Growing Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons

growing cantaloupe in the garden

Growing cantaloupe and honeydew melons at home is so rewarding, as these fruits offer an explosive taste that doesn’t compare to their store-bought cousins. The key is plenty of moisture, sunlight, and heat. Melons demand two to three months of heat, which makes growing them in northern regions challenging, but not impossible. By using a black ground cover to warm soil and floating row covers to trap warm air near plants, gardeners in any part of the country can count on cutting into the homegrown goodness of melons. These sun-ripened fruits pack plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants into every bite, combining great taste with great nutrition.

Soil, Planting, and Care

cantaloupe plant grows on black cover that warms the soil

A permeable black tarp, landscape fabric, or black plastic (with weep holes punched) traps heat so that the soil is warm enough to encourage growth of cantaloupe at the beginning of the season. It also keeps melon vines clean and helps prevent diseases that may live in the soil.

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 4 to 6 inches of compost or well rotted manure, if available. Then feed at planting and several times through the growing season with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food.

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.

The yellow-buff color of the rind tells that this Hale’s Best variety of cantaloupe is ripe.

As cantaloupe ripens, the skin under the netting turns a yellow-buff color.

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.

Some gardeners like to switch fertilizer during the course of the growing season. During the time between planting and when the first flowers open, use a fertilizer with more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium, such as Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Once flowering begins, use a fertilizer with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium, such as African Violet Food or liquid seaweed.

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 climes 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.

Troubleshooting

: cantaloupe growing in raised bed with fruit ripening and tomato plants in the background

This cantaloupe plant spills out of a raised bed and spreads on the ground where it produces fruit. To prevent rot, the fruit rests on gravel mulch instead of on the bare soil.

The key to a sweet melon is lots of sugar, which is made by the leaves. So anything that hurts the leaves also hurts the quality of the fruit. Be on the lookout for fungus diseases, which spread rapidly. Alternaria leaf spot and gummy stem blight produce spots on leaves, while stem blight also forms bleached or tan sections on stems and rot on fruit. Downy mildew causes yellow or pale green leaf spots, while powdery mildew produces white spots on leaves. Treat fungus diseases with fungicides. Check with your local garden center or Extension agent to learn which fungicides are approved in your state and more about the disease you’re fighting. Ambrosia cantaloupe is tolerant to powdery mildew.Melon aphids can quickly colonize a vine, so inspect leaf undersides daily. If you spot aphids, treat them with insecticidal soap. Spotted and striped cucumber beetles can attack vines, transmitting bacterial wilt disease, which causes vines to collapse. Infected vines don’t recover. Treat adult beetles with rotenone or a pyrethrum-based insecticide; apply at dusk to avoid harming honey bees.

Harvest and Storage

cantaloupe melons ripening in the garden with leaves on black fabric

Keep foliage healthy because it is the source of sugar for the fruit. As melons ripen, the leaves naturally begin to look rough. The yellow-colored melon in front is ripe, while the greenish melon in the back needs more time.

Melons typically ripen over a short period of time, up to 3 to 4 weeks for cantaloupes. As soon as one melon is ripe, the others won’t be far behind. About a week before a melon is ripe, minimize watering to just enough to keep vines from wilting. This lets vines concentrate sugars in the fruit. Too much water dilutes the sugar and, of course, the sweetness. You can judge a cantaloupe’s ripeness by skin color and stem. The rind of a cantaloupe changes from gray-green to yellow-buff, and the netting pattern becomes more pronounced. At the stem, a crack appears that encircles the base of the stem. A ripe melon should slip right off the vine. Cantaloupes also develop a musky odor that’s noticeable as you approach the melon patch.The smooth-skinned honeydew melon becomes cream colored when ripe, and the blossom end should give slightly when pressed. Avoid pressing the blossom end repeatedly as you try to gauge ripeness. Excessive pressing can lead to bruising, which gives a false read on ripeness. To harvest a honeydew you don’t plan to use immediately, leave about an inch of stem attached to keep the melon from rotting.

Store melons in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you have extra melons on hand, dice or cut the flesh into balls and freeze for slushies or cold soup.

FAQs

Why is it important to irrigate cantaloupe plants with furrows?

Furrows are troughs that allow for plants to be watered without wetting leaves. Wet leaves are more susceptible to fungus.

How long before I can pick our cantaloupe? How long does it have to grow?

Cantaloupe matures in about 80 to 90 days. Melons are normally ready to harvest when they start turning yellow on the bottom and the stem starts turning brown.

How do I know if a cantaloupe is ripe and sweet?

A ripe cantaloupe skin will have creamy netting and a golden background. It should give to light pressure and emit a fragrant aroma.

How do I store ripe cantaloupe?

To avoid spoiling, ripe cantaloupe should be stored in the refrigerator. Whole ripe cantaloupe will keep about five days and cut cantaloupe will keep up to three days.

189 Comments

Amaranthim Talon

Can I plant honeydew and cantaloupes in Miami? And is NOW a good time?

Danielle Carroll

Hello!
Yes you can, but it is getting late to plant now…I am attaching the vegetable planting calendar from the Unviversity of Florida exension so you will have it on hand. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

robert rehard

I plan on planting my cantolope in a half sized wine barrel the plant I have has 6 stems growing. Can I leave them together or seperate them.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Robert,
This family of plants has a very delicate root system. Plant them ‘as is’. You can come back an thin the plants if you need to. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

charlotte atkins

I dropped a lot of cantaloupe seeds into a hill , now I have a lot sprouts growing from hill , when should I separate the sprouts and how many plants to a hill should I put ? I live in Lewisburg Ky if that will help ?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Charlotte,
I would thin them to 2 – 3 plants per hill. Go ahead and thin the plants anytime after they germinated. Be careful when you thin so you do not ‘bother’ the roots of the other seedlings. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Francis Williams

I had several melon plants and green beans up but we got hit with a frost and they all look dead will they come back or should I just go ahead and replant?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Francis,
You may have to replant if the plants do not look alive after a couple of days :( Late winters have been trouble this year. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

Ralph Coffman

Is it true that you have to beware of planting melons too close to other varieties of plants to avoid cross pollination??

Danielle Carroll

Hi Ralph,
Cucurbits of the same genus can cross. But unless you are saving seed to plant in the future, you would never know. Crosses will not show up in the fruit. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Juan Perez

I just purchased a Bonny tomato the container has 3 plants should I plant all 3 together or should I open the container and plan each plant separately

Danielle Carroll

Hello Juan,
When planting cucurbits, I would plant them all together in a hill. You can thin to two plants later if you would like. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

How long does it take Melons to start showing the vines?

I planted some melons seedlings a couple of weeks ago and they are standing tall, so I am wandering when they will start showing some vines

Danielle Carroll

Hello Juan,
If they have only been planted a couple of weeks, you will start seeing the vines running soon. The plant becomes established after planting and with proper fertilization, it will start growing like crazy. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Stephen

My canteloupe vines just started to flower a week ago but now the leaves are turning yellow, wilting and dying. Any idea what may be wron i have them in a planter box outdoorg?

Danielle Carroll

Hello Stephen,
There are a number of things that could cause this – poor drainage in the planters (not enough drainage or heavy soils), not enough water, insects, and disease. There are many insects of canteloupes and other members of the cucurbit family, including squash vine borers. Not knowing exactly what you are seeing, it’s hard to advise. We have an excellent service just for this called “Ask An Expert” that allows you to submit photos for identification. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Josh

I need some help!

I’m a beginner at all of this. A while back, I planted quite a few cantaloupe seeds in a 4″ terra cotta pot. I wasn’t expecting more than a few of them to grow… I have 8 seedlings growing in the pot right now. I’ve read that transplanting usually causes the plant to fail if not done carefully. My seedlings are growing so fast and to the point where the true leaves look like they are starting to come out. I just want to know if it’s possible to separate each seedling into it’s own pot? I didn’t have much faith in their growing capabilities and now I’m scared to give them up. I want to at least save 3 or 4 of the seedlings. If it’s not possible, I can always plant more and the smarter way this time, but I just don’t want to give up on them! Any suggestions? I’m desperate.

Thanks!

Danielle Carroll

Hi Josh,
You can gently tease the cantaloupe seedlings apart, but generally it doesn’t turn out well. You can plant 2 to 3 in one spot in a small raised hill. Plant the entire pot and choose the strongest 2 – 3 plants once they start growing. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

The way I do it, is to take the seedlings with dirt and all and placed them in a recipient with water after a while the dirt will fall to the bottom leaving the roots easier to separate also they will not suffer too much of a shock

Randel

I planted seedlings two weeks ago and now the plants are dead. Is there a way to revive them? I wish I had read this chain about the black plastic before now.

Danielle Carroll

Hello Randel,
I am sorry to hear about your plant. Unfortunately there is not a way to revive a plant that is dead. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Lori

Hello, I just planted several small plants on a hill. I live in Arizona, and have a raised garden. Is the hill necessary? I was wondering what the best way to water is? I am spraying for now but it just seems to run off and take some of the ground with it. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Danielle Carroll

Hi Lori,
Creating raised mounds in a raised bed is probably not necessary since your raised bed is already raised and well draining. Small mounds often help with drainage and by planting 2 or 3 plants in one place, it is easier to control the weeds between hills on these vining plants. Your plants will need about an inch of water per week – more on well drained soils such as raised beds which dry out faster. These are great watering tips from the watering section of the website. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

The following is my recipe for a Neem oil insect and fungus repellent
1 gal of warm water
1½ teaspoon of liquid soap
1 teaspoon of red pepper (I ran red pepper seeds in 1 cup of water which I strain)
1 CC of Neem Oil
Could this mixture (or stronger one) be used for melons?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Juan,

I commend you for using organic pesticides in the garden. Since there is not a label on this mixture, I can’t tell you the strength to use on the plants. Neem pesticides are used a lot for pests of cucurbits – like cantaloupes. Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

Since I seen some of my mangos eaten by either squirrels or Raccoons, this happens basically at night what can be done to protect melons that I just planted

Danielle Carroll

Hello Juan,
The Cooperative Extension System has a publication on wildllife damage management. In this publication, deterrents are discussed – these are sprayed or sprinkled around the garden to deter animals from wanting to enter. They are usually effective for short periods of time. Fencing may be a better approach if you have a problem with them in the garden. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

I just finished planting my seedling and want to go over what and how I prepared the ground and planted my seedlings.

First I mixed steer manure compost with the ground soil, then I lay cypress mulch over the mixed soil, then I planted my seedlings since I had an area 70′ x 4’, I planted the seedling of the cantaloupe, crimson red melons, piel de sapo melons and honey dews approx. 1½ feet wide and 3 feet from each other the Sugar Baby’s I planted them 1 ft. wide and 2 feet from each other any suggestions or comments for next year crop?

Danielle Carroll

Hello Juan,
Sounds like you have been very busy!Cypress mulches are a little slow to break down so you may not be able to mix it in with the soil at the end of your growing season. Take a picture of your plantint to show off on the Bonnie Plants facebook page. We’d love to see it. Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

I finished planting my seedlings and was wandering if I could plant the left over seedlings in a container.

Cantaloupe, Crimson Red Melons, Sugar Baby Melons, Honey Dew Melons

Danielle Carroll

Hi Juan,
You can plant the leftovers in a container – but make it a big one! These are vining plants – some with vines that can reach over 8 feet long so you will find them sprawling everywhere! It is possible to train them up a fence or other structure, but the fruit will have to be secured (slings) or they will fall from the vine because of their weight. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

pratheep

how to identify the honeydew maturity/ harvesting syptom?

Danielle Carroll

Hello,
There are a few ways to judge when a honeydew is ripe – color and ‘softness’ of the blossom end – A ripe honeydew becomes creamy colored, and you will be able to feel a ‘give’ in the blossom end of the fruit. Read more about harvesting ripe honeydews here – on the harvest and storage tab. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Casey

Hi Bonnie. I need advice. I just bought 2 pots of your Sweet45 cantaloup plant and there are 3 and 4 plants in each pot about 2inches tall. I’m going to plant one pot in a hill. Should I thin out the plants after awhile?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Casey,
You can plant multiple melons in one hill! If you do decide to thin the plants, use a pair of shears instead of pulling the plant. This way you will not disturb the roots of the other plants. – Danielle, Bonine Plants

Danielle Carroll

It is possible to grow melons in a greenhouse. You would need to pay attention to your temperatures along with pollination. The female flowers on the melons are pollinated by bees from the male flowers. In a greenhouse, you may have to try hand pollination to get fruit.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Ginger

can I plant cantaloupe and watermelon in the same area without worry of cross breading?

Danielle Carroll

You sure can, Ginger! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

JUAN PEREZ

I have an area 70 ft x 3 ft in my backyard where I plan to plant piel de sapo melon, Sugar Baby Melon, Crimson Sweet Melon & Canteloupe, how much area should I give to each variety? Also I have seen I’m growing mostly one, two etc hills, what does this means?

Thanks

Danielle Carroll

Hello Juan,
Cantaloupes and other melons take up a good bit of room. Space transplants 4 feet apart. The vines will spill over the 3 ft foot wide bed which is ok, but be mindful that you would not be able to mow the grass or anything around this area. Watermelon will need more room…spaced 6 feet apart. A hill is a small raised area (12 – 18 inches across) that you plant the tranplants into. The raised area helps with drainage especially in compact clay soils.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Danielle Carroll

Hello there –
Cantaloupe will grow well in a well draining soil. You may wish to amend your garden soils with 4 inches or so of compost or organic matter before you plant. You can also dig out the soil and build your own bed described in the article above. I usually incorporate the 4 inches of compost in the garden soil before planting. Cantaloupe prefer a pH around 6.0 – 6.5. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Jeff

I’ve grown melons for about 5 years and always have good success. This last year, after moving into a new home, we picked our ripe canteloupes and they were disgusting. Very bland flavor and the flavor was a little sour/bitter, not sweet at all. Our watermelons were great. Any ideas on what could have caused this?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Jeff,
Sorry to hear about your bitter cantaloupe. Keep the foliage as healthy as you can, the foliage is the sugar processor for the plant. Keep an eye out for foliar and fruit insects, which can have an affect on flavor. Cantaloupes are ripe when they slip from the vine. If left on too long after they start to ‘slip’, the fruit will be watery and soft.
Happy Gardening,
Danielle

Danielle Carroll

Sure, Tori.

When a cantaloupe is ripe, it will detach from the vine easily leaving the round area where the cantaloupe was once attached to the vine. If you rub your finger gently where the cantaloupe is attached, it will ‘slip’ easily. If it is hard to separate the cantaloupe and vine, it is probably not fully ripe yet.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Marlene

Hi
I have just grown cantaloupe for the first time. I live in Australia so growing time different . We had lots of flowers but only three melons. They were the juiciest and sweetest I have ever tasted. Is there away off increasing the yield?
Wish I had found this website before we had planted. Although we did have a raised bed with lots of chicken manure and fertilised with a solution of seaweed and a liquid my husband makes with chicken manure. Is chicken manure a good source of nutrients?
Regards
Marlene

Mary Beth

Hi Marlene,
Chicken manure is an excellent source of fertilizer for your garden. Composted or aged, of course — not fresh. You might enjoy reading our article on flowering and pollination. Some gardeners pinch off the growth of the sprawling vines to encourage side branching and more growth. Hope this helps! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

George King

We have nice melons growing but have no idea how to tell when they’re ripe.

Mary Beth

Hi George,
Congratulations on a nice crop. You’ll have to share photos with other Bonnie gardeners on our Facebook page if you can. We love bragging on your gardens! If you click the tab above titled “Harvest and Storage,” you’ll see a detailed description of signs to seek when harvesting ripe melons. Hope this helps. Keep us posted. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Mary Beth

Hi Magda,
Never fear! We are here to help. I’m not sure what you mean by “dry leaf” since yellowing or brown leaves can indicate many issues. If you can snap a photo and send more details in an email, our Ask An Expert service will respond within 72 hours. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Adri

Hi, my honey dew melons arent completely ripe yet and it’s getting really cold outside and the Plants are dieing and I was thinking maybe if we picked them and brought the melons inside and sit them in the window in the sun if they would ripen like tomatoes. I’m a bit worried that if they stay on The plant much longer they will die. Do you think it Would it work?
Thanks

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Adri,

Yes, you can pick them and bring them indoors to ripen. Cantaloupes (including honeydew) continue to ripen at room temperature after they are picked. For faster ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag or a ripening bowl at room temperature. Ripening bowls are sold at many stores that sell home kitchen supplies. (Note: Plastic bags do not work.) I hope this works for you!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

carolyn

I live in Sonoma Valley in California and have 25 melons ripening on four plants. Huge now but stem is green and melons are not quite buff color. Weather is turning cold at night (50 is cold for us) and I’m afraid they won’t ripen. Should I cover them with row covers at this point?

thanks

Mary Beth

Hi Carolyn,
If you think they are nearly ripe and you are still a bit away from frost, you can buy extra time and warmth with a row cover or frost blanket. Check out this article on materials and techniques. It sounds like if they are nearly buff, you are close! Let us know how it goes. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Sara

I have a few melons that started out doing great. I put the melons up on a upside down plastic coffee can as I saw them popping up but I just noticed today that bugs have gotten into my melons. Everything I read is about bugs and aphids taking over the vine but this is actually the melon. Is this pretty common? I will dispose of the infested melons but what can i do for the rest of the melons that are just starting to develop? I have seven spray, can I use that and have it be safe to eat? Timeline? etc…THANKS!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Sara,

This could be squash bugs or another pest munching on your melons. I can’t really be sure what it is, though. I suggest sending your question, preferably along with a picture, to our Ask an Expert service for the best answer. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Tina

I have a beautiful cantaloupe plant in the garden. it has gotten several blossoms. Some of then form fruit but the fruit only grows for a few days and then dies?? not sure whats happening, does anyone have a clue? is it a form of blossom rot?

Mary Beth

Hi Tina,
What you are seeing are small fruits on the female blossom. If those are not pollinated well or the plant cannot support them in production, they wither and drop. You can let nature take it’s course and hope the bees and insects get to work, or you can attempt to hand-pollinate. Read our latest article on how to do this with cucurbits. Let us know how it grows! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

mark l

I tossed a bunch of seeds in my flower garden and peed on them… regularly. No jokes. I also watered regularly with the garden hose. Now I have 4-5 plants taking over my front yard with 10-12 healthy melons of varrious sizes. I didn’t fertilize or cover them. Just let them do their own thing. Can’t wait to try them

Barbara

I planted a Bonnie Plant of Cantaloupe back in June 2012. I only have flowers, no loupes yet. How long do they actually take to start forming. I’m in the York, PA area and the heat has been burtile. Couldthat be a factor.

Mary Beth

Hi Barbara,
You should count on about 85-90 days til mature cantaloupes are ready. If it sounds like you are closing in on that date from your June planting and have none forming yet, it could be a pollination issue. Many gardeners report lack of pollination in high temps (pollen is less viable for many plants then) or due to lack of pollinating insects. You can give your plant a helping hand by pollinating yourself, as we explain in this article. Give it a try! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Diane grome

I want to grow cantaloupe next year. I have some seeds from a great cantaloupe and want to use them. Do I dry them or keep them moist?

Mary Beth

Hi Diane,
You should keep seeds dry and away from moisture. Any moisture will cause them to germinate (or rot, if left in packaging). We sell transplants and seedlings to give customers a healthy headstart, so we do not have seed-saving articles readily available on this site. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office for a library of information on doing just that! Happy growing. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Adri

Actually ALL the female flowers, no mater what size, are turning yellow and dying. I watch them grow every day and none of the female flowers have actually flowered yet, they don’t get the chance since they die before they can.
I got rid of all the dead ones should that help?
thanks

Adri

Oh and the ones that do flower, I make sure that they get pollinated very well (using the paint brush method for about 5-10 minutes sticking it in and out of the male and female flowers). Could it be under or over watering?
thanks again

Mary Beth

Hi Adri,
It shouldn’t take nearly that long; you can simply swipe the paintbrush through the male bloom and over to the female one to deposit tiny amounts of pollen. If you are not seeing healthy, green vines and leaves, perhaps you can send a photo of your plant to Ask An Expert to see if you have a pest or disease problem. If you are underwatering, you would see signs of wilt and browning or yellowing leaves. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Karen

Hi! I am so glad to have found your site! I had a volunteer cantaloupe plant come up in my manure (horse/goat)/compost pile. At first I assumed that it had to be a squash-a melon never occurred to me since in the past I was never able to get a yield from them even when I planted them here in western WI. From reading your information, it appears that my “melon patch” has the perfect growing conditions. I harvested one today-I think it was a little green, but it sure tastes good anyway-better than from the store-and no salmonella worries, either. I have about 4 small to medium melons on the vines, and at least 8 other quarter-sized melons just starting. Should I pinch off the tiny ones so that the medium-sized ones have a better chance of ripening-especially since the warm weather is ending here in WI? Or is there anything else to do to extend the season? Thanks, Karen

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Karen, That’s great! Is it one vine or a few? Typically, one vine produces 4-6 melons. The best advice I have to extend your season comes from our info above…”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.” Try that, and you should have some full-size melons to harvest. Happy growing! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Jerry Meyer

My cantaloupe leaves are turning brown. On the leaves that are still green, I see some very tiny black specks on the underside sporadically attached, very much the size of a chigger. On the topside of the leaf prior to turning brown, it looks like Lace Bug damage that your would see on Azalea leaves. Doing some research, I have seen no examples of the problem or any remedies. If I were to see it on my Azalea bushes I would use a systemic insecticide. However, this is not possible on vegetables. What is the problem and how do I control it? Thanks

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jerry, I sent your question through our Ask an Expert service and got this answer:

“That sounds like it might be spider mite damage. Here’s a link from the University of California Extension Service that discusses spider mites and their control. Another possibility is aphids, but I think you would have noticed the leaves curling up if they were the problem. Here’s another link on aphids and their control.”

I hope this info helps! Next time you have a question about a problem in your garden, try using Ask an Expert for the fastest answer. Happy growing! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Jerry Meyer

Thanks Kelley,
The damage does look like spider mites damage with the leaf stippling. However, I’m not seeing any webbing. I read the suggested mite article and will begin applying insecticidal soap. So, thank you for helping me. Sincerely, Jerry

Adri

My melon plants are growing melons now and the smaller plant of the two has six melons growing on it but the larger one only has one melon growing on it and it wont get any biger. The larger one started growing the melon first but the smaller plant has a melon that is only a few days old and it’s already biger than the (one month old) melon on the other plant. Also all the female flowers on the larger one grow fine until they are about to flower, then they turn yellow and die. Any ideas on what is going on?
Thanks

Mary Beth

Hi Adri,
Poor pollination and fruit set can cause low yields. Melons have male and female flowers. Male flowers produce the pollen, and the female flowers produce the fruits. Honeybees and other bees transfer the pollen. After the plant pro­duces many male flowers, every seventh flower on a plant branch is female. All male and most female flowers drop off the plant, and fruits set more or less irregularly throughout the season. The condition of the plant and the number of melons already set determine the number of female flowers that set fruit later. Therefore, pruning misshapen melons while small is essential to encourage additional fruit set.

I think you might be finding the female flowers after they’ve already opened and closed again, and not pollinated (thus, dropping off). Flowers open one to two hours after sunrise. Female flowers are receptive to pollen throughout the day, although most pollination takes place before noon. The flowers close in the afternoon never to reopen whether pollinated or not. If they are yellowing and dying, it’s because the plant cannot support the fruit or it was not properly pollinated. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Michelle

Hi,

I planted my first honeydew plant in may. Several flowers bloomed and a few melons started growing. After picking the first 2 (apparently prematurely), I noticed the base ofthe roots start to die and at least a quarter of the leaves had turned brown. I started snipping off the dead leaves (as I was advised on some other site) and it seems to have left the remainder of my plant shriveled and brown! I don’t know what t do! I have one melon that seems halfway done and a few more that had started growing but all the vines are dieing now. Is here anything I can do to save it?????

Thanks!

Mary Beth

Hi Michelle,
Sorry to hear about your honeydew. It sounds like it may be suffering from pest or disease damage. Look for signs of squash vine borers, who bore into the base of the stem and leave a light brown excrement that resembles sawdust. They bore into the stem, where you will find larvae. Or, search for squash bugs and their tiny red egg casings that are on the underside of leaves. It may more likely be a disease like fusarium wilt or powdery mildew. Not knowing exactly what you are seeing, it’s hard to advise. We have an excellent service just for this called “Ask An Expert” that allows you to submit photos for identification. Look for more clues to share and try that link so that you will know how to treat appropriately. Good luck! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

louis vincent

planted 3 hills of ambrosia cantelope.One hill made only 1, but have picked 15 off the other two and have 6 more growing.These were the best cantelope and very large.Used built up beds and mixed in small amount (handful of 13-13-13). When vines produced runners I dug around base of plant and added handful of ammonium nitrate. Did not do anything other than 1 inch of water /week and sprayed vines with Eight for insects twice.I have never dreamed cantelope would grow that well in denham springs.la

Adri

How many melons should I let grow on one plant?
I would like full sized honeydews.
thanks

Mary Beth

Hi Adri,
Much like the opinions on whether or not to prune suckers from tomato plants, gardeners vary in the opinion to control the vines of melons. Some pinch out all but 4-5 melons per plant in theory that they get better/larger fruit. If you do not pinch any out, the health and vigor of the plant will determine what it can successfully produce and abort any future melons from growing if it cannot sustain them. Hope this helps! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Jerry Meyer

Hi Kelly,
This spring my mouth was watering thinking of the great cantaloupes that I would be growing this summer. I built a raised bed 4′ wide and planted 5 Ambrosia cantaloupe seeds. the plants have been growing really great and these five seeds produced about 15 melons. I was overcome with joy until I tasted these melons. They were terrible! Not only did they taste like nothing but they were very soft, not firm and sweet. I have used a soaker hose, 1/2″, letting it run 1 hour per day every day. My raised bed is 6-9″ high filled with compost from grass clipping and fall leaves, no manure. This compost is tilled with the red clay soil of the Piedmont region of Virginia for a homogenous mixture. At the beginning of the season prior to planting, I incorporated some 0-10-20 with the soil. Not only are the melons tasting bad but the last ones are rotting on the vine. They are weighing between 4.0 and 5.5 lbs. per melon. What am I doing wrong? Others that I have asked seem to think that I’m giving them too much water. However, the drainage is quite good and the soil is not soggy. I assumed that the plant would take up what it needs and the rest of the water would just go down into the deeper soil.
Thanks.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jerry, Sorry your melons aren’t tasting right! I don’t know about this variety from seed, as we don’t carry it in our line of cantaloupe transplants. However, we do have advice that might help. Look above in the Harvest & Storage tab for tips on harvesting your melons. One tip is to minimize watering a week or so before harvest, which helps keep the melon sweet and firm. I hope this helps! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Adri

So now the melons have started to grow and I was thinking,
how many melons should I let grow on each plant, because I want them to grow full sized melons not a bunch of small ones?[honeydew]. Also how long does it take for tomatoes[not cherry tomatoes] to grow to full size and ripen? I also am growing savoy cabbage [that’s what we were to but they weren’t certain] and I was wondering when should their leaves start to get all crinkly?

Thanks

Adri

By the way I made a mistake and “to” is supposed to be “told” in the cabbage part [that’s what we were told but they weren’t certain].

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Adri, You could get 3-5 melons from each plant. Cherry tomatoes take about 2 months to ripen from planting time. It’s hard to say how quickly a cherry tomato will ripen from green to red…this all depends on sunlight and the type of tomato. Just be patient and keep watching. I think you should see the leaf texture of Savoy cabbage fairly soon after the plant begins to grow and fill out. I hope this answers all your questions! Happy growing! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Grant

I need to know I’m doing wrong. I live in Georgia and I planted my canteloupes in April. Here it is August and the fruit is small.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Grant, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong! Cantaloupe can take 90+ days to mature, which means 3 months or more. Try to be patient and keep your plants consistently watered and fertilized. Be sure to read the info in the Harvest & Storage tab above for tips on how and when to harvest your melons. Happy growing! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Susan Chittum

I am growing melons for the first time this year, and my plants produced 5 melons. Sadly, I just had to throw 3 of them into the woods that the bugs/worms/centipede worms got to. I placed them on pieces of board (each melon) but the bugs easily sought them out. Is there something I should spray them with in the future? Also, how do I know when they are ready to pick?

Mary Beth

Hi Susan,
Congratulations on trying something new this year — and being successful! I know how frustrating it can be to “share” your harvest with pests and critters. Placing the fruit on boards isn’t a complete deterrent for pests but does help prevent rot on the bottom. You can spray pesticides if you wish; it is best to first identify the pest before treating. I shared your woes with the Extension agent in Ask an Expert to see what they recommend: “Sevin is recommended to be used for most pests, but it kills the beneficial insects too and can flare spider mites, so I’d use it as a last resort. There are some other safer ones to use mentioned on the linked articles. As always make sure all label instructions are followed.” Check out this piece on cucurbits from Florida Extension Service and another from Clemson. As for knowing when to pick, click on the “Harvest” tab above — it can be hard to see in the gray. Cantaloupes have a very noticeable scent and will slip easily from the vine/stem when ready. It’s also a pretty good indictor of ripeness when the insects and critters (like raccoons) dig in…they have gotten the first of my harvest this year. Let us know how it goes! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Kenya

I have a problem. We dumped the remains of a cantaloupe in our compost and all the seeds started sprouting. they’re about a couple weeks old and they’re way too close together. What do I do?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Kenya,

Are you wanting to let the cantaloupe plants grow in the bin or do you want to get rid of them? If you want them to grow, I suggest just snipping a few back to let the others have room. If you want them gone, just cut them all back and turn them under in your compost pile. Learn more in our Compost section of the website. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Laura

Hello, I currently have a lovely cantaloupe vine (multiple vines, actually) growing in a big pot on my sunny deck. It has been flowering and then those flowers disappear and others show up. When should it start growing an actual melon? I don’t see any and it’s Aug here in MN. Thanks!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Laura,

Melons have both male and female flowers, so I think that’s what you’re seeing. Read more in our blog post about cucurbit pollination. It could be that your plants are having a pollination problem, and if so, you might try pollinating by hand, which the blog post also describes. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

imam Ma'arif

Hii laura ..
Kelly smith is right.. Right now i am planting thousands of melon plants.. I live in indonesia. I suggest you to use the male & Female flower in eleventh until thirteenth leaves. it has a proportional weight, size, and taste. cut all the new buds of flower except buds on segment 11th to 13th.. and dont forget to use a right fertilizer too.. different time – different fertilizer. I am an organic farmer..

Happy growing

Adri

MY MELON PLANTS ARE GROWING MELONS, MY MELON PLANTS ARE GROWING MELONS!!!!!
YAY!YAY!YAY!
I am very exited!

Carol

i am in nebraska, trying canteloupe for the first time. Very hot this year, and they are getting softball size and that is it. I am watering every day to keep moist, but they just aren’t growing – any ideas?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Carol,

What variety are you growing? Different varieties grow varying sizes of fruit, so check first to see what mature size you should be looking for. For our cantaloupe plants, we list size as weight instead of a particular dimension. Cantaloupe takes about 90 days to mature. Read above in the Harvest and Storage tab for info on how to know if the melons are ready to pick. If all signs point to picking but the melon seems a little smaller than you expected, you should probably still pick it. It might just be a matter of expectation. I hope this helps, and happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Rachel

My cantaloupe plants have been producing a good amount of melons but they are ripening at a very small size and not growing any larger. Is there something I can do to get them to grow larger?

Mary Beth

Hi Rachel,
Some farmers believe that nipping the end of the vine will prevent future blooms and future, numerous melons…thus making the existing ones left behind larger. Others let them ramble on to produce as yours. Have you kept them consistently watered, too? ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Rachel

I water them every day, but it has been very hot (texas weather) should I water more often? Also how often would you suggest that I fertilize.

Mary Beth

Every day should be fine in your hot Texas weather. I had to water mine daily, too, when we had three weeks of extreme highs. As for fertilizing, there is a specific tip on the How to Grow Watermelon page on what types of fertilizers gardeners prefer at various points in the growing stage. Happy growing! ~Mary Beth

Adri

My melon plants are getting really big now and when the melons start to grow they’l get heavy and i was worried that they might get too heavy and eventually fall off the trellis that their on and smash on the ground. Should i use a piece of cloth or something to tie around it so it wont fall off? Or are melon plants strong enough to hold on to the melons without them smashing?
Thanks

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Adri,

Yes, you should create a sling to hold your plants on the trellis. The vine isn’t strong enough to carry the weight of the growing melon. Many gardeners make a sling out of old (or new) nylon pantyhose. Stretch the hose to wrap around the melon and then tie the sling to the trellis. You could also use an old rag for this. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

deb

we did the sling last year and works good. my problem is as i await for my 1 honeydew to ripen this am i see a worm hole i assome and im ill. its a large melon too.

Adri

About how long after the male flowers bloom do the female flowers start to bloom? Thanks

PAUL NEAL

Hi this time ever raise garden got all kind of vegeable musk, honeydew, water melon just to a few, i got problem with them growing oh what a problem muskmelon, honeydews ,squash,cucmber pumkin all run together to me they look alike help me lpease

Mary Beth

Hi Paul,
I’m not sure I understand your question. Are your vines too tangled together to tell apart? Once they begin fruiting, you will be able to distinguish baby pumpkins from melons and squash. It does help to train them up on trellis and support them the vines vertically. Sounds like they may be planted a little too close together, too! You will have a hard time finding those ripe cucumbers under the tangle of leaves, so make sure that you keep them picked regularly. Cucumber plants will not produce properly if you keep the fruits too long on the vine to enlarge and age. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Steve Tarrant

As my cantalopes mature, I have noticed that some critter has eaten about 1/2 of two of them. My wife thinks it’s a turtle. We have raccoons in the area but I don’t think they like cantalopes. What are your thoughts? I am placing lightweight wire fencing around each maturing fruit to see if that helps. I tried pouring bloodmeal around the patch, to no avail. Thanks!

Mary Beth

Hi Steve,
Unfortunately, I can personally share your pain. A raccoon found one of my melons a day or two before I was intending to harvest it. I could tell by the claw and bite marks; not sure if you have any indicators like this? If it is a raccoon, wire fencing with an open top will not prevent them from reaching the fruit. You might try an enclosure around the entire area. Raccoon will likely adventure in at night if you care to keep an eye on the spot. You may see tracks or activity indicating your thief. Keep me posted. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Nikki

I planted equal amounts of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon in a 4 x 6 planter. However, I did not know what I was doing, and I planted them 1 foot apart, in rows 1 foot apart, so each square foot contains one plant. Everything is flowering, but I just realized that I have grossly overplanted my area. I am afraid that with so many plants I will not get a harvest, although the female flowers have small bulges under them. What should I do to get the best harvest? Should I cut out a majority of the plants? Give extra water? Start a trellis? I live in Michigan, and this is my first attempt at growing anything. Help please!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Nikki,

Yes, we typically recommend 6 feet apart for melons, but I think you can save at least the majority of your plants. Trellising is a good option. You could create a few tent trellises (find instructions here) and place these around your bed, then direct the vines to grow out of the bed and up/over the trellises. This might make for a crazy looking garden but at least you’ll get melons! You also could just direct the plants out of the bed (without the trellises), but the trellises will help maximize space and also keep your fruit up off the bare ground. Continue to water the plants and feed them well and see what happens. If the vines just totally overwhelm the space, then you might sacrifice a few to save the rest. Also, since you’re a new gardener, you might enjoy reading some of the articles in our Gardening Basics section. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

ben

Hi, I just noticed that my cantaloupes have what appear to be eggs on the underside of the leaf. Is this normal, also I just picked my first cantaloupe and there were tiny red dots inside of it, I was wondering if that was normal as well? Thanks

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Ben,

The eggs sound like squash bug eggs, which can be found on melons as well as squash. You can read about squash bugs in this article from the University of Minnesota Extension. One of our Facebook community members gave us a nice tip about how to remove squash bug eggs with duct tape. You can see the tip in this recent edition of our newsletter. You might want to sign up for our newsletter to receive other info and tips like this. I have no idea about the red dots inside, though! Do they look like bugs of some kind? I hope this helps, and happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Marcy Copper

One of my melons is now about 10 inches around. but it has a crack it it. Is there anything you recommend? Should I pluck it? cut it from the vine? Also there are alot of ants running around in my garden are they harmful and what should I do if they are?

Mary Beth

Hi Marcy,
I know that must be disappointing. Cracking or splitting can occur when there’s a fluctuation in moisture. If the plant experiences dry weather, then a lot of moisture, the growing fruit will expand and crack. To make sure you’re not creating these conditions yourself, water evenly and regularly at the base of the plant. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses on a timer are good idea to regulate this. Sometimes, nature causes this problem with a hard rain following a period of drought. In that case, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. You should remove the fruit if it’s split to the core, as it will likely rot. That’s probably why you are noticing the ants. They love a picnic, remember? :) Ants, by themselves, are not harmful to your plants. Happy gardening, Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Juan J Domm

I have six plants honeydew, did not know how much space to give when planting them, and I think i plant them very close, some are bigger than others, so i leave them like that or replanted? some allready have flowers and i dont want to disturb the roots.. what can i do?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Juan,

Honeydew plants should be planted about 1 foot apart in rows 4 to 5 feet apart. These plants produce long vines that need room to roam. How close are yours planted? I wouldn’t recommend trying to replant them now. If possible, you can direct the vines in different directions so they have enough space to grow. You could also use trellises (such as this tent trellis) to maximize space. I hope this helps. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Dru

First time gardener. I planted burpless hap cucumber, sugar baby watermelon, and cantalope . The cucumber is starting to grow (no flowering just growing in size), and the watermelon and cantaloupe are vining long, but the leaves are no longer green and plush but pale yellow and small….almost as if they are drying out. The watermelon has little watermelons but it is the only one with fruit. They were transplanted after about 2 week sin the pot and when I did, I could see the roots were all pressed against the pot. Could this have been the problem? What can I do to help them recover?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Dru,

I don’t think that the pots being a bit root-bound would cause this if you planted according to directions. Read back over how to plant our biodegradable pots to be sure you planted correctly. Your plants might be helped by a little fertilizer. Feed with a liquid fertilizer labeled for vegetables, such as our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. See if this helps your plants perk up, and if not, send your question along with a photo to our Ask an Expert service. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Adri

When should the flowers start to grow on the melons? Their getting pretty big and I think I see a flower bud forming, but it could just be a baby leaf so I really don’t know what it is.
thanks

Adri

and also, should i get a black tarp or something like that for under them?

Mary Beth

Hi Adri,
Some gardeners like to put a small brick or block under melons as they grow, if you are prone to wet soils or would like to keep it off of the dewy ground. A black tarp would help keep the ground and surrounding plant warm — melons love heat. It will also help prevent weeds and grass from growing up around your vines and keep the area neater and not compete with the melon plant. Happy growing! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Mary Beth

Hi Adri,
You will be able to see the flower buds and easily distinguish them from leaf buds very soon, if not already. As soon as runners are extending out and the tendrils are curling out, male flowers are quick to follow. The male flowers are first, followed by many male and female flowers. Both need to bloom at the same time to enable pollination by insects. Here’s an article on pollinating by hand, if you are interested in assisting. You can see close-up photos of the flowers to see what they’ll look like, too. Let us know how it grows! Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Ceris

Hi there,

I was given two melon plants this year. I don’t have garden space so i have planted them in pots. I have created a wig wam for them to climb up. Will this be ok? They are in a little conservatory/lean to, the leaves have gone kind of crispy, is that ok? Also a couple of mini melons have dropped off but just read about how I should help with the pollination so I’ll give that a go. How often should I water them, the pots I have don’t drain so have to be careful not to overwater, any tips?

Thanks in advance!

Ceris

Mary Beth

Hi Ceris,
What a nice gift! We hope it gives back. :) Make sure that any containers or pots you use for gardening always have drainage holes. That is very essential. Otherwise the container’s soil will become waterlogged and the roots will not get oxygen. If you are seeing signs of yellowing or browning leaves, it could be the result of too much watering, as well as too little watering. Your container should be at least 24″ wide across the top, or five gallon bucket size. As for the mini melons dropping off, it sounds like you’ve already figured out (congratulations!) that they are not getting pollinated. If you have it in a glass conservatory or covered lean-to, the bees will not be able to pollinate. So try your hand at pollinating it yourself! Let us know how it grows. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Holly

Hey, we have planted both catalope and watermelon and we get small fruits set when the female flower falls off but usually they turn yellow and fall off to. Why is that and what can we do about it?

Dr. K.

7/15/2012
I planted Bonnie Plant honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon this past spring. As the cantaloupe ripens, I noticed cracks on the outside of the melon.

Why is this happening?

What can I do to prevent this from happening?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Dr. K.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Dr. K,

Sounds like you are growing a great patch of melons! Yes, this cracking or splitting can occur when there’s a fluctuation in moisture. If the plant experiences dry weather, then a lot of moisture, the growing fruit will expand and crack. To make sure you’re not creating these conditions yourself, water evenly and regularly at the base of the plant. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses on a timer are good idea, especially with a patch as large as yours sounds. Sometimes, though, nature causes this problem on her own with a hard rain following a period of drought. In that case, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. I hope this info helps. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Michel

Hi. We planted honeydew and watermelon. The honeydew is doing well but the watermelon doesn’t seem to be doing anything. It’s not dying, it’s growing very slowly. The area where they are planted gets quite a bit of sun in the morning. It is watered by sprinkler early morning and early evening, when the sun has started to go down and it’s cooling off. I live in Colorado. Is it normal for watermelon to take this long? We planted back in mid-May.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Michel,

The honeydew and watermelon should grow at about the same rate, so I’m not sure why your watermelon would grow slower than your honeydew. You might fertilize the plants to give them a jump start. We recommend our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Also, you might alter your watering practices a bit to help avoid some common problems with melons, such as powdery mildew, which shows up as a white, powdery film on the leaves. Watering from overhead, as you’re doing with the sprinkler, can create good conditions for this and other diseases to grow, as can watering at night when temperatures are cool. It’s best to water in the morning and at the base of the plants, either watering by hand or using drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Learn some more best practices for watering in our Watering section. I hope this helps you and your plants!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Joseph

Hi Kelly, im trying to grow melons in Nebraska and for some reason the roots that go into the ground tend to rote away, how can I stop that?.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Joseph,

Do you mean that the roots rot, or is it the vines rotting? One way to keep your melon plants healthy is to make sure they’re not touching the bare ground. Use a trellis or cover the ground in mulch, such as straw mulch, pebbles, or black plastic. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Kate

Hi Kelly,

What a great resource! Thanks for answering everyone’s questions!

We’re having fantastic success with our cantaloupe this year (our first time growing it intentionally–last year we had a compost volunteer)–but I have two questions:

1) About how many melons does a typical plant produce? I noticed there was some discussion of limiting the number of melons on the vine to heighten sweetness. We have about four good sized ones on our plant right now…

2) Do I need to put something under the melons as they are developing/growing? Right now they’re just sitting on the “dirt”–a mix of compost/soil. I want to keep these little guys healthy!

Thanks! We can’t wait to enjoy our melons!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Kate,

Thanks! We love being able to interact with Bonnie gardeners. Be sure you also sign up for our newsletter and join us on Facebook. It sounds like your melon plants are doing well. Four to six good-sized melons is an average yield from one plant. Yes, you should try to avoid your melons making direct contact with the ground to prevent rot and pest problems. Mulch is important, whether straw or gravel. You can also place ripening fruit on upturned flower pots. I hope you are able to harvest and enjoy your melons soon. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Adri

I planted some honeydews that i took out of a melon that we got from the grocery store. I have the two of them growing together in a big enough pot, but i need to transplant them into the ground soon. The more advanced one has 8 leaves and i noticed this morning that it has started to grow vines! I plan to go to Dollarama today to get some trellises [ i think that’s what they’re called] and I’m gonna transplant them again most likely today. I was wondering if they’d grow in time to pick them. I think that i planted them sometime in May or June, it was a while ago so I don’t really remember.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Adri,

It’s hard to say since I don’t know what variety you’re growing, but the honeydew plants we sell take from 90 to 115 days to mature. You can expect roughly the same from the plants you’re growing. So if you planted in late May or early June, you should be harvesting melons in September. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Adri

Thanks for the help! Im realy exited, they’re supossed to tast realy good!

Sophie

Hi! This is my first time planting these melons. I have two questions. Is there a difference between cantaloupe and muskmelon? And how can you tell the difference between male and female flowers? Thank you :)

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Sophie,

Well, first of all, good questions. In North America, cantaloupe is the word used to describe and sell muskmelons, so what we know of as a cantaloupe in the grocery store is really a muskmelon. In other parts of the world, a cantaloupe is a related melon with a warty rind, while a muskmelon has the smooth, netted rind we recognize on cantaloupe. They are both of the same family of melons, though. So the cantaloupe plants we sell are technically muskmelons, but everyone knows them as cantaloupe. Confusing enough for you?

The easiest way to tell the difference between male and female flowers is by looking at where the stem attaches to the bloom. On female flowers, the stem will look like an immature fruit. We are working on putting together information about male and female flowers and hand-pollination for our website, so I will let you know when that is up so you can learn more! I hope this helps. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Liza

What are the fertilizer requirements to grow cantaloupe? Does it vary from one kind to another?

Mary Beth

Hi Liza,
The fertilizer doesn’t vary from variety of cantaloupe, but some gardeners do like to vary the type of fertilizer mid-season. This excerpt from the article tells you more “Some gardeners like to switch fertilizer during the course of the growing season. During the time between transplanting and when the first flowers open, use a fertilizer with more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium, such as Bonnie’s. Once flowering begins, use a fertilizer with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium, such as African Violet Food or liquid seaweed.” In my own garden, I use Bonnie Vegetable and Herb Food. Happy growing! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Raechel

Hello! I just purchased a roma grape tomato plant, a red bell pepper plant, a cucumber plant (I believe it was the bigger, burpless variety), and a honey dew melon plant. I have 4 medium to large sized containers that I’d like to plant these in (1 plant per pot, the two bigger pots for the melon and cucumber). This is my first attempt at container gardening, and my first time planting anything in several years. I am concerned about transplanting these plants the right way, so they don’t get damaged, and will get as big and prosperous as possible (I’d like the share with my family!). I bought the plants as already started, also. I want to grow them organically, no chemicals, if possible. I thought I had some potting mix (organic humus, I think it was…) that would be sufficient, but my father-in-law said it’s more of an additive to dirt that needs more nutrients, and not really meant to solely be potting mix. What potting mix would you suggest for these plants, and is there any special tips you would suggest for successful transplanting and growth? Thank you!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Raechel,

Read our article about potting mix to better understand what potting mix is and what makes a good mix. You should also refer to our article on pot sizes to make sure you’re planting in large enough pots. Planting in too-small pots is one of the biggest mistakes made in container gardening. Bonnie plants in biodegradable pots are very easy to transplant and help prevent transplant shock, so if you plant them as directed, your plants should do fine. Watch our video on how to plant Bonnie pots to be sure you’re planting them correctly. You should also feed your plants with a liquid fertilizer such as our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. I hope this helps. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Ryan

Hey. Im in tallahasee fl. and have started a large garden of raised beds in the backyard. I have a dozen cantaloupes, several in the ground along the end of the house where we get the most sun, several along a fence line with 5-6 hrs of sun and 5 on my pool deck in 5 gallon pots. All of them have been loosing the last inches or even sometimes the whole vine to insects – namely little green caterpillars that bore into the side of the vine and burrow in. I have tried everything and it looks like I will not see a single cantaloupe this year. I have as many watermelons and they are unaffected by this. I guess I need to completely cover the plants in screen? I am organic and use plant oil sprays and diatomaceus earth for pest control.

Jennifer

My toddler, who loves to get her hands in the dirt, was helping me in the garden the other day and, unfortunately, stepped on a few ends of the vines on my honeydew melon plant. By the next day, the plant was wilted and dead on that part of the plant and, now today, it looks a little worse further along the vine. Will the entire plant eventually die or is there something that can be done to lessen or stop the damage to the rest of the plant?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jennifer,

It’s great to hear that your little one likes to garden! We don’t typically recommend pruning melon vines, as pruning can open the plant up to disease and pest problems, but in this case, you could trim the damaged end and see if you can save your vine. Also, water and fertilize your plant well to help it recover from the damage. I hope this helps! Happy growing to you and your daughter!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Chas

i would like to post at least one picture of what i did. this is the 1st time trying to grow them and i have a ton of flowers. they are growing out of control and i’m very excited. my question is, i live in michigan and i would like to ship a few of these to my mom in phoenix, what if anything could you suggest for picking and shipping?

Eileen Leigh

My first crop of canteloupe came when the seeds from a store-bought melon were thrown into my compost heap and sprouted. We let the plant(s) grow and ended up with melons the size of basketballs. We may have picked them too early as the flesh of the canteloupe turned out to be very hard, but with melons that huge, we didn’t know just when they would be ripe. We live in Texas and the summers can be brutal on any garden plants. Any suggestions? How can you really tell if the melons are ready to be picked?

Mary Beth

Hi Eileen,
You are a lucky gardener to find that free crop! What a great surprise. The Harvesting and Storage tab on this page details the clues you need to look for in picking a ripe melon. Here’s a summary: You can judge a cantaloupe’s ripeness by skin color and stem. The rind of a cantaloupe changes from gray-green to yellow-buff, and the netting pattern becomes more pronounced. At the stem, a crack appears that encircles the base of the stem. A ripe melon should slip right off the vine. Cantaloupes also develop a musky odor that’s noticeable as you approach the melon patch.
If you like this website and the information you’re finding here, you might also enjoy our bi-weekly e-newsletter. Also, check out our Facebook page where people are sharing fun photos like yours — compost surprises and fun harvests! Happy growing,
Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

libby

I have planted my cantaloupe next to my honeydew… will I have a problem with cross pollination? Could I end up with “CANTA-DEW” or “HONEY-LOUPE?”

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Libby,

Ha ha, no, though those do sound rather tasty! If cross-pollination occurs, it would only show up if you saved the seeds from the fruit you get this year and replanted them for harvest next year. So your cantaloupe and honeydew should come out true to form this season. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Susan

This is my first year planting a garden using raised beds I made from recycled pallets. Your website has been extremely helpful!!!

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Sharon,

It can take a week or two after male flowers appear for the female flowers to show up on the plant. You may just need to wait a little longer for the plant to start really producing. Keep watching and let us know. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Marcy Copper

I had no idea that my melons would require so much space! I planted them way too close together and now my vines are like 5 feet long already. Would it be safte to move them at this point or should I just try to redirect the vines toward the open (uncultivated) grassy area? BTW, I totally love your articles. Thanks for your time and energy.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Marcy,

Yes, melons and pumpkins require the most space of pretty much any vegetable! I don’t recommend that you move them now, as the vines are tender and easily broken. Directing them to the open area is a good idea, though. And thanks for your comment on our website! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter. We add new articles often and provide links to them in our newsletter. Also, you can “Like” us on our Bonnie Plants Facebook page. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Erin

Kelly,

You mention to redirect the vines on the melon plants. I have my melon plants in planter boxes in my garden. This is my first hand at gardening, but I was considering trimming the vines to keep them contained in my boxes. My boxes are 4×3 feet. Is trimming them alright to do?

Thanks so much.
Erin

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Erin,

We don’t recommend trimming or pruning melon vines because it can open the plants up to disease and pest problems. Plants in the cucurbit family (which includes melons, cucumbers, and squash) can get very long and unwieldy, but that’s just the nature of these plants. I’m afraid that trying to keep them contained will be a frustrating lesson in futility for you! Let the vines spill over the edge of your bed and they will do just fine. To help keep the fruit clean, add a layer of mulch to the area around your bed where the vines will rest. I hope you get lots of melons and enjoy them! Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Sandy

I purchased some honeydew Bonnie plants from a local store; they are developing flowers like crazy, but the flowers all fall off, and there is no fruit…..is this just the male flowers falling off until the female flowers come up? Thanks

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Sandy,

Cucurbits (watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, cucumber) are different from other vegetables in that they have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Only the female flowers will produce fruit. The first flowers on a cucurbit are male, and they may remain on the plant for a day then fall off. Female flowers, which usually start a week or two behind, are the fruit producing flowers. There will always be many more male flowers than there will be female, but both should be on your plant for fruit production. So it’s possible that you’re seeing the male flowers falling off and need to watch for the female flowers to start up.

It’s also possible that you have the problem of poor pollination, which is very common. Insects are neccessary for the transfer of pollen. If the flowers are not well pollinated, the fruit will be misshapen or stay small and shrivel up (falling from the plant). Pollination can be affected by everything from wet or hot weather to what your neighbor is spraying on his plants. Be careful spraying broad spectrum pesticides around cucurbits because pollinating insects (bees) are harmed also.

If you are having a pollination problem, you can hand pollinate. First, determine which are the male and female flowers. Female flowers can be distinquished by the small fruit at the base of the flower. The flowers are usually only open and fertile in the morning hours. Take a open male flower and hold it over the female flower and shake it to drop the pollen. You can also take a Q-tip, rub it in the male flower to gather pollen, then transfer it to the female.

I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Lamponcina

Hi Kelly!
I just planted my cantaloupe seeds last Wednesday and yesterday (Sunday) I saw the sprouts already! Today, I have over 40 little sprouts growing. They started so fast!
I’m wondering about growing the vines on my balcony, as I live in an apartment building and cannot exactly plant them in a garden. I do have the option (*ahem*) of transplanting them into the local forest, which is very wet and yet has open fields where the vines could get plenty of sun. Others of the sprouts I am giving to friends, but many of them are in the same situation as I am, being without a garden area. Any suggestions on raising our lovely melons in this context?
Thanks so much!
L

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi L!

Thanks for writing in! My first question is: What cantaloupe varieties have you planted from seed? There are a few compact melon varieties out there. If you happened to choose a compact variety, you’d have better luck with growing them on a balcony. If not, it’s still possible, though quite challenging (as you’ve already guessed). Do you get full sun on your balcony? If so, you might be able to grow the melon in a large container (24 inches or more wide) and provide lots of support via a trellis and your diligence. A well-secured livestock panel would make a nice trellis. (You can see how we used one for cucumbers in our Cucumber Tent Trellis project. You wouldn’t bend yours, though.) Also be prepared to train the vines onto the trellis and provide support for the hanging fruit. Many gardeners use old pantyhose, tied to the trellis, to cradle hanging fruit.

I cannot guarantee this will work, but it’s worth a try. Maybe you should plant a few in your other “option” just in case…

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Amy

We planted roma tomatoes, strawberries & cantelope in a large planter box. Everything is growing well especially the cantelopes. We made a cover for our planter box to keep bugs, birds & our resident squirrels out of our garden. The romas are already fruiting and the cantelopes are growing like wild fire but no fruit yet. Do we need to take the cover off to allow the bees to get to the cantelope? We have plenty of leaves & flowers, just no fruit. Please help! :)

Kelly Smith

Hi Amy,

Yes, you need to allow pollinators into your garden. They’re useful for all plants but especially for plants in the cucurbit family, which includes melons, squash, and cucumbers. You can read more about pollinating bees in our article “You Need These Bees in Your Garden.” Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Philip

I have grown cantalope and watermelon before but this is my first time growing honeydew melons. I have never seen a melon plant grow straight up before. my plant is maybe 2ft tall. Is this normal for honeydew melons?

Kelly Smith

Hi Philip,

With it being a cucurbit (plant family that also includes cucumbers and squash), I’m not surprised that it has gotten that tall. Think about how tall squash plants can get! Unless it continues to grow upward instead of outward, I would not be concerned. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

tiffany

we threw a rotting cantelope on the side of our house n now we have a very large growth of them. how long after the flowers do they start producing actual fruit. we know nothing about growing them. it was pure accident that we are. we also have watermelon from the same way.

Kelly Smith

Hi Tiffany,

Congrats on a free melon garden! It’s hard to say exactly as we don’t know what variety they are, but our cantaloupe plants mature in anywhere from 85 to 115 days, so you could expect fruit in roughly 100 days from when the plants emerged. The watermelon plants may mature a week or two ahead of that. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Sorry not telling

I planted my melons a few weeks ago,like in may, i think.
They have two of their main [ ” adult” ] leaves, i was just wondering if they’d grow in time, its been very hot lately [30 degrees Celsius ] its also very sunny and i water them 2 times a day. i have them in small pudding containers now, i haven’t gotten around to transplanting them yet and how long should they take to ripen so i can pick them if they do grow in time ?
Thanks

Kelly Smith

So you are growing these melons from seed? It’s hard for me to say what the maturity time will be without knowing what type or variety of melon you’re growing. The varieties of cantaloupe that we sell as transplants will mature in anywhere from 85 to 100 days, so I am guessing your seedlings may mature in roughly 100 days. You should check the info on your seed packets, though. Best of luck!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Heather Y

I recently planted my cantaloupe plant and noticed it had four “vines” (“stems?”) coming from the soil. Is that four separate plants that are all growing or one plant? Should I cut three of them back to allow one to grow well or leave them be? No flowers are forming yet or anything, but I’m wondering if by leaving all four to grow that I might be stunting their growth as they’re competing for nutrients and space.

Kelly Smith

Hi Heather,

You did the right thing by planting them together. The vines will grow and go their separate ways. Just let them be. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

bob

How long from when I see the melons (the lumps at the base of the male flowers) till the melons ripen?

Kelly Smith

Hi Bob,

It’s hard to say exactly and depends on the variety, but cantaloupe and honeydew melons mature in anywhere from 80 to 115 days from planting. Here are links to the three varieties we sell:

Honeydew Cantaloupe
Hale’s Best Jumbo Cantaloupe
Super 45 Cantaloupe

You can count back from the planting date to when you saw the first fruit developing and make a guess about when your fruit will be mature, but it really depends on water, temperature, etc. Just keep watching and watering! Be sure to read the whole article above and refer back to it if you have any questions.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Paul

dose honey water help or hert melons i live in Fl and hot weather we do have my melons leafs brown spots what can i do for them thanks Paul

Kelly Smith

Hi Paul,

Cantaloupe and honeydew melons need a steady supply of water. You should keep the soil consistently moist and water directly into the soil instead of watering overhead onto the leaves, which can cause fungus problems. Long melon vines are sensitive to drought and may wilt in intense midday sun, but they should perk back up later in the day. If you think your plants have a problem, send your question, preferably with a photo, to our Ask an Expert service. I hope this helps!

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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