How to Grow Bitter Melon From Seeds


Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), also known as bitter gourd, is an odd-looking, cucumber-shaped melon that is native to Asia. As suggested by its name, this melon has a very bitter flavor and is not consumed in the same way as more common melons, but is cooked or pickled instead. Bitter melon seeds require soil temperatures of at least 60 degrees F in order to germinate, and they grow best with daytime temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees F.

Step 1

Place the seeds into a container filled with water and allow them to remain there overnight.

Step 2

Prepare the bed by removing all grass, weeds and rocks. Loosen the soil to a depth of 5 inches and amend with 3 to 4 inches of organic compost.

Step 3

Use a finger to make 1/2-inch-deep holes in the soil. Leave 6 to 8 inches between each to allow room for growing. Insert a bitter melon seed into each hole and replace the disturbed soil. Water until the soil is thoroughly moistened but not enough to wash the seed to the surface.

Step 4

Check the soil daily and water whenever the top layer is dry to the touch.

Step 5

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch once the seedlings have emerged to maintain moisture and minimize weed growth, which can drain nutrients from the vines. Continue to water whenever the top of the soil feels dry.

Step 6

Place a trellis one foot behind each bitter melon plant. Train the melon vines up the trellis to prevent damage to the plant.

Step 7

Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer 30 days after planting and again 60 days after planting.

Step 8

Prune the vine when it reaches the top of the trellis by clipping off all side branches from the base of the plant to the 10th branch. Also remove the top two inches of the vine. Pruning in this manner will encourage increased fruit bearing.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Garden fork
  • Organic compost
  • Mulch
  • Trellises
  • Nitrogen-rich fertilizer


  • Clemson University Extension: Chinese Vegetables
  • Washington State University: Bitter Melon
  • The National Bitter Melon Council: Better Living through Bitter Melon
Keywords: bitter melon seeds, grow bitter melon, plant bitter melon, bitter melon, bitter gourd

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.