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How To Grow Sugarbaby Watermelons In Containers

The sugar baby watermelon variety is a perfectly sweet, heirloom variety of watermelon. They are trendy among gardeners as they are a great size, known for being “icebox” watermelons, and they are easy to take on picnics or to parties. Commonly, sugar baby watermelons and most melons are grown in raised beds or directly into the ground. However, it is possible to grow sugar baby watermelons in containers as well! 

Maybe you don’t have enough space in a raised bed, or you don’t have room in your yard to grow plants. If containers are the only way to grow things, don’t knock off growing sugar baby watermelons from your list! The great thing about sugar baby watermelons is that their vines are much shorter and more compact than other melons, making them the perfect container melon.

To learn more about growing sugar baby watermelons in containers, stay tuned and keep reading.

Picking the Right Container

The first and most important part of growing sugar baby watermelons in containers is getting the right container. You must make sure that whichever container you choose, at the smallest, you can grow one plant in one 5-gallon pot; however, one plant will do much better in a pot that is 7-10 gallons of soil.

If you have, say, a 30-gallon pot, you can get away with growing up to three watermelon plants in that pot. There are a few options you can choose from once you have the right size. 

Fabric Grow Bags

Fabric grow bags are what I always recommend when growing vining fruit in containers. Usually, sugar baby watermelons do not like to be transplanted, so it is best to directly sow their seeds into the container where they will be grown for all stages.

Fabric grow bags are very helpful in this instance because they support healthy root development, and the plant’s roots will never get rootbound in them. The problem with growing things in containers is that roots don’t have anywhere to go and end up getting bound, and it can stunt the plant’s growth, not in the case that you use a fabric grow bag. 

Hard Plastic Pots

Hard plastic pots are the cheapest and easiest option for growing in containers. They are simple and efficient. However, the plastic does get very hot, and you may need to water it more frequently, especially if you live in a very hot and dry area. 

Ceramic or Terracotta Pots

The prettiest option for having a nice patio garden. Ceramic and terracotta are great because they do not dry out as fast as other pots, so you won’t need to water them as often. The downfall to these is that they are very heavy, so make sure you put them in a spot where you won’t ever have to move them. Watermelons like full sun for at least 8 hours a day, so make sure you put the ceramic pot in a place that gets that. 

Planting Sugar Baby Watermelons

Once you’ve picked the right container, you must find a good sunny area to put it in and fill it with soil to plant your plant. Make sure you are planting your watermelons at least one week after the last frost. Watermelons need heat in order to germinate and do not fair well in cooler weather. 

Fertilizer

Sugar baby watermelons like well-draining soil with compost that is high in organic matter. Before planting, it is helpful to mix a slow-release fertilizer that is well balanced, 10-10-10, to help the watermelon grow along the way. 

Plant Seed(s)

Now that the soil is mixed and put into the containers, you can directly put the watermelon seed or seeds into the pot. Make a small hole no deeper than 1/2 an inch, place your seed, and cover with soil. Water in well. If you have a large pot (30 gallons) and plan to plant two plants in the same pot, make sure the seeds are planted at opposite ends from each other, trying to get as much space as possible. Plant directly in the middle for the one seed.

Germination

Sugar baby watermelon seeds take 3-10 days to germinate. Heat will drastically help the germination process, so you can keep a heating pad under your pot. Once the seeds have germinated and it has been at least a week, you can remove the heat and let the plant grow naturally after that. 

Caring For Sugar Baby Watermelons in Containers

Caring for the watermelon plant is the next thing to do to wait until harvest. Keep these things in mind when caring for sugar baby watermelons.

Water 

Sugar baby watermelons need around 1-2 inches of water a week. Watermelons are heavy water feeders since the actual fruit is 90% water. Sugar baby watermelons do much better when the soil is consistently damp but not soaked.

Placing mulch around the base of your plant will help keep the soil damp, especially when you live in an area that is hot and dry. When you water, only water the base of the plant around the roots and never get the leaves wet as this can cause fungal problems. 

Feeding Nutrients

Along with having the 10-10-10 fertilizer, it is helpful to feed your plants as they grow. After about three weeks of growth (from germination), you can start giving your watermelons a liquid feed once a week to give them an extra boost of nutrients.

As they grow, use a higher ratio of nitrogen fertilizer, something like 15-5-10. Once the melons begin to fruit, cut back on the nitrogen and give them a higher phosphorus boost, using something like 3-10-15. 

Trellising

Adding a trellis or a support system is very important when you are growing sugar baby watermelons in containers. Although the vines don’t grow as long, the watermelons can get up to 7 pounds, sometimes even 12 pounds, so the vines will need some extra support. The easiest way to do this is to put a tomato cage around your pot and hold it down with stakes.

The vines will grow through the cage, and the melons will be supported. You can also tie the vines with bamboo stakes, and once the melons begin to form, tie a nylon stocking or other stretchy netting around them. Tie this netting to a supporting beam. The netting will hold in the melon in support and expand as it grows. 

Harvesting

Sugar baby watermelons take around 75 days to be completely ready for harvest from germination. Knowing when the sugar baby melon is ready for harvest can take some experience and learning. Leaving the melon on the vine too long or picking it too early can make the flavor much less sweet and start to become more watery and even bitter.

There are a few ways to tell when it’s ready. First, check the color. The rind will go from being a brighter green to becoming duller and darker as they mature. Next, you can check the color of the place where the stem meets the fruit.

This spot will start off green and go to brown as the fruit ripens. Feel the rind; it will get softer as the fruit ripens. Stick your nose in it! You will be able to smell a ripe watermelon right on the vine; if the smell starts getting stronger and overly sweet, you’ve waited too long.

To harvest the watermelon, take a sharp knife or a pair of scissors and cut about 1/2 to an inch up the vine. Never twist the fruit off; this can cause damage to the roots and the other remaining melons. 

Final Thoughts

Sugar baby watermelons are a wonderful melon to grow in containers because their vines grow short and compact. They are heavier melons, but that means they need a little extra support as they grow. Having a good trellis system is necessary if you want to grow these melons in pots. Enjoy and happy gardening!