Cucamelons sometimes called Mexican mouse watermelons are one of my all-time favorite fruits, they look like mini watermelons but taste like a mix of cucumbers and lime.
Cucamelons are easy to grow indoors and are well suited to being part of an indoor garden. They can also be easily grown on a windowsill in an apartment in the middle of a city or you could grow a bumper cucamelon crop if you have a sunny conservatory.
In this complete guide, I will tell you how to grow cucamelons indoors and I hope you go and try growing these cute little fruits yourself.
To grow a cucamelon plant indoors simply plant the seeds in a pot or container and keep them above 75F until the sprouts start to show. Place them somewhere that gets at least 6 hrs sunlight and provide a trellis system for the vines to grow up. Water your plant once per week depending on your climate.
Should I grow a cucamelon plant from seed or buy a seedling?
Not many people grow cucamelons or even know what they are so it is hard to find seedlings that can be bought for planting.
If you germinate seed and plant your seedling in a pot in spring then you should expect some fruit that same year. Cucamelons start to grow slowly but when they get going they will grow at an almost unstoppable pace without much effort.
How to germinate cucamelon seeds
Cucamelons can take up to 4 to 5 weeks for the germination process to complete.
Simply put some seeds on a damp paper towel and keep them somewhere warm around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21C) is the ideal temperature for the germination process. Make sure you keep them damp but not wet and transfer them to a pot when the shoots are about an inch long.
Alternatively, you can put the seeds directly into the soil and keep them warm as above. The only problem with doing it this way is you never know if the seed has germinated and you might be waiting weeks for nothing to happen.
Always germinate more seeds than required as you never know what the success rate will be.
What sort of pot should I use for a cucamelon plant?
Ideally, I have 2 cucamelon plants growing out of one pot.
I plant my cucamelons in a 5-gallon container and my plants always seem to grow at a rapid pace and produce plenty of juicy cute cucamelons.
The thing to consider is you will need some sort of trellis system for the vines to grow up. Whether you have some sort of chicken wire on your windowsill or use canes in the pot to make a grid system for the cucamelons to grow up is up to you.
You will need to devise some sort of system as the vine can get up to 8 feet long.
How to make a trellis system for cucamelon plants
Cucamelons grow at an incredibly rapid speed when they get going and as they grow a large vine you will need a system to train the vine to grow up the way rather than along the ground.
This system is called a trellis system and you can buy one that fits in a pot or you can make a simple one.
You could use two bamboo canes and tie a string between them or you could just devise a system that is just made out of string. The vines you plant produces will be incredibly thin and lightweight so unlike other plants that grow vines, you won’t need that strong of a support system that you can train the vines to grow up and down and around.
What sort of soil should I use for a cucamelon plant?
As cucamelons originally come from Mexico they do not like to be sitting in water so make sure you put some stones at the bottom and have drainage holes at the bottom of your pot/ container.
Use an organic soil with organic material mixed through it like bark for best results and add some compost to the mix if you want to maximize the number of cucamelons you will get during the harvest.
How much light does a cucamelon plant require?
As they are from Mexico cucamelons like lots of light, the more the better, however, cucamelons will grow just fine and produce a good amount of cucamelons with just 6 hours direct sunlight every day.
I have my plants on a south facing windowsill and they do just fine.
If you worry about your plants not getting enough light you could always use an LED grow lamp to top up the light, these lamps are not expensive to run and will increase the yield from your plants.
How often should I water my cucamelon plant?
As cucamelons are from Mexico they do appreciate water but don’t need to be watered as regularly as you might think. Cucamelons only need to be watered every 5 – 7 days.
Monitor how dry the soil is and when the top inch is dried out it’s time to give them water. During the hottest summer months, you may have to increase your watering routine to twice per week.
Give them a good watering when required but make sure your pot or container has good drainage so any excess water drains away as cucamelons don’t like being in standing water.
What temperature is best for indoor cucamelon plants?
After the germination period where the best temperature is 75+ degrees Fahrenheit cucamelons are incredibly versatile hardy plants.
Just make sure the temperature never drops below 37F or you may damage or even kill your cucamelon plant. Apart from that, the standard household temperature will be just fine for growing healthy cucamelons.
I don’t take much notice of the temperature of my house and my cucamelons grow perfectly healthy, they even tend to grow out of control and I am constantly having to train the vine to grow up and down and around my trellis.
Cucamelons are the ideal fruit for beginners to indoor gardening because they really don’t take much effort or attention to grow a healthy plant that produces a good harvest.
What is the best fertilizer for a cucamelon plant in a pot?
When flowers start to appear it is best to fertilize your cucamelons with a plant compost tea, you should fertilize your cucamelon plants once a week during the growing season.
If you can’t find any plant compost tea you could alternatively use any fertilizer that is suited to tomato plants and also add a tablespoon of bonemeal to the soil once a week for added benefit.
You should avoid using fertilizers that have excessively high nitrogen content as they work good for plant growth but do nothing to encourage fruit to grow and that is kind of the point when you grow a fruit plant.
How to prune an indoor cucamelon in a pot?
During the growing season, the growth of cucamelons can become intense and you will have to train the vines to go up and down and around your trellis system.
If any leaves start to turn yellow during the season because of the lack of light you should immediately remove them.
When the vine gets to 6 or 8 feet you should pinch the end to stop it growing in length. This encourages the growth to concentrate on filling out on the vine that is already grown and also helps the plant use its energy for fruit production.
How to pollinate a cucamelon plant?
Cucamelon plants will produce both male and female flowers which means you only need one plant for pollination.
As insects are required in nature to pollinate plants and you are growing cucamelon indoors you will probably have to give your plant a helping hand.
To do this use a fine paintbrush or cotton bud and simply rub the pollen off of the male flowers and rub that pollen into the female flowers. Go round your plant or plants and do this to all the flowers, the more you do this the more fruit your cucamelon plant will produce.
Should I thin out any heavy clusters of cucamelons?
I don’t bother thinning out the cucamelons that grow on my vine and they seem to produce a good amount of the tiny, tasty fruits.
In all honesty, I don’t harvest that many at harvest time because cucamelons look so cute that when I see they are at the edible size I tend to pick them off and eat them.
If you eat the cucamelons as they grow during the season then that will encourage more to grow so I end up with more fruits than what would be if I just let them grow for one big harvest.
When to pick cucamelons from an indoor plant
The actual fruiting season for cucamelons is normally from July through to September but may vary slightly depending on your local climate.
A fully grown cucamelon will only be about the size of a large grape and will feel firm to touch. If you leave the cucamelons on the plant for too long then they will become soft and have a bitter flavor with a soggy texture.
This is the reason I end up picking and eating them when they become ripe during the season and don’t really have a proper harvest of my cucamelon plants.
How to store freshly picked cucamelons
As I previously said I tend to eat my cucamelons as they grow so I don’t have to store that many.
If you do have some cucamelons to store the best way to extend the life of them is to put them in a sealed plastic bag on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
Never wash your cucamelons before storing them as the moisture that is left on them can encourage mold to start and this would greatly shorten the fresh life of your cucamelon harvest.
What to do if your cucamelon plant stops producing fruit
If your cucamelon plant stops producing fruits the first thing to check is are your plants still receiving enough light?
If your plants are getting less than 6 hours direct light each day then they may stop producing fruits. This may also be caused if you haven’t pruned your plant and the excess foliage is preventing enough light getting through to most of the plant.
Check that you are using the correct fertilizer as if you use a fertilizer that has an excessively high nitrogen content it could be killing your plant and will also stop them from producing fruits.
Make sure you are not overwatering or underwatering your cucamelon plants, see the above section on watering your cucamelon plant, as this could be a cause of your plant to stop producing the cute cucamelons.
Also remember you will have to help pollinate your plants, see the above section, if you have not hand pollinated your cucamelon plants then that would ultimately result in very little or no fruits being produced.
To grow a cucamelon plant outdoors
If you live in an area affected by frost then it is advisable to start your cucamelons indoors then transplant them outside after the frost has passed.
Cucamelons can be successfully grown in a greenhouse, pot, container, grow bag or in the soil. If you are planting them in the soil you should plant them at least 10 inches apart and provide a trellis system for the vines to grow up.
Make sure you choose an area that has good drainage as cucamelons don’t like to be sitting in standing water.
Before you plant your cucamelons it is always a good idea to mix in some compost or manure to the soil that you will be planting them in as this will add much-needed nutrients that will benefit your plants.
During the winter if you live in an area that is affected by frost you will need to move your plants indoors otherwise they will likely die during the cold winter months.
Common cucamelon plant problems and how to solve them
The main reason I recommend cucamelon plants for beginners is they are incredibly easy to grow and this is because they are incredibly resistant to pests and diseases.
If you grow these cute little fruits the main problem you will have it how to control the rapid growth, as when they get going they grow at an incredibly rapid speed.
As long as your cucamelon plants get enough sunlight and water then you should grow healthy plants with no problems at all!
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