How to Grow Cantaloupes Vertically

Cantaloupes are also referred to as muskmelons.
Cantaloupes are also referred to as muskmelons. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

Cantaloupe, also referred to as muskmelon or honeydew, produces juicy sweet melons in middle to late summer depending on the cultivar. Cantaloupe prefers organic-rich soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 and thrives in full sun for six or more hours a day. This warm-season fruit grows on vines that may reach lengths of 12 feet, posing a challenge for those with limited garden space. Fortunately, cantaloupe vines can grow on vertical trellises or fences with relative ease.

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis or fence
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Black plastic mulch
  • Stretchy fabric

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Erect a fence or trellis before planting cantaloupe. Anchor the trellis into the soil, placing the end of the trellis in a bucket of concrete or securing the trellis to a garden wall. This prevents the weight of developing fruit from toppling the trellis.

Plant the cantaloupe seedlings about 4 inches from the base of the trellis, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart.

Water thoroughly to moisten the soil to the root level. Keep the soil evenly moist until fruit is the size of a tennis ball. Reduce watering to whenever the soil feels dry 1 inch below the surface.

Side dress with high-nitrogen fertilizer, following the application rate on the container, when the plants begin to vine.

Mulch with black plastic to control weeds, keep the soil warm and reduce moisture loss. Cantaloupes prefer moist, warm soil.

Guide vines up the trellis or fence and tie loosely with plant ties, if necessary. Typically, gently placing the vines on the trellis is all the plant needs to begin climbing the trellis.

Make a sling from stretchy fabric, such as pantyhose or an old T-shirt, for the fruit when cantaloupes are the size of a tennis ball. This allows the fabric to stretch as the fruit continues to grow.

Tie the ends of the sling securely to the trellis, cradling the baby cantaloupe in the sling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose a variety that produces small fruit for the best results with vertical growing.
  • Select cantaloupe with days to maturity that match your location to ensure ripening.
  • Melons are ripe when the fruit slips easily from the vine.
  • Avoid planting melons near cucumbers as they share some of the same pests.


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