growing bittergourd

nilaa(6)March 17, 2006

I tried to grow bitter gourd last yr and it didn't come out well.

Has anyone tried growing it in containers?


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barbara_in_la(So. Cal.)

I've grown bitter gourd in containers successfully. They like lots of warmth, sun, and water. I washed out the 35lb kitty litter containers, drilled holes in the bottom, and filled it up with good potting mix. I tossed in time release fertilizer pellets and planted my seeds when it was warm enough to do so. I don't have a back yard to speak of; so I placed my "pots" on the north side of the house. It receives direct sunlight practically all day long... I hand pollinated the flowers (since we don't have many bees around here) and ended up with gourds. This is what worked for me, and I hope you find this info useful. Hopefully, others will chime in with their experiences with bitter gourd.

Good Growing,

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 4:47PM
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Thankyou Barbara. I will try them this summer. Did u put up any trellis? which potting mix do u buy?


    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 2:16PM
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barbara_in_la(So. Cal.)

I use Miracle Grow potting mix. I personally love the stuff. I placed the "pots" up against a wooden fence (on the north side of the house), hammered in small nails along the fence, and strung up string on the nails in a zig zag fashion. So I made my own trellis. I'm not too sure what I'm going to do this year. If I can convince my boyfriend I really need some inexpensive trellis, I think I'm going to go that route. The (bitter melon) plants definitely need something to climb on.

I hope this helps and let us know how it goes for you! Barb

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 5:12PM
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Thankyou Barbara.I will try sowing the seeds when the weather gets warmer. thats a nice idea for trellis.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 11:19PM
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My neighbor grew them last year & they did not fruit. She used Miracle Grow, a trellis, & gave them good sun. I believe she grew only one &/or did not hand pollinate, however. That is probably the main key to BarbaraÂs success.
Do you know of any good web site with hand pollination pictures of bitter gourd?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 8:08AM
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barbara_in_la(So. Cal.)


I think I had two or three plants in my container since I wanted better odds of having more male and/or female flowers than what one plant might be able to produce. I was also growing them to give to my mom...

I found a website with good photos on how to hand pollinate. Though it's not bitter gourd, the procedure is basically the same. Here it is:

I don't cover my male and female flowers with plastic bags before or after hand pollination. I leave early for school in the morning; so I eyeball the flowers as they're developing, noting my male and female flowers and the flower development progress. It's best to pollinate early in the morning almost as soon as the flower opens. I've been able to pollinate a day-old female flower with a freshly opened male flower and have fruit develop.

Hope this info and that link helps! Barb

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 5:13PM
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Bitter melon plants bear male and female flowers.Female flowers are fruit bearing ones.Fruits and flower appear at the same time.To increase the number of female flowers, farmers and gardeners use dikegulac and Gibberellic acid.Please read the instructions carefully before using chemicals to produce more female flowers.Morning is the good time to treat plants with chemicals.
Pruning tip of the vine at younger age and some branches from lower side at a later date also helps.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 8:49PM
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my bittergourd plant has opened 2 female flowers today and i am just wondering if i can hand pollinate them with hibiscus pollens? can anyone help? thanks :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:41PM
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You need to pollinate them with the male flowers that are on the bitter melon plant. If you have ants and bees and other pollinators, I wouldn't worry too much. Nature has a way of pollinating with or without humans.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 12:12AM
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Hi violet_z6,
thanks for the reply... i found out that the flowers were after male. i don't see any bees around here and i have seen plenty of ants in the plants. so lets hope for the best when the plants have female flowers. just wanted to know if it's normal for the flowers to just fall off by itself the next day.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 1:14AM
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Yes, it's normal for almost all melons to have flowers that have a short life span.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 11:21AM
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I'm glad to see everybody planting this...I think if more people knew about the extreme health benefits of this plant, everybody and their brother would be trying to grow it. I just found out about its health bens., and I've got to try it now. ~Karen, Ky

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 7:50AM
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Bittermelon plant(Vine).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:16PM
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Its gorgeous! YOu are growing something very healthy, and possibly the cure for diabetes! I take it from the picture that it can not be grown in containers, like I was hoping!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:57AM
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Hi trakehner,
I do grow BM in a medium to large pots. It still needs a trellis though. I feel the yield is not that great but enough for my family of three and few other friends.
So don't lose the hope, try it.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 11:44AM
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Thank you very much, A! I believe I will try it, this is something that is very healthy! Thank you for the encouragement. ~Karen

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 3:28PM
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jay-wpb(10 FL)

I live in south FL and have planted in gound and also in containers - they both did fine. I just plant it and fertilize and water. The recent cold snap did a numer on them. I have new transplants to put in the ground. They would bear all year unless it get cold (less than 40 or so). i have to watch out for a bug that makes holes in them which stunts their growth.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:26PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Looks like a shameless promotion for a new blog.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 12:48PM
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hi folks,
I am a newie to the forum, i tried growing BG seeds in small pot , when it had 2 leaves i tranplanted it to my kitchen bed (consisting of compost n native soil in prop of 70-30), but when i transplant in the kitchen bed they become dull n die. The bed gets morning sun of Phoenix. Please help, where am i going wrong? What fertilizer to use?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:50PM
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Hi Raji:

I may be able to help. I have been growing BG (bitter melon) for several years. Generally they are not difficult to grow.

Couple of ideas:
1. If you are really a newbie to growing plants, then it is a better idea to start with more seeds so that even if some of them die, you will still have a few that would survive.

2. When you transplant the baby plants to the kitchen bed, did you try to keep as much soil as possible attached to the roots, with least disturbance to the root system? Newbie gardeners try to pull the plants instead of skooping them up with as much soil attached to their roots.

3. After transplanting, you will need to protect your plants from the harsh sun, by providing some temporary shade for a week or so until their root system is established.

4. Lack of fertilizer will not be the problem for the plants to die. They should survive well as long as you have good compost and soil mixture. Only when the plants gets bigger that they will start absorbing a lot of nutrients.

So these are my comments without understanding your specific scenario. If you can provide more information I may be able to help further.

By the way, I am about to start my bitter gourd plants indoors. (Zone 7). I will have to wait until May for planting them outdoors.

Good luck

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:31PM
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Hi Vicki,

Thanks, Good suggestion.

The scenario is I sowed BG seeds in ready to seed jiffy pack, once they popped out, had 2 leaves, i decided to plant them in my east facing kitchen bed, getting only morning sun (phoenix sun), the bed is 70% omni brand compost n 30% native soil. In the bed i have put beans, carrot , raddish, spinach , tomato n pepper,all doing fine, only BG n cucumber n other gourds plants seem to be dieing after planting.

Somethings is wrong, can you guess now?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:04AM
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From your following description:
A. Everything else growing well except for the gourds and
B. Cucumber and other gourd plants seem to be dying after planting.

It seems like your plants are affected by fusarium wilt. It is a fungal disease generally affecting cucurbits (all the gourds) and some other vegetables. Fusarium wilt is generally identifiable by the following symptoms. (1) It will quickly kill the plant in a matter of days (2) It affects young plants more (3) If you carefully observe the dead plants you will see a ring of rot at the crown of the plant.

It is difficult to control fusarium wilt since the fungus grows on decaying organic matter. Soil sterilization would work but not easy for an average gardener.

I suggest the following measures (none of them are fool proof):

1. Delay the transplantation of the plant - wait until they are bit bigger and have several pairs of leaves. When you transplant, dig a bigger wider hole and fill it with new soil from elsewhere.

2. Water the plants less frequently.

3. The best option - if you have a larger area - is to pick another location to plant your bitter melon.

Here is some additional information:

Good luck

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:13AM
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hi Vicki,
Thanks for your sugg. Will wait till the plants grow a foot long.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 2:42PM
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About hand polinating Cucurbita:

Last year I had planted bottle gourds and learned how to hand polinate them. I had more than ten bottle gourds on a single plant.
With bottle gourds polination is more difficult. Because the flowers open at night, after dusk. By that time the bees and butterflies have gone home. The only other polinator might be moths which come out after dark.
So to make sure that female flowers are polinated the gardener shoul play bees and butterflies. After all, we are one of the hands of nature too, just like bees and other insects. So hand polination is NATURAL to.

Actually, hand polinationg itself is quite easy. But reaching to the female flowers on a treliss is more difficult. Let me just say it briefly:

1- pick a male flower that has just opened.
2- push its petal back ( opening it furthest wider)
3- spot the female flower.
4- Lower the male flower (face down) on female, giving them nice kisses, a few times.
That is it. The female is polinated and you MAY pronounce them husband and wife !(haha)
Some people do it with a Q-Tip too. But I do it as I said.
The male flower has no use other than polination female after all. So you pick them and sacrifice them. One male flower can polinate more than one female. But that is not an issue since almost always there are more male flowers than females.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:47AM
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I have saved some fresh bitter gourd seeds from the gourd itself and want to plant them. Does anyone have experience planting fresh seeds - can i sow them in a pot instead of buying seeds from the market. I am curious to know if they will grow.
Please help.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 3:59PM
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jay-wpb(10 FL)

If the seeds were covered with red pulp they would most likely grow. Try putting them in some water, if they sink to the bottom they are good, if they float - no good. Not a 100% reliable test but it does have some merit.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 4:00PM
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