Several kinds of melons grow well in Florida, including casaba, honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
Watermelons have crisp, juicy flesh that's perfect for summer eating. Cantaloupes (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) have a creamier flesh that is orange and a netted, yellow-colored rind. Honeydew is a variety of cantaloupe with smooth skin and pale green flesh.
The casaba melon is closely related to the cantaloupe. While about the same size, fruits are not netted like the cantaloupes, or smooth like the honeydews, but marked with deep wrinkles. The flesh of casabas is usually thick, and either white, yellow, or orange. Although generally sweet-flavored, its flesh is not as sweet as a honeydew.
There's also a wild melon that can be found growing in sandy pastures and roadsides, called citron. Native to Africa, citron looks like a small, rounder watermelon, because it's closely related. But its fruit is hard and bitter. Most farmers consider it a weed.
Melons grow on vines, so they need to be planted in sites where they have room to spread out. Choose from the many varieties available, which come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. In Florida, melons should be planted in the spring once the danger of frost has passed. They thrive in full sun and rich, well-drained soil.
They’re usually planted in mounds six to ten inches tall. Cover the soil around your melons with mulch to warm the soil and keep weeding to a minimum. Drip irrigation is a great option for melons. Not all varieties of melons will thrive in the state, so make sure you look for varieties suited to your area.
When selecting a watermelon to buy, look for a firm, symmetrical fruit with no blemishes. Choose sweet-smelling cantaloupes with a soft stem end, and a creamy yellow-colored rind.