The Ultimate Guide to Growing Rockmelon
Rockmelons, also known as cantaloupe, grow on sprawling vines during the warmest months of the year. These sun-loving plants can be left to grow along the ground or trained up a sturdy trellis. And if you’re short on space they can be grown in large pots.
Depending on the variety of rockmelon you grow their flesh will be white, golden, orange or lime green and they will be ready for harvesting 12-18 weeks after planting. In cooler climates rockmelon should be planted out in early spring, so long as the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to around 18-20 degrees. In warm and tropical regions grow rockmelon from February to October.
5 top tips for growing rockmelons
- Choose a full sun position in your garden or grow your rockmelon in large pots.
- If you don’t want the rockmelon vines trailing along the ground, grow your rockmelon on a trellis or other sturdy support structure.
- Improve the soil before planting the rockmelon by adding Scotts Osmocote® Compost Premium Soil Improver and Scotts Osmocote® Plus Organics All Purpose including Natives Plant Food & Soil Improver.
- Protect bean seedlings from pests like snails and slugs using Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets
- Rockmelons are ready to harvest 12-18 weeks after planting, when their skin changes colour and they smell sweet
Essential shopping list for growing rockmelons
- Rockmelon seeds or seedlings
- Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver
- Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser
- If growing in pots, Scotts Performance Naturals™ Premium Organic Based Potting Mix
- Garden trowel
- Trellis or sturdy support structure if you want to grow rockmelons vertically
- Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets
- Defender™ Pyrethrum Insect Spray
Rockmelon can be grown from seeds or seedlings, in a full sun spot. Rockmelon prefer a rich, moist but free draining soil. So prepare the soil by mixing Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver and Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser - through the top 15-20cm of soil before planting.
If you’re growing rockmelons vertically, set up the trellis or support structure - before planting to avoid disturbing the roots later on.
Growing rockmelon in the garden
Growing rockmelon from seedlings
Plant rockmelons about 60-100cm apart (depending on the variety) - you may want to allow a larger spacing if you live in a particularly humid climate, this will allow better airflow around the plants and help prevent fungal diseases. Lightly mulch the soil around plants after planting with organic sugar cane to retain moisture.
Plant seedlings into mounds to improve drainage if needed in your garden.
Protect small seedlings from slugs and snails using Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets.
How to grow rockmelon from seeds
To grow rockmelon from seed, rockmelon seeds can be direct sown in warmer climates, but in cooler climates you can start them indoors to get them growing if outdoor conditions aren’t quite right yet.
Directly sow rockmelon seeds 1-2cm deep, allowing 60-100cm between plants. If starting indoors sow the seeds into punnets or small pots filled with Scotts Performance Naturals™ Premium Organic Based Potting Mix.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy while the rockmelon seeds germinate which will take 6-10 days.
Mulch around direct sown seedlings when they are 5-10cm tall to retain moisture and protect young seedlings from slugs and snails with Defender Snail & Slug Pellets.
Punnet or pot sown rockmelon seedlings should be planted into the garden when the soil has warmed and the risk of frost has passed.
Growing rockmelons in pots
Rockmelon can be grown in large pots that are 40-50cm deep and the same wide. Fill the pot with Scotts Performance Naturals™ Premium Organic Based Potting Mix and install a support trellis or position the pot near a sturdy wire fence. At the base of the trellis sow seeds (plant 3-4 seeds and thin to the strongest once they have germinated) or plant a single seedling.
Protect young rockmelon seedlings from slugs and snails with Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets. Mulch around your rockmelon plants to retain moisture.
When to harvest rockmelons
Your rockmelon will be ready to begin harvesting 12-18 weeks after planting - depending on the variety and your climate. Rockmelons that are ready to pick will smell sweet and you’ll notice a change in their skin colour. Use scissors to carefully cut them from the growing vine, leaving any unripe melons to continue growing.
Common rockmelon pests & diseases
To reduce the chance of fungal disease infecting bean foliage, avoid overhead watering and if you live in a region with high humidity make sure there is plenty of airflow between plants.