By Jennifer Poindexter
Cantaloupe is a sweet and healthy treat I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her cut up a cantaloupe and putting it in her retro Tupperware.
Then as soon as she finished cutting it, I’d appear at her side with a bowl asking for a taste of the sweet refreshing melon that tastes even better on a hot summer day.
If you love cantaloupe, it’s time to explore your different options for growing this plant. I’m going to provide you with a list of specific varieties you may want to consider producing in your home garden.
Here are cantaloupe varieties to consider growing:
What’s the Difference Between Cantaloupe and Muskmelon?
Have you ever seen the terms muskmelon and cantaloupe used interchangeably? Does this confuse you? It does a lot of people.
So I thought we’d cover the terminology before diving into different cantaloupe varieties.
Basically, all cantaloupe are muskmelons. However, muskmelons are a much broader category than just cantaloupe.
Muskmelons include fruits such as: cantaloupe, honeydew, and canary melons. Now, let’s dive into the growing conditions cantaloupe require to be successful in your garden.
Growing Conditions and Planting Zones for Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe grows well in planting zones four through ten. It’s important to wait to plant cantaloupe until the soil temperature is at least 70-degrees Fahrenheit.
The soil should also be nutrient-dense and well-draining. Ensure the growing location receives full sunlight which equates to at least eight hours of sunlight each day.
Keep in mind that cantaloupe are vining plants. Therefore, ensure you provide a trellis for them to grow up or provide a minimum of three feet of space between each plant.
By providing the right growing conditions, cantaloupe should have what they need to begin their journey on the right foot.
Varieties of Cantaloupe to Consider Growing
At this point, hopefully you understand some of the terminology surrounding cantaloupe and the different growing conditions required for this fruit to succeed.
Now, it’s time to talk specifics. Here are different varieties of cantaloupe you may want to consider growing:
Athena melons are known for their sweet flavor and longer time to become ripe. This is important because the longer it takes the fruit to ripen, the harder it is for the flesh to spoil.
If you’re looking for a hardier variety of cantaloupe with a sweet flavor, reach for the Athena variety. It could be exactly what you need. The fruit of this variety becomes approximately five pounds upon maturity.
2. Hearts of Gold
If you live in one of the colder planting zones mentioned above, you may want to consider this variety of cantaloupe. It ripens faster (in approximately eighty days) making it perfect for areas with a shorter growing period.
Plus, this is an heirloom variety with a sweet flavor. You can expect these fruits to become around three pounds when mature.
3. Golden Gopher
The golden gopher variety is another heirloom option. It was created by the University of Minnesota in the 1930s.
It’s known for an exceptionally sweet flavor profile and easy harvest as the fruits just pull away from the plant when ready. Golden gophers are also known for being resistant to Fusarium Wilt. This fruit should be approximately two pounds upon maturity.
4. Home Run
This type of cantaloupe is one that many enjoy due to its sweet flavor and its ability to resist many diseases in the garden.
Plus, each cantaloupe ranges between five and eight pounds! You can expect each plant to produce approximately five fruits each.
5. Ichiba Kouji
This type of cantaloupe is a little different in appearance from some of the others we’ve mentioned so far. Ichiba kouji is popular in Japan and is notable for its green flesh.
Expect this variety of melon to reach three pounds upon maturity. Ichiba kouji cantaloupe are known for being resistant to splitting and diseases.
Zena melons are ready for harvest in about seventy days and are known for being a mini variety of cantaloupe as they max out around 2-2.5 pounds per fruit.
This variety has a heavily netted skin and a rich flesh. If you need a fast-producing, though smaller melon, this could be the right variety for you.
This variety of cantaloupe is quite the treat. It’s a smaller melon that will fit in the palm of your hand. Basically, it’s enough for a single person to consume.
Charentais cantaloupe have a soft-skin and are mainly grown in France as their skin makes them hard to ship. If you’re lucky enough to snag one of these melons, definitely give it a try.
Savor is another smaller cantaloupe option as it typically weighs around two pounds. It has a textured feel to its exterior and has a sage green appearance on the outside.
However, the flesh of this melon is a bright orange. This variety is also known for being somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and fusarium wilt.
9. True Love
True love is a sweet option for cantaloupe as it’s known for having a higher sugar content. Plus, these melons are made to slip easily from the plant upon maturity.
Also, if you’re concerned about your cantaloupe developing diseases, this variety is known for being mildly resistant to both fusarium wilt and powdery mildew.
10. First Kiss
Whether you’d like to succession plant your melons or you live in an area with a shorter growing season, first kiss cantaloupe could have a place in your garden.
Like many others on this list, first kiss has a sweet flavor and is also somewhat resistant to fusarium wilt and powdery mildew. What sets this option apart is it’s known to begin producing earlier than other varieties which could mean an earlier harvest.
11. Sweet Granite
Sweet granite is another type of cantaloupe great for those with a shorter growing season as this variety is the earliest to ripen.
It was specially designed for those in growing locations where cantaloupe don’t normally produce well. Now, thanks to this variety, you may grow delicious, three-pound cantaloupes in your home garden even in areas with a shorter growing season.
12. Sarah’s Choice
This oval-shaped cantaloupe is a fan-favorite. It produces easy-to-harvest melons that slip away from the plant with a gentle tug when ripe.
Plus, each melon is approximately three pounds. Also, Sarah’s choice cantaloupe is known for being somewhat resistant to both powdery mildew and fusarium wilt.
13. Hannah’s Choice
Hannah’s choice has a beautiful ridged design on its exterior and, when sliced, takes on a scalloped appearance.
Plus, this plant is known for producing flavorful melons that average about five pounds once fully matured.
The Aphrodite cantaloupe is a noticeably larger cantaloupe in comparison to some of the others on this list. This fruit reaches a size of around eight pounds when ready to harvest.
Its fresh scent is what sets this variety apart from the others. If you’d like to enjoy a flavorful and freshly scented melon this could be the variety for you.
The galia cantaloupe is one that will make you take a second look while taking you to school on this fruit.
Though it looks like other cantaloupe varieties from the outside, once cut open you see its green flesh. This should be expected as this melon is a cross between a cantaloupe and a honey dew melon. Plus, it’s notably sweeter than traditional cantaloupe.
16. Sugar Cube
If you live in an area that’s typically plagued by pests and diseases, you should seriously consider growing the sugar cube variety of cantaloupe.
Not only does it have one of the sweetest flavor profiles, but it’s also known for being one of the hardiest options available to withstand both pests and diseases. Keep in mind, it is a smaller fruit that averages around three pounds.
This cantaloupe has made its way around the world! It originated in Sicily but is now a gardening favorite in various other places.
What makes this cantaloupe so loved? It produces smaller fruit that averages around three pounds which is great for a home garden. Plus, this plant is known for producing high yields and is easy to confirm when the plant is ripe due to its firm consistency.
This is another melon variety that does well in areas with shorter growing seasons. It takes only seventy-two days to reach maturity.
Halona melons are typically around five pounds and are known for being durable against fusarium wilt and powdery mildew.
19. Ball 2076 Hybrid
No matter your planting zone (assuming you live in an area where cantaloupe grows) this should be a variety that should work in most areas.
This is considered the new and improved version of the Ball 1776 variety and produces larger fruit with an exceptionally sweet flavor.
20. El Gordo
Our last variety of cantaloupe to discuss is El Gordo. If you’re looking for a large fruit, this could be it. This plant produces cantaloupe that weighs as much as 15 pounds!
It also has a smaller hollow space which equates to a sweeter flavor, more melon to enjoy, and fewer seeds to contend with.
There are many other cantaloupe varieties on the market, but these twenty are some of the most popular in the garden and may deserve your attention.
When deciding which variety of cantaloupe to grow, consider your growing space, the size of fruit you desire, and also how sweet of a melon you’d like. Once this is decided, match your desires with a cantaloupe variety on this list and start your gardening journey!