Momordica Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Momordica plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Bitter Melon, Balsam Apple, & Balsam Pear: Cultivation & Garden Use

The Momordica plant genus contains half hardy perennial vines that may reach 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 feet) 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.

Momordica balsamina
Momordica balsamina – Balsam Apple by Tonrulken; creative commons.

Momordica charantia
Momordica charantia – Bitter Melon by Eran Finkle; creative commons.

Momordica Plant Growing and Care Guide

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.
Flowers: Summer.
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.
Family: Cucurbitaceae.
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.

How to Grow Balsam Pear, Bitter Melon, and other Momordica Plants in the Garden

Unless you live in a warm area it is best to start growing Balsam Pear, Bitter Melon, and other Momordica Plants from seed indoors.

They should be started about six weeks before the last frost is expected.

The seeds should be sown at about 3 mm (1/8 inch) 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 (64 to 75°F).

Once ready, transplant the Momordica into a sunny part of the garden. Space the plants at about 25 cm (10 inches; small) to 60 cm (2 feet; large species) apart.

Caring for Balsam Pear (Momordica Plants)

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. They should be fed every now and then. It is best to propagate Momordica plant species from seed.

Common Questions

How many members does the Momordica genus contain?

The Momordica genus contains about 60 species, the most well-known of which is the Bitter melon.

Do Momordica members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Momordica plants are generally grown for their edible fruits rather than for ornamental purposes, but their distinctive fruits and vigorous vines can add interest to a garden.

Which Momordica species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon) is often grown for its edible, albeit bitter, fruit. It's popular in Asian and African cuisines.

Are Momordica plants fragrant?

Momordica plants are not typically grown for their fragrance. The focus is usually on their unusual fruits.

What is the perfect location to grow Momordica?

Momordica prefers full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. It requires a warm climate and is often grown as an annual in cooler regions.

Is Momordica invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Momordica charantia can become invasive in some tropical and subtropical areas, such as parts of Florida.

How do I remove Momordica plants from my garden?

Momordica can be removed by uprooting the plant. Be careful to remove all seeds, as they can germinate and establish new plants.


Momordica is a genus in the Cucurbitaceae family. Known for their ornamental and edible qualities, the most well-known species is Momordica charantia, or bitter melon. The plant produces distinctive fruits that are used in various cuisines around the world.

For best growth, plant Momordica in a location with full sun and well-drained soil. They should be grown in the warmer months and require regular watering. With their striking foliage and unusual fruits, they can add an exotic touch to the garden.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Momordica plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Cucumbers, Lythrum plant, and Cucurbita plants.