Cantaloupe can be expensive to buy at the store. Growing your own can help save you money. This is a guide about growing cantaloupe.
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Hardiness Zone: 10a
Moises from Los Angeles, California
The number of melons produced by any one plant depends largely on the variety grown and the ability to grow it under optimum growing conditions. In California, recommended varieties include Ambrosia, Rocky Sweet, Fruit Punch, Sweet and Early, Marble White, Harper, Limelight, Honeyshaw, Ogen or Haogen, Pineapple, Gold King, and Venus. One of the most popular varieties, Ambrosia, is bred to produce an average of 4 to 5 fruits per plant, each weighing about 5 lbs. Other varieties may average more, but more fruits per plant can also translate into smaller fruits. To get a decent crop of good-sized fruit, pinch off the growing tip of each flowering shoot at 2 leaves beyond the flower. Once all the fruits reach grape size, remove most of the developing fruits, leaving only 4 to 5 per plant.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Tennie from Sherman, TX
The state of Texas is always at the top of the pile for watermelon production in the U.S. That means that all things being equal, your chances for successful melon crops are better than that of the average gardener. There are three factors that will cause the growth of melons to come slow down (or stop): cool temperatures (below 60ºF), too much water or too little water. When melons don't get enough water they stop growing. Don't over-water them or the vines will collapse, but continue to keep them well watered like you have been doing and remember that the larger they get, the more water they will need. Allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry out between waterings.
Make sure you're using the right fertilizer. Use one with 4 parts phosphorus to 1 part nitrogen to promote larger vines and better fruiting. Ideally, this would have been added to the soil at planting time. Adding additional nitrogen after 1 month and again 2 months after planting will keep your vines growing.
Cool temperatures are probably not your problem. Although watermelons like heat, the extreme temperatures this summer have been hard on everything. You can help prevent any further stress to your melons by keeping the vines free of weeds. Melons don't like to compete for nutrients. Even small weeds can stunt their growth and result in smaller melons.
As long as the leaves and vines on your melon plants continue to look healthy, I suspect the slowdown in growth is probably only temporary. If you feel like you have a sufficient number of melons started, you can help to increase their size by removing any remaining flowers on the vines. This will channel all of the plant's remaining energy into expanding the fruit that is already there. Of course the final size of your melons will depend on what varieties you're growing.
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Here are questions related to Growing Cantaloupe.
I have cantaloupe plants that had bloomed with yellow small flowers. Am I suppose remove the blossoms for the fruit to grow or not? I don't want to kill my fresh produce.
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Trudy from PA
Not every flower will produce fruit. There are both male and female flowers, and the female ones will develop fruit after the bees pollinate them.
Is there any way I can pollinate my cantaloupe flowers by hand? The bee shortage is causing all my blossoms to go untouched. Out of 50 blooms so far, only 3-4 are setting fruit. Some start then turn yellow and some do nothing at all. Help please. We love them and my little family tries every year to no avail.
By Grateful in GA
Use a small artist's paint brush. Brush over the male flower followed by a brushing on the female flower. This will pollinate the female flower and should work to provide fruit.
I noticed that on some of my cantaloupe plants, the leaves have withered and cracked/broken (see image). Does anyone know what this might be caused by?
By Neil S. 
Our cantaloupes are not sweet. Why?
By Robert H. from Salem, AL
Maybe the variety, the amount of rain, the temperature conditions, the minerals in your soil, the time picked, or any number of other things. Remember, vidalia onions only get their unique flavor because of the soil in Georgia; if grown any place else, they do not taste the same.
I have long beautiful vines with lots of blossoms, but no fruit. Why?
By Vickey M. from Concord, NC
Perhaps an animal is eating the blooms. I had a great watermelon growing in my yard Everyday I would go out & water it. Suddenly, there was this beautiful baby watermelon on the vine. And it grew & grew until it was the size of a soft ball and then stopped. Perplexed about this I fed it plant food and still no more growth. So I finally grabbed it and then I had the answer. The front side of the fruit which I could see was perfect. However, the backside had been eaten by a squirrel and was completely gone.
We live northeast of Spokane, Washington in zone 5. When should I put the cover on my cantaloupes? It has been hot during the days, but now it is in the high 70s and cooling off at night to in the 40s.
By Betty G.
Your local weather forecast will tell you when there is a chance of frost. 32 degrees is the freezing point. You shouldn't have to worry about covering anything until the weather forecasts say it will be that cold. Even then it will depend on how long the temperature stays that cold.
Here in southeast SD it got down to 32 degrees about 6AM this morning, but didn't stay that cold long enough to be considered a hard freeze. Today it only got up to about 60 degrees. When did you plant them? It seems to me like they should already be harvested. Here in South Dakota, the home grown melons of any type were being sold in roadside stands and stores for more than two weeks.
I have a very healthy cantaloupe plant growing in a moveable planter that is full of flowers, it has one fruit growing really well that seems to double in size every couple days. There are lots of other flowers that get a melon forming, then it turns yellow and falls off. There are 6 small green melons forming that I believe will make it. Getting back to the large growing one, do I need to prop it up or give it some sort of support? And what kind of support would be the best?
By Jim H
I used to take a furring strip or dowel rod to support the vine then use 1 leg of an old pair of pantie hose. I would stick the growing cantaloupe into the leg and tie it onto the stick or rod. Sometimes I would have to use 2 or 3 sticks to support the vine as it grew and produced fruit, but that depended on the size that my planter could hold. It worked great and we know how pantie hose stretches so it never hit the ground with its weight as it grew. It also works wonders to stake the fruit like this if you are growing it in a garden. Just support however many small green melons that you believe will make it and they ripen all the way around. It also keeps pests away.
Hope this helps!
This is the first year I've planted cantaloupe. Do they start out green and then turn to tan? I have several about 8 in. in diameter.
By Don from Piqua, OH
When, as in what month, do you plant cantaloupe seeds? I live in zone 8.
By Kat from TX
My cantaloupe are small, seems to have stopped growing. It had been watered when the yard was, 3x a week, but I've cut it down to 2x a week. Have I over watered it? Rita
How far apart do I plant the seeds to grow cantaloupes?
How soon can I plant cantaloupe in the spring and what's the best container?
This is my first time growing cantaloupes and the vines are beautiful with nice large fruit, however, the fruit is not sweet at all. I do not pick them until they are ripe and have come loose from the vine. Do I need to add something to the soil to make them sweeter?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
Gwyn from Foresthill, CA
Cracking is a problem commonly face by gardeners growing all types of melons. Like all melons, cantaloupes need a constant supply of soil moisture when they are becoming established, and throughout their growth and fruit development stages. If cantaloupes are grown in poorly drained soil, they may split or crack if excessive moisture is persistent at maturity. They may also crack when heavy rain or irrigation follows a dry spell-regardless of how well drained the soil is. Maintaining even soil moisture levels throughout the growing season is the key to avoiding this problem. Cantaloupe crops should not be irrigated when the melons are ripening. Not only will this cause some of the melons to split and crack, but it will also result in lower sugar content and less sweet tasting melons. Sometimes weather conditions make controlling soil moisture difficult. Certain varieties (e.g. Earliqueen, Athena) have been developed to produce rinds that are less resistant to cracking. There are many to choose from, so ask your favorite nursery or seed company what they recommend. Using black plastic or mulch will also help control weeds and moisture levels, as well as keeping soil temperatures nice and warm.
Below are photos related to this guide.
Our first cantaloupe. That is a six inch ruler lying by the first picture.
Taken in my kitchen in Knoxville, TN
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Q: I am trying to grow cantaloupes. The plant is growing and has blooms. When can I expect the actual fruit to show. Also will it come from a bloom? Your help is appreciated.
Joe from Texas
Your cantaloupes will appear from behind the blooms. They will look like small round balls at first and then gradually grow larger similar to the way pumpkin or watermelon does. As these melons start to grow they are quite prone to rotting compared to other vine fruits and vegetables. To prevent this, you can rot-proof them by placing each melon on an overturned tin can or on top of a small plastic pail. Many people also erect a strong trellis near the vine and hang the melons in slings attached to the trellis made from old panty hose. Erecting a climbing support also saves room in the garden as these vines tend to go willy-nilly once they really get growing. The smell of cantaloupes also acts like a magnet to attract rodents, so caging the fruits with small gauge wire is also a good idea. Keep the soil moist by watering deeply, especially during dry periods. After the fruit sets, use compost tea or another organic fertilizer to give them a boost. A sweet-smelling melon that separates easily from the vine is one that is ripe for picking.
The cantaloupe will appear shortly after the bloom. Now that they have bloomed, for really sweet and big melons, apply a fish elmusion solution. Follow the manufactures instructions on the bottle. Well worth it. (05/25/2006)
By Janice M.
Dear Joe-- I also live in Texas and have found that squirrels can do a lot of damage to melons. If you can try and make a box of steel mesh-- like chicken wire. Then cover the melons with this. My dad also used these boxes for tomatoes. We had wonderful veggies without critter damage. Take care, Hannah (05/25/2006)
Yes, the cantaloupe will come from the bloom. It will take approximately 2 months from the time you see the first bloom until you can harvest. Cantaloupes, like watermelons, take LOTS of water so be prepared. Also, you will notice as time goes on that the vines are going everywhere. Just redirect their path without suckering or clipping, and wait for that first delicious melon. Be patient and let it fully mature before harvesting, but be vigilant to harvest when mature. Racoons can decimate a crop overnight, and there is nothing worse than having to pitch melons that the varmints have gorged on. The sweet perfume of the melons will attrack them, too. (05/27/2006)
When your cantaloupes start to grow you can use a plastic milk jug to lay it on so that the melon doesn't rot. Just cut a milk jug in half lengthwise, lay one half on the ground and set the ripening cantaloupe inside. This will also discourage animals from eating your melons before you do. (06/02/2006)
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Valery from Cranford, NJ
You can cut the bottom off a pair of panty hose and put a melon in each of them. Then tie it to your stake. The hose will expand with the melons.
My cantaloupe vines look horrible. They are brown and dry, yet they get watered a few times a week. I have them in a raised vegetable garden and I live in Florida. What could be wrong?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
By peereaux from Santa Rosa Beach, FL
A few times a week? I'm watering my stuff daily. It's looking good. (05/31/2009)
My cantaloupes have had hundreds of blooms for several weeks, but no fruit forms. Bees and yellow jacket wasps are visiting the blooms constantly. What can I do to get fruit?
Hardiness Zone: 7b
By jspears from Argyle, TX
My cantaloupe plant was doing good at first, but after the fruit starts the leaves and vine starts to die. This is the second season now that this has happened. It is getting good water, drainage, and fertilizer. What could be wrong?
Hardiness Zone: 9b
By gman from central FL
Sunlight, Ph of the soil, a fungus in the soil, too much water during the beginning stages? (12/06/2009)
By Carol L.