Grow cantaloupe from seeds

Growing Honeydew from Seeds

Honeydew melons are easy to grow from seed, and several varieties of hybrid and heirloom seeds are available through catalogs and seed exchanges. You can even plant the seeds from store-bought honeydew melons, although the melons grown from those seeds may be smaller or otherwise inferior to the melon they came from, due to cross-pollination in the field where the original melon was grown.

Starting Honeydew Seeds Indoors

To get a head start on melons or in areas with a short growing season, start transplants from seeds indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Plant seeds one inch deep in sterile seed-starting media. Melons don’t like roots disturbed, so start transplants in individual containers or peat pots. A heat mat or warm germination location promotes earlier germination.
Roots grow large quickly on honeydew melons, so be sure to use a large enough starting container. A 2-inch diameter pot or 6-ounce yogurt cup with drainage holes will accommodate a honeydew melon seedling for the 3 to 4-week period, but the plants become root-bound left in that size container much longer.
When the honeydew seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, thin to the strongest seedling in each container. After all danger of frost is passed, plant out in the garden in the recommended final spacing for either hills or rows. A starter fertilizer at transplant time gets the young honeydew plants off to a strong start.

Direct Seeding Honeydew in the Garden

In areas with a growing season longer than 120 days, honeydew can be direct seeded in the garden. Honeydew seed germinates best in warm soil, with the optimum soil temperature for germination around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. A black plastic mulch, with holes cut out for the individual melon plants, warms the soil up faster to promote earlier growth and fruit production. Melon vines sprawl, so allow plenty of space. Honeydew melons can be grown either in rows of single plants or groups of plants

Growing Honeydew from Seeds in Hills

In the hill system, groups of multiple melon vines are planted. Space groups of 2 plants 36 inches apart, and space groups of 3 plants 48 inches apart. The hills don’t need to be raised, but they should have plenty of organic matter worked into the soil. Plant 5-6 seeds in each hill. When the seedlings have 4 leaves, choose the best 2 or 3 seedlings in each hill, and cut the rest at soil level using scissors or small garden pruners.

Growing Honeydew from Seeds in Rows

In the row system, single honeydew plants are spaced in a row at 18 to 24-inch intervals, with rows spaced at least 5 feet apart to allow the vines to run. As with hills, the rows should have plenty of organic matter. Plant seeds 12 inches apart and thin to the strongest seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart when they have four true leaves.

Caring for Honeydew Grown From Seed

With plenty of well-rotted manure worked into the soil before planting seeds or transplants, honeydew plants require little additional fertilizer. Apply a side-dressing of high-nitrogen fertilizer when the vines start running to promote good vine growth, but avoid excessive nitrogen. Honeydew plants also thrive with a high-potassium fertilizer. A steady supply of water, with less as the melons start ripening, ensures the best flavor and healthiest plants

Melon Seed Harvesting And Storage: Tips For Collecting Seeds From Melons

Collecting seeds from garden fruits and vegetables can be thrifty, creative and fun for a gardener. Saving melon seeds from this year’s crop to plant in next year’s garden requires planning and attention to detail. Read on for tips about collecting seeds from melons.

Collecting Seeds from Melons

Melons are members of the cucumber family, and they are open pollinated by wind or insects. This means that melons cross-pollinate with others in their family. Before you start saving melon seeds, be sure that the melon species you want to propagate are not planted within a half mile of other types of melons.

Melon seeds grow inside the fleshy fruit. Wait until the fruits are fully ripe and separated from the vine before collecting seeds from melons. In cantaloupe, for example, look for thick netting and a pungent melon smell from the stem end.

To start saving melon seeds, cut open the fruit lengthwise and scoop out the seed masses into a jar. Add a little warm water and allow the mixture to sit for two to four days, stirring daily.

As the melon seeds sit in water, they ferment. During this process, the good seeds sink to the bottom of the jar while the detritus floats to the top. To collect seeds from melons, pour off the water containing the pulp and bad seeds. Now let’s learn how to preserve melon seeds for future planting.

Storing Melon Seeds

Melon seed harvesting is a waste of your time unless you learn how to preserve melon seeds until planting time. Drying the seeds thoroughly is the key. After the soaking process, put the good seeds in a strainer and wash them clean.

Spread the good seeds out on a paper towel or a screen. Allow them to dry for several days. Storing melon seeds that are not completely dry results in moldy seeds.

Once the seeds are very dry, place them in a clean, dry glass jar. Write the seed variety and the date on a label and tape it to the jar. Put the jar in the freezer for two days, and then move to the refrigerator.

How to Grow Honeydew Melons

Days to germination: 5 to 10 days
Days to harvest: 80 to 100 days
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Regularly until fruit is developed
Soil: Loose, fertile and draining
Container: Shorter varieties work best


The flesh of a honeydew is creamy pale to very light green, and is a great fruit to grow for anyone who doesn’t want to maintain an orchard. For cooler areas with shorter growing seasons, you can try growing Earlidew melons. They mature in 80 days. Unlike the rough cantaloupe, a honeydew melon is smooth-skinned so don’t confuse the two.

The fruit is typically eaten fresh and raw, with most of the melon being edible once you scoop out the cluster of seeds in the center. Melon is a wonderful source of vitamins C and A, and there is also potassium and magnesium in the them.

Starting from Seed

If you have a long growing season, you can probably plant your seeds right out in the garden if you wish. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to get your seeds going indoors so you can get a head start on the season.

Melons have pretty delicate roots, so you will want to make your transplanting as easy as possible later. It’s best to start your seeds in paper or other compost-able pots so that you don’t damage the seedlings at planting time.

Start your seeds about a month before the frost date, sowing the seeds about an inch under the loose potting soil. Keep them warm and well-watered.


Your seedlings can be planted out about 3 weeks after the last frost date, after the soil has warmed up. When you plant your seedlings, rip or break open the bottom of the seedling pots and plant the entire thing. Seedlings can be placed in small hills (2 or 3 plants per hill), leaving 2 to 3 feet between each group. Honeydew melons will spread out quite a bit.

Before you plant, prepare the soil with some thorough digging and aged manure (or compost). Honeydew melon roots will suffer if there are too many rocks in the soil.

If you’ve decided to plant your seeds into the garden rather than as seedlings, you will be planting them out around the same time. Dig your soil well, and space out your seeds the same as if you were putting out seedlings (in hills, a few feet apart). You may want to plant a few seeds extra and thin out afterwards to make sure you get enough sprouts.

For smaller gardens, you can try to grow honeydew melons on a trellis to save all that spreading space. You’ll need some solid support and a way to keep the melons from snapping of the vines as they grow. Put your trellis up before you plant your seedlings, or the stakes may damage the roots later on.

Growing Instructions

Melons will need a lot of water as the plants are growing, but you don’t want to overdo it once the fruit is forming. If you water too often, you can end up with watery bland fruit. Sweeter melons come from letting your plants stay a bit on the dry side during growth. Of course, you don’t want to kill your plants either. It can take some experience, but the if you let the soil dry out between waterings, you should get the desired results.

If you can keep your growing melons off the soil, you will greatly reduce any damage from insects or rot. Slide an old flower pot dish, coffee can lid or a broken floor tile under each fruit. Don’t use a piece of wood as that will just absorb moisture from the soil and actually speed up any rot.

For melons growing on a trellis, you have to keep a close eye on the growing fruit. The vines won’t be able to support them, so you will need to give support to the melons as well as the vines. Soft fabric can be used like a hammock under each one, as long as you are careful not to break the vines when you attach it.


You can grow honeydews in a container, but the vines will still grow for several feet over the edges unless you are using a trellis. And even with a large container, a loaded trellis of melons and vines will likely be top-heavy. Basically, containers can be awkward but a viable option for growing your honeydew melons. Use a 5-gallon pail (or larger) for each plant.

Pests and Diseases

Bacterial wilt is one of the most problematic diseases for any melon plant, but you can get some varieties that have been bred to be resistant. Wilt can survive in your soil for several years, so you can help to keep it from becoming a problem by rotating your crops and not growing honeydew melons (or cantaloupes) in the same garden space every year. If your melons sudden wilt, as quickly as overnight, then this is likely the problem and there is no treatment. Dig up the effected plants immediately, and hope it hasn’t spread.

The leaves can get seriously damaged by some other vegetable garden pests: cucumber beetles. You may want to plant your melons away from any cucumber or squash plants, but these insects are so wide-spread that it may not help. Pick them off when you see them, and spray the leaves regularly with a natural insecticide.

Low-growing melon vines can also get a powdery white mildew on their leaves, though it is less of a problem with trellised plants. Spray with fungicide if you see it forming. It’s usually not a serious problem unless it starts to kill off the leaves.

Harvest and Storage

Honeydew melons have to fully ripen before they are picked, so don’t plan on picking any early. The skin will turn very pale, almost white when the melon is ready to pick and the fruit should come off the vine with hardly any pressure.

You can’t really store your melons for any long-term use, so plan on enjoying them while they are still fresh. Honeydews store fine in the refrigerator for a week or two at the longest.

Your melons can handle a light frost, but are not that cold-tolerant. When the first frost date is approaching, try to harvest any remaining melons. Covering the plants can help if an unseasonal frost is expected.

  1. Barbara Worth Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the melon info. I need to know how many hours of light per day are required for the vine to produce. I have cantelopes and something that tastes like Honeydew.

    I’m in northwest Arkansas and want to try melons in my passive solar greenhouse. I want to plant the seeds in large pots this week. 🙂

  2. Cheralyn Says:
    August 25th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Any advice on what happened to my melons? I had 2 very beautiful vines with many blossoms, went on vacation for 10 days and when I came back all of the leaves were dead! My neighbor was supposed to water and we did get rain so I wonder if they were sick or just dried up. Any advice? There are a few small fruits growing and the vines still look healthy but all of the leaves are dried and brown 🙁

  3. Eva Says:
    August 28th, 2012 at 2:09 am

    You grow them in full sun, so around 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight everyday

  4. carol parrish Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for info. Tried starting seeds in house but seeds never sprouted. Temp could be a factor. Is it too late to start indoors or should I plant them outdoors?

  5. John Sime Says:
    August 5th, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I live in Cheltenham Gloucestershire U.K.
    Can I use this information here?
    As I have a 16’6″squared and paved patio(5mx5), I grow 5 green bean plants, tomato plants and potato plants (all in pots).
    We both enjoy Honedews for breakfast and I’m wondering if I can grow my own!

  6. Vidal Says:
    September 5th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    When I started my seeds, I removed the hard outer shell of the seed then put is on a wet cotton ball and placed it in a ziplock bag and kept it under a 15watt light. in about 24 hours the seedling already started forming its root, and in about 5 days had leaves! 🙂

  7. martin burgess Says:
    November 30th, 2014 at 4:11 am

    I discarded my HD melon seeds in my closed compost container and was surprised that all the seeds sprouted in a short space of time. The compost was moist on top and the container was exposed to some sun.

  8. Adelakun Samuel Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Dear sir, is honeydew a product of hot climate temprature and what temprature required for fruiting. I leave in Nigeria ogun State.

  9. Adelakun Samuel Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I want to plant honeydew in Ogun State, South Western Nigeria.
    What temperature is required for maximum germination and fruiting.

  10. judy frazier Says:
    September 12th, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I’m a seed saver… I have volunteer melon vines in a mostly shaded spot. The plants came up from between limestone patio pieces. This year we were gifted with frequent rainfall. So far, only two melons, but I am still happy about them.

    June 30th, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Dear Sir,
    I want to plant honeydew in Ebonyi State,Eastern Nigeria.What temperature is required for maximum germination and fruiting.

  12. Bethany Says:
    May 28th, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I have to do a science fair project on honeydew seeds from the package and from the honeydew melon. How come my honeydew seeds that I planted straight from the honeydew melon never sprouted? I watered them everyday and gave them full sun light, so why didn’t they sprout. Please answer me very soon. My science fair projects due in one day.

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Ripening Melons
Store slightly under-ripe melons in a pierced paper bag at room temperature for a few days. Adding an apple to the bag will coax the fruit into ripeness. A ripe melon will give slightly when pressed on the stem end, and will produce a delicate fragrance from the blossom end — once it does so, store in the refrigerator.
Storing Ripe, Uncut Melons
Despite their hardy appearance, melons are quite perishable. Keep ripe melons away from other fruit so that the ethylene gas that they produce does not speed up the fruit’s ripening. Uncut ripe melons should keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Storing Cut Melons
When storing a halved melon, leave the seeds in to help keep it fresh. Once you’ve cut into a melon, wrap the remainder in plastic and it should keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
Freezing Melon
If you find yourself with more melon than you can eat before it spoils, freeze it. Cut into cubes, tossing with 1/4 cup of sugar for each 2 cups of fruit if desired, and store in an airtight container. The flesh will soften after it has thawed, but it will be fine for use in smoothies or fruit soups.
Storing Uncut Watermelons
Once picked from the vine, watermelons will not ripen any further. To store, keep these fruits in the fridge — heat causes the juicy flesh to dry out and become fibrous. Plus, chilling adds to watermelon’s refreshing nature. A watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, and sometimes as long as 3.
Storing Cut Watermelons
When storing a cut melon, wrap the cut side in plastic, and it should keep in the fridge for about 3 days. The plastic will prevent the watermelon from absorbing the flavors of other foods and will keep its flesh moist.
Freezing Watermelons
If you find yourself with more watermelon than you can eat before it spoils, freeze it. Cut into cubes, tossing with 1/4 cup of sugar for each 2 cups of fruit if desired, and store in an airtight container. The flesh will not be crisp after it thaws, but it will be fine for use in smoothies or fruit soups.

Fresh Pick: Cantaloupe

How to Buy

The best way to pick a cantaloupe is by smell. The fruit should have a sweet, slightly musky scent. A good cantaloupe feels heavy for its size, has a rind that resembles raised netting, and has a stem end that yields slightly when pressed with your thumb.

How to Store

Let a not-quite-ready cantaloupe ripen at room temperature for up to 2 days (keeping it in a closed paper bag will speed up the process). Refrigerate a whole ripe melon for up to 5 days. For cut wedges of cantaloupe, cover the surfaces and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (If possible, leave the seeds intact. They prevent the flesh from drying out.) Cubes without the seeds will last 1 to 2 days in a resealable container in the refrigerator.

How to Slice and Cube

Wash the rind, then slice off the bottom and top ends of the melon so that it sits squarely on a cutting board. With a knife, from top to bottom, cut away strips of the rind, following the shape of the fruit. Halve the fruit, scoop out the seeds, and slice or cube as desired.

5 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Cantaloupe

  1. Cantaloupe Caprese Salad
    Arrange sliced cantaloupe and tomatoes on a platter. Top with halved bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped mint, salt, and pepper.
  2. Crackers with Cantaloupe, Ricotta, and Ham
    Top rye crackers with ricotta, sliced cantaloupe, sliced ham, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cucumber and Cantaloupe Salad with Sesame Seeds
    Toss cut-up cantaloupe, sliced cucumbers, and sliced red onion with canola oil, rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cantaloupe and Mint Slushy
    In a blender, puree cut-up cantaloupe with lemon-lime soda, mint, and ice.
  5. Gingery Cantaloupe and Raspberry Parfaits
    Bring ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger just to a boil; remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle over raspberry sorbet and cut-up cantaloupe.

Saving Cantaloupe Seeds

Before saving cantaloupe seeds, you’ll first need to make sure you are dealing with an open-pollinated or non-hybrid variety, otherwise known as an heirloom. If you save seeds from a hybrid variety and replant them, you likely will end up with some funny looking fruit that doesn’t taste very good. Or worse yet, a large, lush plant that doesn’t produce any fruit. Hales Best Jumbo is probably the most commonly grown heirloom cantaloupe variety, although quite a few others are available.

Once you know you have an heirloom variety, the next step is to harvest the seeds. It’s best to wait for the cantaloupe to fully mature and then some before you remove it from the vine. Typically, if you are harvesting seeds from a melon, you want it to be over-ripe, to the point where it is soft and mostly inedible. The reason for this is that you want the seeds to be fully developed and mature. Many times the seeds you find in a perfectly ripe melon are still a bit immature.

Once you have an over-ripe heirloom cantaloupe, cut it open and scoop out the seeds and put them in an empty bowl. Using your fingers, remove most of the pulp from the seeds. Then, fill up the bowl with water and let the seeds settle for a few minutes. The healthy, viable seeds will sink to the bottom and the dead seeds and most of the pulp will float to the surface. When the seeds and pulp have separated themselves, use a slotted spoon to remove the dead seeds and pulp. Then you can put the good seeds on a paper towel to drain. Once most of the moisture is off, the seeds should be creamy white and ready for drying.

The next step in saving cantaloupe seeds is to dry them out a bit. There’s a couple of ways you can do this. We’ve found the easiest way is in a conventional oven. First, spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven, close the door and turn on the oven light. DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN. The ambient heat from the light is enough to dry out the seeds in about 36-48 hours. When they are dried enough, the seeds will be harder, more brittle and they’ll have shrunk a little bit. You can then put the seeds inside an envelope and store them in a jar in your refrigerator. Make sure you label the envelope so you know what seeds it contains. If you are saving lots of different seeds, several envelopes can fit inside one, quart-sized jar. It’s also a good idea to put a tablespoon of dry rice at the bottom of the jar just to absorb any moisture.

You can also save cantaloupe seeds by using a food dehydrator. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on the dehydrator tray. Depending on the model, you may need to put the seeds on foil so they don’t fall through the trays. Drying times vary depending on the dehydrator model, but the seeds are usually dry enough in a day or two. The key is to use the lowest available setting and keep the seeds as far away from the heat source as possible.
A third option for saving cantaloupe seeds is just letting them air dry. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet or foil and put them in a dry place, preferably away from the humidity of a kitchen. In most cases, the seeds will dry out enough in a few days. Again, you want them to harden up and shrink a little bit.
Click on the following links to learn more about growing cantaloupe.

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