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Botanical Interests

Number One Bitter Melon Seeds

Number One Bitter Melon Seeds

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Product Details

The bitterness of bitter melon (also called balsam pear) is due to quinine, a strong-tasting component that's also used to flavor tonic water! The sharp taste softens as it absorbs other flavors while cooking and has a pleasant cooling effect when eaten in the heat of summer. Bitter melon is considered to have medicinal qualities and is used in Asian medicines. This shorter variety's 6'-8' vine is best grown on a trellis or fence.

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  • Variety Info
  • Sowing Info
  • Growing Info

Variety Info

Days to Maturity: 90 days

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Native: Africa, Asia, Australia, the Pacific

Hardiness: Frost-sensitive perennial in USDA zones 10 and warmer

Exposure: Full sun

Plant Dimensions: 6'–8' trailing or climbing vine

Variety Info: 8"–9" (at maturity) long, oval, tapering to a point at each end. When young, bitter melon is yellowish green with lumps and ripens to yellow and then bright orange. Monoecious (both male and female flowers appearing on any given plant). Also called bitter gourd, karela, or balsam pear.

Attributes: Frost Sensitive

Sowing Info

When to Sow Outside: RECOMMENDED. 1 to 2 weeks after your average last frost date, and when soil temperature is 70°–90°F.

When to Start Inside: Recommended for short–season areas. 2 to 4 weeks before transplanting within 2 weeks after your average last frost date. Sow into biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground; roots are sensitive to disturbance.

Days to Emerge: 10–20 days

Seed Depth: 3/4"

Seed Spacing: 2 seeds every 24"

Row Spacing: 24" on a trellis or fence

Thinning: When 2" tall, thin to 1 every 24"

Growing Info

Harvesting: Most gardeners harvest fruit at 4"-6" before it turns orange. When the outside of the fruit turns orange, the pulp softens, sweetens, and turns scarlet. Many find the fruit texture undesirable at this stage. Bitterness levels may vary from fruit to fruit.