How Long Does It Take to Grow Cantaloupes?

Most cantaloupe varieties reach full maturity with ripe fruits in 70-90 days. The number of days starts after the cantaloupe plant has sprouted.

How Long Does It Take for Cantaloupe To Sprout?

Cantaloupe seeds need soil temperatures of at least 60 degrees to sprout with the ideal temperature for germination being around 80-90 degrees.

With cooler temperatures expect cantaloupe plants to take 1-3 weeks to germinate. With warmer temperatures cantaloupe seeds will sprout in around 4-8 days. Generally the longer seeds sit in the soil without sprouting the poorer germination rates will be and the higher the probability of needing to replant.

A soil thermometer and knowing the last expected frost date is the best way to tell when to plant almost everything in the garden. Knowing the last expected frost date is less relevant with warm weather plants that are planted later in the season like cantaloupe.

A soil thermometer looks just like a meat thermometer but it measures to lower temperatures. It’s an inexpensive tool and simple to use.

To get an accurate average of the soil temperature take the temperature between 9-11AM when the soil has warmed up some from the night time temperatures but is not inflated by the afternoon sun. If it measures 60 degrees or more you’re good to direct sow cantaloupe seeds.

How Long Does It Take for Cantaloupes to Grow After Flowering?

After a cantaloupe plant begins to flower, a ripe and ready to pick cantaloupe will be on the plant in about 5 weeks. Male flowers appear on the plant first, about 7-10 days before female flowers. Cantaloupe plants will start to flower about 40 days after sprouting.

pollinated cantaloupe flower
You can tell that a female flower has been successfully pollinated when it grows the size of a golf ball. From here a cantaloupe will develop and be ripe in about 35 days.

You can tell the difference between male and female flowers from the bulge that is present on the stem directly behind female flowers. This bulge is an ovary that will develop into a cantaloupe after being pollinated. Once pollinated, a female flower/ovary will grow into a ripe and ready to pick cantaloupe in 30-40 days.

How Many Cantaloupes Does One Plant Produce?

One cantaloupe plant will generally produce between 4-7 cantaloupes. The biggest factor for how many cantaloupes a plant will produce is the variety of cantaloupe grown.

Plant spacing is another factor that influences how many fruits a single plant will produce but that doesn’t appear to be the case with cantaloupe at least according to a study done on cantaloupe spacing vs. yields published in American Society for Horticultural Science.

Plant spacing will affect fruit size with higher plant densities leading to smaller fruits.

Do Cantaloupes Come Back Every Year?

Cantaloupe plants are annuals that will die off after they produce fruit. Cantaloupe plants are warm weather plants but even in climates that are good for growing cantaloupes year round after the plant produces mature fruit it will die off.

When a fruit reaches ripeness hormonal signals are triggered in the plant to slow down production. A mature fruit also means mature seeds. This is how the plant reproduces and viable seeds will spread through the digestive tracts of animals or fall directly into the soil as a cantaloupe decomposes.

Is Cantaloupe Easy to Grow?

Cantaloupes are not difficult to grow but there are a few things that are keys to success.

Space – Cantaloupes are vining plants that typically need 5 feet of space between rows. If you’re short on space consider growing them vertically with a trellis. The plant will need to be supported with plant ties because the tendrils on the plant by themselves may not support the plant throughout the growing season.

Also each fruit needs to be supported individually. A typical way of doing this is to create a hammock out of something and tie each end of the hammock to the trellis.

Temperature – Cantaloupes are warm weather plants. The seeds will not germinate well if planted in soil that measures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Air temperatures should be between 65-85 degrees for the plants growing season, 70-90 days, for ideal growth. Temperatures below 65 will cause slow growth and temperatures above 85 can cause poor pollination.

If there is a hot spell for more than a few days consider taking some extra steps to keep plants cool including watering more and shading the cantaloupe plants during the hottest hours of the day. A bed sheet, outside umbrella, a shade cloth, or whatever else you can think of can be used to protect the plants from the intense midday sun.

Pollination – If you’re growing area is an area without much insect activity like an apartment balcony or if you experience a week or so of bad weather you’re cantaloupe plants could probably use a hand with pollination by hand pollinating.

Bad weather that negatively impacts insect activity and pollination is cold weather below 60 degrees, hot weather above 85 degrees, or consistent rain and overcast.

To hand pollinate take a paint brush or this thing that resembles an electronic tooth brush and swirl it around a male flower and then around the middle of a female flower.

Google hand pollination of cantaloupes or any other cucurbit including squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon to see how to hand pollinate these vegetables and fruits from the gourd family.

Fertilizer – For good yields fertilizing the soil is a must. To know your soils nutrients levels for sure an inexpensive soil testing kit will give you the results of 13 nutrients and the PH of your soil.  Jack’s Classic is a great standard water soluble fertilizer and Organic Plant Magic and Garden-Tone are good organic fertilizers.

Please comment below with your own thoughts or experiences on how long it takes to grow cantaloupes or anything else related.

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