How to Grow Melons from Seed to Harvest
Growing melons can be a quite nice hobby. In fact, an increasing number of people actually try to grow their own melons.
While growing melons is not that difficult, you still have to know what you are doing to make it a success.
In this article, I walk you through all the different steps and show you exactly what you have to do in order to make your melon growing project as successful and fun as possible.
Melon Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide.|
|Climate||Melons grow best in warm and dry climates with optimal temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Melon plants love the sun, yet they will still grow in rather shady environments.|
|Soil Requirements||Melons grow best in loose soil with soil pH of 6.2 – 6.7. This means that melons prefer slightly acidic soil.|
|Country of Origin||Africa.|
|Perennial?||Melons are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||You should start growing melons in spring.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||3 to 5 melons per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||70 to 120 days, depending on the variety and your level of experience.|
|Pests & Diseases||Squash bugs, Pickleworms, Aphids, Spider mites, Powdery mildew, Angular leaf spot.|
|Use||You can make delicious fruit salads out of your melons or also just eat them raw.|
What Types and Varieties of Melons can you grow?
One of the first things you have to do when it comes to growing melons is to decide what variety of melons you actually want to grow. I give you a selection of the most popular melon varieties below.
- Honeydew melon
- Galia melon
- Winter melon
- Snap melon
- Santa Claus melon
- Casablanca melon
While I personally love to grow watermelons since I like big fruits and watermelons are also perfect for hot days, you may have different preferences.
In fact, if you have never grown melons before, I highly recommend you to use a melon seed mix so that you can grow different varieties of melons.
By doing so, you can grow many different crops and you will also be surprised how many different colors and shapes a melon can really have.
When should you start to grow Melons?
While some experts claim that you should start growing melons at the end of April or even later, I personally don’t think that this is a good idea.
In fact, in my experience, it is better to start quite early in the year so that your melon plants will have more time to grow and to develop crops in an optimal manner.
Due to those reasons, I recommend you to start growing your melons as early as at the beginning of March. Of course, you can also start later.
However, as explained before, melons take quite a lot of time to grow and if you want to harvest your melons in time, you should start quite early.
How long does it take to grow Melons from Seed to Harvest?
While seed manufacturers often claim that it will only take 70 – 90 days to grow your melons from seed to harvest, it can take much longer in my opinion.
In fact, from my experience, it will rather take 120 days on average for someone who knows what he’s doing and for beginners, it can take even longer to get from seed to harvest.
Hence, don’t just rely on the instructions from your seed manufacturer. Trust me, chances are that it will take longer and this is another reason why I recommend you to start as early as possible with your growing project.
This also implies that you need a little bit of patience to grow your melons.
However, don’t only focus on the end goal. Love the process! For me personally, seeing my melons grow is far more interesting than the actual end result.
In fact, I find it quite fascinating to see such a big plant developing out of just a small seed.
What is the best Climate to grow Melons?
Most melon varieties grow best in moderate to hot and dry climatic zones. However, seed companies did great work and made melon seeds far more robust against all sorts of climatic conditions.
Hence, even if you can’t provide those optimal conditions for your melons, you can still grow melons in a decent manner as long as you don’t live in the Arctic.
Thus, if you live in a rather moderate climatic zone, you will be just fine and you shouldn’t worry about this topic too much.
What Temperatures do Melons like?
While melon plants usually develop best between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, they are rather robust against swings in temperature and as long as you water your melon plants in a proper manner, it doesn’t really matter if it is a little bit hotter or colder in your region.
What do you need to grow Melons?
Growing melons is fairly simple and you don’t need a lot of equipment. However, I still recommend you to get the following:
- Melon seeds
- Growing bed (to grow your seedlings)
- Big flower pots (the bigger, the better, since more soil means better growth; alternatively, you can grow your melons in your garden)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Earthworm castings
- Fertilizer (necessity of additional fertilizer also depends on the soil structure in your garden)
- Watering cans
- Garden shovel
- Patience 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Melons?
It is rather hard to say how many fruits you can expect from your melon plants since it greatly depends on the respective melon variety.
However, to give you a rough estimate, I would expect 3 to 5 melons from each plant. Yet, note that these are estimates for someone who knows how to grow melons.
For a beginner, it might be rather hard to reach this goal and you should not be disappointed if you are only able to get one melon per plant if you have never grown melons before.
Hence, don’t expect too much in order not to be disappointed later on. In fact, growing your own melons is not only about the harvest.
It is about enjoying the growth process in general. For me, it is even more interesting to see my melons grow each day than to finally harvest the crops.
Thus, don’t only focus on the harvest, also enjoy the process! 😉
What should you grow with Melons?
If you want to learn what to grow with melons, make sure to check out the best and worst melon companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Melons?
Many people also ask me why you should take all the effort and grow your own melons. In fact, from a monetary perspective, it doesn’t make too much sense.
However, as I told you before, it is not only about the yield. It is about learning about the growth behavior of plants and to really see the progress your plants make each week.
I personally really love seeing my melon plants grow and it gives me a feeling of peace.
In fact, if you are currently quite stressed by your job or also from your private life, chances are that growing your own plants can greatly help you in this regard.
If you come home late from your job, it can be quite helpful to just sit in your garden and to have a look at your melon plants.
Chances are that you feel much better and that you can also unplug from your stressful daily life a little bit.
Hence, growing melons is not actually about the crops too much, it is about enjoying everything that comes along with it.
Growing Melons: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Melon Plants
If you come to the conclusion that growing your own melon plants is a good idea, it is now time to start the planning process for your melon growth project.
Do Melons like Shadow or Sun?
When it comes to choosing the optimal location for your melon plants, it is crucial to know whether melon plants like sunny or shadow environments.
And the answer is: Melons like the sun. However, they are also fine if they have some shadow from time to time.
Hence, I would suggest you search for a spot in your garden where your melons get at least a few hours of sun each day so that they can grow in an ideal manner.
What are the Soil Requirements of Melons?
Melons and pumpkins have quite similar soil requirements. In fact, like pumpkins, melons enjoy loose soil in order to grow in an optimal manner.
This means that you may have to loosen up the ground in your garden and that you also have to use additional potting soil and compost in order to make the soil suitable to grow melon plants.
However, this may sound more complicated than it actually is. Just make sure that the soil where you want to plant your melons is not too compact and you should be good to go.
How much Space do Melons need?
Melon plants can get quite big and you should therefore make sure that you give them enough space to develop in a healthy manner.
While melon plants don’t require too much space in the vertical, they need plenty of horizontal space.
In fact, you should plan around 10 square feet of space for each melon plant.
Only if your melons have enough space, they will get sufficient sunlight and will also not have to compete for nutrients with each other.
Of course, if you have a big garden, you can also give your plants much more space. In fact, the more space you give your melon plants, the better they will develop.
Should you plant Melons in a Pot or in the Garden?
Since your melon plants will get quite big over time, I would not recommend you to use a pot to grow them.
Instead, if you have a garden, I highly recommend you plant your melons in your garden instead of using a pot since it will just be much more convenient for you and you will also give your melon plants more space and soil to develop in a healthy manner.
In fact, I would not recommend you to grow melon plants if you don’t have a garden at all. For instance, imagine you live in a flat and have a small balcony.
If you grow melon plants on this balcony, chances are that your whole balcony will be covered by melon plants and leaves and this will not be a pretty picture.
Thus, before deciding to grow melon plants, make sure that you simply have enough space for it.
2. Plant Melon Seeds
Once you figured out the optimal site for your melon plants, it is now time to care about the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Melon Seeds or Seedlings?
Before you can actually start the growing process, you have to decide whether you want to get your seedlings from your local garden center or if you just want to grow your own seedlings.
In my opinion, you should go for growing your own seedlings even though it might imply a little bit more effort.
The reason for this is that you will only get the full growing experience if you grow your melon plant from seed to harvest.
Thus, especially if you never went through the whole growth process before, I definitely recommend you to grow your own seedlings.
And don’t be discouraged. It is fairly simple to do so and I give you all the instructions you need for it below.
Should you buy Melon Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If I convinced you that growing your own melon seedlings is a good idea, you still have to decide whether you want to extract your own melon seeds or whether you just want to get them online or from your garden center.
In my opinion, you should just buy your favorite melon in your store, cut it in half and get the seeds from the inside of your melon and you are good to go.
By doing so, you can not only save money on seeds, you can also be sure that you grow your favorite melon variety instead of having to rely on the seed from a seed manufacturing company.
How to plant Melon Seeds
Now that you got your seeds one way or the other, it is time to actually plant your seeds. In order to do so, you just need to fill your growing bed with potting soil.
However, don’t fill it up to the top, make sure that you leave around 2 inches in height left. After you did so, just place your melon seeds on the surface of the soil.
Make sure that each seed has at least 5 inches of space to each other so that your seedlings will have enough space to develop in a healthy way.
After you placed all of your seeds, make sure to cover those seeds with an additional 2-inch layer of soil and you are almost done.
In the final step, just water your growing bed carefully and always make sure that the soil does not dry out for the next weeks.
Make sure to place your growing bed at a bright and warm spot in your home. Also make sure that you plant enough seeds.
Many beginners make the mistake that they expect one seedling from one seed.
However, this will often not be the case since some seeds will simply never turn into seedlings.
Thus, make sure that you plant sufficient seeds in order to get enough seedlings.
If you produce too many seedlings, you can still give them away to family or friends or just get rid of them by using your compost bin or your normal garbage can.
How long does it take to see the first Melon Seedlings?
While you should see the first results within two weeks, it may take up to one month until all the seedlings will become visible to you. Hence, be patient and don’t expect to see results fast.
In fact, gardening is about patience and letting nature do its work and this is exactly why many people love gardening.
It gives us a tool to escape our stressful daily lives and to really slow down the world we live in a little bit.
How to protect your Melon Seedlings
Many people also worry about protecting their seedlings. However, as long as you keep your seedlings inside your home, you will not have to worry too much about any protection measures.
In fact, your seedlings will be quite safe inside your home and you often don’t have to take any additional measures. Just water your seedlings and watch them grow.
When should you transplant your Melon Seedlings?
Now that you produced your melon seedlings, you have to figure out when you want to transplant your melon seedlings outdoors to your garden.
Before you actually transplant your seedlings into your garden, I would suggest that you wait until your seedlings will reach a minimum height of 5 inches so that they have a minimum level of resistance.
Moreover, you should also make sure that outside temperatures are suitable to plant your seedlings outside.
For instance, even though your seedlings may have exceeded 5 feet in height, it may still be too cold outside.
Too cold refers to a state where temperatures fall below the freezing mark.
Hence, make sure that both the size and the temperature criteria are met before you finally transplant your seedlings outside.
When those criteria are met, you need to dig a hole in your garden and remove the soil. The hole for each plant should be around 10 square feet wide and 2 feet deep.
After digging this hole make sure that you mix the soil from your garden with potting soil and earthworm castings.
Make sure that the overall growing environment will be quite loose in order to provide your melons with the best growing conditions possible.
After you finished preparing your soil, you can just transplant each seeding in one spot, water them and you are good to go.
What kind of Protection do Melon Seedlings need outdoor?
Compared to the protected environment in your growing bed inside your house, there will be additional dangers outdoors waiting for your melon seedlings.
While I don’t recommend you to use chemical substances to protect your plants, I still recommend you to use a slug fence in order to protect your plants against those greedy hunters that may just eat your seedlings.
3. The Melon Growth Process
Now that you transplanted your seedlings to your garden, the hardest part of your growing project lies behind you.
In fact, your plants will get stronger each day and you just need to protect them from snails and water them on a regular basis and you should just do fine.
In the following, I give you some additional information on what’s waiting for you in the next steps.
Should you prune your Melon Plants?
Many people also ask themselves whether it is necessary to prune their melon plants. While some gardeners claim that this would be a good idea, I am not convinced about pruning melons at all.
In fact, in my opinion, it is far better to give your melon plants sufficient space to grow and to develop in a healthy manner instead of pruning them.
Always remember that plants evolved over thousands or even millions of years and that no human ever had the opportunity to prune melons in those early years.
Hence, also from an evolutionary standpoint, pruning melon plants doesn’t make too much sense at all and I would generally not prune my melons. Instead, just let nature do its work and you are good to go.
Do you have to pollinate your Melon Plants by Hand?
While pruning is not actually necessary for your melon plants and can do much more harm than good, pollination by hand is actually quite important if you want to get good yields from your melon plants.
In fact, melon flowers are only open for a rather limited period of time and if they are not pollinated during this period, they will also not be able to produce any melons.
Hence, whenever you see an open melon plant in your garden, it is time to grab a cotton swab or another soft device to grab some pollen and implant it to the flower.
Sure, the more melon plants you grow, the more likely it is that your melons will be pollinated in a natural manner.
However, especially if you just grow a few or even just a single melon plant, you will have to pollinate your melons by hand if you want to harvest some melons in autumn.
How to stake your Melon Plants
While some people claim that staking your melon plants is a good idea, I am not convinced of this at all.
In fact, I have seen the best results when I just gave my plants enough horizontal space to develop and to grow in a completely natural manner.
Moreover, staking melon plants can also be quite problematic since the crops are usually quite heavy and if you stake melon plants in the vertical, chances are that your plants will no longer be able to hold those fruits sooner or later.
4. The Melon Harvest
Thanks to all the effort you have put into your melon growing project, you should be able to get quite decent yields from your melon plants.
When should you harvest your Melons?
It is generally not difficult to decide when your melons are ready to harvest.
In fact, especially if you grow conventional varieties, you know exactly how they look in the store and you will have a quite good intuition regarding when it is actually time to harvest your melons.
However, if you grow rather exotic varieties, it will be a little bit harder to determine when the time has come. If there is any doubt, you should just wait until autumn and harvest one of your crops.
If it is ripe, you can harvest all the other ones. If it is not, you can wait a little bit longer and repeat this process.
Over the course of many years, you will soon develop a pretty decent understanding regarding when the time is right to harvest your melons.
Thus, don’t be disappointed if you haven’t figured everything out yet.
How to store your Melons?
I always recommend using your melons right after you harvested them. Sure, you can store them in a dark, dry and fresh location.
However, over time, your melons will lose their optimal taste and may also lose some vitamins.
Thus, instead of storing your melons for a longer period of time, just eat them right away.
What should you do with your Melons?
You can use your melons for a variety of different dishes. For instance, you can just use them to make a delicious fruit salad or also just eat your melons as they are. In fact, on hot autumn days, it can be really nice to have a watermelon waiting for you in your garden.
Melon Plant Care Tips
Now that you know all the different steps for a successful melon growing project, it is now time to give you a few additional general tips on how to optimize your melon planting project even further.
How often should you irrigate Melons?
Melon plants need plenty of water. In fact, the bigger they get and the hotter it gets outside, your melon plants will also need more and more water over time.
Since you will grow your melon plants in your garden most of the time, you can really irrigate your melon plants quite a lot since the additional water will vanish and your plants will only use the water they need anyways.
Hence, make sure that you provide your melon plants with plenty of water. It may even be necessary to water your plants multiple times a day if you live in really hot regions of our planet.
Also in case you want to go on vacation, make sure that you have somebody who can water your melons.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Melon Plants?
In general, the time of the day when you water your melon plants does not matter too much. The best time will arguably be in the morning.
However, don’t focus too much on it. I personally haven’t seen any big difference in the overall results related to the time of the day when I watered my plants.
How often should you fertilize your Melon Plants?
If you followed the steps I showed you before, you should already have a pretty decent soil mix of garden soil, potting soil and earthworm castings for your melon plants.
Especially if you give your melons plenty of space to grow and to develop, there should be not too much need to give your plants additional fertilizer.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Melon Plants?
However, if you urgently want to optimize the conditions for your melon plants even further, at least make sure that you don’t use chemical fertilizer but rather use natural fertilizer instead.
In fact, if you use chemical fertilizer, you will contaminate the soil, which can be pretty bad for our environment and our groundwater in the long run.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Melons?
Similar to the use of chemical fertilizer, I also don’t advise you to use chemical pesticides or herbicides.
In fact, if you use those chemicals, chances are that you will hurt many insect species like bees that are actually quite beneficial for the pollination of your plants.
Thus, make sure to remove weeds by hand instead. As your plants get bigger and stronger, they will also become quite resistant to many pests and there will actually not be too much need to use additional pesticides at all.
You want to learn more about melon pest control?
Also make sure to check out my article on how to get rid of melon plant diseases and pests.
What’s left to say?
Not much actually 😉. If you followed all the instructions I gave you before, you should be fine and should be quite successful in growing your own melons.
However, even if your melon growing project fails, don’t be too disappointed. We all learn from our mistakes and get better over time.
In fact, just move on and try it again. If you liked this article, make sure to share it over social media so that also other people can grow their own melons. Also feel free to check out my additional growing guides!
You want to learn more about growing specific types of melons?
Make sure to also check out my
Grower’s guide on how to grow watermelons
Grower’s guide on how to grow honeydew melons
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.