Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus of the family Cucurbitaceae) is a vining, flowering plant originally from southern Africa. The fruit of the plant – also called Watermelon – has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and juicy, sweet, interior flesh usually deep-red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow or shades thereof, depending on the variety grown.
Watermelons have a longer growing period than most other garden plants and can take 85 days or more to mature. They need regular moisture, and plenty of room in the garden for their vines to spread. The threat of disease to watermelon plants is usually anthracnose or fusarium wilt; however, many varieties have resistance to disease as a result of careful breeding over the years. There are actually more than 1,200 varieties of watermelon, and they range in weight from less than 1 lb. to more than 200 lbs.
A watermelon contains about 92% water and 6% sugar by weight – hence the name “watermelon”. As with many other fruits, it is a good source of vitamin C. Watermelon is mildly diuretic and contains large amounts of beneficial beta carotene. The varieties with red flesh are also a significant source of lycopene.
Indeed, there are seedless watermelon varieties, but they do require attention to detail because the pollen of their flowers that set the fruit is sterile. They require “pollinizer” melons to be planted in the same area in the garden.