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