Tips for Saving Melon Seeds from Cantaloupe, Watermelon, & More

Watermelons, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, even most exotic melons such as Tiger Melons and Canary melon are extremely easy to save seeds from.

They’re a great place for novices to get started.

Use Seed From Open Pollinated Melons

Seeds from Open Pollinated melons are the best bet for seed saving.

Open Pollinated means that the seeds should ‘breed true’, although even this is not 100% guaranteed if they were grown where they could be pollinated by another variety or even a close relative.

A separation of about 1/2 mile is advised from related cultivars.

Melons that are not ‘Open Pollinated’ are hybrids developed by by crossing several parent plants.

Trying to save and regrow the seeds of these seeds is a waste of time. Most will be sterile and never germinate and those that do will not be true to the variety you saved them from.

They will have reverted to one of the parent cultivars.

Seeds should be gathered from over ripe Melons.

Table ready melons are not actually the best for seed saving. You want the melons to be over ripe.

Not rotten just overripe. They should have a strong melon aroma.

In most melons, the flesh is not as crisp and has a pasty consistency as opposed to crisp.

Collecting The Melon Seeds

A picture of cantaloupe and honeydew's split open exposing their seeds. Sitting on a wooden background.

Start by slicing the melons open and scooping out the seeds. Musk style melons such as cantaloupe are easier in this arena as the seeds are concentrated in a central mass.

Watermelons require that you pick through the flesh to remove the seeds, you only want the dark seeds the frail white ones are immature and useless.

There are two methods used to process the seeds. 

Method #1

Place the gathered seeds in a strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water to wash off as much clinging pulp as possible.

Agitating and rubbing them gently will help. Once you have thoroughly rinsed your seeds place them on absorbent paper towels to dry off.

Method #2

Place the seeds with the pulp still clinging to them, or them still clinging to the pulp in a jar of room temperature water. The jar should be full, not half full or half empty.

Let them sit in the water for 3 to 4 days during which time viable seeds will sink to the bottom. Those that float should be discarded.

Once you have removed viable seeds from the water discard the pulp and bad seeds and place the good seeds on absorbent paper towels to dry off a tad.

Removing Excess Sugars

Regardless of whether you use Method 1 or 2 you still should still get rid of excess natural sugars. Melons have a very high sugar content which is good when you’re gonna eat them, but not so good when you want to store the seeds.

Natural sugars facilitate microbial activity – bacteria, mold, and fungus which can kill off your seeds while in storage. You want to remove as much of the sugar as possible. The most common and easiest way to do this is with dish detergent.

Gently rub a modest amount of dish detergent on the seeds and then rinse a second time. Try to avoid detergents that are high in chemicals, an eco-friendly detergent is best.

Dawn works for me but there are others that some feel are better.

How to Store Melon Seeds

Once you’ve rinsed off the detergent you now want to dry the seeds prior to storage. Too much Moisture in the seed can cause them to rot during their storage. Place them on absorbent paper towels and allow them to dry out for a day.

I like to blow dry them a tad with a hairdryer on a low cooler setting, although this is not absolutely necessary it does help.

Put the seeds in an airtight sealed jar or zip-lock plastic bag for winter storage. The reason for the jar/plastic is so you can monitor the humidity.

If you notice any condensation on the inside of the jar – then there is unwanted moisture within the seeds. They could potentially grow mold or mildew.

Silica Gel works well for helping to keep stored seed dry. Silica gel is beads of amorphous silicon dioxide. Clear silica gel is packaged with many food and non-food products and labeled ‘do not eat.’ Placing these in the jar or baggie with your seeds is a good idea.

When properly stored Melon seeds will be viable for up to 3 years. Allthough their viability will wane exponentially.