Growing melons in the home garden

Quick facts

  • You can either transplant or direct seed melons.

  • For best performance, plant melons in hot, sunny locations with fertile, well drained soils.

  • Plant melon seeds 1 week to 10 days before the last spring frost date.

  • Watermelon and honeydew are more cold-sensitive than cantaloupe.

  • Melons will not all ripen at the same time, so plan to pick them as they become ready.

Challenges to growing melons in Minnesota

It is a challenge to grow melons in Minnesota. Melons demand special care but reward gardeners with juicy, sweet fruit.

cantaloupe on vine in large field of vines

Most winters our soils freeze deeply and can be slow to warm up, and melons must have truly warm soil to thrive. Once summer comes, our long, bright, hot days are good for developing the vines, flowers and fruits.

Melon quality—flavor, aroma, texture, and sweetness—is best when the sugar content of the fruit is high. Sweet melons need lots of sunlight, warm temperatures, enough water, and freedom from diseases and insects.

Plant stress, whether from insects, leaf diseases, weeds, poor nutrition, too much or too little water, or cold or cloudy conditions, will prevent the fruits from creating enough sugar.

Preparing to plant melons

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Planting

  • You can direct seed or transplant melons into the garden between mid-May in southern Minnesota and late June in northern Minnesota.
  • In the northern part of the state, melons planted in late June must be ready for harvest before mid-September, when frost is likely.
  • Melons perform best in hot, sunny locations with fertile, well-drained soils.
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How to keep melons healthy and productive

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Harvest and storage

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Karl Foord, Extension educator and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2018

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