Yellow watermelons are just as natural as their red counterparts, with a delicate and mellow, sweet flavor that features subtle notes of honey and apricot. They look remarkably similar from the outside, but once you crack open the green rind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see a watermelon that’s yellow inside with white seeds!
Although most of us are definitely more familiar with red watermelons, these yellow varieties were actually cultivated first nearly 5,000 years ago in Africa! In fact, farmers intentionally bred the melon to improve its color, texture, and flavor to produce the red watermelons we commonly consume today.
Yellow watermelons get their bright yellow color from the strong antioxidant beta-carotene, which is the same organic pigment that gives cantaloupes, carrots, and sweet potatoes their yellow or orange color.
It used to be difficult to find their yellow fruits, but in recent years they’re popping up in farmer’s markets and grocery stores around the country. However, the best way to enjoy a regular supply of these sweet fruits is to grow them at home.
Fortunately, it’s simple to grow them and our guide provides you with all the information you’ll need to have the healthiest harvest of yellow watermelons which will not only amaze you but also impress your friends and family.
Botanical Name: Citrullus lanatus
Common Name: Yellow watermelon
Plant Type: Tender annual
Hardiness Zones: 3 – 12 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Type: Moist, rich, loamy soil
Soil pH: 6.0 to 8.0 (Acidic soil)
Maturity: 70 – 100 days (depending on variety)
Spacing: 4 feet
Native Area: Africa
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Yellow Watermelons
- Yellow watermelons thrive in hot weather and need a full day of sun to produce fruit. Plant them away from buildings and trees that might cast shade on them.
- Plant yellow watermelons in spring after the soil has warmed. Don’t start planting until it’s been at least two weeks since the last frost.
- Yellow watermelons grow best in moist, rich, loamy soil and don’t require any chemical fertilizers to produce fruit.
- Maintain moist soil without making it soggy until the fruit develops and then limit watering to when the soil is dry to the touch after the fruits reach softball size.
What is Yellow Watermelon?
As you might expect, the name ‘yellow watermelon’ refers to the variety’s beautiful, bright golden flesh. Both the red and yellow varieties have the same striped green rind on the outside.
The red color of the traditional type comes from lycopene, an organic pigment and powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and grapefruits. The yellow variety does not turn red because it lacks lycopene, but it makes up for it by containing another strong antioxidant called beta-carotene!
Is Yellow Watermelon Natural?
Yes, a yellow watermelon is just as natural as a red watermelon!
Although you may be more familiar with the latter, yellow meat watermelon was actually cultivated first and has been grown in Africa for nearly 5,000 years.
In fact, farmers actually intentionally bred the melon to improve its color, texture, and flavor, as they do with most of our produce today.
Is Yellow Watermelon Better than Red Watermelon?
From a health perspective, both types contain significant amounts of immune-boosting vitamins A and C!
And although the yellow variety lacks lycopene, it does contain the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. This happens to be the same organic pigment and antioxidant that gives carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes their yellow or orange color.
Both these types of watermelons also come in seeded and seedless varieties, which happen to also be a product of natural cross-breeding.
Apart from that, besides the obvious color difference, yellow and pink watermelons taste slightly different. The yellow variety typically tastes a little sweeter than the pink ones and has a more honey-like flavor.
Plus, you can use either kind interchangeably in recipes for fruit salads, smoothies, desserts, and other refreshing snacks. You can even mix them into cocktails for an incredible summer drink with subtle notes of honey and apricot.
Yellow Watermelon Plant Care
Flavor is sometimes overlooked in the pursuit of breeding watermelons with fewer seeds and faster maturing time. This is definitely not the case with yellow watermelon plants.
Even though yellow watermelon often has seeds, the taste isn’t affected. In fact, many watermelon experts claim that the yellow variety actually produces fruits that are much tastier than the more common red varieties.
On the surface, the fruits do not differ in appearance from those of the red varieties. The plants have the same lobed leaves and are light green with dark green stripes.
Some yellow watermelon plants make big fruits that weigh between 20 and 40 pounds and are great for sharing at a picnic or party. Other plants make small fruits that weigh only 6 pounds. The plants are hardy and thrive in warm climates with long summers.
Grow both yellow and red watermelon vines in the same garden, and serve a mix of yellow and red fruits at your next backyard barbecue to impress your guests. What’s best is that yellow watermelons can be used interchangeably in all your favorite recipes, from salads to even cocktails!
Plant yellow watermelons by seed in spring when the soil has warmed. Depending on the variety, it takes between 70 and 100 days to grow produce to harvesting maturity.
Watermelon plants in yellow require a full day of sunlight. Put them in a sunny spot apart from any nearby buildings or trees that can cast shade on these juicy, yellow fruits.
The best soil to grow yellow watermelons in is one that is rich and sandy. This will also give you the healthiest harvest with the tastiest fruit, especially if they receive adequate levels of sunlight as we mentioned above.
Poor soils can benefit from the addition of compost or manure, while places with clay soil can benefit from raised beds supplemented with amended soil.
Maintain moist soil without making it soggy until the fruit develops. Once these yellow fruits reach softball size, watering should be limited to when the soil is completely dry to the touch.
Overwatering can result in fast growth and cracking.
Temperature and Humidity
Yellow watermelons thrive in hot weather. However, consider using a shade cloth to protect the plant from excessive heat if your area happens to experience an extended hot spell in the triple digits.
The combination of high temperatures and excessive humidity can make plants susceptible to powdery mildew. Increase spacing to improve airflow and decrease fungal spores if you’re based in an area with such climate conditions.
To grow yellow watermelons, you don’t need to use chemical fertilizers. Leaf mold, compost, or manure applied as a top dressing will boost soil fertility and tilth by providing a gradual, continuous supply of nutrients.
Some commercial farmers have been known to inject nitrogen fertilizer or other chemicals into fruits in order to accelerate rapid growth. Never do this with a watermelon that you intend to eat.
Different Varieties of Yellow Watermelons
Yellow meat watermelons used to be incredibly rare, but it’s become easier to get your hands on these delicious fruits in recent years from your local farmers market or even grocery store.
But the best way to enjoy these fruits regularly is to grow your own using seeds that can be easily purchased from Amazon.
Here are some popular varieties of yellow watermelons that you should consider buying:
- Yellow Crimson: This variety makes up the majority of the yellow watermelons you’ll see at the grocery store. It appears identical to a typical red watermelon and is very similar to the red ‘Crimson Sweet’ variety. However, its pulp is sweeter and turns yellow when ripe.
- Buttercup Yellow Melon: If you’re looking for a seedless variety that’s pure sweetness inside, then this is the one for you. In fact, it’s a hybrid variety that’s considered to be one of the sweetest of all seedless watermelons we currently have available!
- Yellow Flesh Black Diamond: This variety has a beautiful, dark green rind and tastes similar to a pink watermelon in terms of sweetness.
- Desert King: If you’re looking for a variety that’s packed with the strong antioxidant beta-carotene, then this is the one for you! The flesh of ripe fruit from this variety is almost just as orange as a cantaloupe but with a delicious sweetness and honey-apricot flavor.
- Yellow Doll: This variety is definitely as sweet as the name implies! It also happens to mature faster than other varieties and is smaller at around 5 to 7 pounds per fruit, making it the ideal variety to grow vertically in containers.
- Mountain Sweet Yellow: This is a great heirloom variety that features a dark green rind marked with lighter green stripes. And what’s best is that it produces jumbo fruit, averaging 20 to 35 pounds each!
Growing Yellow Watermelon vs. Red Watermelon
Red and yellow watermelon seeds, plants, and fruits all look nearly the same, so it’s important to buy properly labeled seeds or plants so you don’t get a red surprise when you cut into your melon!
Seeds saved from an organic heirloom, like ‘Mountain Sweet Yellow,’ will produce true-to-type plants, while seeds saved from a hybrid, like ‘Yellow Doll,’ will not produce genetically identical offspring.
How to Plant and Grow Yellow Watermelons
Yellow watermelon plants, like all melon plants, thrive in well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of sunlight. If you live where summers are short, choose a bush baby variety that is ready to harvest in less than 70 days.
Avoid planting yellow watermelons in the same spots as other melons, squash, or cucumbers the previous year to keep pests and diseases at bay.
How to Grow Yellow Watermelons from Seeds
It is not recommended to start watermelon seeds indoors. Plant seeds outside when soil temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important that not only the air but also the ground be warm. Don’t start planting until it’s been at least two weeks since the last frost. Planting in raised beds or under a plastic sheet will also help the soil warm up faster.
Make a hill of soil about 6 to 8 inches high to plant seeds. Each row should be at least 4 feet apart, and each mound should be at least 3 feet apart. Plant two to three seeds in the mound, spacing them out by about 6 inches.
After approximately eight days of germination, remove all but the strongest seedling.
Harvesting Yellow Watermelon
Small changes in the fruit and the vine can be used to gauge how ripe a yellow watermelon is.
As growth slows or stops, the vine or leaves nearest to the fruit may turn yellow or brown. The bottom of the fruit may turn a pale or yellow color, and the rind may go from shiny to dull and rough.
If the rind of a watermelon is mostly yellow, it is likely too ripe and no longer good to eat. After being harvested, watermelons can typically remain unrefrigerated for approximately seven days.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Yellow Watermelon
Inspect young plants frequently for squash bugs and squash vine borers, and remove egg masses or treat with carbaryl. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for cucumber beetles which can infest your yellow watermelons just as much as their red counterparts. Other common pests include aphids and spider mites.
In cold or rainy conditions, fungal diseases are more common. By watering plants at the soil level rather than from above, fungal spores can be reduced.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.