How to Grow Banana Melons (Cucumis melo)

harvested banana melon

By Jennifer Poindexter

I don’t know about you, but I love to grow unique crops in my garden. Not only does it spice things up a bit as far as what I grow, but I enjoy a variety of flavors as well.

If you’re looking for a different fruit to grow, consider growing the banana melon. Its growing requirements aren’t much different than most other melons.

However, if you’re doubting whether you can grow this plant successfully or if you’ve never heard of it before, you’re in the right place. Let me walk you through the basics of what you should understand to start this plant on the right foot.

Here’s what you should know when learning how to grow banana melons:

Growing Conditions for Banana Melons

Before we dive into what a banana melon needs to grow successfully, you may be wondering what makes banana melon special.

It’s the fact that this melon is banana-shaped and has a yellow skin. The melon smells like a banana but has the flesh of a melon.

This plant is an heirloom and the fruit provides both a hint of sweetness and spiciness which many people enjoy.

You should expect the fruit to weigh approximately eight pounds and be about two feet in length at the time of harvest.

Now that you understand the attraction to this fruit, let’s discuss what it needs in a growing location. Banana melons require a location with full sunlight.

It’s equally important to provide aerated soil that drains well. The soil should be able to hold consistent moisture but also drain away any excess quickly to avoid oversaturation.

If you can provide these few specifications in a growing location, banana melons should have a good start in your garden.

seedling banana melon

How to Plant Banana Melons

There are two ways to grow banana melons. No matter the method you choose, ensure you amend your soil in the final growing location prior to planting.

Now that you have that initial tip under your belt, let’s discuss how you can start your own plants. The first method is to start the seeds indoors one month prior to the final frost date.

This is a good idea if you’d like to get a jump on your growing season or if you live in an area with a shorter growing season.

Fill a growing tray with well-draining soil and plant two seeds in each cell of the tray. The seeds should be planted ¼ inch deep.

Two seeds per cell serves as a germination policy in case one seed fails to germinate. Keep the seeds in a location with temperatures around 80- to 90-degrees Fahrenheit.

Ensure you mist the soil with a spray bottle to keep it evenly damp while the seeds germinate. After they’ve sprouted, move the plants to a warm location where they’ll receive bright, indirect light.

Continue to keep the soil damp and provide care until each plant has true leaves, and the final frost has passed.

At this point, you may harden the seeds off to prepare them for transplant. At the time of transplant, dig a hole large enough to support the roots of the seedling.

Place the seedling in the ground and backfill it. Press firmly around the base of the plant to stop air from reaching the roots.

Make sure to leave a half foot between each plant in the row and three feet between each row.

The other option for growing banana melons is to directly sow the seeds into the garden. Wait until two weeks after the final frost has occurred.

The soil should be 70-degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Create mounds in your garden that are two feet apart. Plant three seeds a ½ inch deep in each mound. Ensure each row is six inches apart.

It takes the seeds approximately one to two weeks to germinate. Keep the soil evenly damp while you wait for germination to occur.

Now that you know the two methods to starting banana melon plants, pick the option which works best for your skill level and planting zone. Then add these delicious fruits to your growing space. 

hand pollinating banana melon

Caring for Banana Melons

Caring for banana melons isn’t much different than caring for other types of melons. These fruits need water, fertilizer, weed control, and a way to protect the fruit.

When watering banana melons, it’s important to water the plants deeply. This means you’ll water the plants for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week.

In doing so, you’re encouraging healthy plants with deep roots as they’ll dig into the soil between waterings to retrieve necessary moisture.

Ensure your banana melon plants receive around one-inch of water each week.  You may test the soil to know when to water your plants again.

Stick your finger into the soil next to the plant. When it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water the plants deeply again.

The next thing you should do when caring for banana melons is apply fertilizer. This should be done at the time of planting.

It’s best to use a granular, slow-release fertilizer when adding these melons to your garden. Then you can apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer throughout the growing season as directed on the product package.

You should try to keep weeds out of your garden as they compete with your plants for nutrients and provide a hiding spot for pests and diseases.

Therefore, it’s wise to apply a layer of mulch around each plant. Not only will the mulch serve as a weed barrier but will also help the plants retain moisture.

It’s equally as important to keep your fruit off the ground while it’s growing. This will deter rot. You may slide a piece of cardboard beneath the fruit or use a sling to support it.

If you can perform these few simple tasks, you should be able to provide what your plants need to thrive in your garden area.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact Banana Melons

Unfortunately, all melons are susceptible to many of the same diseases. Banana melons are no exception.

These fruits are open to fungal issues such as downy mildew, root rot, and powdery mildew. Keep these issues at bay by planting in a sunny growing location with well-draining soil.

This helps because most fungal issues thrive in areas that are damp and cold. If your plants come in contact with downy mildew and powdery mildew be sure to treat them with a fungicide and remove infected parts of the plant.

If your plants develop root rot, this usually occurs because they’re growing in locations with poor drainage. Try digging up the plant, trimming away damaged roots, and giving the plant time to dry before transplanting in a new growing location.

It’s difficult for plants to bounce back from root rot, so be prepared that they still may not survive even with taking the steps mentioned here.

Banana melons are also susceptible to pests such as aphids and flea beetles. If you encounter these issues in your garden, treat them with an insecticide at the first sighting to deter a larger infestation.

These are the main threats banana melons face in the garden. Remain alert, so you’re prepared to act quickly at the first sign of trouble. This could save your plants and ultimately, your harvest.

Banana Melon Quick Reference Growing Chart

Category Banana Melon Details
Common Name Banana Melon
Unique Features Banana-shaped, yellow skin, banana scent
Type Heirloom
Flavor Sweet with a hint of spiciness
Sunlight Requirement Full sunlight
Soil Requirement Aerated, well-draining soil
Water Requirement Deep watering, consistent moisture
Fertilization Slow-release granular fertilizer at planting, balanced all-purpose fertilizer throughout the growing season
Seed Starting Methods Indoors or direct sowing
Common Pests Aphids, flea beetles
Common Diseases Downy mildew, powdery mildew, root rot

How to Harvest Banana Melons

We don’t put all this effort into growing and protecting our plants without the hopes of a marvelous harvest.

If you’re new to growing any type of melon, you may be wondering how you go about it. Banana melons are easy to harvest and provide clues as to the right time to harvest.

Banana melons can take up to three months to be ready for picking. When you think it’s getting close to harvest time, stop watering one week prior to your harvest date. This will help keep the melons from splitting.

You want to avoid this because this will open your fruits up to pests which will ruin your harvest.

As the melons reach their prime, they should slip easily off the vine when they’re ready. Once you’ve harvested the fruit, store it at 45-degrees Fahrenheit in a humid location.

Most refrigerators have a setting that allows you to meet these specifications. The melons should last between one and two weeks in these conditions.

Once your melons are harvested, you’re ready to enjoy all of your hard work and discover a variety of ways to enjoy a lesser-known fruit.

You now know the basics of how to grow banana melons. These fruits aren’t the most common, but their unique flavor and appearance may make them one of your new favorites.

Utilize the tips provided here to navigate your journey when growing banana melons. It’s our hope that in a matter of a few months you’ll be enjoying the literal fruits of your labor.

Banana Melon Harvesting: Quick Reference Chart

Category Harvesting Tips: Banana Melon
Harvest Time Approximately 3 months after planting
Fruit Size Approximately 8 pounds and 2 feet in length
Storage Conditions 45-degrees Fahrenheit, humid location
Storage Duration 1 to 2 weeks

Key Takeaways

  • Banana melons are unique, heirloom fruits that are banana-shaped, have a yellow skin, and smell kind of like bananas but have the flesh of a melon. Their flavor offers a hint of sweetness and spiciness, and each fruit can weigh up to eight pounds and measure about two feet in length.
  • Growing conditions for banana melons are similar to other melon varieties. They require a location with full sunlight, aerated soil that drains well, and soil that can hold consistent moisture but also drain away any excess quickly to avoid oversaturation.
  • Planting banana melons can be done in two ways. The first is to start seeds indoors one month prior to the final frost date, and the second is to directly sow seeds into the garden two weeks after the final frost. Regardless of the chosen method, ensure the soil in the final growing location is amended before planting.
  • Caring for banana melons involves watering the plants deeply, applying fertilizer at the time of planting and throughout the growing season, keeping weeds at bay, and protecting the fruit from rotting by keeping it off the ground.
  • Banana melons are susceptible to diseases like downy mildew, root rot, and powdery mildew. They can also fall prey to pests such as aphids and flea beetles. Treating these issues promptly can save your plants and harvest.
  • Harvesting banana melons can take up to three months. Stop watering a week before the harvest to prevent the melons from splitting. Melons that slip easily off the vine are ready for harvest. After harvest, they can be stored at 45-degrees Fahrenheit in a humid location for one to two weeks.

Learn More About Banana Melons

The post How to Grow Banana Melons (Cucumis melo) appeared first on Gardening Channel.



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