The best way to Develop Cantaloupe | Gardener’s Path

Cucumis melo var. reticulatus

Cantaloupe is like sweet in melon kind.

For some purpose, watermelon will get all {the summertime} hype. A few of that should go straight to cantaloupe, which in my unpopular opinion, is way tastier than watermelon.

With a wierd texture, slimy seeds, and an abundance of, properly, wateriness, the watermelon simply isn’t my sort of fruit. Cantaloupe, although, is one among my favorites.

A vertical close up of two cantaloupe melons growing in the garden, ripening on the vine, with foliage in soft focus in the background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

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A juicy American cantaloupe, that’s, as a result of I’ve by no means tried the European selection. There are variations, which we’ll discuss in a second.

No melon can beat the candy orange flesh of the cantaloupe. It’s intensely candy, however wholesome too, with strong ranges of nutritional vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and beta carotene.

A close up of a wooden bowl containing freshly harvested melons, one with a slice cut out of it and set on a rustic wooden surface with a garden scene in soft focus in the background.

As a result of I like cantaloupe a lot, I made a decision to develop it right here in Alaska. Seeing how this fruit thrives in balmy summertime climes, that is an audacious selection.

However I will need to have garden-grown cantaloupe.

Really feel the identical method? Learn on!

Cultivation and Historical past

This scrumptious fruit belongs to the genus Cucumis and is a member of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd household.

Pumpkins, squash, honeydew, and zucchini are additionally star members. Grown as a summer season annual in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-10, the fruit develops on a trailing vine, which might educated up a trellis to avoid wasting area.

Most varieties mature in 65-90 days and produce spherical fruits that weigh as much as 3-4 kilos.

A vertical close up of a cantaloupe melon sliced in half and into sections, set on a wooden chopping board on a soft focus background.

Cantaloupe melons are a wide range of the muskmelon, C. melo, and the identify “cantaloupe” refers particularly to the North American selection C. melo var. reticulatus, and the European sort, C. melo var. cantalupensis.

This orange-fleshed fruit is called rockmelon in Australia and New Zealand, and spanspek in South Africa.

Early variations of the melon originated in Persia, India, and the encircling space, after which within the 1700s seeds from Armenia contributed to the cultivation of the European cantaloupe we all know and love.

A close up of two cantaloupes ripening on the vine in the garden surrounded by foliage and pictured in light filtered sunshine.

The identify got here from one of many first locations to develop this model, Cantalupo, a city close to Rome the place the Pope loved a villa retreat.

As for the North American selection, Columbus introduced seeds of early cultivars on his 1494 voyage to the brand new world, and launched them to the Americas.

A close up top down picture of a ripe cantaloupe melon prepared in two different ways: cut into slices and set on a blue plate, and to the left it is cubed, and set in a blue bowl with a sprig of mint to garnish.

In 1881, the W. Atlee Burpee firm cultivated the North American selection as we all know it immediately, calling it the “Netted Gem,” for its webbed pores and skin and deliciously candy fruit.

Of their 1896 e-book, “Greens for the Dwelling Backyard,” accessible at Amazon, the writer writes, “Burpee’s Netted Gem was first named and launched by us 15 years in the past. In form this melon is nearly an ideal globe, with inexperienced pores and skin, frequently ribbed, and thickly netted.”

Greens for the Dwelling Backyard

A pleasant blast from the previous that first sentence is!

Right this moment, folks all around the world favor cantaloupe over watermelon – oh wait, possibly that’s simply me! – and use it in fruit salads, wrap it in prosciutto for a preferred antipasti, and eat it on the rind for a scrumptious summertime snack. You can even roast and snack on the seeds.


You can begin this fruit from seed indoors or outside, or from seedlings bought at a backyard middle.

Within the north, with the shorter rising season, it’s a great summer season crop so long as it’s bought some assist to remain heat.

Southern states can develop the melon earlier within the spring and even through the fall in some areas.

From Seed

These of you who reside in colder climates, like I do, ought to sow seeds indoors at the very least 4 weeks earlier than your common final frost date.

Since melons require a protracted rising season, and take time to ripen, a head begin like this helps assure that you just’ll get to reap your melons earlier than fall frosts kill the crops.

In hotter climates, you possibly can sow seeds instantly outside as quickly as all hazard of frost has handed.

In someplace like Florida, plant as early as February or March. These in Zones 9, 10, and 11 may even sow seeds within the fall for a winter crop.

Most cantaloupe cultivars take between 65-90 days from germination to achieve maturity, so let that be your information.

To sow in seed trays, add a superb high quality potting combine to every cell after which use your finger to make a 1/2-inch-deep gap in each.

Add two to 3 seeds per gap, and be sure you place the sharp finish of the seeds down.

A close up of Cucumis melo var. reticulatus seeds set on a gray surface.

The roots emerge from the purpose, and whereas they might nonetheless germinate when you place them rounded-side-down, the seedling must work that a lot tougher to determine which method is up and which is down.

Belief me on this one. Embarrassingly, I realized this lesson the arduous method.

Tamp the soil again over the seed and provides it a pleasant misting with a twig bottle or a mild watering with a watering can.

In case your seed trays include a lid, that’s useful because it helps to entice in moisture, ensuing within the good humidity for germination.

You can even use a layer of plastic wrap to realize an identical impact, however make sure to take away it as quickly as seeds germinate.

A close up of a seedling tray with a plastic humidity cover for germinating seeds.
Photograph by Laura Melchor.

Germination often takes a few week, typically longer if soil situations aren’t fairly at 70°F. You should utilize warmth mat to make sure the soil stays at a constant 70°F – the best temperature for germination.

Ensure that to maintain that spray bottle close by – cantaloupe seedlings want fixed moisture within the early days.

A couple of days after germination, skinny to 1 seedling per cell, retaining the one that appears the strongest.

A close up of a seedling tray with recently germinated sprouts, set on a windowsill.
Photograph by Laura Melchor.

Preserve your seed trays close to a sunny window or place them below a develop gentle.

As soon as they’ve bought two or three units of true leaves, you’ll must harden them off for 7-10 days earlier than transplanting outside.

A fast notice: typically the seed casings received’t come off the seedling instantly it pushes out of the earth, particularly when you by accident plant the seedlings the unsuitable method up.

A close up of a recently germinated seed showing the seed casing still attached to the young sprout.
Photograph by Laura Melchor.

If these casings don’t fall off inside a pair days, gently tug them off together with your fingers. Leaving them on can inhibit the plant’s progress.

These of you dwelling in hotter climates can direct sow outside in full solar as quickly because the hazard of frost has handed.

To sow outside, plant three seeds in 1/2-inch-deep holes,  18-24 inches aside. Preserve them evenly moist till germination.

As soon as seedlings have two units of true leaves, skinny them in order that there’s just one plant each 18-24 inches.

From Seedlings and Transplanting

Did you choose up a tray of begins at your native nursery? Or are your seedlings sufficiently big to transplant out? Right here’s how to ensure they settle properly into your backyard.

A close up of young Cucumis melo var. reticulatus seedlings growing in small white plastic bags set on a gravel surface, with an irrigation system for watering.

Choose a sunny spot for planting, as melons want eight to 10 hours of full solar with the intention to thrive.

You’ll first must be sure that the soil in your raised beds or old school row backyard is unfastened, well-draining, and prepared for the melons.

A close up of the packaging of a soil amendment made for raised bed gardens, on a white background.

Raised Mattress Recharge

I prefer to amend backyard soil with well-rotted manure and compost, or with a nutrient-rich raised mattress soil like this one from the Dwelling Depot.

Subsequent, dig a gap the dimensions of the foundation ball, place the plant inside the outlet, backfill with soil, and water totally. House every plant 18-24 inches aside.

The best way to Develop

Cantaloupes develop finest in organically wealthy, well-draining soil, with a mildly acidic pH of 6.0-6.5. You may conduct a soil check and amend accordingly.

Whereas cantaloupes love heat, they don’t love an excessive amount of of it. If the temperatures rise above 95-100°F or so for a number of days in a row, your plant may get cranky and let its flowers fall.

A close up of a Cucumis melo var. reticulatus ripening on the vine, set on a straw mulch, with foliage in the background, pictured in bright sunshine.

To assist preserve the plant blissful throughout warmth waves, mulch with straw or different light-colored materials to maintain the roots cool.

As for these of us in colder climes, we’ll must do all the things in our energy to maintain our melons heat.

First, keep away from setting crops out till the soil temperature is a dependable 70°F. Utilizing raised beds for cantaloupes helps, as a result of the soil in raised beds and containers typically thaws sooner than the bottom.

One other vital step? Mulch with black landscaping cloth, or dark-colored bark chips. Solely use darkish mulch in colder rising zones, although, or the crops could overheat.

A close up of a young melon plant growing in bright sunshine surrounded by black landscape fabric.

For additional heat, you possibly can insert hoops and floating row covers over your backyard to behave as a greenhouse through the early days of progress.

You’ll need to take away the quilt as quickly as out of doors temperatures stay above 50°F at night time, particularly as your cantaloupe begins to flower – often about 30-40 days after germination.

The row covers can preserve out bees and different pollinators wanted to make that scrumptious fruit.

A close up of a bright yellow cantaloupe flower contrasting with the light green foliage on a soft focus background.

One other vital part of a cheerful cantaloupe is to maintain it properly watered, particularly within the rising and flowering phases.

Throughout this stage of its progress, it’ll want 1-2 inches of water per week. Keep away from watering from above to forestall the leaves getting moist and doubtlessly spreading illness.

To test soil moisture, stick your finger an inch down into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time so as to add water.

A close up of an unripe cantaloupe melon growing on the vine, covered in water droplets with foliage in soft focus in the background.

However as soon as the vines have set fruit, it’s time to cut back the watering a bit to only 1 inch per week.

Because the melons get nearer to maturation, present simply 1/2 an inch of water every week. An excessive amount of water at this level could cause the rinds to swell and break up.

Cantaloupe vines unfold vast and thick, so when you’ve bought restricted area, use a plant assist to encourage them to develop upwards.

A tomato cage can work, as can a trellis, a easy tent made of 4 bamboo poles tied collectively on the high, or a vertical rising body like this one from the Dwelling Depot.

A vertical close up picture of cantaloupes ripening on the vine, supported by nets to prevent the fruits from falling off prematurely.

Simply make sure to present assist for the hanging melons as soon as they’re concerning the dimension of a fist.

Use outdated pantyhose when you have some readily available, or netted, stretchy produce baggage, like these ones available from Amazon.

Assist Luggage for Rising Melons

Be sure that the fabric you employ is breathable. You don’t need to by accident rot the melons by sticking them in a plastic bag.

Merely put the web across the melon and tie it to the trellis, body, or pole. Because the melon grows, the sling will develop and assist it in order that it doesn’t break the vine.

Additionally, keep in mind to trim the vines to encourage the plant to focus its vitality on making huge, juicy melons.

A close up of a cantaloupe melon ripe and ready for harvest, on the ground in the garden, surrounded by foliage, pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

Like strawberries, melons ship out runners.

To develop massive melons, trim every plant on the leaf node simply previous the one bearing the fruit and think about solely retaining two to 3 fruits on every plant.

The plant will then put all of its vitality into rising these fruits to a pleasant, massive dimension.

However when you don’t thoughts smaller melons and desire a fuller crop, you possibly can let the vines develop as they are going to and solely trim them again if they’re spilling over the sting of your raised mattress or encroaching on different crops.

As frosty fall climate approaches and your melons start ripening, pinch off any new flowers to permit the vitality to deal with ripening present fruit.

Rising Suggestions

  • Ensure that to plant in organically wealthy soil
  • Preserve melons heat in chilly climate and assist them keep cool if temps rise above 95°F-100°F.
  • Present 1-2 inches of water per week till fruit seems, after which scale it again to 1 inch after which 1/2 inch a few week earlier than harvest.
  • Trim to only 2-3 melons per plant for giant fruit or in no way for plenty of smaller fruits.

Cultivars to Choose

Listed below are my favourite cantaloupe varieties to your residence backyard:

Hearts of Gold

This candy, medium-sized cantaloupe grows properly in Zones 3-10, which is why I selected it for my Alaska backyard. Again within the 1900s, when it was cultivated, this was the most well-liked industrial melon in the US.

It’ll mature inside 80-90 days and weigh in at two to 3 kilos. Vines will unfold as much as 72 inches and develop 15-18 inches tall.

A close up of 'Hearts of Gold' melon set on a white plate with slices in front and to the sides.

‘Hearts of Gold’

With only a contact of ribbing and a skinny, netted rind, it is a traditional cultivar to swimsuit these of us who adore super-sweet melons. Plus, they’re immune to one among cantaloupe’s most prolific ailments: powdery mildew.

Discover packets of fifty seeds at Burpee or as much as one pound of seeds at True Leaf Market.

Honey Rock

For an enormous, 3- to 4-pound magnificence with candy, wealthy flesh, attempt ‘Honey Rock,’ an heirloom cultivar that matures in 75-90 days.

Hardy to Zones 4-11, these scrumptious melons had been winners of the All-American Choice Gold Medal in 1933, for his or her strong dimension and candy taste.

A close up of a 'Honey Rock' sliced in half and set on a rustic wooden surface.

‘Honey Rock’

Discover something from a small packet to a five-pound sack of seeds at Eden Brothers.

Minnesota Midget

Good for these in chilly climes – or for container rising – ‘Minnesota Midget’ (C. melo var. cantalupensis) matures in simply 65 days and is hardy to Zones 3-10.

Launched by the College of Minnesota in 1948, the vines produce candy, juicy, four-inch fruits and crops are immune to fusarium wilt.

A close up of a 'Minnesota Midget' cut in half, set amongst foliage in bright sunshine. To the bottom right of the frame is a white circular logo and text.

‘Minnesota Midget’

Not like different varieties, the vines solely unfold as much as three toes. Every plant can produce anyplace from 4 to eight scrumptious melons.

Discover seeds immediately in 1-ounce, 4-ounce, and 1-pound packages at True Leaf Market.

Managing Pests and Illness

Cantaloupe isn’t terribly inclined to pests and illness, however there are a couple of totally different critters and maladies to be careful for.

Let’s have a look.


Which bugs hassle cantaloupes probably the most? These 4 pesky creatures.


As a result of in fact.

What leafy factor is immune from this persistent pest? Not simply any aphids love this melon, although: peach aphids (Myzus persicae), that are inexperienced to yellowish-brown, and melon aphids (Aphis gossypii), that are creamy white.

A close up of aphids on a Cucumis melo var. reticulatus leaf.

Whereas small, they’re simply seen on leaves upon shut inspection. Aphids suck the sap out of the leaves, inflicting them to show yellow or cease rising. In addition they contribute to the unfold of mosaic virus.

In case your outbreak is restricted to a couple sturdy vines, you possibly can hose the bugs off with water and sprinkle diatomaceous earth atop the fallen pests, and on the soil round your crops.

Alternatively, spray the plant with neem oil or insecticidal cleaning soap – or make your cantaloupe patch a cheerful residence for ladybugs, a useful insect that eats aphids.

Cucumber Beetles

These somewhat stunning beetles are available in three pertinent types: the Western striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittata), the Western noticed cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata), and the banded cucumber beetle (Diabrotica balteata).

These brightly coloured bugs can harm vines and leaves and contribute to bacterial rot. In addition they munch on the fruit and go away behind ugly scars.

The easiest way to handle them is to use kaolin clay or neem oil to the affected areas (and catch them early earlier than they unfold!).


These plump, segmented, brown worms (I’m shuddering as I write this) can kill cantaloupe seedlings and eat holes via the melons. Not cool!

Cutworms, Peridroma saucia, are most energetic at night time, and within the daytime these 1-2-inch beasties curl up and conceal within the soil on the base of the plant. They know they’re not welcome.

A close up of a hand from the left of the frame holding four small cucumber beetles, on a soft focus background.

To regulate them, hand-pick them off your crops at night time (enjoyable, enjoyable!) or unfold diatomaceous earth throughout the bottom of the plant.

You can even attempt spraying neem oil or insecticidal cleaning soap on the affected areas.

Learn extra about cutworm management in our information.

Squash Bug

Probably the most dreaded pest to melon-growers around the globe, the squash bug (Anasa trisis) feeds on the leaves, turning them speckled and brown, and causes vines to wilt and even die. It additionally kills in any other case wholesome, ripening fruit.

Nymphs are greenish with black legs; adults are gray-black-brownish.

Diatomaceous earth may help kill or gradual the unfold of those devastating bugs, however some decided gardeners really use a wet-dry vacuum to suck them off the vines, leaves, and fruits.

Cantaloupes grown on a fence or trellis can typically escape infestation, in order that’s one thing to contemplate.

Discover extra recommendations on combating squash bugs right here.


Examine your crops day by day to ensure they aren’t growing signs of any of those 5 frequent cantaloupe maladies.

Alternaria Leaf Blight

If you happen to reside in a sizzling, humid, wet space, be careful for Alternaria leaf blight brought on by Alternaria cucumerina. This fungal an infection begins as small yellow-brown spots on the oldest leaves and spreads to new progress.

A close up of a diseased leaf with yellow and brown sections, pictured on a soft focus background.

It will probably additionally infect the fruit, inflicting it to crack.

To stop this disagreeable fungus, keep away from overhead watering and think about overlaying your crops with rainproof tarp if moist situations last more than a pair days. Use fungicide on affected crops.

Downy Mildew

This pesky fungal illness is brought on by Pseudoperonospora cubensis. Brown spots seem on leaves, ultimately killing them.

A close up vertical picture of a green leaf suffering with a fungal infection that has made yellow spots appear on the surface, pictured on a soft focus background.

Keep away from overhead irrigation and deal with with fungicide when wanted.

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is brought on by a soil-borne fungus, Fusarium oxysporum, that can trigger the runners to show yellow and wilt and weakens the general well being of the plant.

A close up of the foliage of Cucumis melo var. reticulatus with unripe fruits in dry soil, and some yellowing leaves.

To keep away from it, rotate all Cucurbitaceae crops each 4 years and preserve the soil moist however not waterlogged. If wanted, apply fungicide.

Mosaic Viruses

One of many foremost causes to maintain aphids out of your backyard is that they unfold mosaic virus. The categories that harm cantaloupe are: cucumber mosaic, squash mosaic, watermelon mosaic, and zucchini yellow mosaic.

These viruses trigger a yellow sample on leaves, killing them, and might even stunt and deform fruit. Shopping for mosaic-resistant seeds is right if these viruses are a recognized downside in your space. They unfold in a short time, devastating complete crops, and there’s little to be finished as soon as that occurs.

Powdery Mildew

This frequent illness, powdery mildew, brought on by Podosphaera xanthii, promotes the unfold of white fungus throughout your leaves.

Whereas it hardly ever kills crops, it seems unpleasant and might alter the flavour of the fruit as a result of it doesn’t permit it to ripen totally.

A close up of a bright yellow cantaloupe melon flower with wilting foliage, pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

To stop powdery mildew, be sure you sanitize your gardening instruments earlier than utilizing them to plant melons.

Additionally, be certain that to permit for air circulation when you’re rising them in {a partially} enclosed area, like below floating row covers.


There are three foremost issues to search for whenever you’re interested by harvesting your hard-won melons.

A ripe cantaloupe melon attached to the vine on the ground in the garden on a soft focus background.

First, watch the colour. Is it turning from white to a peachy-gold, yellow, or cream colour? If that’s the case, it’s most likely prepared for harvest.

Second, rise up shut and private to the melon and take a sniff the place the vine meets the fruit. Does it odor candy? If that’s the case, it’s choosing time!

A close up of two hands from the right of the frame gripping a Cucumis melo var. reticulatus fruit, still attached to the vine, with foliage in soft focus in the background.

And third, whilst you’re sniffing away, test the attachment between the stem and the melon.

If you happen to see a slight hole the place the melon is starting to drag away from the vine, it is a good indicator that you would be able to grasp it with each fingers and gently tug.

A close up of a hand from the left of the frame grasping a cantaloupe melon to check if it is harvest ready. In the background are further fruits and foliage of the vine.

A ripe melon will come away with ease.

As soon as harvested, take your melon indoors and out of the solar to forestall water loss and over-ripening.

Learn our full information on cantaloupe harvesting right here.


Let’s be actual: cantaloupes are finest loved contemporary off the vine. After you totally scrub the rind with cleaning soap and heat water to take away micro organism, which might contaminate the flesh whenever you reduce into it.

To do that, take a clear vegetable brush and clear the entire of the skin of the melon below operating water. Earlier than slicing, dry with paper towels to take away extra water.

A close up of a ripe melon with slices set on a wooden chopping board on a soft focus background.

You may retailer unwashed, uncut melons within the fridge for as much as one week, and seal reduce melon in a plastic bag and retailer for 3 days.

The opposite possibility is to chop the cantaloupe into cubes or balls, layer it on wax paper and freeze.

After two to 3 hours, put the cubes in resealable containers or baggage and preserve them within the freezer.

Use cubes whereas nonetheless frosty, whether or not you toss them right into a smoothie or eat them contemporary out of the freezer like somewhat dollop of ice cream.

A close up of a cantaloupe made into circular balls set in a green bowl with mint as a garnish on a soft focus background.

Strive sprinkling sugar on the cubes earlier than freezing for an extra-sweet deal with. Use your frozen cantaloupe inside one month for finest outcomes.

As for another strategies of preservation, these are just about nonexistent.

In line with Tracy L. Parnell, Trevor Suslow, and Linda J. Harris, meals scientists on the College of California, it’s unsafe to can the melon because of a excessive danger of botulism, and ugly to try to dry it.

Recipes and Cooking Concepts

For recommendations on correctly reduce cantaloupe, try this text from our sister web site, Foodal. It’ll inform you all the things it is advisable to know!

A close up of a ripe melon with a slice cut out of it, set on a wooden surface in the garden, on a soft focus background.

You may add contemporary or frozen cantaloupe to smoothies or eat it as is. Mix with different fruits for a tasty salad, or eat it contemporary with a contact of mint.

And keep in mind these frozen cubes of cantaloupe? Strive making this watermelon daiquiri recipe, additionally from Foodal, however use cantaloupe as an alternative of watermelon.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Annual Water Wants: Reasonable
Native to: Center East, Europe Upkeep: Reasonable to excessive
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 4-11 Soil Kind: Organically wealthy
Season: Spring, summer season, fall (relying on area) Soil pH: 6.0-6.5
Publicity: Full solar Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Time to Maturity: 65-90 days Companion Planting: Marigold, oregano, pumpkin
Spacing: 2-3 toes Keep away from Planting With: Beans, cucumber, potatoes
Planting Depth: Seeds: 1/2 inch Household: Cucurbitaceae
Top: 12-18 inches Genus: Cucumis
Unfold: 3-6 toes Species:: melo
Frequent Pests: Aphids, cucumber beetle, cutworms, squash bug Frequent Illness: Alternaria leaf blight, downy mildew, fusarium wilt, mosaic viruses, powdery mildew

Everybody’s Favourite Melon

Okay, possibly it’s not everybody’s favourite, nevertheless it certain is mine, and I can’t wait to see my plump melons thrive within the backyard.

A close up of a cantaloupe ripening on the vine in the garden, surrounded by foliage on a dark background.

Have you ever ever grown cantaloupes? Did they thrive or simply barely survive? Tell us within the feedback beneath!

If you happen to’d like so as to add different summer season fruits to your backyard, try these articles subsequent:

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