The exotic honeydew melon plant can also be grown in our garden. We reveal what you have to consider when planting honeydew melons in beds and pots and give important tips on proper care.
Honeydew melons ( Cucumis melo ) are among the most sought-after refreshments of summer and are loved by many. But the sweet treats don’t always have to come from the supermarket – you can actually grow the honeydew melon in your own garden or even on the balcony. We’ll tell you here what you need to consider when planting honeydew melons and which varieties are particularly suitable for your own cultivation.
Growing honeydew melon: the best varieties
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Melons are often mistakenly referred to as a fruit, which is a vegetable. Botanically they are actually for the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) and are closely related to cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and pumpkins (Cucurbita). With well over 500 species, the melon occurs in numerous types, colors, and variations. However, melons are divided into two groups: watermelons ( Citrullus lanatus ) and sugar melons (Cucumis melo ) – the latter also includes the well-known honeydew melon.
Since the honeydew melon originally comes from the Mediterranean area, not all varieties are suitable for cultivation in the USA. However, there are more and more modern varieties that also thrive in the colder amerikan climate. If you want to plant honeydew melons, you should therefore always make sure to choose varieties that can cope with the climatic conditions in this country.
Honeydew melon varieties for the garden
For cultivation in the USA, less cold-sensitive, robust varieties have proven themselves. The varieties of honeydew melons that are particularly suitable for planting in your own garden include, for example, the following:
‘Blenheim Orange’: Reliable yield even in poor climatic conditions; oval fruits up to 1 kg with fragrant, sweet pulp.
‘Petit Gris de Rennes’: matures well even in colder temperatures; small round fruits between 500 g and 700 g with orange, sweet pulp with a light caramel taste.
‘Pineapple’: Very cold-tolerant honeydew melon; oval, yellow to beige fruits with a net pattern and white, juicy-sweet flesh with a light pineapple note.
‘Sweet Granite’: Very early melon variety, particularly suitable for regions with short summers and cool weather; orange-yellow fruits with a net pattern and sweet pulp.
Honeydew melon varieties for the pot
Planting honeydew melons is not difficult – in fact, you can even plant honeydew melons on the balcony if you can offer them a sunny spot. However, if you want to plant honeydew melons in a pot, choosing the right variety is essential. The varieties that are suitable for growing in pots include, for example:
‘Minnesota Midget’: Ideal beginner variety, which is suitable for growing in pots thanks to its low growth height of around 40 cm, bushy growth, and short tendrils; early-ripening melon variety with only 60 days ripening time; a high number of small, sweet fruits.
‘Ancient: also ripen well in the USA climate thanks to the relatively short growing season; Plants do not need to be pruned; aromatic, sweet, but small fruits.
Growing honeydew melons in the garden
Growing honeydew melons in the garden sound harder than it is. In fact, the annual plants can also be grown wonderfully in the garden if you pay attention to a few points when caring for them.
When to plant honeydew melons
Honeydew melons originally come from the Mediterranean and therefore need warm temperatures. It is therefore advisable to prefer the melon plants in the house and first move the larger melon plants into the bed. The ideal time to start growing is early to mid-April. Depending on the variety, the honeydew melons can move to their new bed from mid-May. The seeds start to germinate particularly well if they are previously soaked in a thermos with lukewarm water for 24 to 48 hours.
A classic potting soil and growing pots can be used for sowing. Only one seed should be used per pot. This is about two to three centimeters deep in the ground and should be moistened regularly with a spray bottle. The nursery pots should be set up in a bright and warm location with an average of 23 to 25 ° C, for example, a sunny window sill. After eight to ten days, the seeds should then begin to germinate.
The ideal time to plant honeydew melons:
- Sow indoors: mid to late April
- Seeds are preferred 4 to 6 weeks
- Preferably in a bright location at 23 – 25 ° C
- Plant out in the bed: Depending on the variety, from mid-May
Plant honeydew melons in the bed
As soon as there are no more frosts to be expected, you can plant the honeydew melons in the bed. The ice saints (i.e. mid-May) are usually mentioned as the reference date, as the danger of late frosts is over at this time. Two weeks before the seedlings are planted out, they should be given a serving of green plant fertilizer to strengthen them. Outside, the plant needs a sunny but sheltered place. However, young plants should not be in the blazing midday sun at the beginning, as this can quickly lead to burns on the sensitive leaves.
When choosing the right location, you should also ensure that there are no other plants from the pumpkin family nearby, to avoid cross-pollination – no pumpkin plants should have been in this position in the previous year either, otherwise the risk of diseases and reduced growth increases. Since honeydew melons are heavy eaters, they need particularly nutrient-rich and humus-rich, but also loose soil. Legumes are therefore suitable as a good preculture, as they represent natural green manure and also loosen the soil. These should be able to be warmed up quickly by the sun, but also have good water storage capacity. In addition, a slightly acidic pH is optimal to support the growth of the plants.
The distance between the individual young plants should be at least 80, but better still 100 centimeters, so that the plants later have enough space and do not have to compete with each other. It is also advisable to stretch a trellis or several cords for the plants so that they can climb upwards – this not only improves the vitality of the plants but the fruits can also be harvested more easily later.
What is the perfect location for a honeydew melon?
- Sunny and sheltered from the wind
- Young plants must be shaded
- No other cucurbits in the preculture or as bed neighbors
- Well-drained, nutrient-rich soil
- Slightly acidic pH
- Plant spacing: 80 – 100 cm
- Set up climbing aid
Plant honeydew melons in a pot
If you want to grow honeydew melons, you don’t need a huge garden. In fact, you can also plant honeydew melons in pots and thus cultivate them even in smaller gardens or on the balcony. A sufficiently large container with a volume of at least 25 liters in which the plant can develop well is crucial for successful cultivation.
The plant can react very sensitively to later transplanting into larger containers, which is why you should plant the honeydew melon in a sufficiently large container from the start. When choosing a location, the same conditions apply as for the bed: The honeydew melon likes a sunny but sheltered location with loose and nutrient-rich soil. However, young plants should also be shaded initially, as they tend to burn quickly.
Unlike in a bed, a honeydew melon planted in a pot has significantly less substrate available, which is why particular attention should be paid to good quality and sufficient nutrient concentration in the soil. To prevent waterlogging even when it rains, the pot for the honeydew melon should be provided with sufficiently large drainage holes. Depending on the variety, a climbing aid may also be necessary for honeydew melons on the balcony.
What does a honeydew melon need in the pot?
- Sufficiently large planter (at least 25 liters)
- The sunny, sheltered location
- Loose, nutrient-rich substrate
- Sufficiently large drainage holes
- Depending on the honeydew melon variety, a climbing aid is required
Care for honeydew melons after planting
The planting is done: But how do you properly care for honeydew melons so that you can look forward to a rich harvest? Watering is most important – melons regularly need water to develop their large fruits. However, this should not be cold, as the temperature fluctuations can reduce the quality of the fruit: Regular watering with tempered water is therefore ideal. It should be poured in such a way that the soil is moistened to a depth of about 20 centimeters. But be careful: honeydew melons cannot tolerate waterlogging, so too much watering could be harmful. As soon as the fruit sets can be seen, watering should be done about every two to three days – even daily in particularly hot summers.
It is also important to ensure that the melon plants are optimally supplied with nutrients. This not only influences how well the plant and the fruit grow but also how well they can withstand diseases and pests and has an effect on the shelf life of the fruit. When planting, it makes sense to use a primarily organic long-term fertilizer. This is particularly suitable because the honeydew melon, just like tomatoes, has an increased need for potassium. After 2 months you fertilize again so that the plant is well supplied until the end of the year.
As a rule, the honeydew melons do not need a cut. If the honeydew melons are grown without a climbing aid, it is important to regularly remove budding weeds until the shoots of the melons completely cover the ground. If the first fruits are finally forming, they should be placed on a surface such as straw, flower pots, or wooden boards so that they are protected from moisture and rot.
In contrast to cantaloupe or net melons, ripe honeydew melons do not indicate the correct time of harvest with their distinctive scent. Even the knock test known from watermelons ( Citrullus lanatus ) does not give a clear indication of ripeness. In fact, it is not that easy to determine how ripe a honeydew melon is. The best way to tell when a honeydew melon is ripe is its skin: Depending on the variety, it should be brightly colored and smell pleasantly sweet. In addition, it yields light pressure, but must not be too soft.
What do you have to consider when caring for honeydew melons?
- Regular watering with tempered water
- Fertilize with organic tomato fertilizer with a long-term effect
- No cut necessary
- Weed weeds regularly
- Place the fruits lying on the ground on a mat