Did you know that melons can also grow in the USA? In our overview, we introduce you to the best types and varieties of melons for the home garden.
Melons come in countless varieties and variations – many of them are known in this country and are very popular, especially in summer. But what types of melons are there anyway? And how are they divided? The melons, which belong to the pumpkin family ( Cucurbitaceae ), are divided into two types: watermelons ( Citrullus lanatus ) with their green to yellow skin and the watery red, orange to a yellow pulp, as well as sugar melons ( Cucumis melo ).
The latter includes the universally popular honeydew melon with its sweet scent, the fragrant net melon, the pineapple melon with smooth skin, and the cantaloupe melon with its bright orange pulp. But despite the great temptation, not all melon varieties are suitable for cultivation in our latitudes. We will introduce you to suitable types and varieties of melons that also grow in the USA.
Melon types: all types at a glance
Melons can be divided into two types, sugar melons, and watermelons. While the watermelons ( Citrullus lanatus ) stand on their own, there are four subspecies under the rubric of the sugar melons (Cucumis melo):
- Honeydew melon ( Cucumis melo var . Inodorus )
- Reticulatus ( Cucumis melo var.reticulatus )
- Smooth melon or pineapple melon ( Cucumis melo var. Saccharinus )
- Cantaloupe melon ( Cucumis melo var.cantalupensis )
By the way: watermelons and sugar melons are both called melons, but botanically they are not very closely related. In fact, the sugar melon ( Cucumis melo ) is more closely related to the cucumber ( Cucumis sativus ) than to the watermelon.
Can you grow melons in The USA?
Melon species and varieties that are not very sensitive to the cold and ripen early are particularly suitable for cultivation in the USA. There are suitable varieties for the outdoor cultivation of watermelons as well as cantaloupe and honeydew melons. In addition to the choice of variety, there are other points to consider. Melons should be preferred on the windowsill from March onwards so that they ripen safely here.
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As with tomatoes ( Solanum Lycopersicum ), planting should be done in the greenhouse from the beginning of May. Melons are allowed outside from mid-May after the ice saints. Melons love the warmth and a protected location, this also applies to more cold-tolerant varieties. They thrive particularly well with a heat-retaining rock or wall in the back. They should be given enough space so that they can spread out well with their tendrils.
Melons are trailing and usually have male and female flowers, like zucchini (Cucurbita pepo var. Pepo). They grow as a long tendril, on the side shoots of which the flowers and later fruits develop. Sugar melons, like cucumbers, can be raised upwards. However, the heavy fruits must be supported. Melons are hungry for nutrients, but their roots are shallow and have little access to nutrients in the lower soil layers.
You therefore particularly benefit from a superficially incorporated, primarily organic slow-release fertilizer for vegetables. The plant-based granulate is slowly decomposed by soil organisms and thus releases its nutrients in small quantities. After about two months, you should re-fertilize and keep the soil slightly moist. Mulching with plant material reduces evaporation and the fruits do not lie directly on the ground. A wooden disc can also be used for this, on which the melons rest until harvest.
Types and varieties of melons for the USA
In the United States, water, pineapple, honey, and cantaloupe melons are mainly grown. You can find the best watermelon varieties in our special article. In the following, we show you the varieties suitable for the USA for growing sugar melons.
Sugar melons for growing in the USA
Sugar melons can be divided into four subspecies, of which only the particularly demanding net melons are not grown in the USA. Particularly early varieties should be selected for cultivation in our latitudes.
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Here we present suitable varieties for cultivation in the United States.
- ‘Pineapple’: This crunchy variety with yellow flesh is one of the cold-tolerant varieties; its fruity-sweet taste is reminiscent of pineapple. It forms its own subspecies of the smooth melon or pineapple melon.
- ‘Blenheim Orange’: This honeydew melon variety bears oval fruits that can weigh up to 1 kg. It impresses with its strongly fragrant, sweet pulp and reliable yield.
- ‘Charentais’: This French cantaloupe melon produces small, round fruits with orange pulp. It has a particularly sweet, aromatic taste. Its fruits reach a weight of about 0.5 to 1.5 kg, the skin is greyish with green stripes when ripe.
- ‘Oka’: A historic honeydew melon variety from 1912 from the Canadian town of Oka. It becomes sweet even in cooler summers and bears palm-sized, gray-green fruits with deep-orange flesh.
- ‘Oliwin’: This oval honeydew melon, weighing up to 1 kg, forms a smooth, white skin over pale green flesh. The Polish variety was selected for cold tolerance and ripens from early to mid-August. The taste of the honeydew melon is aromatic and fruity.
- ‘Rich Sweetness’: A small melon variety from the former Soviet Union with a dark orange color and sun-yellow stripes. The creamy white pulp of the many palm-sized honeydew melons tastes juicy and sweet and can simply be spooned.
- ‘Sweet Granite’: A honeydew melon that was specially grown for climatically unfavorable areas with short summers. This variety is orange-yellow on the outside and inside and has a good sweetness. It is said to go back to a breed by Prof. Elwyn Meader of the University of New Hampshire.
- ‘Zuccherino’: This Italian cantaloupe melon forms oval, yellowish fruits with dark green stripes early on. Their pulp is orange-yellow in color and tastes aromatic and sweet.
There is now a large selection of melon varieties for our latitudes, both outdoors and for cultivation in the greenhouse. Because of the different ripening times, it is worth growing several varieties. This is how you harvest a wide variety of sweet melon fruits over the summer. You can find detailed instructions and tips for growing melons in our special article.