Growing Honeydew Melons – A Full Guide

Introduction to growing Honeydew melons in containers

Honeydew melon or green melon belongs to the Cucumis melo which includes the Crenshaw, casaba, and other mixed melons. Just like all melons, the Honeydew melon is a member of the Cucurbit (gourd) family. Honeydew melons are juicy, sweet, and scrumptious as long as you pick them off the vine at the right time. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • Can you grow Honeydew melons from their seeds
  • How do you know if Honeydew melon is ready
  • How long do Honeydew melons seeds germinate
  • Honeydew melons plant care
  • How do you care for potted Honeydew melon
  • Growing Honeydew melons from seed
  • Tips for Growing Honeydew melons in pots
  • Different varieties of Honeydew melons
  • Growing Honeydew melon problems

A step by step guide to growing Honeydew melon plants

Honeydew melons are unique for their smooth, cream-colored outer skin and lack of ‘netting’ ridges on the rind. They take a bit longer than most other melon varieties, sometimes as long as 120 days after germination to produce the smaller about 3-6 pound melons. It is the taste of summer all wrapped up in a convenient package. While they’re available in stores most of the summer, they are not always picked at the peak of ripeness. Honeydew melons get softer when they’re off the vine but they don’t get sweeter. Knowing when to pick or harvest a Honeydew melon means you will get it at its very best. Honeydew melons need a long growing season of warm weather. If that’s not possible, plant the Honeydew melon seeds inside to give them a head start and transplant in the garden when the weather is warm.

Varieties of Honeydew melons

Growing Honeydew has been challenging for the home gardener and commercial farmer due to its propensity to downy and powdery mildew and attractiveness to a variety of insects. Some varieties such as ‘Floridew,’ ‘Morgan,’ ‘Earlidew,’ and ‘Tamdew’ are resistant to most fungal diseases.

Starting Honeydew melons indoors

Honeydew melons are very 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 can be smaller or otherwise inferior to the melon they came from, due to cross-pollination in the field where the original melon was grown.

As they require a long growing season, melons are best started indoors about 3 weeks before the last frost of the season. Sow seeds ½ inches deep in flats or small pots, sowing 3 seeds per pot. Keep medium moist while awaiting germination. Additionally, Honeydew melon seeds will show better germination rates with heat. Keep the soil between 26-32°C, using a heat mat if necessary.

Sowing Honeydew melon seed indoors;

  • Direct seed sowing is recommended, but to get a head start you can start Honeydew 3-4 weeks before the last frost in individual biodegradable pots indoors. Sow 2 to 3 seeds per pot.
  • Sow seeds about ½ inches deep in seed-starting formula.
  • Keep the soil moist at 21°C and seedlings emerge in 7 to 14 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3 to 4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the melon plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process as they will get too hot. Most plants need a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Seedlings do not require much fertilizer, feed when they are 3 to 4 weeks old using a starter solution according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Thin to one plant per pot. Before planting in the garden, seedling melon plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young melon plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or brings containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning time. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and then reduces transplant shock and scalding.

Starting Honeydew melon from seeds

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Starting Honeydew melon from seeds.
Starting Honeydew melon from seeds.

Step 1) In ideal growing conditions, where air temperatures are between 20 and 30°C and soil temperature is also at around 20°C, the melon seeds take 8 to 10 days to germinate. With soil temperatures of 25°C or higher, the germination period is closer to 3 or 4 days.

Step 2) If you live in a climate with a short growing season or cool springtime temperatures, it can be better to start Honeydew melon plants indoors. Plant them about 3 weeks before your last expected frost date. Heirloom Organics suggests keeping the soil at 26°C to 32°C to speed germination, using a heating mat if necessary, then reducing the temperature to the 21°C once germination begins.

Step 3) To get a head start on melons or in areas with a short growing season, start transplants from seeds indoors about 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Plant seeds about 1 inch deep in sterile seed-starting media. Honeydew melons don’t like roots disturbed, so start transplants in individual containers or peat pots. A heat mat or warm germination location promotes earlier seed germination. Roots grow 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 melon plants become root-bound left in that size container much longer.

Step 4) When the Honeydew melon 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 hills or rows. A starter fertilizer at transplant time gets the young Honeydew melon plants off to a strong start.

Process of growing Honeydew melons in containers

Step 1) Honeydew melons provide a sweet summer treat, but container growing needs special consideration for the long vines. You can grow Honeydew melons in containers on balconies or porches if you provide the necessary support to train the vines vertically. Well-anchored trellises, such as those attached to a wall and support the weight of the developing melons.

Step 2) Place a 10-gallon planter in a location that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. Use containers with bottom drainage holes and set the pot next to a firmly anchored trellis.

Step 3) Fill the container with moist potting soil to within about 3 inches of the rim. Mix about 1/3 cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer with the soil in the pot. Use a soil that contains compost, peat, and vermiculite or perlite. Then, these soils don’t compact in a container like a straight soil mix. Peat-based mixtures retain the moisture necessary for growing melons, or you can add water-holding polymer crystals to the potting mixture.

Step 4) Sow three Honeydew melon seeds near the center of the pot. Plant them about 1 inch deep. Choose a short vine Honeydew variety, if available, for container growing.

Step 5) Water the soil in the pot when the top inch begins to feel dry. Depending on the temperature level and sunlight, potted melons may require daily irrigation.

Step 6) Thin the seedlings so the strongest remains after they germinate and reach a height of 3 inches. Tie the Honeydew vine to the trellis once it grows to a sufficient length and uses a cloth plant tie looped loosely around the vine so it doesn’t constrict the vine as it grows. Continue to tie the vine up the trellis at intervals of about 8 to 10 inches as the plant grows.

Step 7) Create a sling from a piece of fabric or pantyhose once the Honeydew melon fruit begins to form. Tie the sling to the trellis directly beneath the melon fruit. Rest the melon in the sling, which provides support to the developing Honeydew melon.

Step 8) Harvest the Honeydew melon when the melon reaches its ripe color, which is white or pale green depending on the variety. Ripe melons feel slightly soft at the blossom end and some melon varieties may slip from the vine on their own once mature. Some Honeydew melon varieties develop a sweet fragrance near the stem end when ripe.

Gardening tips for growing a Honeydew melon

  • The key to growing a healthy and delicious Honeydew melon is to provide your plant with plenty of sunlight, moisture, and heat. Honeydew melons thrive in warm soil with a steady water supply. It’s important to keep the soil consistently moist but never waterlogged, as this could kill plants. You could find mold inside Honeydew melon if you overwater your plant. Also, try to keep your growing Honeydew melons off the soil, as this will greatly reduce any damage from insects or rot.
  • Most Honeydew melons ripen in late summer or early to mid-fall, and it’s typical to get at least two or three melons per vine. Melons are not very cold tolerant, though they can handle a light frost. Your Honeydew melon must be ready to harvest about 3 months after it’s been planted, though it’s crucial to know how to tell when it’s time to pick it since the melon fruit does not slip off the vine.

How to know when to pick a Honeydew melon fruit

One tip in knowing when to harvest is the scent of the melon fruit. The Honeydew melon will smell sweet with a faint odor of melon. Feel the surface of the Honeydew melon because that’s another way to tell it is ripe. Very fine netting should be apparent to your fingers but won’t be visible. If the Honeydew melon is beige with green veining it’s not ready yet. The melon should feel heavy for its size. Pick it up gently so you don’t yank it off the melon vine. The area near the blossom end must be softened and the stem end a bit springy. The Honeydew melon should be pale yellow with patches of lemon yellow. Harvest the Honeydew melons when the skin turns from green to pale greenish-yellow. Honeydews are ripe when the fruit pulls easily away from the vine. Mature Honeydew melons will continue to ripen for several days at room temperature level after they are picked. Honeydews are ripe when the skin turns to a creamy yellow color and the blossom end is slightly soft. To avoid damage cut the Honeydew off the vine by using sharp shears. Honeydew melons can be stored in the refrigerator for a short time. Then, they will lose their flavor and color if stored too long.

Commonly asked questions about growing Honeydew melons

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Are Honeydew melons good for you?

As Honeydew melon fruit is a low-sodium and potassium-rich fruit, it can help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Do Honeydew melons need a trellis?

Honeydew is heavy feeders, prepare your planting bed well. Space plants about 36 to 42 inches apart. Or, to save space, plant melons about 12 inches apart at the base of a trellis. When trellising Honeydew melons, tie vines to the trellis daily, using soft plant ties that won’t crush stems.

What is the difference between Honeydew and cantaloupe?

Yet, though they’re closely related, they’re two distinctive melon fruits. They are similarly sweet, but Honeydew melon has a smooth, light-colored rind and green flesh, while cantaloupe has a darker, netted rind and orange flesh.

Do Honeydew melons ripen after picking?

Mature Honeydew melons will continue to ripen for several days at room temperature level after they are picked. Immature Honeydew melons will not ripen after being harvested from the vine.

Can you plant Honeydew and watermelon together?

The foremost concern in planting both Honeydew and watermelons in the same garden bed is space. Then, the vines of both melons spread far and will grow wherever they can to access sunlight. Plants too close together cause unnecessary competition for light, soil moisture, and essential nutrients.

How long does it take for a Honeydew melon seeds germinate?

Honeydew melon seeds take about 8 to 10 days to germinate.

Why does Honeydew melon fruit have a bitter or poor flavor?

Bitter flavor can be caused by several factors including hot and dry temperatures, overwatering, or poor soil fertilizer. Honeydew melons have shallow roots and make sure the soil is moist but never waterlogged. Then, test your soil for a nutrient deficiency.

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