How to pick honeydew – experts share handy tricks to help you harvest perfectly ripe fruit

Discover the color and feel that shows when honeydews are ready to harvest

Honeydew melons growing in a greenhouse
(Image credit: Alamy/charoen pattarapitak)

A ripe honeydew melon is sweet and succulent and you can grow your own in only a few months, providing you give the crop the warmth it desires. But how can you make sure to pick it at the perfect time?

Knowing how to pick honeydew melons at their peak ripeness can be difficult as you cannot see what is going on under the surface. However, there are some tell-tale signs in terms of the look and feel which you can use to master knowing when to harvest honeydew melon. 

By the way, if you are thinking of growing honeydew melons, they are best grown in a greenhouse in many climates. But if you do not have an indoor growing space and want melons, then you can learn how to grow cantaloupe melons, as they are better suited to being grown outdoors.

How to tell when a honeydew is ready to pick

Honeydew melon growing on the vine

Honeydew melons grow on vines and can be sprawling plants

(Image credit: Getty/Jenny Dettrick)

Before you pick honeydew, you need to make sure the fruits are ready for harvest. Some melons start to detach themselves from the vine when they are ripe, however honeydews do not show that obvious sign.

Nicole Shah, gardener and co-founder of Garden Girls, admits 'it can be tricky' knowing when to harvest honeydew melons as ‘you can’t see inside the fruit’. However, she recommends some of the signs to look out for that will show the honeydew is ripe and ready to pick.

‘The signs that you can start looking for to determine if your honeydew is ripe are size, color, and rind smoothness,’ says Nicole.

‘Ripe honeydew melons are large but have stopped growing. The rind will be almost shiny and the color a creamy yellow, not green. For a ripe honeydew melon, the blossom end of the honeydew will have a slight softening or springiness. Finally, you can look at the leaves near the stem of the melon, they are often yellow when the melon is ripe.’

Nicole Shah
Nicole Shah

Nicole Shah is a gardener and co-founder of Garden Girls, a gardening design company based in Houston, TX. The company has installed hundreds of gardens, planted according to Houston’s unique climate and seasons.

How to pick honeydew melon

Honeydew melons picked into a box

A honeydew will be shiny and creamy yellow when perfectly ripe

(Image credit: Getty/Philippe Gerber)

It is very simple to pick a honeydew melon from the vine and requires few garden tools. Always use clean garden tools when harvesting any crops, and be gentle when picking vegetables or fruits, to not cause any damage to the plant. Do not forcibly pull at the honeydew melon to detach it, as it risks snapping the plant or pulling the entire thing out of the ground.

Nicole Shah advises: ‘When harvesting your honeydew melon, use a pair of gardening shears to cut the melon from the vine. Unlike other melons, the honeydew melon does not easily detach from the vine.’

She adds to ‘use care when harvesting honeydew, so it does not get bruised’ as any impairment will drastically affect how long the melon will be good for. A whole and uncut honeydew melon will last for a week at room temperature, and three or four days in the fridge once it has been cut.

Honeydew melons are best harvested using sharp pruning shears, such as these Bypass Pruning Shears available at Amazon, a harvesting knife, or a pair of scissors. A sharpening tool, such as this Pocket Blade Sharpener, also available at Amazon, can help ensure your tools are sharp for when it comes to harvesting melons and other crops.


When should you harvest honeydew?

Honeydew melons are fast growers and can be ready to harvest in as little as three months from sowing the seed. The exact time to maturity will depend on the growing conditions and the climate, but it means there is a long season for the crop. Honeydews are often ready from June all the way into fall.

If you have a backyard greenhouse and want to try growing something different, then honeydew melons should be worth considering. Not only are they fast growers but, as well as commonly being grown horizontally, they can be trained vertically to not take up too much space from other options of food to grow in a greenhouse. Any homegrown honeydew melons are going to taste so much better than any you get in the grocery store.

Drew Swainston
Content Editor

Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.