The Q&A Archives: Pruning Watermelons

Question: I have raised Watermelons for many years with mostly very good success, if started early. I am aware that I can remove the smaller fruit on the vines to provide fewer but larger melons to ripen. My question is taking the process one step further , can I prune back the vines say several feet , with no effect on the plant? I noticed that fertilizing each 7 days with Miracle Gro also causes the Vines to greatly extend themselves beyond the assigned growing area.

Answer: Watermelons do take up an amazing amount of space! You might prune back the tips to conserve space, however if you do that you should take into account two factors. If you remove the tips, you will not have any more melons than are already growing on the vine. Second, the leaves are needed to produce the plant's energy and power the fruit, so too much "pruning" will result in descreased plant vigor and decreased fruit quality. Sometimes you can direct the vines into growing in a more suitable area if they are escaping into your lawn, for example. If space is an issue, you might try some of the space saving "bush" varieties such as "Bush Sugar Baby" which has much shorter vines (it also produces only about two melons per plant, however). Melons are heavy feeders, so it is hard to imagine you have provided too many nutrients.

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