Watermelon Varieties – Understanding Different Types of Watermelons

I love watermelons.  They are sweet, juicy, messy to eat, and remind me of summer like nothing else does.   But did you know that there are many watermelon varieties which you probably haven’t even heard of?

Watermelon varieties

Types of Watermelons

There are more than 50 watermelon varieties grown around the world. Because of the number of types of watermelon, they are often group by characteristics such as shape, size and color of the fruit, as well as whether they have seeds.

The watermelon varieties may look similar before you cut them, but the fruit, color and number of seeds can vary a lot.

Even the outer skins of watermelons can look quite different.  Most of us think of watermelons being oblong shaped with bright red fruits and seeds but watermelons can have light pink, yellow or even orange flesh. 

Some have seeds and some do not, and the shapes can also vary. There is even a Japanese square watermelon.

Japanese Square Watermelon

Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Size of watermelons can also be different – with melons ranging from small miniature varieties to monsters that weigh over 200 pounds and win medals at the state fair.

Here are the most common watermelon types.

Seeded watermelon varieties

These watermelons are the ones I remember growing up.  They come in both round shapes and also the long, oblong type that is so popular at picnics.

Seeded watermelons range in size from 5 to 45 pounds.

seeded waternelon

Seeded watermelons can also be part of both the icebox and picnic varieties. The term applies just to the fact that they have seeds in them.

Seedless watermelon varieties

One of the common characteristics of many watermelons used to be that they had seeds,  However, since the 1990’s, this is not the case.

Breeding of watermelons over the years has resulted in watermelons that are very sweet but don’t have seeds. This type of watermelon revolutionized our buying habits and now seedless is the type that most people want.

Of course, we can’t have a watermelon seed spitting contest with this type of melon but that is a small price to pay for the ease of eating them!

seedless watermelon

Seedless watermelons are both round and oblong in shape. They weigh up to 25 pounds.  

Seedless types are not truly seedless. You will see white seed coats in the flesh of seedless watermelons, but they are undeveloped and edible.

Seedless watermelons account for about 85% of the watermelons grown today. It appears we no longer enjoy seed spitting competitions!

Icebox watermelons

As the name suggests, icebox watermelons are so named because of their size. They range from 5 to 15 pounds. This size makes them the perfect watermelon to keep in the fridge.icebox watermelons

Breeders grew them to feed a small family instead of a big crowd. The most popular icebox watermelon is Sugar Baby which grows to about 9 pounds.

Due to their smaller size, icebox watermelons mature earlier than the larger ones. Icebox watermelons can have red and pink flesh as well as the yellow/orange type.

Picnic watermelons

If you are planning to feed a crowd, get a picnic watermelon. These big guys weigh in between 15 and 50 pounds. This is the watermelon most of us remember from our childhoods.

It’s the perfect watermelon for a 4th of July barbecue.

Picnic Watermelons

They are generally oval shaped, (but can also be round) and have a bright green rind and deep red flesh. 

Some common varieties of the picnic watermelon are Charleston Gray  (30 pounds), Crimson Sweet (30 pounds) and Black Diamond (up to 75 pounds.)

Picnic watermelons have long maturity times because of their size.

The heaviest watermelon weigh in at around 350 pounds and holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. Now that’s quite a picnic!

Miniature watermelons

Standard watermelons require quite a bit of gardening space because of the spreading nature of their vines. Miniature watermelons can be grown in much smaller backyards.

Miniature watermelon

Mini watermelons are round in shape, but their size is much smaller than the big picnic types of watermelons. They can be as small as 1 pound and up to about 7 pounds.

The rinds are dark green with light green stripes and the shape is either round or slightly elongated. Mini watermelons are seedless.

Most miniature watermelons are about the same size as a large cantaloupe. They are sweet and crisp and very juicy. Their flesh runs from pale pink to deep red.

These small watermelons are seedless and perfect for storing and eating when there are just one or two of you who plan to indulge. 

Yellow and Orange Watermelons

When you cut into these watermelons, you will discover flesh that ranges from yellow to orange in color. This commercial variety originated in Africa.

It has a sweeter flavor which is quite honey-like compared to the melons with red flesh, but the nutritional benefits are similar.

These colorful watermelons are round in shape and can range in size from 10 to 30 pounds. They can be both seed and seedless types.

yellow watermelon

Photo credit thT. Tseng Flickr

Common types of yellow or orange watermelons are Honeyheart, Tendergold and Yellow Doll.

Fun Facts about Growing Watermelons

Now that we have learned about the watermelon varieties let’s brush up on some fun tips to make sure your watermelon grow well.

small watermelon plant

Trim watermelon vines so fruit will ripen faster.

I’ve heard that trimming the vines will make the watermelon ripen up what is there and the fruit will be bigger and better.

There does appear to be some truth to this statement.  Pruning the vines promotes bushier and healthier vines. Removing dead vines and melons that are not growing well will let the plant focus its energy on growing bigger, healthier and juicier melons.

One does need to be careful with pruning vines, however.  If you cut off the flowers that are growing, this could affect pollination.  (Watermelons need both male and female flowers in order to set fruit.)

Trimming off too many of female flowers might mean their will be less blooms for cross pollination and therefore less fruit.

watermelon patch

Why use aluminum foil under watermelons?

The silver aluminum foil is supposed to keep the melons from bugs and soil based problems, and is said to help with ripening.  I also like using it because I can see where the watermelons are when I approach the patch.

Aluminum foil under watermelons

Doing this trick increases the warmth for the developing fruits and also their sun exposure – this helps to speed up days to harvesting a little bit and (supposedly) can increase the sweetness of the watermelons.

Protecting watermelons from critters

It is not only humans that love the taste of watermelons, squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons do, too.Raccoon and watermelon

Protect your maturing fruits by covering them with laundry baskets weighted down with rocks. The openings in the mesh will allow sun in but will hopefully keep the critters out.

You can tell when a watermelon is ripe by the color of the underbelly

Watermelons, by nature, lie on the ground in one spot as they mature and their bellies change color.

As the plant gets closer to the time for harvesting it, the underbelly will change from green to a creamy white or yellow color (depends on the variety).A ripe watermelon has a yellow spot on the bottom

Check out this post for more tips on figuring out when to harvest your watermelons

Have you had luck growing watermelons?  Please let us know in the comment section below.

Pin these watermelon varieties for later.

Would you like a reminder of this post on the types of watermelons? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest.There are many watermelon varieties. Have you heard of square, seedless and yellow watermelons?

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in August of 2012. I have updated the post to more info on the types of water melons, some useful growing tips and a video for you to enjoy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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