Kiwano Melon / Horned Melon / Cucumis metuliferus
The horned melon (Cucumis metuliferus) — which also goes by the common names kiwano, jelly melon or African horned cucumber — produces showy and edible fruits that feature distinctive stippled skin and spiky protrusions. This native of South Africa, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 10 and up, thrives in mild climates that resemble its natural environment. Horned melon resists common afflictions such as root-knot nematodes, powdery mildew, melon aphids and greenhouse white flies.
- Select a planting site with rich, well-drained soil and full sunlight exposure. Horned melon prefers clay or loamy soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5, though it is not terribly picky about soils. Choose an area near a trellis or fence to promote climbing.
- Plant horned melon seeds to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch. Leave 18 to 24 inches between groups of two or three seeds. Allow about six feet of space between rows. Sow your seeds in the spring season when temperatures are above 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the soil consistently moist down to about 1 inch to germinate the melon. Germination occurs within two or three weeks.
Water the horned melon slowly and deeply in the morning or afternoon once established. Provide the plant with 1 to 2 inches of water per week, soaking the soil down to about 6 inches. Allow the soil to dry between waterings.