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How to Grow Seedless Watermelons in 5 Simple Steps

I've had good luck growing seedless watermelons, but it took some experimentation to get there. Here are my best tips.

My home-grown seedless watermelons!

My home-grown seedless watermelons!

Can I Grow Seedless Watermelons?

While growing seedless watermelons 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. You can do it!

Homegrown tastes best!

Homegrown tastes best!

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 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.

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 vs. 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.

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 the chart above for ideas on how to plant the seedlings to get the highest yields.

Seedless Watermelon - What's the Secret?

Step 5: Transplanting and 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Donna Cosmato

Have You Thought About Growing Seedless Watermelon?

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 29, 2012:

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 from United Kingdom on February 28, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 28, 2012:

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 from Asia, Oceania & between on February 27, 2012:

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!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 27, 2012:

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!

mizjo on February 27, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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?

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 22, 2012:

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:)

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on February 21, 2012:

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 on February 21, 2012:

Thank you for the info. Great hub...

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 21, 2012:

Okay so I admit it. I am not an excellent watermelon grower...producer, cultivator, none of 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, 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 from Asia, Oceania & between on February 21, 2012:

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

Chris Montgomery from Irvine, CA on February 21, 2012:

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!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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 from Bangkok on February 21, 2012:

really useful hub!

klm601108 from Malaysia on February 21, 2012:

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

honeybee2u from PNG on February 21, 2012:

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

Sunny on February 21, 2012:

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


Diane Ziomek from Alberta, Canada on February 21, 2012:

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!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on February 21, 2012:

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!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 21, 2012:

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.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on February 21, 2012:

Hi Donna - well done !

Gus :-)))

Mary Craig from New York on February 21, 2012:

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.

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on February 21, 2012:

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 from Wales on February 21, 2012:

So very interesting Donna.

Thanks for sharing and take care


Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on February 21, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

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

Marissa from United States on February 21, 2012:

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 from Asia Pacific Regions on February 21, 2012:

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

twilightdream on February 21, 2012:

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!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on February 21, 2012:

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

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

kelleyward on February 21, 2012:

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!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 21, 2012:

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 from West of England on February 21, 2012:

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.

MP50 on February 21, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 07, 2011:

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 Haruko Smith from San Francisco on December 07, 2011:

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.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 02, 2011:

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 from Georgia on December 02, 2011:

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

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 01, 2011:

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 on December 01, 2011:

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.