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University of Minnesota Extension

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.

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



  • 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.

How to keep melons healthy and productive


Harvest and storage


Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect melon stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis. 

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools What insect is this? and What's wrong with my plant? or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.


Authors: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator, Karl Foord, and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2022

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