How to Grow Cucamelons – Mouse Melons (Complete Care Sheet)

Want to grow a quirky, weird little fruit in your garden that resembles tiny watermelons?

Enter the cucamelon. Also called mouse melons or Mexican sour gherkins.

Besides the novelty of cucamelon, these guys are delicious summertime snacks that can be eaten off the vine!

They have a slight zest of sourness but can be used in soups or salads if you wanna try something new and exciting.

If you’ve never grown fruiting vine plants before, this is good for beginners. It looks exotic and cute, and it’s edible!

Once you get them going, they take care of themselves. Give some TLC and you’re good.

Let’s dive in and learn how to grow and care for sour gherkins!

Quick care guide: Cucamelons

Plant typePerennial herb (zones 10 or higher), annual (cooler zones)
OriginCentral America, South America, Mexico
Scientific nameMelothria scabra
Other namesMexican sour cucumber, Mexican miniature watermelon, Mexican sour gherkin, mouse melon, sandita, pepquinos, little watermelon, Guadelooupe cucumber, creeping cucumber, Mexican cucumber
Soil typeFertile, loamy, well-draining, nutrient-dense
Soil pH6.0-6.8 (slightly acidic)
Sunlight requirementFull sun, at least 6 hours per day
Bloom seasonSpring, summer
ColorsGreen, lime green, yellow
Max height10 feet
Max width10 feet (if not grown vertically)
Low temperature tolerance50F
High temperature tolerance90F
Ideal temperature range65F-75F
HumidityModerate (50% or higher)
Watering requirements1-2 inches of water per week
Fertilizer requirementsModerate, use adjusted dosage in spring/summer, supplement with high potassium, low nitrogen plant food
Plant food NPK5-10-10
Days until germination7-14 days
Days until harvest60-80 days
Bloom time80-100 days
Speed of growthModerate
Hardiness zonesAnnual: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Perennial:
8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Plant depth0.25-0.50 inches for seeds, plant same depth as original container if from seedling
Plant spacingGroups of up to 5 plants 1-2 inches apart. Space groups at least 12 inches apart.
Plant withCucumbers
Cantaloupe
Honeydew
Dill
Peas
Beans
Onions
Radish
Parsnip
Carrot
Corn
Tomatoes
Lettuce
Kohlrabi
Asparagus
Celery
Don't plant withSage, potato
Propagation methodFrom seed or seedlings
Common pestsSnails, slugs, aphids
Common diseasesCucumber mosaic virus, powdery mildew
Indoor plantNo
Outdoor plantYes
Grown in containerYes
Flowering plantYes
Beginner friendlyYes
Care levelLow (very easy for beginners)
Best usesSoups, salads, seafood, sauces, pickling, canning

Toxicity warning

There are multiple types of these melons that have a similar appearance, which can make it extremely easy to get them confused.

For starters, you have the edible species, Melothria scabra.

But then you have other types like M. charatia or M. pendula, which will become toxic over time. They turn black over time which signifies that they’re not edible. M. scabra is edible anytime. The other two are only edible before they turn dark.

To be safe, you should always confirm the species and then act accordingly. If you’re new to growing cucamelons, stick with the M. scabra cultivar.

Last updated: 6/23/22.

What’s cucamelon? Or mouse melon? Or sour gherkin?

Cucamelons, also known as mouse melons or sour gherkins are a unique little fruit that originates from Central and South America.

They’re not a cucumber nor a melon. But they’re considered to be part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which is the “larger cucumbers.” AKA Curcubits.

They’re known to be stubborn with low yields, making them hard to grow in the home garden or require a lot of effort.

This makes gardeners less inclined to grow them compared to other easy-to-grow fruit bearers like San Marzano tomatoes or sugar beets. Most people grow cucamelons for the novelty- they literally look like tiny watermelons.

If you’re up for the challenge, growing your own cucamelons is an exciting endeavor that’ll earn you bragging rights.

These fruits are usually consumed on the spot and rarely even make it into the kitchen. Yes, they’re tastiest when they’re eaten right off the vine!

While similar to cucumbers, they’re more like watermelons. They taste like cucumber with a slight tang of citrus. They’re not hard to grow, but they do have some quirks that you’ll want to be aware of so you can get the most flavor possible.

The leaves of cucamelon are exactly like cucumber leaves. The vines are coated with fine hairs that give them a fuzzy look. They have creeping vines that climb and stick to whatever is nearby.

What do they taste like?

Cucamleon is a flavor between cucumbers with some soreness. Think cucumber with a touch of lime.

While they’re not that sweet where you can down them like watermelon, they can be used to add some zest to your favorite drinks.

Growing cucamelon in garden beds is ideal, but you can also grow them in containers. I think most people just grow them for their novelty rather than eating them!

You may find them in the local farmer’s market, but rarely beyond that. They’re not sold in groceries because the demand for them is low.

Even if you do find them somewhere, they’re not cheap. You may see them upwards of $25 per pound.

So if you want to grow them for profit, or just because you like them, you’ll be happy to know that cucamelons are easy to grow and productive. Just be patient. Impatient gardeners will have a tough time because of their slow start.

But once you get them going, they’re extremely productive when the temperatures warm up. 

What does cucamelon look like?

Cucamelon fruits look like tiny watermelons, but they’re actually classified as berries.

They’re about 1 inch in size but can get a bit bigger depending on how they’re grown. The skin is striped with dark green and light green patterns, just like watermelon.

The berries have small seeds on the inside with white flesh. The seeds can be harvested for regrowing next season. The seeds are easy to scoop out when eating. They’re coated with a gel.

As for the vine, they grow up to 10 feet tall and are climbing vines. The vines are thin, leggy, and dark green. The flowers are yellow with 5 petals and a darkened center.

Are Mexican sour gherkins easy to grow?

Generally, yes. They’re slow to start, but once they become established, they don’t require much care.

They’re also resilient to pests, hot and cold weather, and even drought-tolerant.

This makes them an easy vine plant to grow for beginners and why you should grow cucamelon in your edible garden.

How to propagate cucamelon

Cucamelons harvested from garden.
Freshly harvested cucamleons! (By poppet with a camera, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Propagating cucamelons is simple. You can do it from seed or buy a pre-grown seedling at your local nursery.

Either way is fine, but starting from seed is definitely more common as people usually collect them to replant next season if not in the right zone.

It doesn’t make much sense for garden centers to sell cucamelon seedling plants either as most people can’t grow them right. Cucamelon is resistant to drought once established.

From seed

The right time to plant cucamelon seeds is in the spring.

You want to make sure that there will be no more temperature dips and the climate is stable. Start seeds outdoors. There’s no need to start them using a starter kit indoors.

But there are some things you need to do to prep the soil before you sow the seeds:

First, use your favorite hand spade and roughen up the soil. Loosen it up so that it’s soft. Remove clumps of hardened parts. If it’s extra tough, water it first to help break it down. Use a rake if necessary to save your back.

If your zone is too cold to start outside, you can sow indoors using a starter tray with a humidity dome. Start seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Sow them into individual pots or use a seed starter kit.

Sow 2-3 seeds per compartment using good quality soil made for potted plants. Use the same soil that you plan to use later in the garden to minimize shock.

Place it somewhere warm with sunlight.

Water to keep it moist, but not wet. When the roots grow out, harden them off and put them outside.

The roots need to be visible before you transplant cucamelons.

If not, you’ll need to keep it incubating, or else the climate change can cause plant shock. On average, cucamelons can be put into the garden about 8 weeks later or so.

Use well-draining, fertile soil. It should be rich and full of nutrients. If it’s made for fruits, it should be fortified with the necessary nutrients to help your cucamelon maximize yield.

Get organic soil if possible or if you plan on going organic.

Mound the soil by putting small bunches of soil in small batches.

If you’re not sure how to mound, reference this video:

Space each mound 3 feet (36 inches) apart. Put 1-2 seeds per mound. Plant 0.5” deep. Insert the pointed end of the seed into the soil. Lightly cover the seeds with some soil.

No need to firm it. It should sit comfortably.

Water generously to establish water pathways. You’re done! Wasn’t that easy?

Next, check the weather for the next few weeks. If you expect dips in the temperature, cover your seeds with a dome cover.

You’ll want to check daily to keep tabs on it. If it’s not going to be cold, no dome is needed. But if so, domes can help save your poor roots from dips.

These can be found in your local home improvement store or online!

They can help insulate the temperature, but don’t keep it on if it’s going to be warm.

They will trap heat and will wilt your seedlings if you use them on a hot day. This is just burning your plants.

Only use if the temperatures drop below 50F. Otherwise, you can let them grow as is.

Continue checking for pests, fungus, or other issues. Water every other day to keep it moist, but not waterlogged. This will kill your seedlings.

Cucamelon will germinate within 1-2 weeks, depending on local temperatures. Warmer conditions will encourage generation.

From seedlings

If you happen to find cucamelon on sale, just get a new container with at least the same depth and width as the original pot.

Gently remove the original plant from the soil by loosening it. It may need some water to help loosen it up. Pop it into the new container.

Cover it with soil just like before. The base of the plant needs to be covered with soil, but don’t cover the leaves. Water it generously. Monitor for pests or infections.

The vines of cucamelon are fragile-looking, but they’re actually pretty resilient. Don’t be scared to prune it back or be a bit rough on it.

The vines are expert climbers, so provide some kind of support for them to cling to. You may need to guide the vines a few times until they establish themselves.

How to grow cucamelon

This section covers general guidelines for cucamelon care.

Your cucamleon’s care needs will vary depending on the cultivar, ambient conditions, and your hardiness zone.

So don’t take it literally.

Use it as a general care sheet so you know what’s required to grow and care for cucamelons in the garden.

Hardiness zone

Cucamleon needs warmer temperatures to yield those gorgeous berries, so that’s why you only find it growing on the margins of fertile, temperate zones.

It grows in USDA hardiness zones 2-11. But once you get into cooler zones, the temp dips likely will halt production.

This is especially true for those lower zones or northern zones. If this is you, you’ll need to overwinter the cucamelon in order to protect it.

Soil

Natively, cucamelons prefer soil that’s rich, fertile, loamy, and wet. They grow in the heavily forested regions with their lengthy vines.

Cucamelons have also been spotted in the margins of sandy soil regions

Consider mixing one part compost or perlite to help inject nutrients into the soil so it gets what it needs to produce plus help with water-saving.

pH value

The soil pH for cucamelon should be acidic between pH values of 6-6.8. You can lower the pH naturally using limestone or natural leaf litter.

Spacing

Cucamelon should be planted in small groups of 5 plants.

Provide 1-2 inches between each plant. Each group should be 12 inches apart, at least. This will optimize your garden space so you can maximize productivity.

Staking

Cucumaleno vines can reach up to 12 feet at max length.

You’ll need plenty of room for them to grow if you want to maximize yield. The vines can climb upwards or outwards, so you can use traditional methods like fencing, trellises, or stakes.

When they bear fruit, they get heavy so that’s why you need to provide something for them to climb on. Plant support is highly recommended.

The vines should be guided onto the trellis or support and then weaved through. Don’t let them touch the soil as it provides a bridge for pests to climb onto it.

Consider using sturdy trellises to keep it off the soil level and make harvesting easier.

Cucamelon that’s not being trellised will be prone to insects or pathogens since they’re touching the soil. It looks extremely ugly too.

Depth

Plant seeds 0.25 to 0.50 inches deep. Plant seedlings as deep as the crown, plus 1 inch so it’s completely covered.

Temperature

Cucamelon will become hardy to both cold and heat, but only when fully established.

They’re vulnerable when younger, so you should ensure that there are no temperature swings before planting outside in your garden bed. Be careful. Watch the weather.

The temperature should be between 60-75F for ideal produce. Cucamleon will wither if temperatures drop below 50F.

Temperatures that are too hot, such as above 90F, may cause production to stop.

Plant food (fertilizer)

Fertilizer is recommended for maximum yield.

The vines will benefit from 3 inches of organic compost in the spring and then again in summer.

If you use plant food, get one that’s made for fruits or citrus. Look for NPK values of 5-10-10 or higher potassium over nitrogen. No fancy NPK ratios are needed.

For soil that’s depleted, use a dose of fertilizer as directed. Don’t overdose or use half dosages to prevent plant food buildup.

If you’re growing in pots, you’ll need to half your dosages at first to see how your plant reacts.

Fertilizer is necessary if your plants are growing very few fruits or you have too leggy plants. Reduce the nitrogen in your fertilizer (the “N” in the NPK rating) to foster production.

Use a fertilizer with high potassium for max yield

Humidity

Cucamleon prefers moderate to high humidity.

This is a humidity level of at least 50%. Humidity won’t make or break your fruit, so don’t worry about it too much.

Warm humid climates will approximate their native environment in Central America. If you can provide this, you can optimize their production

Pruning

Cucamelon doesn’t require regular pruning unless the foliage is damaged or infested with bugs.

Prune off yellowing, browning, or wilting leaves.

Vines or stems that are damaged should be removed rather than letting the plant waste energy. Fruits that have been eaten or infested by pests should be pruned.

Watering

Plants will need about 1-2 inches of water per week. If it rains, don’t water.

If it’s hot, water more. It’s common sense. Don’t overwater so that the soil is wet. It should be moist.

Use your finger to feel the top 2 inches of water. It should be nice and moist, but doesn’t stick water on your finger when you pull it out. Water at the base of the cucamelon, not the leaves.

Cucamelons are hard to drought when established.

Sunlight

Provide at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. These berries require direct sunlight without objects that can hinder them.

Don’t plant it near taller plants or other random objects in your garden that block sunlight. While cucamelon is heat tolerant, it may need some shade if it’s scorching.

Compost

Compost will benefit your cucamelons by adding some nutrients to the soil. You can use organic compost like leaf litter, hay, straw, or manure. This can also help retain water, insulate temperature swings, block weeds, and even grow more cucamelons from nutrient benefits.

Maintenance

Sour gherkins need no special care other than regular pruning. Prune throughout the season to remove spent flowers, damaged foliage, or dropped fruit.

During the winter, cut the plant back to soil level, if you’re growing as a perennial. If grown as an annual, harvest the seeds from the fruit to save for next year.

Does your zone get below 50F during the winter? Put a layer of mulch to help insulate the roots for the winter. You can use any organic mulch to help do this. Remove in the early spring to encourage dormancy exit.

Blooming

Cucamelon will produce tiny yellow flowers in the spring and summer.

The female flowers will bloom first, followed by the males. Each flower is bright yellow with 5 petals. These are necessary for fertilization in order to yield fruit.

Cucamleons produce both male and female flowers on a single plant, so you don’t need both sexes nearby each other to pollinate. If you’re saving seeds, harvest from the fruits that drop on their own. They will seed on their own if the temperatures are good.

Overwintering

For those growing cucamelon in cooler zones, winterizing isn’t necessary. You can harvest the seeds from dropped fruit, then save them until next spring. For those in warmer zones, you have options:

Let the fruit completely ripen then harvest the seeds from the cucamelon. Save for next season to replant.

Let the fruits fall off by themselves and then seed.

Both of these are good choices. If temperatures are warm enough, cucamelon will self pollinate so you don’t need to do anything- isn’t’ that easy enough?

Harvesting

The berries will be ready to pick throughout the summertime in the early fall.

Unlike cucumbers or eggplants, you don’t want to pick them off early. If you do, they stop becoming ripe.

This will obviously ruin the flavor profile and texture of the cucamelons. Let them sit on the vine so they continue to ripen. They fall off the vine on their own.

You can use these ones immediately or collect their seeds.

Wondering when to harvest cucamelon or how to tell if they’re ripe?

If picking from the vine, here are some things to note so you can pick at the right time:

  • Check for ripe cucamelons after the first bloom of flowers. You’ll often find them behind the dense foliage about 7-10 days post-bloom.
  • When they’re about 1 inch in length, oblong in shape, and dense green, they’re ready for picking.
  • From seedling to ripe fruit, it takes about 60-80 days total depending on local conditions, cultivar, and how you care for it.
  • Cucamelon should be about 1″ in length before you pick
  • The fruits are the size of grapes
  • The fruits shoudl be firm to the touch
  • If you let them sit on the vine, they’ll get very seedy and sour
  • Cucamelons can be harvested shortly after the flowers show up
  • Watch your vines daily for the right timing

Note that you can modify the taste of the fruit by picking times:

  • If you pick early, you’ll get a less sour taste with fewer seeds
  • If you pick it later, you’ll get a more sour taste with more seeds

As the fruit sticks on the vine, it gets sourer over time. But it’s good to have seeds if you want to plant more sour Mexican gherkins for your garden.

If you don’t like the citrus flavor, pick them early. Cucamelons are ready to pick in July or August if planted in the spring.

The last batch of fruit will generally sprout around October into fall before going dormant for the winter season. You may not even have to save seeds if you’re in a warmer climate.

They seed themselves!

Fruits will continue to yield on those gorgeous green vines until late fall. When it cools outside, the production of the berries will stop.

This is when it’s time to winterize it if you plan to continue growing as a perennial.

Or take seeds as an annual. If your zone doesn’t get too cold, you should be OK. The vines will need shelter from dips in temperatures.

Storage

Cucamelons should be eaten immediately upon harvesting.

Pick, rinse, then use in your soups or salads. They can be eaten right off the vine too.

If unused, collect the seeds to save. Otherwise, you can put them in the fridge for freshness. Similar to cucumbers, they’ll last quite some time if properly stored. But what’s the fun in that?

Preserving

Sour gherkins can be preserved in pickle jars. Harvest then clean then completely. Put them in a canning jar and fill it with brine. Seal it off and then enjoy them throughout the season.

Pickled cucamelon is a popular choice for pickle substitutes. You can even use them in place of dill pickles in sandwiches.

Companion plants

Cucamleon can be planted with a few other veggies and fruits that pair well with it.

Here are some perfect companions to grow with cucamelons:

  • Cucumbers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Dill
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Parsnip
  • Carrot
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Asparagus
  • Celery

Maximize your garden space by putting only climbing plants nearby each other so they can utilize the trellising. This is why it’s optimal to plant mouse melon with other vining plants.

Don’t plant with

Similar to cucumber, you should avoid planting cucamelon with potatoes or sage. These will compete for nutrients which will stunt the yield.

Pests

With the vines taking up plenty of space, they provide lots of surface area for pests to infest. There are a handful of bugs that you’ll commonly see on cucamelons, however, they can be controlled and eliminated if you act diligently.

Snails

These mollusks are the bane of every gardener.

These guys will eat up your precious vine leaves overnight out of sight. They’ll eat the fruit if they can get to it as well.

This is exactly why cucamelons should be supported on a trellis to keep them out of reach.

If you let the vines grow on the soil, it makes it extremely easy for snails or slugs to climb onto it and start munching.

Snails can be dealt with by manual removal. For extensive infestations, use an organic snail bait that’s safe for vegetables. Use as directed by the label.

Aphids

Nearly every fruit will bait aphids. Cucamelons are no exception.

These bugs will suck out the sap from the leaves and leave your plant curling, stunting, or just plain jagged. Aphids destroy the leaves, fruits, and stems of cucamelon.

They can be removed by using a strong spray of water from your house.

Dish soap mixtures (DIY) also work well. You may need to use an organic insecticide safe for your edibles if necessary.

Cucamelons are fairly pest resistant compared to other vining plants.

They’re rarely troubled by the common insects that eat cucumber or other similar plants. This is another reason why they’re easy to grow.

Pest hardy? Check.

Other than these buggers, there aren’t many pests that cucamelons are susceptible to.

Diseases

These plants are hardy to many of the common pathogens that may affect cucumbers. There are just a few you need to be aware of:

Cucumber mosaic virus

Cucumber mosaic virus is a common virus that damages crops.

It works by pathogen infestation, which directly affects leaf growth. It can lead to leaf dormitories or weird fruit shapes.

If your cucamelon is growing smaller or distorted, it can be stemming from mosaic viruses. These pathogens are transmitted from pests that pierce plants.

Usually, if one of your cucamelon is infested, your whole plot will be. Destroy affected plants as soon as you notice signs of infestation on the plant.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is extremely common and is caused by many different pathogens.

You can reduce the likelihood of infestation by reducing watering, pruning regularly, and never overwatering.

Ensure that you’re using well-draining soil with regular crop rotation every season. This will get rid of the mildew in the plant bed.

Collecting seeds

Cucamelon flower.
This yellow flower will bloom shortly after the fruits are ready to pick. (By poppet with a camera, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Seeds can be easily saved from ripened berries that have dropped off the vines. Don’t split them just yet. Put them out to cure. This takes about 1-2 weeks in a cool, dry location.

Split them open and then harvest the seeds. Gently use a spoon to scoop the seeds out. Store in a mason jar or sow for next season.

The seeds of cucamelon can be collected from fully ripened fruits on the vines or dropped fruit.

Fermenting

The seeds will be surrounded by a jelly-like coating which needs to be removed.

Place them into a container with some water and let them ferment for 3 days. Mold is expected to form on the top surface, so don’t freak out.

The seeds will then separate- the ‘good’ seeds will sink to the bottom. The ‘bad’ seeds float or stick to the gel. Pour out the gel, mold, water, etc.

Keep the sunken seeds at the bottom and then rinse them with some distilled water until fully cleansed of the gel. Dry them off for 7 days on a paper cloth.

Put them in mason jars or envelopes out of sunlight.

Growing in pots

It’s possible to grow cucamelons in containers. While container-grown fruits are generally smaller with less yield, it gives you the ability to move them around.

You can change the location of it as you wish. If it’s too hot, move it out of the sun. If it’s too cold, move it indoors!

Choose a pot that has multiple drainage holes. Put a layer of pebbles or sand at the base to prevent clogged drainage ports.

The pot should be at least 12 inches deep to allow the roots to extend. You can use hanging baskets, window planters, or traditional plants.

The shape doesn’t matter as long as you provide enough depth. The width should be as wide as you can afford.

Use a nutrient dense soil. Container planting requires more fertilizer due to soil depletion. You’ll also need to water more often.

You can mix in some perlite or silica sand to help retain moisture. Reduce your need for water. Don’t overwater. Don’t overfeed either. Both of these destroy container-grown cucamelon.

Otherwise, care for the cucamelon is similar to soil planting.

Note that you WILL need some kind of plant support for container grown cucamelon. Use a trellis to allow climbing.

Growing indoors

Cucamelon shouldn’t be grown indoors because there’s simply not enough space to accommodate it. It also requires bright direct sunlight, which can be provided inside the house.

Warmer temperatures are also required, so unless you’re going to run the heater for your cucamelon, don’t do it.

Besides, it’s not practical to use trellises indoors, right?

Usage scenarios

Cucamelon can be used in a variety of recipes:

  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Eaten raw
  • Pickled cucamelons
  • With rice
  • Ponzu marinated cucamelons
  • Cucamelon sunomono
  • Juices
  • Drinks
  • Sauces
  • Grilling
  • Salmon
  • Pork chops
  • Chicken
  • Blend with tomatoes, garlic, oil
  • Use with bruschetta or brine

There are many different international recipes you can find online that utilize cucamelon as a side ingredient.

Overwintering

In USDA zones 10 or higher, it’s not necessary to winterize your cucamelons.

However, in cooler zones, you’ll need to do some work so they don’t get killed by the elements. If you anticipate temperature dips to fall below 50F, here are some things you need to do:

  • Use row covers to help insulate the foliage from the elements
  • If potted, move indoors or into greenhouses to help keep them warm
  • Use plant heater mats if housing inside your garage
  • Put 5 inches of straw, bark, hay, or mulch to help insulate the base

If your zone is going to be lower than 50F for extended periods, you should just harvest the seeds and save them for the next season.

There’s no point in trying to winterize the cucamelon when you can just replant it.

The berries produce plenty of seeds to collect. Save yourself the work.

Do I need to cut back cucamelon?

Yes, if you’re planning to grow them as perennials.

You’ll need to cut them back to the soil level with sterilized pruners. Then mark off the area so it doesn’t get trampled. This will help prevent pests from infesting the leaves during the wintertime.

Cut the foliage back to the soil level. If the vines are creeping, cut them back as well- don’t’ be scared to do it!

To preserve the cucamelon tubers, dig around them to uproot. Then rinse them off of debris. Let them dry overnight. Then put them in a dry storage for next season.

Storing cucamelon for next season

Storing them is easy. Just get a small container and then fill it up with coconut coir. Place the cuttings on top.

Repeat it until you get them layered on each other for extended storage.

Cover the container, which can be cardboard or some paper bags. Keep it somewhere out of sunlight with stable temperatures like your garage.

They can’t get wet or else you risk rot. They can be replanted soon enough. Wait until the temperatures warm up before replanting it.

The bag, plastic, or cardboard you’re using to store the cucamelon tubers should be sheltered from dampness.

When the springtime is here, it’s time to replant! Bring the cucamelon out of storage. Then let them warm to ambient temperatures.

Remove them from the coconut coir, then soak them in water for 1 hour. This will let them soak up moisture once again, which gets them out of plant dormancy.

Next, move the plant tubers to your chosen garden space. Use a garden space to dig out small holes in the soil about 2-3 inches deep.

It should be the length of the crown so that it can be covered completely by Shove the tubers into the soil (gently, of course).

The crown should be covered about 1” deep with fertile soil.

Water generously to start the active cycle. The roots will sprout within 14 days or so. That’s it! Continue to care as you did last season to enjoy those cucamelons.

How to care for cucamelons (commonly asked questions)

Sour gherkins harvested for seeds.
Sour gherkins show dark green patterning with light green streaks. Or is the other way around? Can you tell?

This section covers some basic guidelines regarding how to grow and care for cucamelons. It contains commonly asked questions from readers.

Check it out.

If you don’t find the answer to your question, you can post it below using the form.

Do cucamelons come back every year?

Cucamelons are perennials if grown in the right hardiness zone.

If ambient temperatures are on the warmer side and the soil doesn’t get too cold, cucamelon can be grown as a perennial and will produce berries all season long.

In zones that are far too cold, these plants will need some protection from the cold during the wintertime.

Cucmaleon will need some mulch, plant covers, or cold frames in order to save the roots from being killed by the cold. Or you can choose to grow them by replanting them each season as annuals. It’s really up to you.

The berries contain plenty of seeds that can be collected so they can be replanted if grown as annuals. So don’t be scared just because you’re out of the growing zone.

How many cucamelons does a plant produce?

A single cucamelon plant can produce several dozen berries over the season. It depends on how long the vines are and the amount of sunlight, plant food, and water it receives.

If you want plentiful harvests, you should consider dedicating a portion of your garden to just sour gherkins. Try row planting to save space. Replant berry seeds.

Are cucamelons worth growing?

That depends on your preferences.

Do you want an easy-to-grow, summertime snack that can be used in soups, salads, or eaten raw? Or do you just want to grow some weird garden fruits?

Cucamleon is an easy addition to your vegetable garden or fruit garden. They’re compact as they can be poised to grow vertically.

They don’t require much supplemental watering (1” per week is enough). And they’re rewarding. I say yes.

How tall does a cucamelon grow?

Cucamleon grows more wide than tall.

When properly supported, cucamelon can grow up to 6-7 feet. If no trellis or plant support is provided, it’ll grow outwards up to 10 feet.

Cucamelon berry production can be encouraged by picking out the growing tip when plants are about 8 feet tall. Pinch out the tips of the side shoots when the plant is about 20” in length. This will encourage vines to fruit.

What do you feed cucamelons?

Water regularly and feed with a high-quality liquid fertilizer. You can use tomato fertilizer once or twice per month during peak season.

If your soil is nutrient-dense, fertilizer is optional. But they do appreciate some food to help produce berries.

How do you fertilize a cucamelon?

Cucamelon is a self-pollinator. They contain both male/female blossoms on the same plant, so they’re open pollinators.

They can pollinate through birds, bees, or even the wind. Even though manual pollination can benefit cucumbers or eggplants, mouse melon don’t need hand pollination or brush pollination. Cucamleon will self-fertilize if grown in the right zone on its own.

Is cucamelon a fruit or vegetable?

Cucamleon is a fruit. Even though they have the phenotype of tiny watermelons, which are fruits, sour gherkins are a fruit. Not a vegetable.

These exotic little fruits are actually called berries. Because of the confusion, some people will refer to them as vegetables. However, they’re officially identified as fruits.

Further reading/references

Check out these resources:

Grow cucmelons at home!

Freshly picked mouse melons from the garden.
Fresh cucamelons ready to eat!

You now know the basics of how to grow and care for mouse melons now.

While sour gherkins may be quite the weird fruit, they’re perfect for delicious summertime snacks. They’re slow to start, but once the warm summer hits, they take care of themselves.

Give them plenty of full sun, pick berries on time, and keep the soil moist. That’s all there is to it!

Do you have any questions about cucamelon care? Post your comments in the section below.

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