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How to Prune Watermelon Plants

Watermelon plants are a labor-intensive plant to grow in a garden; however, many gardeners consider this work to be a labor of love that is worth the bountiful harvest. Watermelon plants require large amounts of water and fertilizer in order to produce healthy watermelons. Gardeners who are short on garden space sometimes opt to grow watermelons on trellis systems. When you grow watermelons in this fashion, be sure to prune the watermelon plants for optimal harvest. Pruning watermelons that do not grow on trellis systems is optional.

Examine the watermelon plants when they are well established. Find the primary stem of each plant. This primary stem will have many lateral branches extending out from it on both sides.

Keep the primary stem of each watermelon plant intact. In addition, keep the top lateral branch extending off from each primary stem.

Cut away the lateral branches between the top lateral branch and the eighth leaf node lateral branch from the top. This will enable you to train the watermelon vine to the trellis using this bare part of the vine.

Allow all lateral branches below the eighth leaf node to grow without pruning.

Monitor the watermelon plants regularly and cut away any branches and fruit that appear unhealthy or diseased. Dispose of these removed parts immediately to prevent a spread of disease. Strive to maintain a balance of vines and fruit on the watermelon plants.

Plants Should Not Be Planted Next To Watermelons?

Because they grow so large, watermelons need more time on the vine than many other food items in your garden, often 100 days. This duration, as well as the large amount of ground space required by watermelon vines, means you should take special care to plant the watermelons in just the right spot to prevent disease, pests and negative changes in the fruit from the beginning. This substance leaches into the ground and harms most nearby plants. Aphids often like to start out their lives on plants such as mustard greens or flowering perennials such as roses, so keep those plants away from watermelon; the aphids can easily move their home over to the watermelon leaves, causing leaf curl and death. This means they often transfer pollen from one type of plant to another. This isn't usually a big problem with watermelons, since watermelons don't cross-pollinate with many plants, including closely related ones such as cantaloupe. Keep different varieties of watermelon and the citron melon as separate as possible in your yard to help prevent cross-pollination. At least, they shouldn't be placed directly next to each other.

Tip

The goal of pruning watermelon plants is to make sure there is an equal number of vines and fruits. When pruning is accomplished properly, each watermelon will be larger and of higher quality.

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