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Growing Guide: Melons

Two round white melon halves with seeds in the center and yellow rinds, surrounded by 5 small whole yellow melons

Grow and Save Melon Seeds

How to Grow Melons

Like its cucurbit cousins—watermelon, cucumbers, and squash—melons and Armenian cucumbers produce numerous fruitful vines. There are countless varieties of melons—hundreds if not thousands, and many that go unrecorded worldwide.

Time of Planting

Plant melon seeds outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.

Spacing Requirements

Create 12-inch diameter hills spaced 6 feet apart. Plant 6–8 seeds per hill. Seeds should be planted between ½- to one-inch deep.

Time to Germination

Seeds will germinate in 4–7 days. After germination, thin to 3–4 plants per hill.

Special Considerations

Melon seeds can also be planted in flats indoors before the season begins. Transplant outdoors as soon as the danger of frost has passed.

Common Pests and Diseases

Melons can suffer from a variety of pests and diseases, including aphids, cucumber beetles, cutworms, flea beetles, vine borers, anthracnose, cucumber wilt, and powdery mildew. Perhaps the worst of these are cucumber beetles, which spread bacterial wilt as they move from plant to plant. Floating row covers and hand removal of the beetles may help.

When and How to Harvest for Food Consumption

Maturity indicators in melons vary widely by type and variety. Some melons will slip from the vine when ripe; for melons that do not slip from the vine, ripeness indicators include rind color change, the development of a yellow ground spot, and increased aroma. When harvesting, make sure that the melon is cut from the vine instead of pulled.


Enjoy melons straight from the field or sliced up and served after a few hours in the refrigerator. Fresh melon is often served for dessert. To extend the enjoyment of summer melons through the seasons, try melon jam, sorbet, or granite (a semi-frozen dessert). Pie melons, like Mother Mary’s Pie melon, were bred to hold up to canning and use as a pie filling.


Despite their hardy appearance, melons are quite perishable. Uncut ripe melons should keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you have an abundance of fruit, freeze it after cutting it into cubes and storing it in an airtight container. The flesh will soften after it has thawed, but it will be fine for use in smoothies or fruit soups.

How to Save Melon Seeds

Melon is an easy seed crop even for a novice seed saver. Before starting to save melon seeds, however, ensure that the melon species you want to propagate is not planted within 800 feet to a half mile of other types of melons. Advanced seed savers may also choose to utilize isolation cages and introduced pollinators or hand pollination methods.

Life Cycle


Recommended Isolation Distance

800 feet to half a mile

Recommended Population Sizes

A single plant can produce viable seed. However, to maintain a variety’s diversity over time, save seeds from 5–10 plants.


Harvest seeds from melons when the fruit is mature. You can harvest fruits for eating and simply reserve some of the seeds as you eat the fruit, or you can leave the fruits on the vine until they soften slightly. Fruits that are allowed to ripen past market maturity for approximately 20 days produce the largest quantity of viable seeds. Mature seeds should be plump and firm. To extract and clean the seeds, cut the fruits in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds into a colander or strainer.

Cleaning and Processing

Rinse pulp from seeds in a strainer or colander and then spread the seeds in a thin layer to dry on coffee filters, paper towels, or old window screens. When a test seed can be cleanly snapped in half, seeds are dry enough for storage

Storage and Viability

Store melon seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place and always keep them in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity.