Cucumbers, Melons, and the Myth About Cross-Pollination

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  • Paul Reid

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Paul.

    • Bill

      Reply Reply August 11, 2019

      Hi there. Im new here. 1 of this years watermelons was a little deformed.(Others on vine,are,regularly shaped) I picked it,and,cut it open. It was completly white,and,smelled exactly pumpkin/squash.I have never had this happen in my 42 Only thing I have planted near,are,canteloupe,and,cucumber. Does this mean ALL the melons left on vine will be like this? Any feedback would be great!Thanks,Bill in NY

      • Paul

        Reply Reply August 13, 2019

        Great question Bill – I’d love to hear what happens with your melon plant. It could be that the one that you picked wasn’t ripe yet. Let me know if the other ones turn out the same!

  • Vernon

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    I have planted cucumbers and cantaloupes near each other and the next year had a mixed up plant come up and produce a strange cucaloupe!

    • Paul

      Reply Reply July 11, 2013

      Great observation Vernon! Sorry about your strange results – although as far as I know cucumbers and melons can’t cross pollinate – but, you never know… πŸ˜‰

      Here’s a little write up specifically on cucaloups… πŸ˜‰

      • Doran Swartwood

        Reply Reply September 26, 2016

        I know what science say about Cucumbers and Cantaloupe crossing. The State Ext scientist became very short with me when i told her what i had. She stated that it is not possible for them to cross. I saved the seeds every year (5th year seed 6th season) and they have come out the same for the past 6 years. It has the skin of a cucumber and the first quarter to 1/2 in on the outside taste like cucumber. The inside is the color and taste of cantaloupe when ripe. Surprisingly it is very tasty and have many family and friends asking if i have any and if they are ready. Took one in to the local Ext. office last week and he stated that had he not seen it, He would not have believed it. I have a Hybrid Cucaloupe.

        • Paul

          Reply Reply September 26, 2016

          Hi Doran – that’s crazy! I’d love to see it for myself. Send me a pic sometime if you can. Sounds really interesting. I’m game for learning new things if they’re true!

        • Marlena

          Reply Reply September 20, 2017

          The exact same thing happened to us this year. They are cucumber plants producing cantaloupe shaped fruit. Skin is green and cucumber texture on outside but the inside is definitely a cantaloupe and very delicious. Maybe I’ll
          Save the seeds. Thanks for the info!

  • Evie

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    Great video, Paul! Very informative.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply July 11, 2013

      Thanks Evs! πŸ™‚

  • Brian

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    I did have a problem with cross pollination when I planted hot and mild peppers. My hot peppers were not hot at all. I should have spaced them better.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply July 12, 2013

      Yes… peppers can do that! I believe we ended up with some hot bell peppers a while ago… πŸ˜‰

  • Connard Rasmussen

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    Thank you for developing and sharing these very interesting and helpful gardening videos. Wishing you much success in continued teaching on line. I hope you’ll gain access to classrooms across the nation and inspire many young people to become gardeners. The planet needs people to return to family gardening.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply July 12, 2013

      Thanks for your kind words Connard.

  • Lynn Hoag

    Reply Reply July 11, 2013

    Thanks. Moses’s instruction to the Isralites seems to forbid companion planting.
    Lynn My phone in California is 530 622 4967 if you are intrested.

    • Chelsea

      Reply Reply April 20, 2015

      In God’s book of nature, I see companion planting being the example for success given to us.

  • Shreron

    Reply Reply July 14, 2013

    Very helpful information. Thanks

  • Vicky

    Reply Reply September 30, 2013

    We planted our heirloom cantaloupe & honeydew fairly close together this year & when a few of the cantaloupe ripened they were green inside and looked & tasted more like honeydew.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply October 2, 2013

      Great to hear your experience Vicky! Yes… from what I understand, melons can do that. You might have to grow one at a time or space them quite a ways apart…

  • Waleria Ribeiro

    Reply Reply November 11, 2014

    Hi, Paul,
    Thanks for the explanation on cross-polination.
    Concerning companion planting, for several years, we’ve seen our neighbor planting red beans in between the rolls of corn, and do very well with both.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply November 18, 2014

      You are welcome Waleria! And thanks for your little note. Yes, I have heard of native Americans growing corn and beans together in the past but have never done it myself. Interesting.

  • Pam

    Reply Reply November 17, 2014

    Hi Paul: Thanks for the science explanation on cross-pollination. I have been gardening for almost 30 years, but hadn’t studied that aspect of genus and species (wasn’t paying attention during biology). Praise the Lord, I have only had one unusual specimen over the years. It was a watermelon that tasted like it had crossed with zucchini somehow.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply November 18, 2014

      Oh wow Pam! Your comment made me laugh. A zucchini tasting watermelon would really be a little bit of a let down I’ll have to admit…

      You are welcome and keep up the good work in your garden as well!

  • Kathy

    Reply Reply November 24, 2014

    Wonderful, thanks a lot paul, i liked your fb page πŸ™‚

    • Paul

      Reply Reply May 27, 2015

      Thanks Kathy!

  • Nancy Bengtson

    Reply Reply May 26, 2015

    Last summer we ended up with “spachini”! We planted zucchini and spaghetti squash together. They weren’t the seeds from previous year either. Had to cut into them to discover if were more zucchini like or squash like to know how to prepare them. Ha

    • Paul

      Reply Reply May 27, 2015

      Wow! That sounds crazy!

  • C

    Reply Reply May 31, 2015

    I like to plant cucumbers, melons and squash all in the same plot with the plans of not saving seeds. However,i like to plant parsley, marigolds, and nasturiums in between to ward off the bugs. I am of the opinion that they help in the growing process. Companion planting is not a problem fo me. My issue is crop rotation.

  • SC Justus

    Reply Reply June 1, 2015

    In my 40 years experience, close planting of plant families, ex. Cucurbits, will and does affect the flavors in the current year’s crop. I can testify of some real disappointing results I have had to dispose of. The best policy, as you have said, is to use judicious spacing of simular crop families. I have had hot sweet peppers, nasty cucumber-tasting watermelons and even more disgusting squash-tasting watermelons. I have learned well to spread them out, and not just for seed saving.

  • Richard Bowen

    Reply Reply July 15, 2015

    Just wanted to chime in about the video because it’s straight up wrong within the first 2 minutes. (I stopped watching at that point.)

    I use to be big on growing cantaloupe, cucumbers, and a large variety of onions, peppers, etc… Every year I planted cucumbers near cantaloupe was a year that I got cross pollination and cucumbers shaped irregularly; These things tasted disgusting and always occurred within the 1st generation of planting.

    2nd, almost all these plants can cross pollinate and produce some very nasty fruits as they’re not that dissimilar. Please change the title as it’s misleading. He’s also talking about squash, something I know nothing about but stating that cucumbers cross pollinating with melons is a myth is garbage.

    Mix a bag of cucumber seeds and cantaloupe seeds together and then try to separate them back. Can you by hand and eye alone? No. No one can as there isn’t even a difference when the two plants first begin to sprout. In fact, if you actually taste a cantaloupe or cucumber you can taste hints of each fruit in both. The best test is to grow cantaloupe with no cucumbers in the vicinity and pick one early to eat. It tastes an awful lot like a cucumber and for good reason.

    Sorry that I can’t be more specific as this isn’t a job, just something I did to eat.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply July 16, 2015

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for joining the conversation. I’m sorry to hear about your sad experience with your cucumbers.

      As far as the cross pollination issue you may want to check out these two articles:

      Cross-pollination Between Vine Crops – Iowa State University
      Cucumbers and melons too close in the garden? – New Mexico State University

      Also you may want to consider if there is another factor involved in your garden – hence the irregular shaped cucumbers. Otherwise thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Richard Bowen

    Reply Reply July 15, 2015

    A second point that needed to be made is that the cross pollinated plants can’t generally produce viable seed and most these plants die off after the 1st year.

  • Barbara Polk

    Reply Reply August 13, 2015

    This is the second garden we ever had and my husband planted cantaloupe and cucumber close together because of a lack of knowledge and we got many hybrids.The taste was not ,but you could taste both of the fruit.My husband pull all of the cucumbers out of the garden and now on the lower end we have cantaloupe.So it can happen we are living prove.

    • Paul

      Reply Reply August 13, 2015

      Strange Barbara – science says no, but still people claim that it happens. Of course there could be other factors involved. I’ll have to try it out myself to have personal experience. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ronni

    Reply Reply November 6, 2015

    Hi Paul, thanks for the finer distinctions being simplified to species. Its harder for me when I have limited sun exposure and want to crowd as much squash as I can. I want the variety too, which has turned out ok so far…but one year I grew cucumbers in teh greenhouse, and with the door open, they were cross pollinated with squash. I saved the seed, a big thing with me, and the next year they had an orange hew, were bigger and didn’t really seem like cucumbers anymore. The reason I am researching cross pollination is to save the seeds to eat as well as grow from my Hull-less pumpkin species I found online. They have great green seeds, and this year, though I planted further away, I’m not sure what I’ll get next year as far as the seeds themselves and what characteristics will cross over or not. I have some methods of planting earlier (before flowering of other species), or some distance, but I heard that bees can travel 10 miles and cross pollinate within the species. So I’m considering planting ONLY the hullless species but don’t know what I’ll get. I won’t have the variety unless I wait or isolate the hullless pumpkins in a cold frame or something–I have a long one that may work along the side of the greenhouse. I really want those hullless seeds to eat and grow.. may have to co-op with someone nearby but far enough to avoid the cross pollination. Sigh, can’t always have my seeds and pumpkins too! : ) Thanks for your tips. We all must grow as much of our food as possible. Say, did you see the Urban Farming Guys on YouTube? OM Goodness! Check out what they are doing– real magic and right in the inner city of Kansas City. Lets do that too!

  • Nicole Parker

    Reply Reply April 2, 2018

    I know for a fact that cucumbers and canteloupes can cross-pollinate as well. When I was a kid in elementary school, our cucumbers and canteloupes cross-pollinated. The fruits were all unique–sometimes they even looked like a cucumber on one end and a canteloupe on the other! Often they were about fist-sized. Mostly what we ended up with were small canteloupe-ish fruits that fit well into our lunch boxes and tasted something between the two. We thought they were hilarious! I didn’t even like cucumbers, but I liked canteloupes, and these fruits tasted good to me! It was the only time I ever saw that happen.

  • Lyn

    Reply Reply June 21, 2020

    Hi Paul Thanks for keeping us informed. Particularly at this time of COVID, your story on the 100 days of prayer and your gardening site has been beneficial. May the Lord bless you and family and keep everyone else in the family safe.

  • Jay

    Reply Reply September 17, 2020

    Dear Paul,

    I hear this all the time. I have grown squash, cucumbers, melons and cucamelons together and never had them cross. The majority of melons I grow are C. melo (cucumbers). However, people continue to believe that they have some kind of first generation cross from fruit from an unripe or stressed plant. Or they grow Armenian cucumbers and say that they magically crossed melons with cucumbers.

    In any case, thank you for your support in this area.

  • Logan

    Reply Reply September 26, 2020

    Hi I Have been growing marrows, cougeates and pumpkins side by side. In the following year I grew from seeds collected from previous year’s harvest. The seeds produce cougeates and marrows of different kinds, from this hybrid. Some of the produce,look like cougeates whilst others like marrows. I do not collect seeds from recurring crops, for fear of hybridisation and detrimental outcomes.
    Both previously mentioned crops are very tasty- either in soups or cooked as vegetables.
    I plant these between other flowering plants all over the garden.

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