Are unusual watermelon varieties more difficult to grow?

I was at the garden center yesterday, and was surprised at the wide variety of watermelon‘s they are selling. I considered buying an orange and a yellow small melon variety or a seedless, but opted for my usual basic red grafted small melon. I’ve had good success with these.
Previously I had tried small dark skinned watermelon’s, but they grew slower and were more finicky, and produced less melons.
By the way, I had a lot of problems with ungrafted melons. and the full-size water melons are too big for us to store in the fridge.

Is it grafted for resistance to Fusarium wilt or nematodes or something else?

To my knowledge “unusual” melons aren’t harder to grow. It all depends on your climate and disease pressures.

For example, I have Fusarium in the soil and have been severly impacted by it and it’s getting worse so I had to reluctantly give up on watermelon since I’m not in the mood to try my own grafting and can’t buy grafted watermelon here in Italy

I’m not sure why they graft them, but the difference in growth was huge. I got many more melons off the grafted variety and it grew better. The graft looked like it couldn’t have been very difficult. Some of them still had a plastic clip holding the graft together.

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Do they tell you what the rootstock is?

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Grafting is for two things, vigor, and disease/pest resistance. One of the side effects of breeding for small melons is that it is often accompanied by small vines that lack vigor. The small red melons you are growing likely have this problem. If space is not an issue, there are several watermelons that will produce 30 foot long vines and can produce 10 to 12 full size fruits per plant.

Grafting watermelons is similar to grafting tomatoes. Rootstock is started a day or two after the main variety is started. The rootstock grows faster so the difference in timing is required to have them at the same size. When the scion has two cotyledons and a bud in the middle, the stem is sliced at an angle and the rootstock is sliced similarly. A grafting clip is then used to clip them together until the wound heals. They have to be kept in a humidity chamber for at least 4 days. Once the graft has solidified, the clip should be removed. The plant can be set out a few days later.

I’m in a very hot humid southeastern U.S. climate. I prefer to grow watermelons with light skins. Ledmon is a good example. It is light enough to never sunburn. Other than that, we had a discussion a few days ago about short season small watermelons. I recommend Blacktail Mountain and New Hampshire Midget. Arikara will disappoint as it is a very primitive watermelon similar in many ways to citron.

Siberian Lights
Blacktail Mountain
Early Canada
Petite Sweet
New Hampshire Midget

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Ledmon is my favorite. Do they use bottle gourds to graft for Fusarium and does it affect the taste?


I don’t know for sure what is used as a rootstock elsewhere. I’ve seen discussion of grafting watermelons to a near relative that looks a lot like a watermelon plant but is highly disease resistant. I don’t have the species name handy.

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I found references to pumpkins being used as rootstock.

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True, but I don’t store a whole melon. My favorite variety, Starbrite, is about 25 lbs. Cut that in half lengthwise outside. Cut out the eatable portion or even just the heart. Store in 2-3 Tupperware containers in the fridge. Now the messy part is all done at once and containers fit easier than even a small melon whole… I eat that in 2-3 days. Easy and no mess in the house or fridge. Cut melons can leak juice in the fridge.

Starbrite has relatively big and few seeds. Much better than those seedy small melons.


My wife and kids dislike the seeds of watermelons, but I like to crunch them right up with the flesh. I was surprised to learn some years ago that watermelon was originally domesticated as a seed crop. Like pumpkins and squash, the hulls of some varieties are more objectionable than others.

I find a 10 lb melon is just about right for the fridge. I don’t really store them in there, but I put them in there overnight so they’re ice cold at breakfast. What is it about being cold that makes them taste so much better, anyway? They’re more refreshing, sure, but the flavor improves dramatically also. I’ve often wondered why. 10 lbs seems like just the right amount to eat in a sitting, too. With some help, though I’ll often eat 1/2 or more in a go.


Bakers Creek sold a watermelon named “Giza” about 15 years ago that was a seed specific selection. I still have seed. They are ordinary watermelons otherwise but produce larger seed.