Vegetable (Warm Season) - Cucurbit
Also known as muskmelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon
Heat-loving melons can be a challenge to grow in cooler regions of New
York. To increase success, choose short-season varieties, start them
inside, warm soil with black plastic or IRT mulch, and protect young
plants with fabric row covers.
Prefers warm, well-drained, soil, high in organic matter with pH 6.5 to
7.5. Consistent, plentiful moisture needed until fruit is about the
size of a tennis ball. Soil temperatures below 50 F slow growth.
Consider using black plastic and fabric row covers to speed soil
warming. Sandy or light-textured soils that warm quickly in spring are
- outdoor containers
- Bush varieties can be grown in large containers on patios, decks, etc.
many areas of New York, successful crops require starting plants
indoors, using plastic mulch to warm soil, and fabric row covers to
protect young transplants.
1 to 1.5 feet
3 to 12 feet
- low and trailing
- climbing / vine
- not native to North America
- Origins uncertain. Has been cultivated since ancient time in Asia, West Africa and Mediterranean regions.
How to plant:
Maintenance and care:
Germination temperature: 60 F to 95 F
Days to emergence: 3 to 5
- In very warm (90 F) soil. About 10 days at 70 F.
Seed can be saved 4 years.
If you have long, hot growing seasons direct-seed into garden. To
ensure ripening in areas with shorter growing seasons and cooler
weather, choose fast-maturing varieties, start plants inside, use black
or IRT plastic mulch to warm soil and use fabric row covers to protect
1 to 2 weeks after average last frost when soil is 70 F or warmer.
Plant ½ inch deep, 6 seeds per hill, hills 4 to 6 feet apart; or 1 foot
apart in rows 5 feet apart. Can plant at closer spacings if trellised.
Thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill.
For transplanting, sow seeds
indoors ¼ inch deep in peat pots (2-inch square or bigger), 2 to 4
weeks before setting out. Plants should have one or two true leaves
Transplant at same spacings as direct-seeded
crops - 2 to 3 plants per hill in hills spaced 4 to 6 feet apart, or 1
to 2 feet apart in rows 5 feet apart. Transplants are delicate and
roots are sensitive to disturbance. If you need to thin, use scissors.
Keep soil intact around plant when transplanting.
Mulch plants after soil has warmed to help maintain consistent moisture and suppress weeds.
If using fabric row covers, remove at flowering to allow pollination by bees. Good pollination is critical to fruit set.
require consistent moisture until pollination. Once fruits are about
the size of a tennis ball, only water if soil is dry and leaves show
signs of wilting.
To prevent insect damage to developing fruits, place melons on pots or pieces of wood.
growing melons on a trellis, support fruit with slings made from
netting, fabric, or pantyhose. Trellising improves air circulation
around plants and can help reduce foliar disease problems. Choose
small-fruited varieties and reduce plant spacing.
plantings, leave a strip of rye cover crop every second or third row
perpendicular to prevailing winds to protect plants from damaging wind.
reduce insect and disease problems, avoid planting cucumber family
crops (melons, squash, pumpkins) in the same spot two years in a row.
Striped or spotted cucumber beetles - Construct tents of fine netting
or cheesecloth or use floating row cover over young plants. Put in
place at planting and remove at flowering. Control beetles to prevent
- A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash
off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for
evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized
aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and
Squash vine borer - Cut open vines and remove by hand.
Squash bugs - Handpick. Bury or compost plant residues after harvest.
beetles - Use row crop covers to help protect plants from early insect
damage. Put in place at planting and remove at flowering. Control weeds.
Powdery mildew - Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air
circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden to improve air
circulation. In autumn rake and dispose of all diseased leaves and
fruit. Choose varieties resistant to powdery mildew.
wilt - Remove and discard or destroy infested plants. Eliminate
perennial weeds such as milk weed, marshcress and yellow rocket and
avoid planting next to susceptible ornamentals.
Fusarium wilt -
Locate new plants in part of garden different from the previous year's
location. Plant tolerant varieties such as Iroquois, Harper Hybrid,
Saticoy, Pulsar or Athena.
Fungal leaf spot - Avoid wetting
foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts
will dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to
allow air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to
improve air circulation. In autumn, rake and dispose of all diseased
leaves or fruit. Verify diagnosis.
Cucumber mosaic virus - Remove
and destroy infested plants. Eliminate perennial weeds such as
milkweed, marshcress and yellow rocket and avoid planting next to
Scab - Avoid wetting foliage if
possible. Water early in day so aboveground plant parts can dry as
quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air
Browse melon varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.
See separate listing for watermelon.
Typical eastern muskmelons (C. melo v. reticulatus)
have heavily netted fruits with large seed cavities and a musky aroma
and flavor. They are sometimes mistakenly called cantaloupes, which
belong to the group C. melo v. Cantaloupensis and are seldom grown in North America.
Another group of melons, sometimes referred to as winter melons (C. melo v. indorus),
are difficult to grow in New York outside of Long Island because they
require a long, hot growing season. These include honeydew, Persian,
Crenshaw and casaba melons. A fourth group of this variable species is C. melo v. conomon, which includes the Chinese cucumber or Oriental pickly cucumber.
choosing varieties, match days to harvest with the length of your
growing season. (Keep in mind that you will plant well after the last
frost date and want to make sure your crop ripens well before first
frost in fall.) If you have a long enough season, choose varieties with
different maturity dates to spread out your harvest, or stagger
planting dates of a single variety.
Bush varieties have more
compact vines, some just 3 feet long. Also base your variety choices on
disease resistance, fruit size (stick with smaller fruits in
short-season areas or if you plan to trellis the vines), flavor, and
Some varieties recommended for New York include:
Schoon's Hard shell