How to Grow Trichosanthes Plants

Guide to Growing Serpent Gourd and Snake Gourd

Trichosanthes plants are half hardy annual vines that range from 3 to 5 metres (10 to 16 feet) in height.

Trichosanthes species have broad leaves. They bloom from late in the summer through to autumn, when they carry fringed white flowers.

Following blooming they produce fruits that are up to 60 cm (2 feet) in length.

Some of the common names for Trichosanthes include Serpent Gourd, Snake Gourd, and Serpent Cucumber.

Trichosanthes by flickr_10g

Snake cucumber flower
Snake cucumber flower by Tanakawho. Both photographs under creative commons licence.

Trichosanthes Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Snake Gourd, Pointed Gourd, Japanese Gourd, Potol, Chinese Cucumber, Serpent Cucumber, Parwel, Kirilowii.
Family: Cucurbitaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual.
Height: 100 to 200 inches (250 to 500 cm).
Native: Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 9 and 10.
Flowers: End of summer and autumn.
Flower Details: White. Five petals. Hairy.
Foliage: Deeply lobed.

Sow Outside: 1 inch (25 mm). Only grow in warm areas. Sow in mid-spring; temperature must not drop below 70°F (21°C). Spacing 50 to 70 inches (125 to 180 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two weeks to one month. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors in mid spring; temperature should not drop below 70°F (21°C).
Requirements: Afternoon shade. Good drainage. Humus. Moist soil. Provide trellis. Regular watering whilst growing.

How to Grow Serpent Gourd, Snake Gourd and other Trichosanthes Plants in the Garden

When growing Trichosanthes plants, such as Serpent gourd and Snake Gourd, from seeds it is best to start the process off indoors.

Sow the seeds in peat pots about two months before they are due to be transplanted into the garden (aim to transplant outdoors in the middle of spring).

Once sown it should take Serpent gourd from two to four weeks to germinate at a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees centigrade (64 to 75°F).

Once ready, transplant Serpent gourd outdoors singly, or at least 1.5 m apart (5 feet). Grow Trichosanthes in a sunny area, that has afternoon shade. Ideally this location shouldhave a moist soil that is humus rich.

Caring for Trichosanthes Plants

As Trichosanthes plants are vines, it is important that they are provided a trellis for support. During the growing season they should be watered regularly. It is best to grow further Serpent gourds from seeds.

Common Questions

How many members does the Trichosanthes genus have?

The Trichosanthes genus consists of about 100 species, including some tropical and subtropical vines.

Do members of Trichosanthes make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Trichosanthes is a lovely choice for a tropical or subtropical garden, with unique fruits and flowers that can attract wildlife.

Which Trichosanthes species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Trichosanthes cucumerina, known as the Snake Gourd, is the most popular species for cultivation.

Are members of the Trichosanthes plant genus fragrant?

Some Trichosanthes species have fragrant flowers, particularly in the evening.

What is the perfect location to grow Trichosanthes?

Trichosanthes thrives in sunny locations with well-drained, fertile soil and high humidity.

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

At present, Trichosanthes species are not considered invasive in the USA. Always consult local regulations for the most current information.

How do I remove Trichosanthes plants from my garden?

Trichosanthes can be manually removed by pulling up the vines and ensuring the root system is fully extracted.


The Trichosanthes plant genus is made up of annual and perennial vines native to Asia and Australia. They are grown for their ornamental flowers, unusual fruits, and some species for their edible fruits and medicinal properties.

Plant Trichosanthes seeds in spring, after the last frost, in a sunny location with well-drained soil. They need a trellis or other support to climb on. Regular watering is required, and they also benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer.

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