Plant cantaloupes in a well drained soil containing aged manure or compost before planting.
In cooler zones, start seeds indoors about a month before transplanting. In warmer climates, plant seeds outdoors directly when temperatures reach 65 degrees F. Cantaloupe vines are very tender and should not be transplanted until all danger of frost has passed.
Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 18 inches apart. You can also a trellis to support the vines of your cantaloupes.
When to Water
Your cantaloupe plants will need lots of water up until the time they start to bear fruit. However, if you over-water, the root systems will become waterlogged and the plants will die. Cantaloupe plants do well if they get about 1 inch of water per week. It is common for the leaves to wilt in the afternoon hours because of the heat. However, they should bounce back nicely overnight. If the leaves are still wilted in the morning, your plants need water.
Don't plant until the ground temperature is above 70 degrees F.
There are a few insects that occasionally attack cantaloupes. Squash bugs feed on foliage and can harm young plants. Squash vine borers can kill plants as they tunnel through the vines. Wilting vines will probably be the first symptoms you will notice. Striped cucumber beetles damage plants by eating leaves as well as stems and fruit.
Cantaloupe likes loamy, well-drained soil, slightly acidic to neutral. Handle them gently when you transplant. Add lots of compost to the area before planting and after planting.
Cantaloupes can reach a height of 20 feet long. A trellis for cantaloupe should be large (up to 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide in warmest climates)..Take that into consideration when planning your garden. Make sure there is enough distance between your tall vegetables and short vegetables. That way both will get enough sun light.
When cantaloupe rinds begin to change from green to tan or yellow, the melon is probably ripe, but be careful not to pick too early. Look for a crack in the stem where it attaches to the fruit. This is a sign of ripeness as well. The fruit should be easy to separate from the vine, but if they fall off by themselves they might be overripe.
The ideal climate for growing cantaloupe consists of a long, frost-free season with plenty of sunshine and heat, and relatively low humidity. Cantaloupe may be grown in nearly all areas of the United States. If you are in a cooler zone, start seeds indoors about a month before transplanting. Cantaloupe vines are very tender and should not be transplanted until all danger of frost has passed.
You should not be fertilizing cantaloupe until after the plant is at least 4 inches tall.
Cantaloupes prefer hot, sunny locations with fertile, well drained soils, and can be either transplanted or direct seeded. Transplanting can add 2 to 4 weeks to the growing season, but cantaloupes just like other melons are particularly sensitive to root disturbance and growth will be retarded if transplants are not properly managed.
What we commonly refer to as ‘cantaloupe’ is actually not true cantaloupe, rather, a type of muskmelon.
Cantaloupes need to ripen fully on the vine. They do not ripen well after they are harvested. They develop a wonderful fragrance when they are ready to pick - you can't miss it. The fruit should slip easily from the vine and the blossom end should feel soft to the touch.
Cantaloupes like full sun and do well when they get about 8 hours of sunlight.
Cucumbers and Potatoes should not be planted next to cantaloupes.
The following vegetables will do well when planted next to cantaloupes: Corn, Nasturtiums, Peas, Radishes, Sunflowers, and Tomatoes. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can deter insects and encourage growth.
"Next year, DO NOT plant pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, and cucumbers in the same location where you planted cantaloupes this year. Because they are all members of the Cucurbit family. Instead use that spot to plant other vegetables from a different family such as:
- Allium (Amaryllidaceae) - onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.
- Carrot (Umbelliferae): celery, carrots, parsley.
- Legume (Leguminosae): peas, beans, lentils.
- Mustard/Brassica (Cruciferae): broccoli, caulifower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes.
- Sunflower (Compositae): lettuce, artichokes.
- Cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae): pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, cucumbers.
- Nightshade (Solanaceae): tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers.
- Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae): spinach, Swiss chard, beets.
Growing Cantaloupe Overview
Cantaloupes are not hard to grow as long as they get enough sun light and warm temperatures above 70 degrees F. They are members of the Cucurbit family, which also includes pumpkins, other types of melons, squash, gourds, and cucumbers. For more planting information, please visit our Farming Tips homepage.