Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Watermelon
Citrullus lanatus 'Desert King'

Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Citrullus (SIT-ruh-lus) (Info)
Species: lanatus (la-NA-tus) (Info)
Cultivar: Desert King

» View all varieties of Melons

One vendor has this plant for sale.

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Days to Maturity:
81 to 90 days

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ChiBee On Mar 29, 2011, ChiBee from Catharpin, VA wrote:

Super easy to grow! I started seeds bought from Baker Creek, indoors last year 3 weeks before my last frost. Due to gardening chaos, I accidentally forgot about these watermelon seedlings for a few weeks! They were dry, scraggly, and had tons of roots growing through the peat pots (which saved them I think), but still sorta green. So I planted 2 of them in a deserted spot in the garden (thinking they were dying anyway), fed them compost and watered them. Within a few weeks, they had not only survived but started to cover the nearby fence! I only watered them occasionally, but they still continued to grow even through a semi-drought time, and even produced 3 small, wonderfully flavored melons for us! The squash bugs left them alone, even though a nearby zucchini was infested. These watermelon are amazing!

Positive cowtrailrd On Aug 17, 2009, cowtrailrd from Shawnee, OK wrote:

this is the second year I have grown this melon. Have had good luck both years and will continue growing. Productive and good tasting, although I prefer orangeglo's taste and texture. I have now have a black melon with tough skin, gold flesh being produced form seed of desert king grown last year. Very good flavor don't know how the cross occured. Will try growing from their seed.

Neutral cowboybob4 On Oct 25, 2008, cowboybob4 from Laurel, MS wrote:

Easy to grow. Very big seeds. Average taste.

Positive lawyergardener On Feb 2, 2007, lawyergardener from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Exceptional watermelon for the home grower who may be absent at times. Quick growing, disease resistant, quick to fruit/ripen, holds on vine a very long time, drought resistant! Even held up well to cold, lasting through several light freezes and continuing to produce melons during that time.

We bought a desert king at a local fruit stand, ate it for Fourth of July, saved the seeds and immediately planted them in the side yard of our new vacation home. We ended up with at least four fruiting vines, and many more we thinned.

By late September (remember, it was planted 7/4/06!) we ate our first melon, and we enjoyed numerous more before the third frost killed them for good. Melons lasted long on the vine, and the vines were tough, lasting far longer than the cantaloupe when cold weather arrived. We only watered on weekends - in Georgia's hot summer - and the watermelons didn't mind at all. Sweet off the vine when fully ripe, although they loose a little sweetness if left on the vine too long (but still delicious, per my six year old, who knows about all things sweet).

Desert King is really a no-fail watermelon, and the bright yellow flesh is a conversation starter at parties and family get-togethers.

Positive Indy On Dec 19, 2005, Indy from Alexandria, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a healthy grower of nice sized fruits. Boy, those seeds are huge though.

Positive Farmerdill On Nov 7, 2003, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

The Desert King is a good producer even under adverse conditions. It is round melon, very light green which averages about 30 lbs. The flesh is bright yellow and very tasty althogh I prefer Orangeglo and Tendersweet. Particularly, here in Georgia, the King has a distinctive advantage in that it does not sunburn and will hold on the vine for a considerable time.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Queen Creek, Arizona
Augusta, Georgia
Washington, Georgia
Alexandria, Indiana
Laurel, Mississippi
Boise City, Oklahoma
Shawnee, Oklahoma
Catharpin, Virginia
Troy, Virginia

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