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Growing Bitter Gourd ( Karela) in Containers

Jul 24, 2013
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Bitter gourd / Bitter Melon is a fast growing warm seasonal climbing annual, native to South Asia. It is known as ‘Karela’ in Hindi. It tastes bitter due to a compound known as quinine and  this is only reason that it is used as a treatment of malaria. Apart from that bitter gourd has many other medicinal properties like high calcium, potassium and phosphorous and fiber content. Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C are also found in it.





Seeds are best way to start bitter gourd plants.Seeds can be sown in March-May when temperature starts to rise.Soak seeds in water for at least 24 hrs before sowing for best results. 2 or 3 seeds can be sown together ½ inch deep in soil. Seeds will germinate in 5-7 days. The germinated seeds can be replanted on raised beds 18-24 inches apart.


If you are using transplanting method then do take care while rooting out seedlings to avoid disturbance to root system.






Bitter gourd grows well in a sandy loam soil. Use well drained soil, pH ranging from 5.5 – 6.7 enriched with organic matter like compost, dried manure.


 Read Also : Common Vegetables to grow at home in India.

Read Also : Check months for growing different vegetables in India


Sun / Temperature


This plant thrives in heat and humidity. As temperature rises, it grows quickly. Minimum 6 hrs of sun light is required. Extreme low temperature can hamper growth.






Regular watering is essential for good growth of the plant but do not overwater the plants.






If you worked compost into soil before planting, you can still add some slow release vegetable fertilizer like 14-14-14 at planting time. Feed plant with another dose of fertilizer in growing season. Water plants immediately after fertilizing.




Trellising Plants


As bitter gourd grows as a vine so it is necessary to save fruits from getting in touch with wet or moist ground. Make the vine climb on fence or any other support, this process is known as trellising. You can mulch the ground with dried leaves, straw etc thus avoiding any direct contact of fruit and soil.





Harvest the crop after 2 to 4 months of planting. Mature fruits are light green and juicy but bitter. Pick the fruits every 2-3 days when they are still at the tender stage. Regular picking is important as fruits will become bitterer as they mature and it can also hamper the growth of new fruits.


Leave some fruits to reach full maturity if they have to be reserved for subsequent crops. When fully mature, the fruits will break open and release brown or white seeds which can be collected.



Read Also : Growing potatoes (Aloo) at home.

Read Also : List of easily growing veggies





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4 Responses

  1. i planted karela in may 2013 from the seeds of an overripe karela bought from regular market. though vines developed very fast, the fruit size was only about 3-4 inches. vines kept appearing and growing till october. Now that winter has approached, should i cut off the vines leaving the base root in the pot and wait till May or should i get new seeds to sow next summer? i am in pune and the pots receive 6 hrs of sunshine even during winters.

    • Hi Sameer, Most of vegetables are annuals ( they will grow, flower and fruit with in one season), so better get new seeds and sow next summer. The existing vines may not be flowering and fruiting for next year. Hope it helps.

  2. Hello Friends…. Just wanted to know which is the correct time to plant KARELA. Is it alright to plant in winter in Pune, Maharashtra, India ?


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