CUCUMIS melo 'Charantais'
Plant Common Name
Charantais Melon, French Melon
The small, deliciously sweet melon, 'Charentais', is the best known and loved French melon. Each slightly netted fruit is yellow-tan on the exterior with distinctive green shallow furrows. Inside, the fragrant, sweet flesh is dark orange. Several charentais cultivars have been bred—though some claim to have the original — so this is also considered a regional melon type rather than a single cultivated variety. The first charentais melons are believed to have been bred and selected near Poitou-Charentes, a region in central western France, sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Melons are tropical annual vines with long, spreading stems that cling via springy tendrils. Their big lobed leaves are coarse, fuzzy and medium to deep green. Bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers are produced when the vines reach maturity. The flowers are monoecious, meaning separate male and female yellow flowers appear on each vine. The pollen producing male flowers open first, followed by the female flowers, which have distinctive bulbous ovaries at their bases. Only the female flowers produce melons and each must be pollinated by bees for fruit set, so be sure to encourage these productive garden insects.
Melons require full sun and friable, fertile, deep soil with good drainage. A neutral pH is best. Vines should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. It is common practice to create mounds of soil to grow melons in. The seed can be directly sown in ground, and plants take an average of 90 days to produce harvestable fruit. Melons need space and should be surrounded by a layer of straw to protect the fruits from rot and keep weeds at bay. If space is limited, they can be grown on a trellis and fruits supported with cloth slings. Heavy rains can cause ripe fruits on the vine to split and lose sweetness.
Cantaloupes are best harvested when the skin becomes fragrant and the melon can be easily removed from the vine. 'Charentais' melons become yellower at the base when ripe. Mature fruits also smell sweet on the outside and emit a hollow sound if knocked. This melon type has a relatively short shelf life and should be eaten shortly after harvest.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 4
2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
8"-14" / 20.3cm - 35.6cm
5'-12' / 1.5m - 3.7m