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Muskmelon Cucumis melo

Phonetic Spelling
KOO-koo-mis MEL-oh
Description

Cantaloupe is a warm season, annual climber in the cucumber family (Cucurbitaceae). This species, native to Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India, New Guinea and Australia, encompasses many of the edible melons. There are many domesticated kinds of melons, some of which have been cultivated for millennia. Another common name for cantaloupe is muskmelon, which comes from the musky odor the fruits may emit when cut open.

Cantaloupe needs full sun and neutral to acidic, moist soil with good drainage. It will grow in loam or clay, but will appreciate the addition of organic matter to thrive. Cantaloupe is typically supported by cages or trellises, but if there is enough space, it can be allowed to trail along the ground. It will climb 6 to 9 feet high and spread 1 to 3 feet wide. Propagate by seed. Plant seed outdoors after the last frost or start seed indoors four to six weeks prior to the average last frost date. Pick fruit when young; older fruit toughens as it matures. 

The species is typically divided into a number of groups, most of which are not known in the wild: canteloupensis (cantaloupe), reticulatus (netted or muskmelons), inodorous (honeydew), flexuosus (American cucumber), chito (mango melon or vine peach), dudaim (Queen Anne) and conomon (Oriental pickling melon). The fruit in this species varies by cultivar in terms of shape, size, rind, texture, flavor, and flesh color, so gardeners have many choices. The flesh is watery and sweet.  

Being a climbing vine, cantaloupe is suitable for growing on vertical spaces. They are also perfect for edible and cottage gardens. The cantaloupe plant attracts bees and other pollinators. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Plants in the cucumber family are susceptible  to cucumber beetles and wilt, powdery mildew, downy mildew, gummy stem blight, and anthracnose disease.

The Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center has a factsheet on common cucumis diseases as well as a factsheet on common insect pests and other problems.

VIDEO Created by Homegrown featuring Penny Perkins-Veazie, Professor and Postharvest Physiologist at NC State's Plants for Human Health Institute

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Cultivars / Varieties:
var. cantalupensis, var. chito, var. conomon, var. dudaim, var. flexuosus, var. inodorous, var. reticulatus
Tags:
#edible plant#scrambling#edible fruits#vegetable#annual vegetable#vine#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#early childhood#child#children#preschool#early care
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. cantalupensis, var. chito, var. conomon, var. dudaim, var. flexuosus, var. inodorous, var. reticulatus
Tags:
#edible plant#scrambling#edible fruits#vegetable#annual vegetable#vine#warm season vegetable#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#early childhood#child#children#preschool#early care
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cucumis
    Species:
    melo
    Family:
    Cucurbitaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Edible fruit.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India, Australia
    Distribution:
    World wide
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Climbing Method:
    Scrambler
    Tendrils
    Edibility:
    Eaten fresh, wrapped in prosciutto, in salads, or as a dessert. Watery, but delicate, flavor. Avoid the seeds as the sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 9 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Vine
    Warm Season Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Tendrils
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Musky-scented, spherical to oblong berry with a rind (pepo), often furrowed with yellow, white or green flesh and many seeds. The rind may be green, yellow, tan, beige or white and the surface may be smooth, rough, warty, scaly, or netted. Seeds white, about 1/2 inch long, narrow. Seeds ripen in August and September.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Bloom in July and August. Male or female, borne on the same plant (monoecious), often having some bisexual fowers, 1 inch across, with a five-parted corolla that is flat and circular in outline. The male flowers are usually borne in clusters, while the female flowers are usually borne solitary.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Stalked leaves, 3 to 3 inches across, rounded to egg-shaped or nearly kidney-shaped with a rounded tip, often five-angled, sometimes shallowly three- to seven-lobed, wavy-toothed, hairy to somewhat rough.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Grooved to angled, softly hairy to hairless
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Edible Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators