendations:
Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon
Coming in at just 6-8 inches across at harvest and maturing in 80 days or less, this is one of the best! The attractive fruit also sports a matte green skin and an oval shape that, despite its small size, packs just as much sweetness as traditional watermelon varieties. This heirloom variety is considered an icebox fruit size and has classic red flesh with a bush growth habit. Mini Bush Sugar Baby is also available as an organic seed.
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Very aptly named, this watermelon variety matures in 75-80 days and is sweeter than other fruits 4 times its size! This mini 8-10 pound beauty is perfect for small garden plots or small containers. Recognized easily by the watermelon enthusiast for its deep green, almost black skin, this small wonder is another of the best! Sugar Baby is also available in organic seed.
Cal Sweet Bush AAS Watermelon
This bush watermelon variety is almost too good to be true. An heirloom variety preserved and loved specifically for its ability to be grown on patios and porches, it matures in 3 months and needs only 7 gallons of soil to thrive! Grow this 2019 All-American Selections Winner this summer and be rewarded with multiple 5-7 pound, personal-sized sweet fruits with bright red flesh.
Baby Doll Hybrid Watermelon
This hybrid watermelon is heat tolerant and can ripen in as little as 40 days in ideal conditions! The fruit matures at 5-10 lbs and has shocking yellow flesh that is intoxicatingly sweet. This variety is perfect for those with small to medium-sized gardens and is considered an ‘icebox’ variety. Yellow Baby Doll is also available in organic seed.
Some other great varieties to consider in your search for the perfect watermelon plant for your small space are Golden Midget (also available organic), Sweet Beauty Hybrid, Treasure Chest Hybrid (yellow flesh, seedless), and Triple Treat Hybrid (seedless). These are all great for smaller spaces. For further help in selecting the ideal watermelon for your location, check out our Watermelon Garden Planning Guide for help.
Tips for Container Growing Watermelons
Watermelon flowers must be pollinated to produce fruit. You can hand pollinate to ensure success, or plant some delightful marigolds nearby to encourage pollinators to do the job for you! Marigolds are also great for containers and small gardens to provide season-long beauty to enjoy. They encourage other beneficial insects to fight off common garden pests as well.
Some of these varieties, although smaller than normal plants, still create vines that can reach 10 feet or more. To accommodate this need in small spaces, use a trellis or other similar structure to train the vines up. This can also keep the fruits from resting on the soil and potentially rotting.
When growing anything in containers, it is important to recognize that the nutrients the plants have access to are limited to those within their container. To ensure proper soil fertility and therefore fruit growth, use a potting soil that supplies nutrients, add a nitrogen-based fertilizer a few times throughout the season, or mix plenty of well-rotted compost into the soil mixture prior to planting. Watch out for new leaves that look yellow or have abnormal venation. This can be an indication of a nutrient deficiency.
Similar to fertilizer, the contained plant will be limited to the water that is within its container. Especially when compared to a large garden bed or field, your containers will need to be watered more frequently. Check the soil periodically and water it whenever it seems dry. Overwatering can cause problems of its own too! Soil moisture monitors can be useful for beginners.
|Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer
I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!