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Almanac Planting Ganjyu Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia)

Ganjyu Bitter Melon

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Momordica charantia

Overview

Uses: Bitter melon production

Benefits: Easy to grow. Produces 10" long and 3.5" diameter fruit. Very healthy and vitamin rich. 

Zones: 3 - 12 

Sun: Full 

Life Cycle: Annual 

Mature Height: Vine may grow up to 12'-16' long 

Mature Width: 36" (if properly trellised) 

Bloom Season: Summer

Summary

Ganjyu Bitter Melon Plant is the Japanese variety of the ubiquitous bitter melon fruit that's so common to Asian cuisine. Its use as a dietary staple throughout Japan is often referenced as a potential reason for the great health and longevity associated with the people who live there. 

Bitter melon looks somewhat similiar to, and is in the same plant family (Cucurbitaceae) as cucumbers. It's roughly the same size as a large cucumber. It's also kind of the same shade of green. The biggest difference is the obvious wart-like bumps that cover the outside of bitter melon's fruit. 

It grows on a vine, which you're encouraged to trellis. Doing so will keep your bitter melons off of the ground and help protect them from rot and disease. 

High in vitamin C and vitamin B9, bitter melon is a healthy addition to any dish and is also easily enjoyed raw. 

To prepare bitter melon:

  1. Slice off and discard the ends of the fruit
  2. Slice the melon in half length wise
  3. Remove the seeds (do not eat the seeds)
  4. The remaining skin and flesh may now be processed (sliced, diced, etc) and ate raw or cooked. (the skin is edible and full of vitamins)

Bitter melon is often used in stir-fry dishes. 

Care

Bitter Melon Plant Care

Provide at least 6 hours of full sun daily. 8+ hours is better. 

Flower development will occur mid-summer. Flowers will then turn into unique fruit.

Water regularly after planting or repotting, keeping soil moist but not wet until the plant is established. We suggest attempting to make sure your bitter melon plant gets about 1"-2" of water every week during periods of growth.

Bitter melon is a heavy feeder and its fertilization with a balanced fertilizer is also encouraged. 

Bitter melon plants should not have their fruit harvested until it is ripe. Ripe bitter melons typically develop hints of yellow within their otherwise green appearance. They'll also be firm, but not hard. If your fruit becomes mushy, it is likely over-ripe. 

This plant often does well with tomatoes. 

Plant 40" apart.

We strongly suggest trellising your bitter melon plant. The vine may grow up to 16' long, so a high and wide trellis is best. You may trellis the vine up and down. 

Do not allow prolonged exposure to temperatures below 60°F. Will die if exposed to frost. Often stunted by any temperatures below 65°F. Does best in temperatures above 70°F and below 95°F.

Size

Size of Ganjyu Bitter Melon Plants That You Ship

We ship our Bitter Melon plants in 4" grow pots. Each plant will be appropriately sized for their pot. We suggest waiting at least 2 days after you receive your plant before you transplant it. This will give it time to recuperate from shipping. 

Size of Ganjyu Bitter Melon Plant When Fully Grown

Bitter melon vine may grow as long as 16' and typically has width of around 3'.

Additional Information

Common Names of Momordica charantia

  • Bitter melon

  • Bitter apple

  • Bitter gourd

  • Bitter squash

  • Karela

Toxicity and Risks of Bitter Melon Plants

There is conflicting information regarding the toxicity of Bitter Melon. The only reputable article we can find discussing Momordica charantia in particular is this article that specifically mentions the seeds (which other less credible articles have also associated with toxicity). 

As such, we feel as though the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be ate. We also do not suggest eating any other part of this plant. We also feel as if the fruit of the plant (if prepared according to our instructions in the summary section of this page) is non-toxic if ate in normal amounts. We do not suggest juicing bitter melon.