I’ve been wanting to try growing bitter melon for years, and when I saw this beautiful, white-fruited form in the Baker Creek catalog last spring, I jumped at the chance to get a packet. The vines grew well on a coir netting trellis and were definitely ornamental, with lobed leaves and bright yellow flowers. I ended up with a half-dozen or so fruits fully ripening before frost. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more, but not surprised, since the summer was very dry here and I couldn’t easily water the vines. Plus, I know the vines would have produced more if the melons were picked when white (immature) instead of left on the vine to fully ripen (which is what I did in hopes of getting more seed). I definitely plan to grow it again, because the knobbly fruits were so interesting to look at, and I would like to try eating some. They’re said to be lightly bitter at the best eating stage (when white). When very ripe, the fruit splits to show the seeds, each of which is enclosed in a pulpy red coating which is supposed to be very sweet. (You can eat that coating but not the seeds themselves.) If you want to learn more about the species and its history, medicinal and culinary uses, and growing tips, I highly recommend this excellent video: Jyunpaku Goya Melon: Pearl of Okinawa. Full sun (to light shade in hot climates). Annual vine.
2022-collected seeds are sold out. I hope to collect again in fall 2023. At least 5 seeds.
Please read the germination information as well before ordering.