Quick Guide to Growing Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons

  • Plant cantaloupe in an area with warm soil (70°F+) and plenty of sun.
  • Cantaloupes are sprawlers, so plant them 36 to 42 inches apart in fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Growing cantaloupes require a lot of nutrients, so it’s best to improve your soil by mixing in several inches of compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Cantaloupes need a lot of water, so keep soil moist and avoid wetting the leaves—soaker hoses and drip irrigation are best.
  • Mulch well and eliminate weeds early so vines can run freely.
  • Protect young fruits by getting them off the ground. A small upside-down flower pot will work well.
  • Avoid pinching off shoots because an abundance of healthy leaves will produce sweeter fruit.
  • For best flavor, leave the largest fruit growing on the vine and pinch off any young fruits that begin to form.
  • Harvest cantaloupe when they reach ideal color and the netting is pronounced.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Cantaloupe and honeydew melons thrive in warm soil. Don’t plant until the ground temperature is above 70 degrees F, which typically occurs about the time peonies bloom in northern zones. Prior to planting, cover soil with plastic film to hasten soil warming. Because cantaloupes and honeydew are heavy feeders, prepare your planting bed well. The quick way is to plant in soil amended with several inches of compost or well-rotted manure, if available, or with aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil. Then feed regularly through the growing season with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, which nourishes both plants and the beneficial microbes in the soil (be sure to follow label directions). This combination of nutrient-rich soil and premium plant food is an excellent way to ensure a great harvest!

There is another way to plant–a technique used by the hard-core. Excavate the soil 1 foot deep, add a 9-inch layer of fresh manure, and then cover that with 3 inches of soil mixed with compost. This creates a bed with a high-nitrogen soil base that is naturally warm because it generates a little heat as the manure composts. In yet another approach, some gardeners plant melons atop their compost piles to ensure a warm footing and adequate nitrogen.

Melons need room to roam. Space plants 36 to 42 inches apart. Or, to save space, plant melons 12 inches apart at the base of a trellis. When trellising melons, tie vines to the trellis daily, using soft plant ties that won’t crush stems. A trellis for cantaloupe should be large: up to 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide in warmest climates. Wire fencing works well. Trellising offers several advantages: Vines get better air circulation than on the ground, which reduces the chances of disease. In northern zones, vines also get more sunlight when on a trellis that’s positioned at a slant toward the sun. You can also place a trellis against a bright reflective surface, which increases the amount of light reaching leaves and confuses melon aphids, who like to hide on the shadowy undersides of leaves. If you use a trellis, anchor it firmly so gusty summer winds don’t topple the vine-covered trellis.

After planting in spring you can cover plants with floating row covers to exclude insects and trap warm air near plants; this is most important in cooler climates but is useful everywhere to keep certain pests off the plants. In cool climates you can also lay out a permeable black tarp or black landscape fabric over the area to help trap the sun’s warmth. Simply plant through it (cut x-shaped slits).

Vines bear male and female flowers. Male flowers open first, joined by female blossoms about a week later. Female flowers have a small swelling at the base of the flower. When vines start to bear male and female flowers, remove row covers so bees can visit the flowers.

Tackle weeds before vines start to run, because later it will be impossible to step among vines without crushing them. Mulching soil under vines suppresses weeds and slows moisture evaporation from the soil. Of course, if you planted in a black cover, that is already done.

Water may be the most important variable that you supply; melons need a steady supply. Vines are most sensitive to drought during the time between transplanting and when fruits start to form. Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, which will kill plants. It’s typical for leaves to wilt under midday sun, but they shouldn’t remain wilted into the evening. If possible, avoid overhead watering. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation deliver water directly to the soil, preventing possible spread of fungus diseases on wet foliage. If you must use a sprinkler, then water vines very early in the morning so that leaves can dry early, which helps prevent fungus diseases.

For vines running on the ground, keep fruit from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and protect fruit from pests. Place ripening fruit on mulch, upturned coffee cans, or flower pots. If large critters such as groundhogs discover your melons, protect ripening fruits by covering them with plastic milk crates or similar boxes weighted down with a few bricks.

An old garden adage suggests pinching off a vine’s growing shoots as melons start to ripen to cause the plant to divert all its energy to the ripening fruit. Research has proven this false. The vine needs all its leaves to produce the sugars that sweeten fruit. Anything that reduces the total number of leaves available for sugar production reduces melon sweetness.

The more fruits that ripen at the same time, the less sweet they’ll be, since the vine will have to divide the leaves’ sugar production between fruits. In warmer climates with a long growing season, experienced growers often prune off all but one newly forming melon every 2 weeks. Ripening 1 melon at a time yields maximum sweetness. As you gain experience, you’ll develop your own technique.

In colder regions, remove any blossoms that start to develop within 50 days of your area’s first average frost date. This ensures remaining, larger fruits will ripen before frost.

Growing cantaloupe is one of my favorites about summer gardening. I don’t grow a lot of fruit in my garden the rest of the year but growing cantaloupe is a MUST for our family. The great this is that growing cantaloupe is fairly easy once you have the right information; my tips will get you on the right path to an amazing harvest!

Who’s ready for a sweet cantaloupe for your summer fruit salad???

For growing cantaloupe I’m going to touch on soil, location, varieties, caring for your growing melons, harvesting and storage.

Growing Cantaloupe Everything You Need to Know

Tip 1 – Location

Cantaloupes thrive in warm, sunny locations. Ground temps should be at least 70 degrees before you plant your seeds. If you’re in a colder region you can start your cantaloupes indoors; but you’ll want to transfer them before they get too big for best results. Be sure when you’re planting that you leave room for the growing vines to come. If space is limited considering building a trellis for the vines to grow on vertically. You can grow cantaloupe in containers as well, again with a trellis for vertical growth. Make sure to use a large pot and consider using a smaller variety of melons. If you do trellis make sure you choose a heavy-duty material for your melons or it is likely to break under their weight. You may want to consider using a cow or cattle panel.

Tip 2 – Prepare Your Soil

Remember that your cantaloupe crave WARM soil so don’t plant too early! Cantaloupes are heavy feeding so the soil you plant them in needs to be prepared with that in mind. You’ll need to amend your soil with organic compost, aged manure or a organic fertilizer; this should be added to the first 6 inches of soil for best results.

Tip 2 – Planting

Plant your cantaloupe at least 36 inches apart in traditional gardening. If you’re going to use a trellis the recommend spacing is 12 inches or in Square Foot Gardening 1 plant per square. I do not plant mine in mounds using raised beds but I have seen this advice for traditional planting.

After you’ve added seeds or transplants you should put mulch down. Mulch will keep the new plant warm, help to contain moisture and prevent weeds from chocking out the new plant.

Tip 3 – Pests and Companion Planting

Cantaloupe do have some pests of concern: squash bugs attack the foliage and squash vine borers will munch your vine and often kill the entire plant. You may also find cucumber beetles will attack all parts of the plant. And of course your friendly (ha) aphids are known to attack the leaves from time to time.

Your best defense is giving your melons companions from the start that help them fight pests. Both Nasturtium and Tansy flowers can help to ward off pests as well as Dill. See more on Companion Plants.

Keep a close on your vines, leaves and flowers and deal with any pests before they multiply! I recommend inspecting them a couple times per week.

Tip 4 – Water & Care

Watering is the most important part of keeping your cantaloupe growing strong. The need a constantly moist soil, but not drenched; you do not want your soil to dry out! Do your best to deliver water to the base of the plant and avoid soaking the leaves which can cause fungus and spread disease. You’ll want to use drip irrigation or a soaker hose for best results, it is not recommended to use a sprinkler. I prefer to water my melons early in the morning, giving it plenty of time to soak up the moisture before the afternoon sun dries it up.

Don’t worry if your leaves seem to wilt every afternoon, this is perfectly normal.

I like to add more compost or an organic fruit fertilizer as a see the first fruits developing. You may also want to do this as the plant’s growth increases, if you see it’s production or growth stall.

Tip 5 – Fruit

Protect your newbie fruit as it develops. If it is on the ground you’ll want to gently put a piece of cardboard or melon cradle under the fruit. This will help to prevent pests getting to it and help to promote even ripening.

Tip 6 – Varieties to Consider

If you are going to grow in containers you may want to consider a smaller variety of melon. I had good success with the Minnesota Midget, though I didn’t find it as sweet as larger varieties. This cantaloupe is perfect for one person to enjoy and fits right in the palm of your hand.

Other Varieties to Consider:

Hale’s Best Jumbo – sweeter than most

Honey Rock – another small, sweet variety

Planter’s Jumbo – very heat and drought tolerant

Tip 7 – Harvesting and Storage

The key to good, sweet melons is letting them fully develop on their vine; picked melons do not ripen much after they are picked. To make sure your fruit is ready to be picked you’ll want to make sure the rind has changed from green to the tan/yellow you expect of a cantaloupe. Then give the baby a sniff. Does is smell sweet and ripe? If it does you should be safe to pick. To maximize your melon’s sweetness you’ll want to leave it on the counter for a day or two before eating. You can store your melons for a week or 2 in the fridge. For longer storage you can freeze cantaloupe or make preserves (it is not recommended to can them, though I know people that do). I have heard that pickled cantaloupe is quite good, but I haven’t tried it myself.

Melons are our preferred summertime dessert, so we rarely have any left to “preserve”.

All About Watermelons

Shop Watermelon Seeds

Can I Grow Watermelons?

Every gardener should plant a hill or two of watermelons as they are easy to grow and, oh so good on sultry summer afternoons.

Try a small variety such as an eight-pound ‘Seedless Big Tast Hybrid’ that will fit in the refrigerator easily, or go for the glory and sow watermelon seeds for a whopper like the 30-pound ‘Million Bucks Hybrid’. Heirloom fans will want to plant ‘Moon and Stars’, introduced in 1926 with a deep green skin speckled with tiny yellow stars and quarter-size moons. The leaves are speckled with yellow stars as well. If you don’t have room in the garden for watermelon vines, think about growing them in the middle of the lawn. Yes, in the middle of the lawn. Simply dump two 40-pound bags of composted cow manure and one 40-pound bag of topsoil into a heap on the lawn. Mix and mound with a trowel or by hand to integrate all materials. Water well and plant 6 to 8 seeds and later thin to three plants. The vines will ramble all over the lawn, and you will have to mow around them. But, the watermelon foliage will shade most of the grass underneath it and slow growth.

After harvest, pull up watermelon vines; rake the nutrient-rich manure mix over the lawn for fertilizer and water well. Within a week, the grass will be growing vigorously again, and it will be a healthy dark green.

Watermelon Plant History

Watermelons probably originated almost 5,000 years ago in the Kalahari Desert of Africa where botanists have found its wild ancestors still growing. Watermelons migrated north through Egypt, and during the Roman era they were cultivated and prized. Hieroglyphics on the walls of Egyptian buildings tell stories of their harvest. Watermelons were buried in the tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. Melons spread across the European continent and particularly flourished in the warmer Mediterranean areas. Watermelons were documented in 1629 in Massachusetts. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army boiled watermelon to make molasses for cooking. It is in the Southern states such as the Carolinas and Georgia where watermelons flourish as commercial crops. Numerous varieties were developed, and variations of flesh color surfaced. By the late 1800s, the W. Atlee Burpee & Co. was developing its own watermelon varieties and selling seeds.

Should I Grow Watermelon Seeds Or Plants?

Watermelons need a long growing season (at least 80 days) and warm ground for seeds to germinate and grow. Soil should be 70 degrees F or warmer at planting time. Sow seeds 1 inch deep and keep well watered until germination. To get a jumpstart in cooler climates, cover the planting area with black plastic to warm up the soil and start seeds indoors two or three weeks before they are to be set out in the garden. Don’t start seeds any earlier, because large watermelon seedlings transplant poorly. Plant 3 seeds in 3- or 4-inch peat pots or large cell packs, and thin to the best plant. Sow watermelon seeds 1/2 inch deep. Place in a sunny south-facing window or under lights to germinate. Make sure the area is warm?day and night?ideally 80 degrees F. Use a Seedling Heat Mat if necessary.

How To Cultivate Watermelon Plants

Watermelon is a space hog; vines can reach 20 feet in length. So plant where there is plenty of open ground. Amend soil with organic matter such as compost or composted cow manure. Add a balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Sow 8 to 10 watermelon seeds in a hill, and push seeds 1 inch into the soil. Space hills 3 to 4 feet apart, with at least 8 feet between rows. Thin plants to the 3 best in each hill. Keep soil free of weeds by shallow hoeing or with a layer of mulch.

Watermelon Plant Growing Tips

Watermelon Plant Insects & Diseases

Watermelon Harvesting Tips

Knowing how to determine when a watermelon is perfectly ripe is not easy. One way favored by many gardeners is to watch the tendril closest to the melon stem. A tendril is a modified leaf or stem in the shape of slender, spirally coil. When it turns brown and dries up, the melon is ripe. The trouble with this method is that with some watermelon varieties, the tendril dries and drops off more than a week before the melon is fully ripe. Slapping and tapping or thumping are other common methods used to determine ripeness, but they are not always accurate.

The surest sign of ripeness in most watermelon varieties is the color of the bottom spot where the melon sits on the ground. As the watermelon matures, the spot turns from almost white to a rich yellow. Also, all watermelons lose the powdery or slick appearance on the top and take on a dull look when fully ripe. After picking a watermelon, chill it before serving for best flavor. Some folks sprinkle a little salt on their watermelon, but it’s probably thought of as a cure for poor tasting store-bought melons and certainly not necessary for home-grown. If the seeds present a problem, grow seedless watermelon varieties like ‘Seedless Sugar Baby Hybrid’ or ‘Orange Sunshine Hybrid’. A cut melon, if covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, will keep several days in the refrigerator.
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See all our watermelons

Growing Melons

Watermelon & Cantaloupe

Help Growing Melons in Cool Climates
Planting Melons
Cross Pollinating
Fertilizing – Preparing Soil
Watering Melons
Fungus and Pest Control
Harvesting Watermelon and Cantaloupe
Preserving Melons

Help Growing Melons in Cool Climates

Growing melons thrive in hot weather. If you live in a cooler climate, there are some things you can do to help your melons.

  • There are several varieties of melons. Check with your local garden nursery and pick a variety that has a short growing season.
  • Start your melon seeds indoors. Use large containers so the melon plants can get to the runner stage without getting root bound. You can use the bottom half of a gallon milk jug, a gallon planting pot, or an old bucket. See Starting Seeds Indoors.
  • Using black plastic when growing melons in cooler climates increases the quality and quantity of your melons.

    The temperature of the soil under the plastic only increases by about 5°F; but the surface of the black plastic is 15°-20°F warmer than the temperature of regular soil. The heat is kept where it’s needed the most, under the vines.

    Using black plastic helps retain the moisture in the soil and eliminates the weeds. When the melons begin to ripen, the black plastic reduces fruit spoilage by keeping the melons off the soil.

    Immediately after laying the black plastic, cut a hole in the plastic for your growing melons. Then put a heavy rock next to your plant so the wind doesn’t blow the plastic off your melons. Put out enough large rocks to hold the plastic down. Once the vines begin to spread, they’ll hold the plastic down.

    If you plant your growing melons in a row, you can butt a piece of plastic up against the plants. The row runs between two sheets of plastic. This way you don’t need to cut holes in the plastic, and you can use the plastic year after year.

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Planting Melons

There are hundreds of melons to choose from. We like to plant watermelon and cantaloupe. We have become fond of the French melon – Charentais. This melon is an heirloom variety that has a sweet distinctive flavor.

Growing melons are sensitive to frost. These are some of the last seeds you’ll plant in your garden. If you’re going to plant your seeds straight into the garden, plant them about 5 days before the last frost-free date for your area. See Vegetable Planting Guide.
Melon vines need a lot of room to spread and grow. Growing cantaloupe spreads 5 – 6 feet and growing watermelon spreads 8 – 10 feet. Plan accordingly.

Plant the seeds 10-12 inches apart in a row. You can plant 5-6 melon seeds in a circle that’s about 18 inches in diameter. I prefer to use the row system because: the melons are easier to water, you don’t have to cut holes in the black plastic, and it gives the plants equal spacing to grow and spread.

Sometimes I plant the seeds a little closer together and then thin the plants after they germinate. This way I don’t have open spaces when some of the seeds don’t germinate.

If you spread a layer of manure or peat moss over the planted seeds, it’ll help hold the moisture until the seeds have germinated and the plants are well established. Doing this reduces the number of times you need to water while the root system gets established.

If you’re not going to use the black plastic, keep the growing melons weeded. See Garden Weeds.

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Cross Pollinating

If you’re saving seeds for next year’s planting you need to concern yourself with cross pollinating, but that’s another lesson. Seed to Seed teaches you how to saves seeds from one year to the next.

Cucumbers will not cross-pollinate with squash/pumpkin or melons. Melons will not cross-pollinate with squash/pumpkin. The have their own family: melon family, squash & pumpkin family, and cucumber family. They only cross-pollinate within their own family.

Fertilizing

Add mulch or manure down the row along with 16-16-16 inorganic fertilizer and elemental sulfur. This is all tilled in the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Rake the soil smooth before planting. See Types of Soil.

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Watering

Put your drip line in place before laying out your black plastic. You can also use a furrow system. An overhead sprinkler is not a good system to use. The growing melons are susceptible to fungus diseases, so it’s important to keep the leaves dry. See Garden Watering Systems.
Water the seeds or seedlings immediately after planting. Three to four days later thoroughly soak the new plants.

Growing melons like to be watered deeply every 10 to 14 days. More damage is done by watering too much than by watering too little.

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Fungus and Pest Control

Cucumber beetles and squash bugs are the two main insects that bother melon plants. Dust or spray the bugs with “sevin”. Make sure to get around the crown of the plant where squash bugs like to gather.

Oft time powder mildew will develop on the leaves if you have too much moisture from the morning dew, rain, or overhead sprinkling. If this is a problem, you may have to spray with a fungicide.

If you get a lot of rain or the soil that’s too wet, wire worms tend to infest the bottoms side of the ripening melons. If this starts happening, place a board or some other material under the melons to keep them off the soil. If you’re using black plastic, you won’t have this problem.

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Harvesting Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Melons taste better when they’re allowed to ripen on the vine.

Harvesting Cantaloupe

Most varieties of cantaloupe turn a yellow-tan when they’re ripe. The French melon (charentais) turns a grayish green. The stem will easily slip off the melon when it’s ripe. You don’t need to break it.

Harvesting Watermelon

There are a few different ways to check if a watermelon is ripe:

  • When the watermelons are ready to pick the curly tendril closest to the melon dries up. The tendril is the little curly growth that comes off the stem attached to the melon.
  • You can use the thump test. Immature watermelon thumps at a high pitch. The overripe watermelon thumps a deep low thud. Just right is in between these two thumps.
  • When the watermelon is ripe, the skin is looser. You can easily scratch it with your fingernail.
  • Look at the spot where the watermelon sits on the ground. It will turn from a white to a pale yellow when it’s ready to pick.

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Preserving Melons

One of the challenges with growing melons is that they tend to ripen all at once. You have to eat fast.

We enjoy making a frozen fruit cocktail to eat during the winter. The cocktail is made with a combination the following fruits: grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, nectarines, peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Take the fruit cocktail out of the freezer about 10- 15 minutes before you’re going to eat it, this way it’s stays slightly frozen and crunchy.

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Learn About Honeydew

Common Disease Problems

Alternaria Leaf Spot: Small, round reddish brown spots, usually with a yellow halo, form on the upper surface of the leaves. Severely infected leaves turn brown, curl upward, wither and die. Fruit are not usually infected but can suffer from sunscald due to leaf loss. This disease is worse in warm, wet or very humid weather. Burpee Recommends: Avoid getting water on the foliage. Remove infected plant parts and do not work around wet plants. Provide plenty of air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Anthracnose: This is a fungus disease that attacks the fruit as it is ripening. Irregular brown spots develop on the leaves. Infected fruit develop sunken black spots that may have white mycelia during wet weather. The spots enlarge and turn black; the fruit rots. Extended periods of heat and humidity facilitate anthracnose growth. The fungus overwinters in diseased plant debris. Burpee Recommends: Provide sufficient space between plants for good air circulation, avoid overhead watering which can spread the fungus spores, keep a clean garden, remove and discard all diseased plant material and rotate crops.

Bacterial Wilt: Leaves turn brown, stems wilt and shrivel, the infected plants die. Burpee Recommends: Remove and destroy plants showing signs of the disease. Control cucumber beetles, which spread the disease. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Seed Rot and Damping Off: This is a fungus disease that affects seeds and seedlings. Infected seeds will not spout. Infected seedlings can have brown thin stems and the plants will quickly die. Burpee Recommends: Do not sow seeds until the soil has warmed to 65 degrees. Plant seeds in a raised hill that will warm up earlier. Keep beds moist but not water logged.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Cucumber Beetles: Beetles may be spotted, striped or banded and can be very harmful. Beetles are usually ¼ to ½ inch in size. Beetles start feeding as soon as they hatch and can kill or slow the growth of the plants. Beetle larva can bore through the roots of the plants. Beetles can also transmit diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Knock off adults into a jar of soapy water and destroy them. Spade the soil to destroy dormant beetles before you plant. Use a row cover to prevent adults from feeding on young plants. Consult your Cooperative Extension Service for insecticide recommendations.

Fruit Splitting: This indicates that when the fruit was forming it did not get an even supply of moisture from the roots. A sudden rush of water from sudden and heavy summer rains through the stem can pop the skin of a ripening fruit like an overfilled water balloon. The condition is particularly pronounced after a drought when a summer storm delivers a great amount of water to the tissues in the fruit. The skin cannot expand fast enough and splitting appears. Burpee Recommends: Take care with your watering: instead of a quick sprinkle every day, water deeply once or twice a week (depending on rainfall) so the moisture soaks deeply into the soil where roots can take it up as needed. Soaker hoses can help. Stick your finger into the soil every day to check that it is evenly moist a couple of inches below the surface.

Squash Bugs: Adults are 5/8 inch long and gray or brown. Squash bugs give off a foul odor when crushed. Young nymphs have light green abdomens and black heads and legs. As the nymphs grow they will change color. Eggs are found in groups on the underside of leaves; eggs will be yellow or brown. Squash bugs will feed on leaves and fruit. Burpee Recommends: Brush off adults into a jar of soapy water and destroy them. Check for clusters of eggs on the back of leaves and destroy them. Use a floating row cover to prevent females from laying eggs on plants.

Spider mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

How to Grow Honeydew Melons

Days to germination: 5 to 10 days
Days to harvest: 80 to 100 days
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Regularly until fruit is developed
Soil: Loose, fertile and draining
Container: Shorter varieties work best

Introduction

The flesh of a honeydew is creamy pale to very light green, and is a great fruit to grow for anyone who doesn’t want to maintain an orchard. For cooler areas with shorter growing seasons, you can try growing Earlidew melons. They mature in 80 days. Unlike the rough cantaloupe, a honeydew melon is smooth-skinned so don’t confuse the two.

The fruit is typically eaten fresh and raw, with most of the melon being edible once you scoop out the cluster of seeds in the center. Melon is a wonderful source of vitamins C and A, and there is also potassium and magnesium in the them.

Starting from Seed

If you have a long growing season, you can probably plant your seeds right out in the garden if you wish. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to get your seeds going indoors so you can get a head start on the season.

Melons have pretty delicate roots, so you will want to make your transplanting as easy as possible later. It’s best to start your seeds in paper or other compost-able pots so that you don’t damage the seedlings at planting time.

Start your seeds about a month before the frost date, sowing the seeds about an inch under the loose potting soil. Keep them warm and well-watered.

Transplanting

Your seedlings can be planted out about 3 weeks after the last frost date, after the soil has warmed up. When you plant your seedlings, rip or break open the bottom of the seedling pots and plant the entire thing. Seedlings can be placed in small hills (2 or 3 plants per hill), leaving 2 to 3 feet between each group. Honeydew melons will spread out quite a bit.

Before you plant, prepare the soil with some thorough digging and aged manure (or compost). Honeydew melon roots will suffer if there are too many rocks in the soil.

If you’ve decided to plant your seeds into the garden rather than as seedlings, you will be planting them out around the same time. Dig your soil well, and space out your seeds the same as if you were putting out seedlings (in hills, a few feet apart). You may want to plant a few seeds extra and thin out afterwards to make sure you get enough sprouts.

For smaller gardens, you can try to grow honeydew melons on a trellis to save all that spreading space. You’ll need some solid support and a way to keep the melons from snapping of the vines as they grow. Put your trellis up before you plant your seedlings, or the stakes may damage the roots later on.

Growing Instructions

Melons will need a lot of water as the plants are growing, but you don’t want to overdo it once the fruit is forming. If you water too often, you can end up with watery bland fruit. Sweeter melons come from letting your plants stay a bit on the dry side during growth. Of course, you don’t want to kill your plants either. It can take some experience, but the if you let the soil dry out between waterings, you should get the desired results.

If you can keep your growing melons off the soil, you will greatly reduce any damage from insects or rot. Slide an old flower pot dish, coffee can lid or a broken floor tile under each fruit. Don’t use a piece of wood as that will just absorb moisture from the soil and actually speed up any rot.

For melons growing on a trellis, you have to keep a close eye on the growing fruit. The vines won’t be able to support them, so you will need to give support to the melons as well as the vines. Soft fabric can be used like a hammock under each one, as long as you are careful not to break the vines when you attach it.

Containers

You can grow honeydews in a container, but the vines will still grow for several feet over the edges unless you are using a trellis. And even with a large container, a loaded trellis of melons and vines will likely be top-heavy. Basically, containers can be awkward but a viable option for growing your honeydew melons. Use a 5-gallon pail (or larger) for each plant.

Pests and Diseases

Bacterial wilt is one of the most problematic diseases for any melon plant, but you can get some varieties that have been bred to be resistant. Wilt can survive in your soil for several years, so you can help to keep it from becoming a problem by rotating your crops and not growing honeydew melons (or cantaloupes) in the same garden space every year. If your melons sudden wilt, as quickly as overnight, then this is likely the problem and there is no treatment. Dig up the effected plants immediately, and hope it hasn’t spread.

The leaves can get seriously damaged by some other vegetable garden pests: cucumber beetles. You may want to plant your melons away from any cucumber or squash plants, but these insects are so wide-spread that it may not help. Pick them off when you see them, and spray the leaves regularly with a natural insecticide.

Low-growing melon vines can also get a powdery white mildew on their leaves, though it is less of a problem with trellised plants. Spray with fungicide if you see it forming. It’s usually not a serious problem unless it starts to kill off the leaves.

Harvest and Storage

Honeydew melons have to fully ripen before they are picked, so don’t plan on picking any early. The skin will turn very pale, almost white when the melon is ready to pick and the fruit should come off the vine with hardly any pressure.

You can’t really store your melons for any long-term use, so plan on enjoying them while they are still fresh. Honeydews store fine in the refrigerator for a week or two at the longest.

Your melons can handle a light frost, but are not that cold-tolerant. When the first frost date is approaching, try to harvest any remaining melons. Covering the plants can help if an unseasonal frost is expected.

  1. Barbara Worth Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the melon info. I need to know how many hours of light per day are required for the vine to produce. I have cantelopes and something that tastes like Honeydew.

    I’m in northwest Arkansas and want to try melons in my passive solar greenhouse. I want to plant the seeds in large pots this week. 🙂

  2. Cheralyn Says:
    August 25th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Any advice on what happened to my melons? I had 2 very beautiful vines with many blossoms, went on vacation for 10 days and when I came back all of the leaves were dead! My neighbor was supposed to water and we did get rain so I wonder if they were sick or just dried up. Any advice? There are a few small fruits growing and the vines still look healthy but all of the leaves are dried and brown 🙁

  3. Eva Says:
    August 28th, 2012 at 2:09 am

    You grow them in full sun, so around 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight everyday

  4. carol parrish Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for info. Tried starting seeds in house but seeds never sprouted. Temp could be a factor. Is it too late to start indoors or should I plant them outdoors?

  5. John Sime Says:
    August 5th, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I live in Cheltenham Gloucestershire U.K.
    Can I use this information here?
    As I have a 16’6″squared and paved patio(5mx5), I grow 5 green bean plants, tomato plants and potato plants (all in pots).
    We both enjoy Honedews for breakfast and I’m wondering if I can grow my own!

  6. Vidal Says:
    September 5th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    When I started my seeds, I removed the hard outer shell of the seed then put is on a wet cotton ball and placed it in a ziplock bag and kept it under a 15watt light. in about 24 hours the seedling already started forming its root, and in about 5 days had leaves! 🙂

  7. martin burgess Says:
    November 30th, 2014 at 4:11 am

    I discarded my HD melon seeds in my closed compost container and was surprised that all the seeds sprouted in a short space of time. The compost was moist on top and the container was exposed to some sun.

  8. Adelakun Samuel Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Dear sir, is honeydew a product of hot climate temprature and what temprature required for fruiting. I leave in Nigeria ogun State.

  9. Adelakun Samuel Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I want to plant honeydew in Ogun State, South Western Nigeria.
    What temperature is required for maximum germination and fruiting.

  10. judy frazier Says:
    September 12th, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I’m a seed saver… I have volunteer melon vines in a mostly shaded spot. The plants came up from between limestone patio pieces. This year we were gifted with frequent rainfall. So far, only two melons, but I am still happy about them.

  11. OKOCHECHUKWU RAYMOND Says:
    June 30th, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Dear Sir,
    I want to plant honeydew in Ebonyi State,Eastern Nigeria.What temperature is required for maximum germination and fruiting.

  12. Bethany Says:
    May 28th, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I have to do a science fair project on honeydew seeds from the package and from the honeydew melon. How come my honeydew seeds that I planted straight from the honeydew melon never sprouted? I watered them everyday and gave them full sun light, so why didn’t they sprout. Please answer me very soon. My science fair projects due in one day.

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Everything you need to know about cantaloupe

Share on PinterestThe antioxidants in cantaloupe may help prevent cell damage.

The water, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in cantaloupe can provide a variety of health benefits.

Antioxidants, for example, can help prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer and other health conditions.

During metabolism, the body produces unstable molecules called free radicals, which can collect in the body and damage cells. This damage is known as oxidative stress. Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body and prevent oxidative stress.

Canteloupe contains a range of antioxidants, including:

  • selenium
  • beta carotene
  • vitamin C
  • lutein
  • zeaxanthin
  • choline

It is worth noting that, while the nutrients in food are essential for maintaining a healthy body, scientific investigations into the effects of these nutrients often deal with supplements, rather than dietary sources, and the results may be somewhat different.

Find out which other foods are good sources of antioxidants.

Age-related macular degeneration

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two similar antioxidants and plant pigments that give fruits and vegetables a yellow-to-red hue.

The combination can help filter out harmful blue light rays. Doctors believe that it plays a protective role in eye health and may help prevent damage from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Also, authors of a study published in 2009 suggest that the combination of lutein and zeaxanthin, which is present in cantaloupe, may help protect the eyes from damage that leads to AMD.

Learn more about AMD.

Asthma

Studies in animals have suggested that consuming a large amount of the antioxidant beta carotene, a form of vitamin A, may help prevent asthma from developing later in a person’s life.

Beta carotene is in yellow and orange fruits, such as cantaloupe. A cup — or 177 grams (g) — of cantaloupe balls contains 3,580 micrograms (mcg) of beta carotene.

Experts recommend a daily beta carotene intake of 18,000 mcg each day for males ages 14 and older and 14,000 for females in the same age group.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and antioxidant that may protect against asthma. Some experts have suggested using vitamin C supplements to treat asthma.

A cup of cantaloupe balls provides 65 mg of vitamin C. Current guidelines recommend that adult females consume 65–75 mg of vitamin C a day and that adult males consume 75–90 mg.

Also, people with asthma who received choline — another antioxidant in cantaloupe — as a treatment experienced a reduction in levels of inflammation, according to a 2010 study.

Most studies focus on antioxidant supplements, however, which provide much stronger doses than dietary sources of nutrients.

Blood pressure

The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline in cantaloupe all support heart health.

Consuming foods rich in potassium can help decrease blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that an average adult consume 4,700 mg of potassium a day to keep the cardiovascular system healthy.

A cup of cantaloupe provides around 473 mg of potassium, or 10% of a person’s recommended daily intake.

Find out about other foods that may help lower blood pressure.

Cancer

Beta carotene, tocopherol, and other antioxidants in cantaloupe may help prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress.

There is evidence that taking supplements containing these and other antioxidants may reduce the risk of lung, prostate, and other types of cancer.

Dietary fiber also appears to offer protection from colorectal cancer. A cup of cantaloupe contains 1.6 g of fiber.

How does the diet affect the risk of cancer? Find out here.

Digestion

Cantaloupe has a high water content and provides fiber. Fiber and water can help prevent constipation, promoting regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

Hydration

With its high water and electrolyte contents, cantaloupe is a good choice for boosting hydration during hot summer months or after a workout.

A 177-gram cup of cantaloupe balls contains 160 g of water.

Examples of electrolytes in cantaloupe include sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Learn more about electrolytes.

Skin and hair

Vitamin A contributes to the growth and maintenance of all tissues in the body, including those in the skin and hair.

Vitamin C enables the body to produce collagen, which provides structure to cells, skin, and hair.

A 2019 review found that a range of minerals and vitamins may play a role in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss.

Many are present in various amounts in cantaloupe, such as:

  • vitamins A, C, and E
  • B vitamins
  • folate
  • iron
  • selenium
  • zinc

Cantaloupe also contributes to overall hydration. Studies suggest that consuming additional water may help keep the skin supple, although more evidence is necessary to confirm this.

Which foods can boost hair growth? Find out here.

Recent studies have found that watermelon seeds are also wonderfully nutritious, especially if they are sprouted and shelled. They are high in protein, magnesium, vitamin B and good fats, according to an analysis by the International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

Here are the nutrition facts for the watermelon, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 2 cups diced (10 oz / 280 g) Calories: 80 (Calories from Fat 0)

Amount per serving (and %DV*) *Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Total Fat: 0g (0%)

Total Carbohydrate: 21g (7%) Dietary Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugars: 20g

Cholesterol: 0mg (0%) Sodium: 0mg (0%) Potassium: 270mg (8%) Protein: 1g

Vitamin A: (30%) Vitamin C: (25%) Calcium: (2%) Iron: (4%)

Health benefits

Heart health

Watermelon’s high levels of lycopene are very effective at protecting cells from damage and may help lower the risk of heart disease, according to a study at Purdue University. A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon extracts helped reduce hypertension and lower blood pressure in obese adults.

Watermelon may be especially important for older women. A study published in Menopause found that postmenopausal women, a group known to have increased aortic stiffness, who took watermelon extract for six weeks saw decreased blood pressure and arterial stiffness compared to those who did not take watermelon extract. The authors of the study attributed the benefits to citrulline and arginine.

Arginine can help improve blood flow and may help reduce the accumulation of excess fat.

Anti-inflammatory properties

“The lycopene in watermelon makes it an anti-inflammatory fruit,” Jarzabkowski said. Lycopene is an inhibitor for various inflammatory processes and also works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Additionally, the watermelon contains choline, which helps keep chronic inflammation down, according to a 2006 article published in Shock medical journal.

Reducing inflammation isn’t just good for people suffering from arthritis. “When you’re sick, you have cellular damage, which can be caused by a variety of factors including stress, smoking, pollution, disease, and your body becomes inflamed,” Jarzabkowski said. “It’s called ‘systemic inflammation.'” In this way, anti-inflammatory foods can help with overall immunity and general health.

Hydration

“Watermelons help with overall hydration, and that is a great thing,” said Lemond. “They say we can get 20-30 percent of our fluid needs through our diet alone, and foods like these certainly help.” Additionally, their juice is full of good electrolytes. This can even help prevent heat stroke.

Digestion

The watermelon contains fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive tract and helps keep you regular.

Skin and hair benefits

Vitamin A is stellar for your skin, and just a cup of watermelon contains nearly one-quarter of your recommended daily intake of it. Vitamin A helps keep skin and hair moisturized, and it also encourages healthy growth of new collagen and elastin cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Vitamin C is also beneficial in this regard, as it promotes healthy collagen growth.

Muscle soreness & athletic performance

Watermelon-loving athletes are in luck: drinking watermelon juice before an intense workout helps reduce next-day muscle soreness and heart rate, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This can be attributed to watermelon’s amino acids citrulline and arginine, which help improve circulation.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that watermelon’s citrulline may also help improve athletic performance. Study participants who took citrulline supplements saw a boosted performance with more power production in high-intensity exercise like cycling and sprinting.

Cancer prevention

Like other fruits and vegetables, watermelons may be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer through their antioxidant properties. Lycopene in particular has been linked to reducing prostate cancer cell proliferation, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Health risks

If eaten in reasonable amounts, watermelons should produce no serious side effects. If you eat an abundance of the fruit daily, however, you may experience problems from having too much lycopene or potassium.

The consumption of more than 30 mg of lycopene daily could potentially cause nausea, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating, according to the American Cancer Society.

People with serious hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in their blood, should probably not consume more than about one cup of watermelon a day, which has less than 140 mg of potassium. According to the National Institutes of Health, hyperkalemia can result in irregular heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems, as well as reduced muscle control.

Loading up on water-dense foods like watermelon can be tempting for those looking to lose weight because they help you feel full, but Lemond cautions against going to extremes. “Eating more fruits and vegetables of any kind naturally helps decrease overall calories (energy) of the diet,” she said. “We know that people that eat higher quantities of fruits and vegetables typically have healthier body weights However, I do not recommend eating only watermelon … You will lose weight, but that weight will be mostly muscle.”

Jarzabkowski also warned watermelon lovers to be mindful of their sugar intake. “Though watermelon’s sugar is naturally occurring, is still relatively high in sugar.”

“My recommendation is always to vary your selections,” said Lemond. “Watermelon is a great hydrating food, so keep it in along with other plant foods that offer other benefits. Variety is always key.”

Watermelon facts

Some fun facts about watermelons, from the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Science Kids:

The watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.

The watermelon probably originated in the Kalahari Desert in Africa.

Egyptians placed watermelons in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. The first recorded watermelon harvest is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics from about 5,000 years ago.

Merchants spread the use of watermelons along the Mediterranean Sea. By the 10th century, watermelons had found their way to China, which is now the world’s top producer of watermelons.

The Moors in the 13th century brought watermelons to Europe.

The watermelon likely made its way to the United States with African slaves.

Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

The first cookbook published in the United States in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.

About 200 to 300 varieties are grown in the United States and Mexico, but only about 50 varieties are very popular.

By weight, watermelon is the most consumed melon in the United States, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.

The watermelon is the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.

All parts of a watermelon can be eaten, even the rind.

Guinness World Records says the world’s heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2005. It weighed 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg).

The United States ranks fifth in the worldwide production of watermelons. Forty-four states grow watermelons, with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona leading the country in production.

A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid, which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds.

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