Growing Cantaloupe from Seed: Tips on Planting Cantaloupe Seeds

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For some reason, growing cantaloupe from seed to the point of actually harvesting one feels like a major achievement! Our girls love fruit, so it was a great experience growing cantaloupe from seed in our garden.

Also known as rock melon or muskmelon, cantaloupes are known for their sweet orange flesh and fragrance, along with the webbed rind you can recognize from a mile away.

Small homegrown cantaloupe cut in half on a white paper plate
Small homegrown cantaloupe cut in half on a white paper plate, from our 2022 garden – why so small?!

Planting cantaloupe seeds indoors first can give your melon plants a head start. The plants can get a bit bigger before they go into the ground, speeding up your harvest timeline a bit.

Discover how to plant cantaloupe seeds so your family can enjoy delicious, homegrown melons this season.

Catalogue page for cantaloupe seeds for planting
Catalogue page for cantaloupe seeds

When can you plant cantaloupe seeds?

You should wait until after the threat of frost has passed before attempting to plant cantaloupe seeds outdoors. If you’re starting cantaloupe seeds inside, you can plant them 3 to 4 weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Here in PA zone 6b, I generally aim to start cantaloupe seeds indoors sometime in April.

What do cantaloupe seedlings look like?

Cantaloupe seedlings look like cucumber seedlings at first, with oval cotyledon leaves (first set of leaves to emerge) and beautiful bright green coloring. When the first true leaves emerge, they are lobed, serrated, and more rounded and ruffly than cucumber seedling leaves, which tend to be on the pointier side. Of course, leaf shape may differ from one variety to the next.

How deep do you plant cantaloupe seeds?

Plant cantaloupe seeds about 1-inch deep, either in seed starting trays, soil blocks, or small hills if direct sowing outdoors.

Is it easy growing cantaloupe from seed?

Starting cantaloupe seeds is pretty easy as far as most seed starting processes go. You need some seeds, a place to plant them, potting soil, water, and a sunny window or some grow lights if starting indoors. You can also direct sow cantaloupe seeds outside when the weather temperatures are safe for the tender seedlings to survive (no more threat of frost).

How to Plant Cantaloupe Seeds

Knowing how to germinate cantaloupe seeds is rather simple. You can plant cantaloupe seeds indoors in moist potting mix or aim to germinate in plastic baggies.

When you plant cantaloupe seeds inside, consider seed starting trays, direct sowing seeds outdoors, or bridging the gap and winter sowing cantaloupe if you want an earlier start.

Planting Cantaloupe Seeds Indoors

Like most traditional seeds, it’s easy to start cantaloupe from seed. Follow these steps to grow cantaloupe from seed, starting indoors.

  1. Prepare seed starting trays, egg cartons, or your preferred system and medium with moist potting soil.
  2. Poke a hole about 1-inch deep for each cantaloupe seed you’d like to grow.
  3. Drop a cantaloupe seed into the hole.
  4. Cover the hole loosely with soil.
  5. Spray the soil surface with water from a spray bottle.
  6. Label each different type of cantaloupe you’ve planted.
  7. Move the seed trays under grow lights for 12 to 16 hours per day.
  8. Monitor daily for moisture needs and signs of growth.
Small cantaloupe growing on the plant in the garden
Small cantaloupe growing on the plant in the 2022 garden

Direct Sowing Cantaloupe Seeds Outdoors

You must wait until the danger of frost has passed before directly planting cantaloupe seeds outdoors (and before transplanting seedlings, for that matter).

Follow these steps on how to plant cantaloupe seeds outside:

  1. Plant cantaloupe seeds in hills that are 18 inches apart. You may plant 2 to 3 seeds per hill.
  2. Bury the seeds ½ to 1 inch deep.
  3. Cover the seeds lightly with soil.
  4. Place a plant marker at each hill to identify where you’ve planted cantaloupes.
  5. Water the hills evenly.
  6. If you wish to plant many cantaloupes, repeat the process for each cantaloupe mound. Maintain spacing of at least 2 to 3 feet apart for group plantings.

Tips on Growing Cantaloupe from Seed

The simple steps above should lead you to delicious, homegrown cantaloupe! Here are a few more tips on growing cantaloupe from seed to help ensure a successful harvest.

  • Don’t plant it too early! Cantaloupe appreciates the warmer weather and would do best when the overnight temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Also, starting seeds too early indoors can lead to leggy plants if they don’t get enough light or overgrown, unwieldy plants if they grow too fast and vigorously.
  • Harden off cantaloupe before transplanting seedlings outdoors. Take a week or two to acclimate your baby cantaloupes to the sunshine, wind, and cooler nighttime temperatures of the great outdoors.
  • When planting out, choose a sunny spot in your yard. Cantaloupe love full sun and will grow well with lots of sunshine.
  • Consider companion plants for cantaloupes to make the most of your garden space and crop layouts.
  • Give cantaloupes something to climb! A trellis or fence works great to maximize your cantaloupe growing space.
  • Fertilize once you notice the vines running. Some water-soluble fertilizer should help cantaloupes get more nutrients for better growth.
Cantaloupe Seedlings and other baby plants in grow bags in our 2020 garden
Cantaloupe seedlings and other baby plants in grow bags in our 2020 garden

Final Thoughts: Growing Cantaloupe from Seed

Our girls were so excited about the little cantaloupe that grew in our 2021 garden! Now we are going to try for a bigger one.

I hope these tips and step-by-step guides help you get started with growing cantaloupe from seed in your own garden! The experience is so rewarding and it really wasn’t that difficult in our experience.

You can even learn how to save cantaloupe seeds from your own plants!

Do you have any questions or tips to add about starting cantaloupes from seed? We love hearing from you so shout out in the comments and we’ll be sure to reply.

Happy Gardening!

08.20.22 – Edited to add photo of cantaloupe and switch out the featured image. Also increased line spacing a bit.

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