Growing a giant watermelon is an impressive feat that’s well worth the time and effort. Watching your fruit grow from a tiny seed into a huge fruit is sure to give you the ultimate bragging rights!
Whether you’re planning to enter a watermelon growing contest or just want a variety big enough to meet your watermelon needs, keep reading to learn about various giant watermelon varieties!
History of the Giant Watermelon
In 1916, Hope, Arkansas resident John S. Gibson Sr. began holding a competition offering small prizes for the largest local fruits and vegetables. In 1925, brothers Huge and Edgar Laseter sought to grow the largest watermelon, and Hugh brought home the title with a giant watermelon weighing in at 136 pounds.
The impressive watermelon was shipped to President Calvin Coolidge, where the presentation ceremony was broadcast on radio. The giant watermelon brought lots of excitement to the area where the watermelon came from. The first Hope Watermelon Festival took place the following year in 1926.
For five years the annual ceremony was an impressive event with parades, guest speakers, dances, and more. The festival of 1928 even brought in a crowd of 30,000! However, Hope was a small town, and the effects of the Great Depression directly impacted Hope’s ability to support such a large gathering each year and 1930 would be the last watermelon festival for nearly five decades.
The festival was reinstated in 1977. Although it’s less show than before – the festival still draws plenty of competitors, eager to show off their own giant watermelon. Many record-breaking watermelons have been displayed during the Hope Watermelon Festival, including a 268-pound giant watermelon that was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records in 2005.
Giant watermelon festivals have grown in popularity throughout the last century, with competitions often held at local state fairs or farms across the United States. The current world record for the largest watermelon was set by Tennessee resident Chris Kent in 2013 – weighing in at a whopping 350.5 pounds!
So now that you know the history of giant watermelon contests, let’s get into some of the varieties of melons that you’ll find competing for first prize!
The Congo watermelon is a very sweet heirloom variety that can have a sugar content of up to 9.5%. The rind is very durable, making the oblong fruit bruise-resistant. Congo watermelons mature in about 90 days and generally reach between 35 to 50 pounds.
This variety prefers full sun, eight feet of spacing in all directions, and soil that is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
To add this giant watermelon variety to your garden, check out these Congo Watermelon Seeds from Hoss Tools.
2. Florida Giant
The Florida Giant watermelon, aptly named for its place of origin in the 1940s, is an heirloom variety well-known for growing some of the biggest watermelons. This variety averages between 30 to 50 pounds, but has been known to reach up to 90 pounds.
The fruit is round with a dark green rind and sweet bright red flesh. Florida Giants should be planted in full sun with six to eight feet of space in between plants.
To get started on your giant watermelon journey, try these Florida Giant Watermelon Seeds from one of our favorite seed retailers, True Leaf Market.
3. Carolina Cross 180
Often found in watermelon competitions, the Carolina Cross 180 is an heirloom variety well-known for producing giant watermelons. 50 to 60 pounds is average, but with proper care, this variety can easily produce fruit up to 200 pounds.
The watermelon is oblong with a thick bruise-resistant rind. The interior has a crisp and sweet dark red flesh.
This variety needs an average of 90 days to reach maturity, but once ripe it continues to grow on the vine. This variety needs 12 feet of space in all directions to grow to its full potential. Full sun and sandy, well-drained soil of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal conditions for the Carolina Cross 180.
To start growing your own giant watermelon, check out these Carolina Cross Watermelon Seeds from Hoss Tools!
The Jubilee watermelon was developed by the University of Florida in 1963 so it grows especially well in hot and humid climates. This oblong variety is extra sweet, and averages between 25 to 40 pounds. Under 32 pounds is not considered a giant watermelon, but, with attentive care, it should be easy to grow this variety into the giant melon range.
Jubilee watermelons prefer full sun, six feet of spacing in between plants, and mature in about 95 days. This variety is disease resistant, particularly against wilt.
Check out these Jubilee Watermelon Seeds from Hoss Tools to get started with your own Jubilee watermelon!
5. Kleckley Sweet
Like the Jubilee watermelon, the Kleckley Sweet heirloom variety averages between 25 to 40 pounds. The flesh is very sweet, and a thin rind makes this oblong variety great for slicing.
Kleckley Sweet watermelons mature in about 85 days and prefer full sun and soil that’s at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try these Kleckley Sweet Watermelon Seeds from True Leaf Market to add this variety to your garden!
6. Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Watermelon stems from 1950s Arkansas. This giant watermelon variety lacks the typical watermelon stripes and instead has a dark green-black rind with a bright red flesh. The fruit is oval and averages between 30 to 50 pounds.
Black Diamond watermelons mature in about 90 days and prefer full sun, rich soil, and four to six feet of spacing between plants.
Add this variety to your garden by purchasing these Black Diamond Watermelon Seeds from True Leaf Market.
The Garrisonian watermelon variety produces giant watermelons that average about 35 pounds. The fruit is oblong with rosy pink flesh and a light green rind with dark stripes. The pleasant color of the flesh makes this variety great for culinary purposes such as gazpacho, salads, garnishings, or sorbets.
Garrisonian watermelons mature in about 85 days and need at least three feet of spacing.
If you’d like to grow your own Garrisonian watermelon, check out these seeds from True Leaf Market!
So Many Types of Giant Watermelon
With so many varieties to choose from, you’re sure to have a giant watermelon thriving in your garden in no time. Although giant melons need lots of care and patience, being able to say you grew a prizewinning watermelon makes the effort worth growing a brag-worthy fruit!
For more information about this delicious summer fruit, visit our Watermelon Plants page to learn more about growing, planting, harvesting, and more!