As summer falls on us, most of us suddenly find joy in cold, sweet melon meat. Some prefer watermelons with their juicy red flesh, others tend towards the orange juicy flesh of the melon. And nothing is better than growing cantaloupes at home so that you have them fresh from the vine!

This sweet orange fruit belongs to the cantaloupe family and takes its name from the Italian city of Cantalupo in Sabina. This community claims to be the starting point for this delicious treat, although its origins actually go much further back.

Cantaloupe is a simple grower and a popular addition to many gardens – and for good reason. The taste of a ripe melon is like nothing you will ever find on a supermarket shelf. We will cover all important aspects of the cultivation of cantaloupes today. You too can have an endless supply of this beautiful melon all summer long!

Good products for growing Cantaloupe:

Brief instructions on care

Growing cantaloupes is a great way to get a large supply of the freshest fruits. Source: agrilifetoday

Common Name (s)Cantaloupe, sweet melon, wart melon, spanpek, stone melon
Scientific nameCucumis melo var. Cantalupensis, Cucumis melo var. Reticulatus, Cucumis melo var. Cantalupo
Days to harvest80-90 days
lightFull sun
Water:1-2 inches of water a week
groundWell-drained loamy or sandy soil
fertilizerBalanced fertilizer with slow release or alternating with compost
PestsAphids, thrips, cutworms, cabbage grinders, cucumber beetles, pumpkin bugs, flea beetles, root knot nematodes
DiseasesVarious leaf spots (Alternaria, Anthracnose, Cercospora, Septoria, Pseudomonas), various withers (Fusarium, Verticillium, wilted bacteria), mildew, downy mildew, gum rot, southern plague, charcoal rot, various viruses (aster yellow, pumpkin yellow) stunt disorder, mosaic

All about Cantaloupe

The origins of the cantaloupe go back further than Cantalupo in Sabina, as I mentioned above. It is believed to have originated somewhere between Africa and South Asia. Because of its incredible taste, it quickly spread from its point of origin. The seeds for the Italian cantaloupe were brought from Armenia to their province. But once grown in Italy, its popularity exploded across Europe.

The cantaloupe was first cultivated in the United States in 1890 as a crop and is now largely produced in California. The warm climate makes it the perfect place for huge melon harvests. However, cantaloupes are still grown in other regions and a variety of varieties have been developed.

The vine itself is slightly hairy, almost prickly like some pumpkin vines. The leaves are broad and shade the vine. Each plant produces both male and female flowers and both are needed for pollination purposes. Male flowers tend to be smaller, have a slender base and a bright yellow color. The female flowers are larger and have a rounded bulge at the base that swells after pollination to the melon that we all yearn for.

Bees are one of the main pollinators of this fruit, but home gardeners can also pollinate themselves with a brush or cotton swab. Collect pollen from the male flowers and then brush them into the female flowers. You will be rewarded with future fruits.

The melons, which are technically a berry from a botanical point of view, can have a round to oval shape. Its outer shell has a characteristic pattern with a stiffer tan skin over a softer dark green skin. As it ripens, the green gradually fades to a lighter color and can then turn yellow. Inside, the flesh of most cantaloupes is clearly orange, although some varieties may be more yellow.

The vine will ripen and produce flowers in just over a month to a month and a half. As soon as it blooms, the individual melons form and grow over a period of another one and a half months. It can be beneficial to limit each branch of wine to a single melon to get the best taste.

Plant Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe vineCantaloupe vines can take up a lot of space. Source: the southern garden

If you plant cantaloupes, you need enough space because the vines take up a lot of space. Let's go through some other tips to get the most out of your cantaloupe plant!

When to plant

Seeds can be started in early spring, but only germinate when the soil they are in is warm. Aim for a floor temperature of around 70 degrees. If you want a head start, you can use a seedling heating mat while the weather warms up outdoors.

Plant your plants in the garden as soon as there is absolutely no chance of frost outdoors. Usually, it is ideal to aim for mid to late spring. If your cantaloupes are not hardened to the external conditions, let them gradually adjust before planting them in the ground.

You can also sow seeds directly in the garden. This saves you the need for a transplant, but it definitely requires warm conditions to be successful.

Where to plant

One thing about growing cantaloupes that most don't take into account is how long these vines can last. Cantaloupes are not quite as hungry for space as a watermelon or a pumpkin vine, but can still easily take up 3 to 4 feet of space. Houseplants at least 18 inches apart, but up to 24 inches apart if you have enough space.

Choose a place with lots of sunlight. You also want to prepare your floor in advance and add any changes that you consider necessary. If possible, try not to choose a place that is heavily shaded by other plants. If that's not possible, aim at areas shaded in the hottest spots of the afternoon.

Cantaloupes can be grown in containers, but you need containers that are at least one foot deep and at least one foot wide. A 10-gallon grow bag tolerates a strong melon better than a smaller one! Also, don't forget to leave space around the bag to allow for all-important wine growth.

How to plant

Planting Cantaloupe itself is a very simple process. Seeds should be sown at least one and a half feet apart and can be up to 3 feet apart. But it also depends on whether you want to control the growth of the vines as they develop. A closer distance is an option if you want to encourage the vines to grow away from other plants, e.g. B. in a raised bed or a large cultivation bag.

Seeds should be sown about half an inch to an inch deep. You can plant 2-3 seeds in a hole and select the strongest seedling you want to keep, and then pinch out the others.

Transplanted plants should not be placed deeper than they were planted in their original pot. In contrast to tomato vines, cantaloupe plants do not produce additional roots along the stem, so they do not have to be planted extra deep.

Aim for a similar distance in transplants. I personally prefer a distance of 18 inches to 2 feet, if possible, as this provides enough space for the root system to spread.

maintenance

Female cantaloupe flowerThe female melon has a bulge at its base, which turns into the melon. Source: UGA CAES

Now your melon is growing. But how do you care for your melon plants? Let's go through this.

Sun and temperature

Full sun is ideal for cantaloupes. They prefer temperatures of 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit and happily spread out in the sun during these temperatures. If it falls below 50, the vines are chilled and just don't work well. They are sensitive to frost and die in colder conditions.

In particularly hot climates, it can be beneficial to provide a little shade in the afternoon in the worst heat of the day. This is especially true if your heat constantly rises above 90 degrees because the vines wilt more due to the hot conditions.

Water & moisture

To form all of this juicy melon, your cantaloupe plants regularly need water. However, it is important that you water at the base of the vine instead of wetting the foliage. Use watering hoses hidden under a thick layer of mulch to keep your plants hydrated. If you need to use a hand sprayer, just pour it in the early morning so the splash water on the leaves can dry up.

One inch to two inches of water a week (depending on the temperature) is ideal. When it is hot, water a little more often to keep the leaves green and let your melon thrive. However, don't water too much water as your cantaloupe plants don't need muddy conditions.

This mulch layer I mentioned is particularly important. If the soil is constantly moist, the ripening cantaloupe fruit can develop rot.

Reduce the watering as your fruit approaches the point of ripening to ensure that the sugar in the melon meat develops its top taste. If you pour this phase through, you will still get a very good melon, but not as sweet as it could have been.

ground

Well-drained soil is a must for cantaloupes. It should have a loamy or sandy base with plenty of compost incorporated to provide your cantaloupe plants with plenty of food.

You want a neutral floor area where cantaloupes can grow. If possible, they prefer a pH range between 6.0 and 6.5. More alkaline soils can cause a condition called iron chlorosis, which is caused by plants not getting iron properly. Acidic soils can reduce fruit production.

Fertilize

If you use a lot of composted manure (horse or ox are both great) and other vegetable composts, you may not need to fertilize as often. These provide a good source of plant nutrition.

A balanced organic fertilizer can be applied several times during the growing season. If you grow cantaloupes, the plants mainly need nitrogen for viticulture. However, if you need phosphorus or potassium, a balanced fertilizer will ensure that you are there. You can dress from the side a few times with this or with additional composted manure or compost to help plants plant fruit.

Pruning and training

The best fruits come from grapevines that were allowed to produce a lot of leaves. Avoid pruning your Cantaloupe vines unless you absolutely have to. If you have given them enough room to grow, you should only need to prune when pests or diseases need to be damaged.

If you do, allow only one fruit per stem and no more than 5-6 per plant in total. This ensures that the plant uses its energy to produce large, healthy fruits rather than many smaller, less aromatic ones.

You can use plant binders and a grid to grow cantaloupes vertically. Place your plants about 1 foot apart at the base of the trellis. When growing, be sure to distribute the leaves so that enough air flows. A grid that is wider at the top than at the bottom allows good spreading tendencies.

Propagation

Cantaloupe is propagated by seeds. Their vines are unlikely to develop viable roots when cut. Since the plants are easy to grow from seeds, you really don't have to try other methods!

Harvest and store

Ripe cantaloupesCantaloupes belong to the wart melon family and have a characteristic orange flesh. Source: nccaofficial

So you've provided everything your cantaloupe plant needs to produce great fruit, and it's almost harvest time. How do you know if your melon is best for harvesting? Let's talk about it.

harvest

As you grow a melon, the bowl goes through a series of color changes. First, it has extremely dark green markings that are interspersed with the rough brown shell. Over time, this green becomes lighter. You want a shade that ideally has a good medium shade of green and the melon should have a good weight.

If it is ripe, it should be cleared of its vine easily and cleanly when moving. It shouldn't require pulling or pulling at all, it should be easy to release. If it still appears to be firmly connected, it is not yet completely finished. In addition, a ripe cantaloupe bowl should smell slightly of cantaloupe.

Overripe melon practically loses all of its green and turns yellow. You can eat this for a while, but it has a very strong taste, almost like the natural sugar is fermenting. It also has a very strong aroma.

storage

It is important to know how to grow cantaloupes, but it also helps to know how to store them. Often several melons ripen at the same time and you will be hit by an abundance of products!

Store your fresh melons at room temperature until you cut them. After cutting, keep the melon in the fridge to reduce spoilage before you can eat it.

Cantaloupe can be frozen, but changes the texture. You can freeze it in slices or cubes. Some also like to puree cantaloupes and freeze them in ice cube trays to get a frozen cube that's easy to add to a smoothie or mixed drink. It dehydrates to a consistency similar to fruit leather, so dry storage is also possible.

Troubleshooting

Cantaloupe flower and leaf spotA lone cantaloupe flower that peeks out between foliage with leaf spots. Source: JonU235

What problems can your vines experience? Let us examine what you may encounter.

Growing problems

Cold conditions can damage the leaves and vines. In addition, cantaloupe plants need warm conditions to bloom properly and form melons. Make sure you don't start yours too early as they don't do well in the cold.

Underwater can lead to yellowed leaves and flower drops. On the other hand, too much water can also be a problem as it can lead to root rot. Make sure that the soil is well drained, but that you maintain a constant soil moisture. A thick layer of straw mulch reduces moisture evaporation and protects your cantaloupes during their development.

Pests

Pests suck like Aphids and Thrips are pathogens, especially viral diseases. They suck the juice from leaves, stems and sometimes the flowers themselves. Use neem oil to wipe them off.

Cutworms and Cabbage grinder are annoying caterpillars that seriously damage your cantaloupe leaves or stems. Bacillus thurigiensis spray is effective against these and other caterpillars.

Beetle like that Cucumber beetle, Squash bug, and Flea beetle are also common. For these I recommend a mixture of insecticidal soap and pyrethrin. The pyrethrin was supposed to kill adult beetles, with the insecticidal soap suffocating all eggs and larvae.

Root node nematodes Cause damage to the roots of your plants. The roots develop nodules of scar tissue from these microscopic pests and cannot properly absorb the food. Leaves and withers may turn yellow. Adding useful nematodes to the soil will quickly solve the problem, as the good nematodes perceive the bad ones as delicious!

Diseases

There are a number of diseases that can destroy your Cantaloupe harvest.

Alternaria leaf spot, Anthracnose leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot, and Septoria leaf spot can all cause a variety of stains on your leaves. These all come from different types of fungi that have colonized your plants.

In all of these cases, the common thread is that the Cantaloupe leaves were likely splashed with water contaminated by fungal spores, or wet when fungal spores blew past and stuck to them. Alternaria, anthracnose and septories can all be treated with liquid copper fungicide or a biofungicide spray. Unfortunately, cercospora is much more difficult to treat and infected material should be removed and destroyed.

Anthracnose can also cause fruit rot. Before melons form, make sure the leaves are free of these fungi so that you don't spot rotting melons!

Unfortunately, not all leaf spots are of mushroom-like origin. Angular leaf spot is caused by Pseudomonas bacteria. Fortunately, like many of the fungal leaf stains, this can be treated with a copper-based fungicide.

Three different wilts, two mushrooms and a bacterium are also a risk for your cantaloupes. Fusarium wither and Wilting verticillium are both mushrooms that may live in the ground for years. Planting resistant varieties can help prevent them from sticking, as can applying a biofungicide to the soil during planting. Wither bacteria is spread by the cucumber beetle, and the elimination of the beetle populations prevents the spread.

Both mildew and Wrong mildew are common when growing cantaloupes. Powdery mildew is a fungus that produces a white, powdery-looking substance on leaf surfaces. It can be treated with neem oil. Downy mildew is caused by an oomycete and can be treated with either neem oil or copper fungicides.

Two forms of the plague that Rubber rot and southern plague, can occur. The rubber rot causes stains and lesions on the leaves, cracks in the stems and a rubber-like material that escapes from the inside of the stem. Southern plague causes yellowed leaves, browning stems and can lead to vine death. Both are mushrooms and live in the soil. Crop rotation reduces the risk of these rots. Plant resistant varieties.

Charcoal rot acts like the southern plague, but also causes dark lesions on the stem near the ground and can lead to rotting fruit. As with the plagues, practice crop rotation and avoid planting the same plant type in the same place season after season.

Finally, there are some viruses that are transmitted by pests. These include viruses Aster yellow, Pumpkin yellow stunt disorderand four different ones Mosaic virus Stems (cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon, zucchini). No treatments are available for these viruses. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed.

frequently asked Questions

Immature green cantaloupesAt the beginning of fruit development, cantaloupes can usually have a green color. Source: Zephyr314

Q: How long does it take to grow a melon?

A: It may take about 90 days for the cantaloupe to germinate before you get your first melon.

Q: How many cantaloupes does a plant produce?

A: Most vines can produce 4-6 cantaloupes.

Q: Do Cantaloupes come back every year?

A: Unfortunately cantaloupes are one year old and die as soon as the vine has produced their melons.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener