The Momordica plant genus contains half hardy perennial vines that may reach 2.4 to 3 M in height.
They are often grown as half hardy annuals in the garden.
They have lobed leaves and bloom with white or yellow flowers in the summer; this is followed by fruits in the autumn.
Some common names include Balsam Pear and Balsam Apple. Latin names include Momordica charantia, Momordica cochinchinensis and Momordica dioica.
Common Names: Bitter Melon, Balsam Apple, Balsam Pear, Bitter Gourd, Cundeamor, Gac.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 100 to 200 inches (250 to 500 cm).
Native: Tropic and subtropical regions of Asia, Australasia and Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10.
Flower Details: Yellow, white. Veined. Grown as much for its attractive warty fruits as for its flowers.
Foliage: Lobed. Simple. Alternate.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch (3 mm). At the start of spring in warm areas. Spacing 10 to 24 inches (25 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C). Five or six weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Rich soil. Moist soil. Provide trellis. Occasional feed. Regular watering during prolonged dry spells.
Closely Related Species:
Miscellaneous: Bitter melon is used in many Asian dishes and is especially popular in China, India and the Philippines. Fruits are also used medicinally. Can be invasive.
Unless you live in a warm area it is best to start growing Balsam Pear, Bitter Melon, and other Momordica Plants from seed indoors. This should be started about six weeks before the last frost is expected. The seeds should be sown at about 3 mm deep into a moist and rich soil. It should take around two or three weeks for the seeds of Balsam pear to germinate at 18 to 24 degrees. Once ready transplant the Momordica into a sunny part of the garden at about 25 cm (small) to 60 cm (large species) apart.
It is fairly easy to maintain Balsam pear. They are vines so will require a trellis or similar for support. When the weather is very dry provide frequent watering and they should be fed every now and then. It is best to propagate Momordica plant species from seed.