How long does melon take to grow?

Last Updated on February 2, 2023 by Derek

Watermelons and honeydew melons can be ready to eat in around 90 days but maybe better left for 100 days to ensure they are mature. Smaller varieties like cantaloupes will grow to maturity in around 80 days.

Muskmelon, Melon and Cantaloupe
Basic Information
Plant Name: Curcubitaceae
Plant Family: Curcubitaceae
Scientific Name: Cantaloupe: Cucurbita melo

The fruit that we in America call cantaloupe, with its webbed or netted rinds, is actually a muskmelon. Cantaloupensis is the name of the real cantaloupe – it looks totally different and you will only find it growing in Europe.

How to grow melons from start to finish

They have deep grooves, a hard warty rind, and orange or green flesh. These are grown only in Europe where the population easily recognizes the difference between muskmelons and cantaloupes.

No one is certain where melon cultivation began, but Egyptian hieroglyphics show that cantaloupes were cultivated in Egypt about 24 B.C. and biblical references speak of melons in the time of Moses (see Numbers 11:5).

It is believed that melons first “caught-on in the Mid East.” Marco Polo discovered melons in use in Afghanistan and described dried melons as “an article of commerce (which) finds a ready sale through all the country around.”

In the first century after Christ, Pliny the Elder, describes cantaloupes in use in Rome. By the second century, the Greeks were enjoying them and investigating their medicinal value. The Moors probably took them across Europe during their travels.

Charlemagne discovered melons in Spain and took them home to France where he grew them in his gardens in 800 A.D., however, the crop was considered a novelty and its use did not spread.

After the collapse of the Roman empire, the Italians did not cultivate melons until about the 14th century.
Columbus introduced them to the New World in Haiti on his second voyage in 1493. The indigenous natives of Central and South America were pleased to discover this novel fruit and started growing cantaloupes in their food gardens.

Cantaloupes mature in late spring and early summer and are netted with green and yellow rinds. Persian melons fit this category. Late summer maturing melons include casaba and crenshaw.
All melons are hot season crops and develop the best flavor during the hot seasons. All are very sensitive to frost.

Watermelon – melon growing tips

Basic Information

Plant Name: Curcubitaceae
Plant Family: Curcubitaceae
Scientific Name: Citrullus vulgaris

Garden Watermelon

Watermelon is considered to have its origin in the African Kalahari Desert. Hieroglyphics on the walls of ancient Egyptian buildings more than 5,000 years old record watermelon harvests. They were selected to place in the tombs of kings to take with them to the afterlife.

Merchants carried watermelons to European countries along the Mediterranean. The Moors carried watermelons throughout the rest of Europe by the 13th century.

By the 10th century A.D. watermelons were being eaten in China.

These melons found their way to America and the word appeared in John Mariani’s Dictionary of Food and drink in 1615. However, there are those who believe that watermelon arrived in the United States via African slaves.

China is now the world’s largest producer of watermelons. The United States is fourth in world production with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently leading the country in production.

Those delightful over-sized melons so common in the United States South are not well-suited to grow in areas of the country with short summer seasons, but there are some delicious, sweet, well adapted varieties that will produce in a shortened growing season.

Melons are easy to grow with the right soil conditions
Melons can grow just about anywhere but certain varieties will do better in your area
Planting - Watermelon

Planting Information – Are melons easy to grow?

Seeding Rate Per Foot 1 per 24″ to 36″
Seeds Per Ounce 300-600
Space Between Plants 24″
Planting Depth 1″
Plant Height Medium
Plant Types Size: large, medium and personal or icebox size. Color: yellow or red.
Favorite Varieties Medium/Large varieties: Family Fun, Crimson Sweet Icebox Varieties:, Mickylee, Minilee, Sweet Favorite Hybrid, Mirage Hybrid, Cal Sweet Yellow fleshed varieties: Yellow Baby Hybrid, and Golden Crown.
Seed Viability (Years) 4 years
Seed Germination 77° F to 86° F
Germination Time 12 days at 68° F
5 days at 77° F
4 days at 86° F
3 days at 95° F

Watermelon Planting Instructions

Look for selected varieties that grow well in your area. Larger and long-season varieties will not ripen in regions where the summers are short.

Most commercial growers in the Green River area of Utah, known for excellent melons, plant Crimson Sweet type watermelons. They are more round than oblong. This variety grows well with sweet flavorful flesh. It is worth the effort to plant varieties that are adapted to your area. Hybrid seeds cost a little more, but more melons are produced.

Set out seeds or transplants when the soil warms above 70° F. Seedless varieties need temperatures above 80°F to germinate. Seeds should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep.

If you prefer transplants, avoid large ones. Start plants inside in peat pots or pellets 3 to 4 weeks before outside planting date.

Melons don’t like to be transplanted from pony packs, or if their roots are disturbed. Those that are stressed or damaged while transplanting seldom produce good vines or fruit.

Plant watermelons in good, well-drained soil. Clay soils are not good for raising this crop. If your soil is difficult, create raised beds by adding organic matter to improve the drainage and aeration.

Grow & Care - Watermelon

Fast Facts – How long does it take for melons to bear fruit?

Light Requirements Full Sun
Temperature Adaptations Very Tender – plant about two weeks after the expected date of last frost.
Acidity (pH) Tolerance 6.8 to 5.0 pH
Salinity (Ec) Tolerance
How Pollinated Insects
Growth Habits Annual

Additional Information

Fertilizer Requirements

Use a high phosphorus fertilizer to promote fruiting. Weak vines produce shoddy, poor quality fruits. Give your vines a healthy boost with fertilizer and make sure to mix one part of nitrogen with four parts of phosphorus at the time of planting.

After planting vine seeds, give the seedlings nitrogen after 30 days. The larger the vines, the more water and fertilizer they need. In order to maximize their growth, make sure to give each vine enough space. It is also important to create a proper design for your plants. It is best to minimize spacing for most of them, apart from bush-type melons.

Water Utilization

Provide adequate water. Watermelons have earned the name. When over-stressed, a plant will stop growing. Overwatering fruiting plants causes them to collapse from lack of oxygen. A plant needs the moisture from the soil to stay alive; it should have an even distribution of wet and dry soil.

Plant Development and Care

Watermelons need hot, full sun, and clear plastic mulches help provide that through increasing the soil temperature. This can help them produce two to three weeks earlier than usual, and also make individual melons sweeter.

How many melons will one plant produce?

If weeds are growing near the melons, frequently pull them and don’t let them spread to the melon plants. If you have competition such as other plants, remove them early in order to keep the melons thriving and in good shape. Do not cultivate around the melons because it can weaken their root system and make them produce less fruit.

Planting melon plants requires remembering that a seeded variety should be planted nearby the non-seeded variety.

Pests are not usually a problem for melons, but verticillium and fusarium wilt can become evident if the same areas are used for some years. Always rotate planting locations and if any plants die in summer, start using resistant melon plant varieties..

Germination Time (Days)

12 days at 68° F
5 days at 77° F
4 days at 86° F
3 days at 95° F

Seed Germination and Temperature Range

77° F to 86° F

Common Fertilizer Deficiencies


Melons grow well in pots with plenty of water and sunshine
Can you grow watermelons in pots?
Harvesting - Watermelon

Fast Facts – How long does a melon take to harvest?

Planting to Harvest 80+ days depending on variety and growing conditions of soil, water, light, and temperature.
Average Yield Several melons per vine depending on growing conditions.
Recommended planting for a family of five 40 feet of row or 20 plants
Recommended Uses Raw

Additional Information

Harvest Recommendations

Keep track of the number of days the days from when the plants were seeded. Plan on 80+ days, depending on variety and growing conditions.

The curly tendril you’ll see just opposite where the fruit is attached to the vine should be brown and shrunken when it’s ripe. The part of the melon resting on the soil changes from white to yellow. Pick melons as they ripen.

The “tone” of the watermelon indicates ripeness. Lift the melon carefully and slap with a cupped hand. If the tone is high-pitched, the watermelon is not yet ripe. If it is low- pitched, it is too ripe. A medium-pitched tone indicates a ripe watermelon. Experience will teach the proper tones.

Watermelon - Diseases, Pests and Problems

Basic Information – how much space do melons need to grow?

Problem: Aphids
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Deformed or curled leaves. Green, brown, or black soft bodied insects on under sides of leaves. Sticky honeydew or mold, black in appearance can sometimes be seen.

Control: Strong water spray or insecticidal soap spray. Must get spray on the insects to be effective. Some damage can be tolerated. Ladybug beetles are natural predators.

Problem: Squash bugs
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Leaves with small specks which turn yellow, then brown. Vines will tend to wilt from where they were attacked up to the end of the vine.

Control: Trap adults beneath boards in spring–turn over boards in morning and kill bugs. Handpick adults, egg mass and young bugs on plants. Adults are about 5/8-inch long, grayish or yellowish brown, flat backed and speckled.

Problem: Wilt diseases
Affected Area: Leaf and Stem

Description: Plants wilt and die, older leaves first. Light brown streaks inside stem show when split lengthwise.

Control: Destroy infected plants.

Problem: Powdery Mildew
Affected Area: Leaf and Stem

Description: White powdery spots on leaves and stems eventually enlarges and covers entire leaf. Unlike other mildews, powdery mildew does not need moist weather to spread and grow. Usually appears toward the end of season. Control measures are not generally needed at that time.

Control: Plant resistant varieties. Dusting with sulfur could help, but can have the effect of burning some varieties.

Problem: Mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf and Fruit

Description: Irregularly shaped light and dark green spots on leaves. Plants are small and the melons themselves may be irregular shaped or discolored.

Control: This virus is transmitted by aphids but controlling the aphids is not practical. Burn the infected plants right away and rotate the locations where you plant.

Key takeaways about growing melons

  1. Melons have both male and female flowers
  2. Melons are susceptible to cucumber beetles
  3. Melon seeds can also be dried and eaten as snacks
  4. Dust with sulfur to combat fungal diseases
  5. Protect with plastic covering if there is a danger of frost: row covers in the form of tunnels
  6. Seedless watermelons still need to be pollinated by a seeded parent
  7. Melons don’t grow so big in a cooler climate
  8. Watermelon plants can be grown in the garden or in pots
  9. Melons have a long growing season
  10. Warm soil with plenty of moisture in warm weather with lots of sunshine is ideal for growing melons
  11. Grow in a greenhouse in colder climates
  12. Plant disease problems include alternaria leaf spot, foliar diseases, gummy stem blight and aphids
  13. High fruit production depends on a good ration of male and female flowers
  14. Healthy melon plants with a lot of space, nutrient-rich soil and drip irrigation system will produce juicy watermelons
  15. All varieties of melons enjoy full sunshine
  16. Too much water (excess water) may encourage mildew of fungal diseases in any type of melon
  17. Soil conditions – melons like nutrient rich soils
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