The melon pear, Pepino the pear melon is enjoying increasing popularity and thus also increasing distribution. And rightly so. Because the plant is an easy-care and exotic enrichment that can stand in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. Even newcomers to the field of plant care will not find any challenge in the melon pear – but delicious fruit.
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Pot culture or free in the garden?
The melon pear is not hardy and tolerates temperatures below 5°C very poorly. Free planting is therefore only possible in summer and in warm springs and autumns. For the winter, the melon pear would have to be dug up again every year, even in temperate latitudes.
So it doesn’t make sense to plant the pear melon out in the open. Because this planting variant is associated with a significantly greater effort than pure pot culture.
As an alternative, the plant and its pot could be planted in the garden soil. This makes bringing them into a protected roost during the winter easier and also requires less effort. In addition, the plant is exposed to less stress.
The simplest variant is and remains pot culture.
Find the right location
The Pepino needs a lot of light and warmth. So whether the plant is on the balcony, the terrace or in the garden – the main thing is that it gets a lot of sun. It can therefore also stand in areas that are unsuitable for other plants due to the intense sunlight and constant heat. Such as in south-facing balcony or house corners where the heat accumulates.
In addition, the location should be protected from strong and cold winds. Again, corners prove their worth here. However, other plants or balcony borders can also shield the melon pear.
Which substrate is suitable?
The melon pear prefers nutrient-rich, loose soil that is rich in humus. A mixture of commercially available potting soil, compost and coconut fibers optimally meets these requirements. Soil can also be used for potted plants and loosened up with the coconut fibers already mentioned. The introduction of compost also ensures the necessary nutrient content.
In any case, it is important that the substrate for the melon pear does not tend to become waterlogged, but can still store the water well.
The maintenance effort of the melon pear is very limited. Watering, fertilizing if necessary and occasionally pruning – that’s all the plant needs to thrive healthily and bear numerous fruits. A little more protection is only necessary in winter, otherwise the melon pear can largely be left to its own devices.
The Pepino can be watered abundantly. Because fruits, growth and the warm location require a lot of liquid. It is optimal to wash the melon pear regularly and only allow the substrate to dry very slightly between the individual waterings. The plant can also be kept consistently moist.
And yet waterlogging must be avoided urgently. The melon pear must therefore not stand in water, but must have a suitable drain, especially in the pot culture.
The melon pear needs a lot of nutrients, especially when it forms fruit. Regular fertilization is therefore necessary. If this is carried out directly when watering, the maintenance effort is reduced.
But caution is also required when fertilizing the melon pear. This is especially true if the chosen fertilizer contains a lot of nitrogen. Because if the melon pear is very plentifully or even oversupplied with it, leaves are primarily formed. So more nutrients doesn’t mean more or bigger fruit here. Instead, sheet density increases. This is nice to look at at first, but increases the maintenance effort. Because the leaves have to be cut.
In addition, if the supply is too rich, fruit can hardly be expected. Additional nutrients should therefore be handled with care. Otherwise, instead of the desired effect, more care will be necessary.
The blend of the melon pear
If you want a high yield from the Pepino, you have to use a knife or scissors regularly. Because the plant tends to put a lot of energy into the growth of leaves and side shoots. Plant parts that do not have flowers should be removed as soon as possible for this reason. In this way, the nutrients and energy of the plant are used wisely and not wasted on the growth of unnecessary side shoots. This means that the more carefully the melon pear is cut and thereby freed from blossomless shoots, the more and the larger the fruit it will produce.
This is the so-called Ausgeizen, which some hobby gardeners may already know from tomato care.
Why are clean and sharp cutting tools so important?
When pruning the melon pear, the condition of the chosen tools is crucial for the continued growth and health of the plant. If scissors or knives are used that are dirty or have already been used to trim another plant, they can transmit diseases and germs that go unnoticed at first. It is therefore important that they are thoroughly cleaned. For example, with boiling water or disinfectant.
Likewise, the sharpness should not be neglected. A dull blade requires more pressure to cut through plant parts. This results in bruising and damaged or even destroyed tissue on the plant. This in turn represents an increased risk for invading pests and germs.
The instruments should therefore be freshly sharpened and clean in order to ensure that the melon pear’s waste is particularly gentle and healthy. Under certain circumstances, this also avoids increased maintenance costs.
A healthy overwintering of the melon pear is not possible outdoors, even with rather mild winters in moderate latitudes.
As soon as the outside temperature drops to 10°C, the melon pear must therefore be brought inside. And in a bright but cool room. For example in an illuminated basement or a frost-free garage with windows.
The room temperature should never fall below 5°C, but should not be significantly higher than 10°C either.
During the hibernation, it must also continue to be watered and fertilized. But carefully. Waterlogging and an oversupply of nutrients must be avoided, especially during the resting phase. Too much moisture quickly leads to rot during the winter, while too much fertilization cannot be absorbed by the plant. As a result, the roots suffer or even suffer irreparable damage from the nutrients.
When can Pepino go outside again?
As already mentioned, the melon pear is a very frost-sensitive plant, so it can only be brought outdoors again late. It can only return to its summer location when the thermometer no longer falls below 5°C during the night and frost is no longer to be expected. This time is usually at the end of May.
With increasing size, the pear melon also needs more substrate and enough space for its roots. Occasional repotting is therefore essential.
However, you should not make this change too early and also not use a pot that is too large. The melon pear can only be placed in a larger container when roots appear at the lower end of the pot. It is ideal if this is only slightly larger than the current vessel. This ensures that the roots will soon hit a limit and slow down their growth. The earlier this occurs, the more nutrients and energy can be put into the growth of the fruit.
On the other hand, if the pot you choose is too big, the roots will grow first. This is detrimental to the harvest.
Otherwise there are no special features to consider. Repotting immediately after hibernation is ideal.
The propagation of the melon pear is possible through seeds and cuttings – but in no case is success guaranteed. However, propagation via cuttings is easier, which is why only this form is discussed in more detail below.
Propagation of the melon pear by cuttings
The propagation of the melon pear by cuttings is very easy. All you have to do is remove about 10cm long shoots from the melon pear. These are optionally placed in a glass of water, in moist growing soil or wet sand. Then roots form. As soon as this occurs, the cuttings can be planted in soil if they have not already been grown in this soil. They should be warm and sunny and watered regularly. A – careful – fertilization is only necessary when the first new leaves appear.
When are the fruits ripe?
The fruit of the melon pear is ripe when the skin has turned yellow or golden. They also form purple stripes that are reminiscent of the pattern on a watermelon.
However, the pear melons are only really tasty when they give way slightly when pressure is applied – i.e. the flesh is already a bit soft.
Post-ripening in a dark, moderately warm and dry place is not guaranteed but also possible. For example in an open box. Similar to tomatoes, some melon pears can still become soft. However, if dark discoloration appears or the fruit shrivels, they must be removed and disposed of immediately.
Typical diseases and pests
The melon pear tends to attract certain pests such as Colorado potato beetles, flies, mites and lice. It can also suffer from viruses that normally affect tomato plants.
Regular visual inspections, in which special attention is paid to signs of damage, discoloration and nets, help to counteract this. In order to prevent further damage, you should remove and destroy the infected parts. On the other hand, appropriate, commercially available means must be used. Depending on the type of infestation, an insecticide, fungicide or other plant protection product.
The melon pear is an easy-care plant that produces delicious fruit even with little effort. Grown in a pot, it can be placed in the garden, on the balcony or terrace and is a decorative eye-catcher throughout the warm season. It is therefore also ideal for beginners and people without green fingers.