Skip to main content

How to Grow Mouse Melons (aka Cucamelons)

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Mouse melons. Also known as Mexican sour gherkins or cucamelons.

Mouse melons. Also known as Mexican sour gherkins or cucamelons.

What Are Mouse Melons?

Alternatively known as the Mexican sour gherkin or cucamelon, the mouse melon is a rarely cultivated member of the cucumber family that is steadily gaining popularity in heirloom gardens. These plants grow quickly and produce fruit for a long period throughout the summer season. While the vines can reach lengths in excess of ten feet, they can be easily trained to grow on compact twine trellises. The species Melothria scabra is characterized as a prolific vine that produces an ample amount of tiny fruit. Although they look like little melons, the fruit tastes more like a citrusy cucumber!

Since the plants possess a small stature, they are the perfect choice for container gardeners looking to do a little pickling. I will focus on the basics of growing them and provide tips on how to ensure growth during the season.

Mouse melon vines on a homemade twine trellis. The trellis pictured is hand tied with hemp twine.

Mouse melon vines on a homemade twine trellis. The trellis pictured is hand tied with hemp twine.

The Basics for Growing Cucamelons

Mouse melons may not require a seasoned gardener to help them grow properly, but they will require a few basic necessities that only the gardener can provide. Here's a look at what you'll need to keep your vines healthy throughout the season.

Full Sun

At least six hours of direct sunlight will be required on a daily basis to keep your plants healthy and productive. The more sunlight you have, the better off you'll be!

Fertile and Well-Draining Soil

Like most other fruiting garden crops, mouse melons will need plenty of nutrition and ample soil drainage to produce at their maximum. The soil that they will be grown in should be amended with compost or aged manure in order to provide nutrition that will last all season. For soil drainage, perlite or small porous lava rocks can be added.

Five-Gallon Planter

Gardeners who plant to grow these in containers will be very happy to hear that they can and will grow just fine! Unlike standard cucumbers that require much larger containers to reach their full potential, the mouse melons will produce heavily in a five-gallon container! For the best results, use a clay or wood container with plenty of holes in the bottom for drainage.


While it might sound like a burden to have a trellis on a patio, think again! There's no need for bulky wood or metal trellises when growing cucamelons. In fact, the petite vines are easily supported using twine. Just tie up to a few anchor points and get creative!

Plant Care

While mouse melon vines will grow with ease and relatively little care from the gardener, they still need a few things from you! Follow the steps below, and you'll be well on your way to harvesting a ton of these tiny cucumbers/melons.


A five-gallon container can hold a substantial amount of moisture, so watering should be conducted only when the top couple inches of soil have become dry. Water the plants thoroughly, and always allow excess water to drain free. If the plants are left sitting in standing water, they may develop root rot and die!

Training Growing Vines

The growing vines of the plant won't necessarily fill the trellis by themselves. The long tendrils will grasp onto anything they can, pulling the vines in all sorts of directions. If you are obsessive like me, you can gently wrap vines throughout the trellis in a way that you see fit.


At the first sign of flowers, you can start to feed your plant compost tea. This can be done on a weekly basis and will ensure that fruit production remains strong. Adding a tablespoon or two of homemade bone meal to your planters won't hurt either.

Female mouse melon flower being pollinated by a local bee species!

Female mouse melon flower being pollinated by a local bee species!


An important part to the production of fruit on the mouse melon vine is proper pollination of the flowers. Since the vines produce both male and female flowers on the same plant, they will need some form of insect to properly move pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. To ensure that pollination is occurring, observe the plant for pollinator activity. If no pollinators are present, you can use a cotton swab to manually pollinate the flowers.


Once flowering is underway, the tiny mouse melon fruit won't be far behind. Harvest the fruit when they have reached a nice plump size and are about one to one and half inches in length. Pick the first few at a bit of an earlier stage to force more fruit production. After pollination, it takes about 2-3 weeks for the mouse melon fruit to reach a harvestable size.

The photos in this section were taken over a time period of a month and a half. If you look close enough, you can see the grape-sized fruit dangling from the vines!

Mouse Melon Fruits from 2013 harvest.

Mouse Melon Fruits from 2013 harvest.

Growing Tips

While growing mouse melons, I found the following tips to be very useful!

Collecting Seeds

If you wish to replant mouse melons the next season, the steps for seed collection is quite easy. To collect seeds, allow the mouse melon fruits to become so ripe on the plants that they fall off. The fruit that falls from the plant can then be collected and placed in a warm area in your home to ripen even further for a few more days. After they have fully ripened, cut the fruit open and squeeze the seeds out into a glass of declorinated water. Allow the seeds to sit in the water for a few days, or until they begin to fall to the bottom. Strain off any excess plant material left behind and allow the seeds to dry on a paper towel. Once dry, store them in a paper envelope.

Prune When Necessary

As the season progresses, the vines will create a thick mass of foliage on the trellis. When this starts to happen, some of the leaves will start to yellow as they become choked off from sunlight. To reduce the risk of disease and insect pests, trim off these dying leaves.

Compost Tea as a Foliar Spray

Every other week, or after soaking rains, mist the upper and undersides of the mouse melon foliage with a compost tea spray. This natural spray will not only provide extra nutrition for the plant, but it will also create healthier leaves. Forming a thin residue on the foliage, the compost tea will also help to create a natural insect barrier!

Mouse melon seeds. Small fruits means small seeds!

Mouse melon seeds. Small fruits means small seeds!

Mouse Melon Review

Not surprisingly, mouse melons turned out to be one of my most productive patio crops of the 2013 season. The two plants that I grew produced handfuls of the delicious little cucamelons. The majority of them were enjoyed fresh, but I did pickle a jarful to see how they held up. Using a rustic dill pickle recipe, the mouse melons turned out great! Although they lose a bit of their crispness, they're still very good. In the end, this is one heirloom that will definitely be grown again! Thanks for reading this guide on how to grow mouse melons. As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Zach


Jani Cook on August 08, 2020:

I would like to keep seed but I was wondering whether it would cross-pollinate with regular cucumbers. I was wondering if you knew. Thank you

Cucamelon/Mouse melon tubulars on April 03, 2020:

what is the proper way to cut and re-grow a tubular

nader jafari on March 13, 2020:

hi with respect since a long time I am searching to get the mouse melon seed for the first time in my farm in iran so i request you to send me small pack of mouse melon seed via the second floor block no 5 tenth street north naft zafar street tehran iran

best regards

nader jafari tehran i

Robin Rowe on March 18, 2019:

Other seller send me watermelon seeds. After a year finely got the right seeds. started early inside. There in a pot a week later sprouted. Got them on Amazon. Seller need for seeds for little over $7.00 two packs at 65 seeds each. Can't go wrong there. One for me one for my sister. We never had anyone before.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 29, 2017:

This attractive article alerted me to a melon I have not known before. It tempts me to try to grow some of them this upcoming year!

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 19, 2017:

I've never heard of these and enjoyed learning about them. Is tea compost the grinds of seeped teabags?

lellsworth on August 26, 2017:

they have growing on my fence for 20 yrs or more on wet years here in sw Oklahoma didn't know what they where till today wish id known what they were along time ago. tried one today gonna start eating them now

Rebecca on March 15, 2016:

Anyone have a garlic dill pickel recipe that works well with these little melons. One that stays nice and crunchy? Would if if you could pass it on. Thanks in advance.

Fay from Cornwall, UK on November 18, 2015:

I think these are known as cucamelons here. They are a fun little plant. I love them but they are hard to grow in our weather.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 17, 2015:

I never heard of mouse melons. They look and sound interesting to try, if they're available in your local area or to grow. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Wickison from USA on July 31, 2015:

I too have never heard about these. I love discovering new plants and their uses. I live in Brazil so getting the seeds could be a problem. There may be the equivalent here but under a different name. I will start hunting for them.


DarciH on May 11, 2015:

Just got my first cucamelon plant this weekend. Can't wait to try them! Great article! Very helpful.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on April 05, 2014:

Thank you. I'll try it. Baker Creek seed is always in my garden.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on April 05, 2014:

Thank you, I'm a regular there at BC.

Zach (author) from Colorado on April 05, 2014:

PatsyBell - Lisa beat me too it, but you can find the Mouse Melon seeds at

Lisa Roppolo from New Lenox, IL on April 05, 2014:

Baker' s creek has them.

Lisa Roppolo from New Lenox, IL on April 05, 2014:

I will if warmer weather ever gets here!

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on April 05, 2014:

Do you have a seed source for this Mouse Melon? I would love to try it this summer. Great Hub. Voted up, useful, Tweet, & Pin.

Zach (author) from Colorado on April 05, 2014:

Lisa - They're quickly going to become one of your favorites! Let me know how they turn out.

Lisa Roppolo from New Lenox, IL on April 04, 2014:

I'm growing them for the first time this year and cannot wait to try them!

Lori Phillips from Southern California USA on March 18, 2014:

Never heard of these. They sound awesome! Thanks for sharing!