How To Grow Cantaloupe From Fresh Seeds

Cantaloupes are sweet, sun-loving plants that can easily fill your summer garden with their sprawling vines and sweet, orange-fleshed fruit. Cantaloupes have dozens of heirloom and hybrid varieties including the commonly cultivated types like Crenshaw and Ambrosia. A lot of gardeners save the seed from the well-loved cantaloupe varieties to grow them year after year, although the process is not always successful because most times the fruit may not produce seed that grows true the same type. Though it is possible to successfully save and prepare the fresh cantaloupe seed for planting next year if you actually understand how the cantaloupe plants are pollinated and how to treat the seeds once they are ripe. 

Challenges of Seed-Saving

The cantaloupes cross-pollinate very easily and they will reproduce with other melon varieties and with certain other plants of the Cucurbit family if the plants are growing nearby. Cantaloupes are also open-pollinated by a lot of insects, which simply means it is difficult to control the source of the pollen responsible for producing fruit. The cantaloupe flowers that are actually pollinated by relatives can produce unusable seeds. Because of this, a lot of gardeners opt to acquire the seeds from growers rather than trying to save the seed from year to year.

Solutions of Seed-Saving  

It might seem impossible saving seed from a cross-pollinating, open-pollinated plant such as cantaloupe. If you hope to save the cantaloupe seed for future planting, you need to isolate the cantaloupe vine from other related plants. If possible, it’s best to grow the cantaloupe plants at least half mile away, although that’s not always feasible for home gardeners. The best way to help isolate the cantaloupes plant is to choose an early- or late-blooming variety that produces flowers at a different time than other potential cross-pollinators.

Tips: Actually male cantaloupe flowers bloom first, followed by female flowers.

Gathering the Cantaloupe Seeds

The cantaloupe plant seeds must be mature to germinate, so it is best to take only the seed from a fully ripened fruit. Normally cantaloupes reach maturity in mid- to late summer, though the exact time varies by varieties. Most ready to harvest cantaloupe varieties develop a crack around the base of the plant stems and it detach easily from the vine, which is actually a stage of maturity called “full slip.” Cut and open the melon, then scoop the seeds into a bowl and then cover them with water. Allow the cantaloupe seeds to soak at room temperature out of direct light for several days, stir them occasionally in other to help dislodge the seeds from the sticky pulp. After some days, the water will develop a layer of floating cantaloupe seeds that should be discarded because they’re not viable. Pour the remaining cantaloupe seeds and then water through a colander and then rinse the cantaloupe seeds well to remove any sugary residue.

Preparing the Cantaloupe Seeds

The fresh cantaloupe seeds need to be dried and then properly stored for future sowing. Spread the cantaloupe seeds on a sheet of newspaper or paper towels and then set them in a warm, airy place to dry. In other to prevent mold and mildew growth on the cantaloupe seeds, you have to stir them every day to ensure the whole seed is exposed to circulating air. Try and keep the air temperatures below ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit and don’t expose the cantaloupe seeds to direct sunlight to preserve their viability. Once they are dry, the seeds need to be stored in an envelope or jar until you are ready to plant them. A properly stored cantaloupe seeds can stay viable for up to 4 years.

Tips: The top of the refrigerator provides the right conditions for drying the cantaloupe seeds.

How to Plant Cantaloupe Seeds Indoors

Cantaloupes plant actually need a long, warm growing season to set fruit, therefore it is best to give the cantaloupes seeds a head start indoors when growing them in a cooler climate. You can easily start the seeds in peat pots 2 to 4 weeks before setting the plants out in the garden. You can sow 1 seed per pot at a depth of about 1/4 inch and then water well to moisten the soil. Temperatures between sixty and ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit provide the best conditions for germinating the cantaloupe seeds, you can set the peat pots on a propagation mat in other to keep them warm if the indoor temperatures stay below sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you keep the soil moist and watch for sprouts in 5 to ten days. You have to wait until the cantaloupe seeds produce several sets of mature leaves before moving them outdoors to acclimate to the garden conditions. They can be transplant into a sunny garden bed with fast-draining soil after the last frost.

How to Plant Cantaloupe Seeds Outdoors

It is actually possible to start the cantaloupe seeds directly in the garden in warmer microclimates. You have to wait until 2 weeks after the last frost when the soil temperature reaches seventy degrees Fahrenheit before direct-seeding the saved cantaloupe seeds into the prepared bed. Sow the cantaloupe seeds at a depth of about 1/2 to one inch and one foot apart in rows spaced five feet apart to accommodate the vines’ mature spread. Make sure you keep the soil evenly moist but not sopping wet and also watch for sprouts in a week or two if the soil temperatures stay above seventy degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips:  Actually soil temperatures that are below fifty degrees Fahrenheit slow the growth of the cantaloupe seedlings.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.