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The pear melon (Solanum muricatum), also called Pepino, is rather an insider tip with us. The usually one-year-old cultivated nightshade plant is an eye-catcher with its eye-catching fruits. The plant also owes its name to this, because the fruits are a blend of pear and melon. The fruit is also visually reminiscent of a melon, but is about the size of a pear. The herbaceous, about one meter high, highly branching plant is native to South America. It has been cultivated in the Andes in Peru for several thousand years. At the natural site it is perennial, but in our climate it grows unprotected only one year, as it tolerates frost only for a short time. At a greenhouse site, she is also a perennial with us. The Pepino prefers a sunny spot and thrives in a pot or tub.
The light green leaves are elongated oval, the self-fertile flowers deep blue to white and some pretty patterned. The flower color depends on the temperature: If the plant is very warm at over 27 degrees, the flower turns white, between 10 and 20 degrees more blue.
Pepinos need a lot of heat - the optimal temperatures are 18-25 degrees, so it is advisable to keep the plants in sufficiently large pots in the greenhouse. In a plant grape, the eye-catching fruits are particularly good and can ripen well.
The pear melon must be watered regularly. Waterlogging does not value them at all.
The Pepino thrives best in rain-protected, sunny locations with nutrient-rich soil. Because of its high ornamental value, it is usually used as a container or plant of light and convinces here with many tasty fruits.
It takes three months for the fruits to mature. They can grow up to 20 inches tall and weigh up to 400 grams. At maturity, the green, smooth shell turns yellow with purple stripes. The ripe pulp is also yellow, very soft and tastes like a mixture of melon and pear.
Tip: Cutting out flowering shoots in time will promote the formation of fruits and their size.
As the plant is usually cultivated once a year, a moderate fertilization with liquid fertilizer is sufficient. A nutrient-rich potting soil does the rest. If the plant is successfully wintered, a healthy, balanced nutrient supply is necessary and a complete fertilizer should be given in the spring.
Diseases and pests
The pear melon is susceptible to the mold fungus Alternaria and mildew. In addition, she likes to be approached by potato beetles, plant lice, spider mites, white flies and miner flies. In the virus area, the Chauchuma mosaic virus and the tomato bronze spot virus occur.
The plant can be propagated either by seedlings or by cuttings. Both work well in the growing box.