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Growing Seedless Watermelons in 5 Steps

Updated on August 21, 2017
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Can I Grow Seedless Watermelons?

While growing seedless watermelon is possible, it does take dedication and effort. Seedless watermelon seeds are expensive (about 10 to 15 cents each) and need special growth environments for best results. Follow these five steps for success.

Learn About Seedless Watermelon

Seedless watermelons, quite simply, develop fruit but no seeds because they are sterile. The sterility is caused by crossing plants that are incompatible genetically.

Many people are taken aback when they slice a “seedless” watermelon and see what they think are tiny, white seeds. Actually, these rudimentary (undeveloped) seed coats are edible, just like the seeds in cucumbers.

Most experts, like Laurie Hodges at the University of Nebraska1, recommend starting them from seeds and transplanting them rather than sowing them directly into the garden. Here is what we did to get our seedless watermelons off to the best start.

What You Need

Here is what you will need to start your seedlings and harden them off:

  • Seedless watermelon seeds
  • Seeded watermelon seeds (choose a variety with a different colored rind than the seedless so you can easily distinguish the two types)
  • Peat pots or eggshell planters (see note below)
  • Growth medium or fertilizer mix

You need both types of seeds or plants, as seedless watermelon does not produce enough pollen to set fruit. The seeded watermelon, sometimes called the pollinator cultivar, provides the supplemental pollen. The best anthracnose resistant varieties of seedless watermelons are Crimson Sweet, You Sweet Thing Hybrid, or Summer Sweet 5032.

Author's note: This year, we are experimenting with starting the seeds in eggshells as part of our ongoing method of teaching our son to garden. We plan to put the seedless type in white eggshells and the seeded ones in brown eggshells to make it easier to tell them apart. We'll plant the entire thing and as the eggshell decomposes, it will feed our baby seedlings naturally.

Use Eggshells as Organic Planters

Start the seeds in eggshells and transplant shell and seedling. The eggshell provides nutrition for the young plant.
Start the seeds in eggshells and transplant shell and seedling. The eggshell provides nutrition for the young plant. | Source

Step 1: Start the Watermelon Seeds

  • Use peat pots and a greenhouse-type growth medium that includes a fertilizer charge. Prepare the pots by filling them with the growth medium and moistening the soil until the excess water runs off.
  • The pots must be kept warm (85 degrees Fahrenheit) for 48 hours to warm the soil in preparation for the seeds. (Seedless watermelons cannot tolerate the cold.)
  • Plant the seeds at a depth of one inch. Plant the tip of the seed at a 45 to 90-degree angle to prevent the seed coat from adhering to the cotyledon. Cover them with moist soil and keep warm (85 degrees Fahrenheit) for 48 hours, and then move them to a cooler environment for germination and seedling development.

Step 2: Germination Tips

  • The seeds need to be kept at temperatures between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Wait until the seedlings emerge before watering, and be careful not to over water.
  • Seedless watermelons need a slow germination period at relatively cool temperatures and limited irrigation for the best results.
  • The fertilizer charge in the growth medium should provide enough nutrition during this stage, but fertilize with a 100 ppm nitrogen concentration at two other stages: the appearance of the first true leaf, and second true leaf.
  • Seedling development takes about four to six weeks.

Seedless Watermelon versus Seeded Watermelon

Step 3: Hardening Off the Seedlings

Prepare the plants about seven days prior to their transplant to the garden (also known as hardening off the plants.)

Lower the temperature where they are during the day or set the plants outside. Bring them in each night. Water sparingly, if at all.

Maximize Pollenation

Recommended plant spacing for best pollination
Recommended plant spacing for best pollination | Source

Step 4: Prepare the Garden Patch

  • For the best pollination results, plan a garden layout that allows you to “plant the pollenizer variety in the outside row and then every third row.”2
  • If you are growing watermelon in a small garden plot, try alternating seedless and seeded plants in a row, but remember that the two plants must be close for pollination purposes.
  • See screenshot of chart above for ideas on how to plant the seedlings to get the highest yields.

Step 5: Transplanting & Growing Seedless Watermelon

Follow these simple steps for a bumper crop of juicy, sweet seedless watermelons:

  • Transplant the seedlings after the last frost date for your area.
  • Place seedlings about four feet apart in rich, loamy soil. If you want to skip weeding, lay down a layer of black plastic before planting to kill the weeds.
  • Water daily until the fruit appears, and then water only when the soil is dry.
  • Fertilize with a 5-10-10 mixture as needed.
  • Handle the fruit as little as possible during the growing season or the flesh will be bland and tasteless. The fruit is ripe when the rind resists the pressure of a fingernail.

Gardener's Tips

Although the seeded melons are easier to germinate and do not require as much special attention to germinate, it makes sense to save time and effort by starting the seeds simultaneously. As long as both types are ready to transplant at the same time, there is no harm done by starting them at the same time.

Inspect plants frequently to avoid losing your crop to typical problems such as anthracnose or gummy stem blight.

References and Sources

1 Hodges, Laura, “Growing Seedless Watermelon,NebGuide.

2 Maynard, Donald N., “Growing Seedless Watermelon.”

Johnson, Gordon, “Producing Quality Seedless Watermelon Transplants.”

Ortho's Home Gardener's Problem Solvers, Michael McKinley, editor.

Rodale's Complete Garden Problem Solver, Delilah Smittle, editor.

© 2011 Donna Cosmato

Have You Thought About Growing Seedless Watermelon?

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    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Greetings, Lesley! I hope you and your granddaughter have lots of fun growing plants in the eggshells. For some reason, kids really seem to get a kick out of these:) Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on this gardening article.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello Donna, what a wonderful hub, this is certainly something I will try with my granddaughter, what a novel way to plant seeds in eggshells!

      Thank you and voted up.

      Best wishes Lesley

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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for commenting on this article about growing watermelons, TrahnTheMan. I hope you can get your wayward mint plant under control before it heads out on its own to star in a remake of one of my favorite cult science fiction movies, "The Day of the Triffids!"

    • TrahnTheMan profile image

      TrahnTheMan 5 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

      This hub keeps flourishing just like your watermelons Donna! I'm stopping typing and getting out to the garden to deal with my Vietnamese mint which is imitating a triffid, inspired by your helpful articles no doubt!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi mizjo; that's a really good question about how quickly the eggshells will decompose. We crush the shells slightly when we plant them, and we find that they breakdown pretty quickly in our soil.

      However, it probably depends on the composition of the soil in your area. I've been working on this garden patch for years and the soil is really enriched.

      However, most of the other soil is the yard has a high percentage of clay so I suspect the eggshells would take a season or two to really decompose thoroughly. Thanks for asking!

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      mizjo 5 years ago

      Hi, Donna, I enjoyed reading your hub very much. I've never tried growing seedless, but have grown mini watermelons when I had a garden in my past life.

      Regarding the eggshells though, do they break down fast enough to feed the crop sown in them, or did you mean they will break down eventually to feed the soil and subsequent crops? Very well written hub, with lovely photos.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Many thanks for your kindness in coming back to read this gardening article, sen.sush23! The eggshells work well on just about any seedlings that we have tried so far so while I haven't started any herbs from seeds, I don't think you will have any problems. If you do, please let me know and I'll see if I can dig up an answer for what might have happened. Thank you as well for the votes of confidence:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      You're most welcome, DietForDiabetics! Thank you for being considerate enough to let me know that you enjoyed the information:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hey, pstraubie48, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Honestly, I think the reason gardening appeals to me so much is due to my abysmal results at keeping a houseplant alive. I'm at a loss to figure out how I can grow just about anything outside but kill any plant that crosses my threshold. Anyway, give the watermelons another shot, and do come back and let me know how it went, please:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Oh, wow! Thanks for the votes and the kind words, TrahnTheMan. We haven't done cukes for a couple of years because our neighbor grows/shares them, but I'll check my gardening notebooks to see if I can find any tips worth sharing, okay?

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Aww, thanks so much, MosLadder! I appreciate the votes of confidence and support, and I hope you have a better experience with your watermelons this year.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      I'm glad that this information was useful for you, johncimble. Thank you for taking the time to leave me some constructive feedback.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi klm601108, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feedback on this gardening article. We do enjoy dabbling in the garden and enjoying the fruits (as it were) of those labors. However, we can't seem to keep a houseplant alive no matter how hard we try:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the well-wishes and nice compliments, honeybee2u. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and thank you again for taking time to share your opinions.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Sunny - thanks for reading this article on growing seedless watermelons. I wish you much luck if you decide to try your hand at it:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Oh, cool - thanks for the pollination tip, brsmom68! I usually don't plant squash anymore because we live in squash bug heaven and it is just so devastating to lose crop after crop, but if I ever do try again, I'll know to keep them away from my watermelon babies.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for reading and commenting, ktrapp! We usually poke a hole in both ends of the egg and "blow out" the egg. Then, you can just tap around the narrow end to make an opening for the potting soil. You can also trim around them with kitchen shears to neaten up the edges; I did that for this batch so we would get nice pictures, but I usually don't bother. Just plant the whole thing and you are done:)

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      I started to read this interesting Hub last night, but as I was tired and did not want my concentration to lapse, I kept it for this morning. Wow! Wonderful Hub. I particularly loved the novel idea of the egg-shell seed bed. I will use it for other kitchen herbs to see how it works. And yes, looking forward to having some melons from my kitchen garden this year. Voted up- useful and interesting.

    • DietForDiabetics profile image

      DietForDiabetics 5 years ago

      Thank you for the info. Great hub...

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Okay so I admit it. I am not an excellent watermelon grower...producer, cultivator, none of them..as a matter of fact, I am not even mediocre at this gardening event. However you have inspired me to try one more time because I love the soil and love growing things...thanks for the 'step by step'....I need it..

      I now have a nice sized area where I can plant some melons. And seedless too...now, ask me if I can EAT, watermelons...yeppie...I can munch down some juicy, crunchy yummy WM....thank you a bunch for sharing this...voted up and shared....

    • TrahnTheMan profile image

      TrahnTheMan 5 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

      Wow- SUPER helpful and informative hub Donna! Do you have any tips for growing cucumbers? (PS voted up!)

    • MosLadder profile image

      Chris Montgomery 5 years ago from Irvine, CA

      This was well done Donna! I have tried to start watermelons before, but I am bookmarking this so I can go back and try again. Voted up,up, up!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the nice compliment vespawoolf! Growing vertical is the best way to go if you are limited by space. I'm thinking about trying some miniature varieties and staking them to a chain link fence this year to see how they do. Try this - you'll like it!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Gus and thank you, thank you! I'm glad you liked this hub on growing watermelons:))

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for taking time to read and comment on this gardening hub, tillsontitan. We really enjoyed keeping a log on our babies and tracking their growth progress each day. I hope I remembered to mentioned that the top of the refrigerator makes an awesome incubator for the little guys:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you so much for the congratulations and the nice feedback alissaroberts! I hope you enjoy your garden as much as we do ours; we find it to be very therapeutic to work in the earth with your hands:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your feedback, Eddy! It's nice to know that you enjoyed this and found it interesting. I hope your day was pleasant as well:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for commenting, ComfortB! Unfortunately, my patience is usually proportional to my interest level in a project:) However, this one was lots of fun and we got to enjoy eating the results of this experiment so it worked out well.

    • johncimble profile image

      johncimble 5 years ago from Bangkok

      really useful hub!

    • profile image

      klm601108 5 years ago from Malaysia

      I do not have green fingers. I always admire those who have. Your family must be enjoying real healthy vegetables and fruits.

    • honeybee2u profile image

      honeybee2u 5 years ago from PNG

      I love watermelons and this is a great hub I enjoyed reading. Voted up and following.

    • profile image

      Sunny 5 years ago

      I love sugar babies, although I have never grown any. I might try it this spring. What great information! Voted up, interesting, and useful.

      Thanks.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I do have a tip you may wish to add to your pollination section. Do not plant watermelon too close to zucchini; I did just that in the summer of 2010, and ended up with a beautiful round watermelon...or so I thought. Looked like a watermelon on the outside, but was definitely zucchini on the inside.

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      This is a terrific hub Donna. I was intrigued about starting the seeds in egg shells. It certainly makes sense but I have never heard of that before. Congratulations on a very well-deserved hub of the day!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day for an excellent and well-written hub! I wish I had space for a garden, but now I'm definitely hankering for a watermelon.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Donna - well done !

      Gus :-)))

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      What a great hub of the day about something just about everybody loves! Your hints and information are really helpful. So many people don't take the time to start their seeds indoors. Great job and Congrats. Voted up.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Great step by step directions! I have been wanting to start a garden for quite some time now but really have no idea where to begin. This hub will help me out so much - a well deserved Hub of the Day! Congrats - voted up and useful!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      So very interesting Donna.

      Thanks for sharing and take care

      Eddy.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      You must have a lot of patience to do this. Very informative. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on being voted the HOTD.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the congratulatory comment on this hub, ThePracticalMommy. I hope you and your little guy have as much fun growing your watermelons as we did:) Best of luck in your gardening experiment this season.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you twilight dream and snlee for your wonderful comments on this hub about growing watermelons for fun. I hope your personal experiences with growing these fruits will be positive:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Deborah, for your kind words and congratulatory message on this hub. I really appreciate it!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      What a great hub - so detailed and full of information. Very deserving of Hub of the Day! Congratulations!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      What a great guide! I will be bookmarking this one for sure. My son and I will add seedless watermelons to the list of things we grow this year. Congrats on the Hub of the Day!

    • snlee profile image

      snlee 5 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

      In Malaysia, it's much easier to cultivate watermelon as our climate is hot and wet throughout the year....

    • profile image

      twilightdream 5 years ago

      Very interesting information shared here. Thanks DC. This eggshell idea is very unique, new and also I feel like organic. No wonder this hub is selected for 'Hub of the day'. Keep writing!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi kelleyward and thanks for taking the time to share your feedback on this hub! Kids really seem to love growing watermelons and it was surprisingly easy:) Hope your family enjoys the experiment.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Cardisa, thanks for commenting on this hub! My two guys insist that I pick out the seeds for them, so this was an experiment for my own convenience:) I'm glad you liked it, and I'm humbled that it was selected for an award.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey Donna, I don't know about me eating watermelon without seeds, it's just too weird for me but I am sure my fiancé would hate it....lol

      I love your guide though and great hub. Congrats on being selected as hub of the day!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      great hub! I'm learning to garden myself so I'll bookmark this for the spring. We love watermelon so this will be a great place to begin for our family. Congrats on the hub of the day!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub about growing watermelon, MP50. I'm glad the information was useful:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Keri, thank you very much! Yes, you can just leave the eggshell planters in the egg carton and transport the whole thing out to the garden patch when you are ready to transplant the seedlings. We just line up several of the cartons on a serving tray and carry them up the hill to the garden:)

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 5 years ago from West of England

      Congrats on "Hub of the Day". I couldn't grow watermelons in our climate, but I was pulled in by the fantastic photo (looks great in slideshow view). But glad I was because I found your eggshell planter tip, which I will use. I love that they can stay in the original box as well, safely held as they get established.

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      We can learn something new every day, interesting and useful information. Thanks for sharing voted up.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Simone, thanks for reading and commenting on this. If you are really space limited, consider growing them vertically instead of horizontally. I just published another that tells how to do this:)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun! Now I just need to figure out where I can develop a garden once the plants get past the seedling stage.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi, Donna! You know...I never really thought about where the seeds would come from if the plants are sterile! Very thought provoking comment. I'm hoping the eggshells work as we have been diligently saving them so I have a nice store for this gardening season.

      Thank you for stopping by, I always enjoying hearing your feedback on my hubs.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 5 years ago from Georgia

      I have to wonder where they get seeds for seedless watermelons. Love the idea of starting seeds in eggshells. Frugal and eco-friendly!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image
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      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Hi, RTalloni and thank you for the vote up! I think you will enjoy growing these seedless delicacies because they are fairly low maintenance but taste great. Do let me know how you get on with them :)

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Am definitely book marking this for our next growing season. We LOVE watermelon, and the seedless varieties are wonderful. It would be great to have success in growing them!

      Voted up.