How To Grow Bitter Gourd

how to grow bitter gourd

Bitter gourd or Kerala is a popular summer vegetable in Pakistan and India also all over the world. Bitter gourd belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash. Bitter gourd originated in Africa and nowadays cultivation is done in many countries of Asia.

Bitter gourd tastes amazing with salted lassi but many people don’t like especially kids because of its bitterness. However, it has many health benefits. Bitter gourd has high amounts of vitamins C and A. It decreases blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

If you like bitter gourd and want to grow at home but are not sure how to grow bitter gourd then this article will be helpful for you.

When to Grow Bitter Gourd?

Bitter gourd seeds can be sown twice in a year. The best time considered is between February and March and then June & July.

How to Grow Bitter Gourd?

First Step: Choosing the Location

Bitter gourd thrives in hot climates. Select the area where the bitter gourd gets full-day sunlight which is important for fruiting and healthy growth. Karela can also be grown in partial shade.

Second Step: Preparing Soil

Mix decomposed manure and lose the soil enough so that the roots can grow easily. To get the best results grow bitter gourd in loamy soil otherwise, you can grow it in normal garden soil. Bitter gourd can easily grow in many types of soils. The PH of the soil should be 5.5-6.5.

Third Step: Sowing Seed

Buy bitter gourd seeds of high quality for better germination rate and fruiting. For quick germination soak the seeds for 12 hours. Sow the seeds in the soil about half an inch and cover them with soil.

Don’t let the soil dry until the seeds germinate keep the soil moist. The bitter gourd seed will take 3 to 5 days to germinate.

The seed-to-seed distance in the garden should be 24 inches otherwise in containers or grow bags sow only one seed.

Fourth Step: Care of Seedlings

After the seeds have germinated make sure to maintain the moisture in the soil. The best time to water the seedlings is in the evening.

Fifth Step: Providing Support

When bitter gourd plants reach a height of 4 to 5 inches provide them support. Build a trellis or use a crop net to give support to climbing vines. Growing bitter gourd vertically has many benefits which include increased fruiting, improved air circulation, and less attack of pests and diseases.

How to Care Bitter Gourd


Bitter gourd likes moist soil. Make sure that you don’t overwater it can cause many problems like root rot and fungal disease attack. Water the bitter gourd regularly as needed.


Once the plant has reached the age of 30 days you can start fertilizing it. Use balanced liquid fertilizer in the first two months. Bitter gourd should be fertilized once a month. After that start applying fertilizer which has more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorus (NPK 5-15-45). It will increase fruiting also.

Tip: Don’t apply fertilizer when the soil is completely dry. Soil must have moisture when you are applying fertilizer for better results.

Pests and Diseases

Mostly aphids and fruit flies affect the bitter gourd plant. The others are whiteflies and spider mites. Diseases include powdery mildew and downy mildew.

Treatment: If you see pest and disease attack on the bitter gourd plant use neem oil spray if worse prune the branches. Otherwise, you can go for chemical pesticides make sure to read the instructions carefully before using.


Pruning plays an important in increasing fruit production and healthy growth of plants. Start by pinching the tip of the main vine when it reaches about 3 feet. This will promote the growth of side branches.

Prune the dense areas to promote air circulation. Poor air circulation can cause fungal diseases to attack bitter gourd plants.

Learn about How to Grow & Care Rainbow Eucalyptus Bonsai 

Growing Bitter Gourd in Pots

Those who have limited space can grow bitter gourd in pots easily. Choose a pot size at least 12-16 inches deep and wide. Provide support to vines and make sure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent overwatering.


The harvesting of bitter gourd can be done after 60-70 days after planting. When bitter gourd becomes 4-6 inches long, it is ready for harvesting. Always use shears or a sharp knife to harvest the fruit. Avoid pulling fruit it can damage the plant.

Harvest bitter gourd timely otherwise it will start changing its color from dark green to orange which indicates that it is ripened.

Tip: Harvest the fruits frequently this encourages more fruiting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can we grow bitter gourd from fresh seeds?

A. Yes, bitter gourd can be grown successfully from fresh seeds. The bitter gourd should be fully ripe remove seeds, wash them, let them dry for a few hours, and soak them for 24 hours to speed up germination.

Q. Which season is best for the bitter gourd?

A. Bitter gourd is a summer-season vegetable, it requires warm weather for healthy growth. The ideal time to sow bitter gourd seeds is between February and March.

Q. Why are my gourds turning yellow?

A. If bitter gourd is ripe it changes from dark green to orange or yellow. Watering issues and pests and diseases can also be the main reason. Deficiency of main nutrients may cause this problem.

Q. What is the lifespan of a bitter gourd plant?

A. The lifespan of bitter gourd plants is generally 4 to 5 months.

Q. How to increase the yield of bitter gourd?

A. Prepare the soil well before growing plants by adding organic matter. Keep the soil moist and use fertilizer once in a month which has a high amount of potassium.

Q. How do you increase female flowers?

A. To increase female flowers it is necessary to provide the plant with the required growing conditions which include 8 hours of sunlight, proper watering, and applying fertilizers. Otherwise, you can use gibberellic acid to increase female flowering.

Q. How often do you water bitter gourd?

A. When you see the upper soil dry, water the bitter gourd plants. If soil has enough moisture avoid watering. Sometimes you need to water twice a day because of warm weather soil dry quickly as bitter gourd is a summer season vegetable.


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