Last Updated on March 10, 2023
If you like melons, you’re going to love the Pepino variety. Its refreshing and stimulating cucumber-like texture will tantalize your taste buds. This sweet cucumber merges the flavor of honeydew and cucumber to deliver an exotic burst of revitalization.
Pepino melon or melon pear is native to South America but is also popular in other countries.
Whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist or a beginner at gardening, you can easily grow Pepino melons at home, provided that you adhere to the instructions and its care regimen, of course.
This article will explore more about the Pepino melons and give you a detailed tutorial on how to grow a Pepino melon from scratch!
Table of Contents
What is a Pepino Melon?
Pepino melons come from the Solanum Muricatum plant, an evergreen shrub. Pepino melons are also called Pepino Dulce, which translates to sweet cucumber.
The most surprising fact about this melon is that it isn’t a melon at all! It is a member of the nightshade family that yields tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, eggplants, and peppers.
The bush that houses the Pepino melon can grow 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It attracts pests and animals too. If Solanum Muricatum or the Pepino bush is left untamed, it can expand to cover the ground.
Pepino melons are a common sight in Kenya, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. This fruit is rarely found overseas because it does not tolerate the struggles of traveling. However, attempts to grow the Pepino melon are actively being introduced in countries such as New Zealand, Turkey, and Mauritius.
Pepino melons are perennials and can grow all year round, making them an excellent addition to your home garden.
How to Grow a Pepino Melon at Home
Perhaps the most crucial part of growing this melon is getting it started. There are two ways to start the Pepino melon; we will discuss both these methods below.
Growing from seeds
You will need to start the planting process early in this case. That’s because even though Pepino melons have the ability to bear fruit circa 5-6 months after planting, the plant takes around a year to actually fruit.
Therefore, you can start by growing these melons indoors during autumn or winter and later shift them outside to bask in the sun.
Use only well-drained starting mixes to plant the Pepino melon in a pot or cell tray, whatever suits you best.
Place the seeds on the top of the mix and lightly drizzle a layer of soil over them.
Water them well, and the seeds will start to germinate in a week or so.
During the winters, it’s wise to use a heating pad to speed up the process.
Once you see the seedlings sprouting, it’s time to place your pot by the window sill, where these sprouts can obtain adequate sunlight and air.
You may need to re-pot your Pepino melons twice or even more during the whole process.
P.s: Pepino melon seeds aren’t the most common finding at stores or even on the web. In fact, you will have a hard time rummaging through sources to finally get your hands on the seeds.
Growing from cuttings (in a pot)
You will need a 5-gallon pot with holes, soil/potting mix, a tomato cage, and a few Pepino cuttings.
Use only sterilized pruning shears to extract the cuttings.
Mix the soil with a slow-release fertilizer in the pot and add water until the soil feels moist to the touch.
Place your cutting in the soil at the same level/height as it was postured before extraction.
Place this pot in a place with ample sunlight, such as a south-facing window. You can also place it in partial shade inside your home.
Your Pepino melon needs support to grow, so it’s best to place a tomato cage on top of the cutting you just planted.
Cover the top layer of the soil with mulch; this will help the soil to retain moisture.
In dry and hot weather, Pepinos may need to be watered twice daily.
If you live in areas with cold climates, protect your Pepino plant with a frost blanket.
Indoors, the Pepino melon is prone to an attack by spider mites. Outdoors, you will find that pests such as the aphids, hornworms, and flea beetles take pride in feasting on this melon.
Your Pepino melon is at a higher risk of fungal infections if you do not provide adequate space between the melons. Also, make sure to avoid excessively damp conditions as this too caters to the spread of a fungal infection.
Ask Away: The FAQ Section
Where does the Pepino plant originate from?
The Pepino melon is derived from the Pepino bush, a member of the nightshade family native to South America.
What does a Pepino melon taste like?
The flavor of the Pepino melon depends on how ripe it is. Mature and fully ripe Pepino melons have a sweeter taste than unripe ones. The unripe Pepino melons are often cooked like squash.
On the taste buds, they deliver unique flavors described as a medley between honeydew, cantaloupe, and cucumber. It is refreshing yet sweet!
When does the Pepino fruit?
A Pepino can fruit all year round, that is if the climates are warm enough to cater to its growth. The typical time for a Pepino to fruit is during spring. New Pepino bushes can fruit as early as 4-6 months.
When should I harvest my Pepino melon?
Your Pepino melon is ready to harvest when it showcases a pale creamy to golden yellow base color, topped with purple stripes. Usually, this is 40-80 days once the bush flowers.
It is to be noted that these purple stripes would be absent in Pepino melons grown in the shade.
Where should I plant the Pepino melon?
Pepino melons grow better when planted in the ground. However, they perform well in pots too.
How to Care for a Pepino Melon?
You should deliver the same care to a Pepino melon as you would to other nightshade members, such as tomatoes and eggplants.
Do not overwater your Pepino, and make sure to use a pot with holes to establish adequate drainage. That being said, a Pepino melon often demands frequent watering; when the soil is almost dry to the touch, it is time to water your Pepino melon.