The Pepino (also melon pear) convinces extraordinary fruits. In the following, you will find out how you can grow the pear melon when the melon pear is ripe, and what the fruits taste like.
Pepinos are also known as pear melon or melon pear because they taste like an exotic mixture of both fruits. We introduce you to the Pepino and give you tips on cultivation and harvest.
Pepino: characteristics and origin
The Pepino ( Solanum muricatum ) belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and is closely related to tomato ( Solanum Lycopersicum ), chili ( Capsicum ), and eggplant ( Solanum melongena ). It originally comes from South America and requires warm temperatures. That is why we often only grow it as an annual, although it is actually a perennial plant.
Pepinos reach a height of 60 to 120 centimeters, in exceptional cases up to 150 centimeters. Outwardly they resemble chili plants, the leaves are lanceolate to spoon-shaped and dark green in color. The flowers of the Pepino, in turn, are similar to those of eggplants, they are five-fold and striped purple. The flowering period begins in June and lasts until September.
The fruits of the Pepino form one after the other and ripen from July to October. The melon pears are elliptical, apple-shaped, or egg-shaped, are on average 10 to 20 centimeters in size, and weigh up to 400 grams. The two-combed berry fruit has a light yellow to sun yellow color with dark purple vertical stripes when ripe. The soft and tasty pulp is golden-yellow to yellow-orange in color. The Pepino fruit can be eaten raw or with the skin on. The taste of the ripe melon pear is sweet and fruity, reminiscent of melon and pear.
Overview of the Pepino varieties
There are only a few varieties of Pepinos, mostly the heat-loving plant is offered without a variety name. Nevertheless, we would like to give you a small overview of the varieties.
- ‘Sugar Gold’: melon pear with overhanging growth up to 100 cm. It is therefore ideal for a hanging traffic light. The golden yellow, pear-sized fruits taste sweet and fruity.
- ‘Copa’: Late ripening Pepino with a stature height of around 100 cm. Ripe, tasty pear melons can be harvested from September to October.
Plant melon pear
Pepinos can be cultivated like small tomatoes because they have similar requirements in terms of location and care.
The right Pepino location
Pear melons prefer well-drained and nutrient-rich soil. The small plants are ideal for balcony gardens, traffic light planting, and keeping in pots. Pepinos prefer a protected, warm location. They are sensitive to the cold and should only be planted after the ice saints in mid-May.
This is how planting works
For planting in pots, hanging baskets, or window boxes, you should choose nutrient-rich potting soil, such as our Gardender organic tomato soil. The loose texture and high compost content prevent waterlogging and at the same time store water available to plants after watering. Fill the substrate into the prepared planters. The pots should hold at least 5 liters of soil and have good water drainage. Put the young Pepino plants that you have grown or bought into the ground, but no deeper than they were already in the pot. Press the soil all around and then water vigorously.
Care of the melon pear: this is to be observed
The Pepino only needs a few maintenance measures. It does not have to be exhausted, but can branch out lively and form flowers. If the plant is hanging in a certain direction, it should be supported with wooden or metal rods. Pepinos are thirsty contemporaries and should therefore be watered regularly. As a heavy eater, the pear melon also requires more nutrients.
Regular watering and fertilization bring a rich harvest of Pepino fruits. Both can be combined with the help of organic liquid fertilizer. It is added to the irrigation water about once a week and applied together. The nutrients contained are thus flushed directly to the roots and can quickly provide relief even in the case of acute deficiency symptoms.
Hibernate melon pear
The Pepino is basically a perennial plant that can also be overwintered with us. The procedure is the same as for overwintering tomatoes. As soon as the temperatures drop permanently below 10 ° C, the Pepinos should be wintered. The plant as a whole is light, cool, and overwintered in its winter quarters with rare watering. Alternatively, cuttings can be overwintered.
Propagating melon pears: this is how it works
The Pepino can be propagated via seeds or vegetatively via cuttings. In the fruits of the ripe pear melon, there are usually very few seeds that can be removed, dried, and stored for several years. These Pepino seeds are brought out on the warm window sill early, from February, and planted out from mid-May. In early summer, the Pepino can be propagated using cuttings more easily and much faster.
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Cut cuttings about 10 cm long from the shoot tips and let them root either in water or in potting soil enriched with sand and at about 20 ° C. With a little luck, the young plants will bloom in the same year or, if they have been successfully overwintered, as a vigorous plant in the following year.
Melon pear: harvest and use
The pear melon is harvested from July until the last fruits are ripe in October. As soon as the fruits feel soft and smell a bit at the touch of a finger, they can be harvested. Melon pears should not be stored in the refrigerator as they suffer from the cold, lose their taste quickly and become mushy. The pear melons keep fresh for a few weeks at room temperature.
You can eat Pepinos raw, prepare as dessert and ice cream, or preserve and boil down. Chutney or a jam made from melon pears brings the fruity taste of summer back in winter. Melon pears are only poisonous when they are immature and, due to their high solanine content, can cause stomach cramps and nausea.
The tamarillo ( Solanum betaceum ) is also a close relative of tomatoes, chili, and co. We present them in the profile and give tips on growing and harvesting the tree tomato.