Watermelons are delicious, but they can be tricky to grow. If you notice that your watermelon leaves are sticky, there are a few reasons for this. While some of these issues can be fixed. Here’s what causes sticky leaves on watermelons:
Watermelon leaves over watered
Watermelon leaves are a sign of over-watering, which can be a problem for young plants. The good news is that many people don’t realize that their watermelons need to be watered regularly but not too much.
Watermelon plants need plenty of water in the soil around their roots, but they shouldn’t be submerged in it or left sitting in puddles after watering.
Watermelons are fairly tolerant of dry soil and won’t suffer if you forget to water them for a few days. But if you have an established plant with lots of fruit on it, you’ll want to check for leaves turning sticky before adding any more water directly onto the plant itself.
Use fertilizer sparingly. Don’t use too much fertilizer on your watermelon plants, especially in a container gardening setup.
Fertilizing watermelons in a container garden is easy. You can choose any fertilizer that’s suitable for your chosen type of soil, but make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.
For example, if you’re using a liquid fertilizer, be sure to dilute it with water before applying it to your plants. Use a ratio of one part fertilizer to three parts water.
If you’re using granular fertilizer, sprinkle it on the soil around your plant in the morning so that it has time to absorb some water before nightfall.
Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects that feed by sucking plant juices from the leaves, stems, and flowers of plants. They are a common pest on many types of plants.
The most common species in North America is the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), which is yellowish or green in color with a dark longitudinal stripe.
When infested with aphids, watermelon leaves will become sticky and distorted as they suck out the juices from inside the leaf tissue. This causes them to turn pale or whitish in color and look wrinkled because they have no chlorophyll left in them.
Scale insects are small, immobile, and round. They live on the surface of leaves, stems, and fruit. Some are brown or black; others are white.
Scales feed on plant sap and secrete honeydew—a sugary substance that ants love to eat.
Scale insects can be found on many types of trees, shrubs, and vines. They are not harmful to the plants themselves but may cause cosmetic damage if not controlled which reduces the aesthetic appeal of certain ornamental or edible crops.
Mealybugs are small, white insects that can be found on the undersides of watermelon leaves. They form cottony masses and feed on the fluids in plants. They also excrete honeydew, which can attract ants and other insects.
Mealybugs are difficult to identify because they look similar to several other common pests such as aphids and whiteflies. You may see them as small white dots or clumps of “cotton” on your plant leaves or fruit rinds—especially if you’ve had a lot of rain recently.
Thrips are tiny insects that feed on the underside of leaves. You may not see them, but they can be a problem in hot weather. They can cause yellowing, leaf curling and premature ripening, and loss of fruit.
A melon worm is a caterpillar-like insect that can be green, yellow, or white. This pest causes damage to the plant by eating leaves and fruit, but they can also be found in the soil and on plants.
You can find them crawling on the ground when it’s warm outside, so check your garden if you see signs of them. If there are any eggs underneath a leaf or near the surface of dirt, destroy those as well because they will hatch into an adult worm within days to weeks depending on how long it takes for conditions to become warm enough for them to grow into adulthood.
All in all watermelon is a great plant to have in your garden. It’s easy to grow and it produces delicious fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked. Make sure you keep an eye out for signs of pests so that they don’t get out of control and ruin your harvest.