For home gardeners looking for a small melon packed with flavor, the Bush Sugar Baby may be the perfect fit. Known as a type of “Icebox watermelon” for its ability to fit in a refrigerator, this popular fruit is sweet, juicy, and flavorful.
Read on to learn everything there is to know about the Bush Sugar Baby watermelon.
Characteristics of Bush Sugar Baby Watermelons
What They Look Like
Bush Sugar Babies boast a dark green exterior without any stripes, making them easily identifiable. On the inside, their flesh is a deep pink or red, scattered with some black seeds.
Bush Sugar Baby Size
The Bush Sugar Baby falls under a group of watermelons nicknamed “Icebox watermelons” because of their smaller size. The fruit grows up to six to 12 pounds, while its vines only grow to 3.5 feet. These characteristics make it a great option for home growers without the space that full-sized watermelons require.
Eating a Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon
How it Tastes
Sugar Baby Bush watermelons are known for their sweetness. In fact, their sugar concentration is one of the highest among watermelons, similar to that of strawberries. Their flesh is crisp and juicy, making each bite extra refreshing.
Ways to Use It
You can’t go wrong eating a Bush Sugar Baby watermelon by itself. But if you’re looking to get more creative, this watermelon’s rich flavor provides a variety of options.
Because the Sugar Baby Bush watermelon tastes so sweet, it’s perfect to use in dessert recipes like this one-ingredient watermelon sorbet. To balance out the fruit’s sweetness, try more savory recipes like a watermelon and radish salad or even a watermelon salsa.
Health Benefits of Sugar Baby Bush Watermelon
As our blog post about Watermelon Health Benefits shows, watermelons are good for us. The Sugar Baby Bush is no exception.
For starters, their high water content can help keep you hydrated, and they’re packed with antioxidants that aid with muscle repair.
These watermelons also are a good source of vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin. They’re low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, making them a heart-healthy snack choice.
Where to Buy the Fruit
If you’re already craving this sweet melon, visit your local farmer’s market, or contact nearby watermelon farms to see if they grow Bush Sugar Babies.
Read on if you want to learn about growing these watermelons yourself.
Growing Them at Home
Bush Sugar Baby watermelons require less space and growing time than other watermelon varieties, making them a great option for many home growers.
We’ll cover some of the basics right now – for more in-depth information, check out our Watermelon Growing Guide which walks you through the process from start to finish.
Sugar Baby Bush watermelons require warmth and sunlight, so wait until the danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm, with a temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. They should have direct sunlight, rich soil, and plenty of moisture.
Typically, the Bush Sugar Baby watermelon ripens 75 days after germination.
Planting Your Sugar Baby Bush Seeds
Watermelon seeds can be planted using the direct sowing method (planting them directly into the ground outside) or transplanting them (growing them inside first and moving them outside once the weather is warm).
Either way, make sure the soil is fertile before planting. I recommend using fertilizer or compost to give it the proper nutrients.
If you’re planting outside, plant three seeds every three feet, one inch below the surface of the soil. Once your seedlings have their first leaves, thin the area to one plant per location.
If you’re planning to start your Sugar Baby Bush in a pot, plant two to three seeds one inch deep in a two-inch pot. Keep it well watered until one week before transplanting. When you’re ready to move it outdoors, plant the seedlings three feet apart. Be sure not to disturb the roots, and water the plant thoroughly.
For more tips, take a look at this in-depth post about Planting Watermelons.
Watering and Maintenance
Like other watermelons, these fruits require plenty of water. When they are younger, give Bush Sugar Baby plants up to two inches of water per week. Once the fruit appears, reduce watering to one inch per week.
To prevent the melons from rotting, I recommend picking them up and turning them as they get bigger. While you don’t need to prune the watermelon, it can sometimes help the fruits grow. To do so, remove the smaller vines that grow horizontally.
Pests and Diseases
Watermelons can attract pests, including aphids, beetles, and worms. If you notice damage to your fruits or other signs of pests, find tips in our blog post on Identifying and Treating Watermelon Pests.
Diseases to look out for include fungi, mildew, bacteria, and viruses. If you notice lesions, discoloration of the leaves, or wilting, read our guide on Watermelon Diseases to find out how to manage common diseases affecting watermelon.
Harvesting Your Watermelon
Watermelon is ripe when the tendril where it attaches to the vine turns brown or if the fruit starts to turn yellow where it touches the ground. The rind should be the expected shade of green and tough enough that your fingernail doesn’t easily scratch it.
To make sure you pick your watermelon at just the right time, read our blog post on 7 Ways to Tell When Watermelon is Ripe.
One week before harvesting, stop watering your plant (over-watering it can make it blander, so this step will ensure your fruit maintains its flavor).
When harvesting Bush Sugar Babies, cut the plant from the vine with garden shears or plant scissors. Leave a few inches of stem attached to the fruit. Ensure your tools are sharp so that you don’t have to pull or yank on the vine, which can damage the plant.
Our blog post on Harvesting Watermelon goes into more detail about best harvesting practices.
Chill before serving, and enjoy your fresh fruit!
Where to Get Seeds
If you can’t get your hands on a ripe Bush Sugar Baby, you’ll be able to track down seeds much more easily. Here are a couple of options from two of our favorite seed retailers, Hoss Tools and True Leaf Market.
A Perfectly Sweet, Small Melon
The Bush Sugar Baby watermelon is sweet, juicy, and conveniently sized, making it an excellent choice for any watermelon craving. Whether you plan to buy the fruit or grow it yourself, it is sure to pack a flavorful punch.
Want to learn even more about watermelon varieties or how to grow these fruits? Check out our Watermelon Plants page for more blog posts and helpful growing and care guides!