Introduction: Growing Gourds (Ridge Gourd, Bitter Gourd and Snake Gourd)

It is spring... Time for garden enthusiasts like me to wake up and prepare the backyard to plant our own vegetables... Even people with very little space use their terrace to plant vegetables in containers. Gourd varieties like Ridge gourd, Bitter gourd and Snake gourd are some of the popular vegetables which can be very easily grown in the home garden. These plants do not require much attention. However, by putting in a little more effort you will enjoy a great yield from the same plant from which you used to harvest very few fruits only.

A step-by-step instructable on growing Ridge Gourd at your home garden... These methods apply to other varieties of gourds like snake gourd and bitter gourd also.

Step 1: Seeds

Let us start with seeds...

Either you can save seeds from previous year's fruits allowing one or two to fully mature and dry in the plant itself or you can buy seeds from shops.

in the first picture you can see the ridge gourd seeds being collected from last year's dried fruit. The seeds are protected by the sponge-like network of fibers. You can extract the seeds from the fruit whenever you are planning to plant.

The second picture shows the seeds stored in cow dung. You can harvest the matured seeds and press them into flattened fresh cow dung and dry it in shade. Cow dung is natural protector and will not allow any pests to damage the seeds. You can break the dried  cow dung cake and take out the seeds any time.

The third picture is of the store-bought seeds. These seeds are treated with chemical pesticides and are artificially colored to show the presence of pesticides. Take care while handling store-bought, chemically treated seeds and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Step 2: Pit Preparation, Germinating and Planting

Preparing the pit

  • Select an area where you can erect a trellis to support the plant, which also receives full sun light.
  • Mark 2 feet x 2 feet area and clean all vegetation
  • Dig a pit of about one foot in depth. Keep the soil separately
  • Mix compost with this soil and refill the pit

Directly planting the seeds

Either you can plant the seeds directly in the prepared pit or germinate the seeds separately and transplant. You can see in the first picture that I have planted seeds holes directly in the prepared pit and watered. You can thin out to four or five when the seeds germinate and grow up

Second picture shows the dug-out soil being mixed with compost

Germinating and transplanting seedlings

You can also germinate the seeds separately and then transplant. You can use paper tea cups, polythene bags or any other container for this.

Another natural method is to wrap the seeds in banana stem with moist soil. The banana stem will help in retaining the moisture and will not allow the seeds to go dry. You can open up after about ten days and transplant the sprouted seeds in the prepared pit.

Step 3: Care for the Young Plant

I have transplanted two seedlings to the prepared pit. These photographs are of transplanted seedlings after 15 days. You need to provide good support to these young plants till they reach the height of the trellis.

I have provided support with coconut leaf stalk and tied the seedlings loosely with fiber from Banana stem

Step 4: Lateral Shoots and Tendrils

Lateral shoots grow from every node of the plant. Remove all laterals below the trellis level. These laterals will hinder the growth of main plant and make it unmanageable.

The tendrils, a specialized stem with a threadlike shape, are used by climbing plants for support by twining around nearby hosts. Pinch away all tendrils. We do not need them as we will provide support and guide the plant on the trellis system.

Step 5: Trellis

The plants need a trellis system to grow and spread. You can make one using timber poles and GI wires about seven to eight feet above the ground level

Step 6: Pruning and Training

Pruning and training the vine over the trellis is very important to get maximum yield from the plant.

  • Allow the plant to grow without any laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes above the top of the trellis
  • Now prune the main stem
  • Lightly tie the stem with the trellis wire using a string. I have used the fiber from the banana stem for this
  • You may find laterals growing from the nodes. Do not allow any laterals below the trellis
  • Count each lateral to 12 nodes and prune the rest. Remove all tendrils also
  • Train the vine over the trellis system by tying the laterals with a string.

There are different views as to pruning the laterals after how many nodes. Some people suggest to prune after 5 nodes. But in my experience, I have noticed that the nodes between fourth and tenth produce good quality fruits, so I prune the shoots after every 12th node.

Step 7: Watering

Water judiciously. Under-watering as well as over-watering will destroy the plant. You can visually inspect the plant everyday and water as required. There is no set rule.

Step 8: Fertilizer / Manure for the Plant

If you raise chicken, goat or any cattle, you can use their waste as manure for the plant. We collect goat dung from our baby goat and add it to the plant. We also make compost from kitchen waste using an old broken bucket as compost bin. The digested slurry from a bio-gas plant also makes a very good manure.

Step 9: Prevention Against Pests

Normally, gourds are rarely attacked by pests. However, prevention is better than cure...

We do not use any chemical pesticides at our home garden. We use a paste made with equal amounts of onion, ginger, garlic and chilies, dilute it with water and spray on the foliage. You can use a hand sprayer or just spray it on the plant with your hands. The solution is not harmful like chemicals. However, take care not to get this in your eyes as it may hurt...

Step 10: Male and Female Flowers

Shortly after training the vine on the trellis, you may find lots of flowers on the plant. All gourd varieties produce male and female flowers. A female flower can be distinguished by the small fruit attached to the flower. The male flower is just plain without any fruits. You can see the male and female flowers in the pictures here.

Step 11: Pollinating the Flowers

Gourds have separate male and female flowers. The female flower with a small fruit attached to it needs to be pollinated to grow into a matured fruit. Honey bees and some insects help in pollinating the flowers. However you can find lots of unpollinated young female flowers withering away. It is a good practice to always hand-pollinate gourds (this is possible only in kitchen garden in a small scale). Pluck a fresh male flower and rub it over a female flower to transfer pollen. You can use a soft brush also for pollination.

We got lots of honey bees in the garden which help in pollinating flowers. They are friendly and never attack unless disturbed. However, use of chemical pesticides will kill or drive away the bees from your garden

Step 12: Fruits of Your Labor

The pollinated female flowers slowly mature into fruits ready for harvest. You can see here that an unpollinated female flower has withered and died.

Step 13: Harvest in Time

Harvest the fruits at young stage before the skin becomes thick, otherwise the fruits will become inedible with lots of fiber. If you find any ripe gourd, just leave it in the plant itself. You can then collect the seeds when it completely dries out.

Step 14: Bottom Line

Hope this instructable is helpful for people new to growing gourds at your backyard.

Do not have space to grow your own vegetables...? Don't worry... you can turn your terrace or window sill into a mini garden and grow in pots, grow bags or in plastic buckets.

Here you can see a picture of Ridge gourds grown in a pot at our home and the hand rails of the staircase used as trellis...

If there's a will, there's a way. Enjoy growing your own vegetables...


AzhaguvelP (author)2017-07-25

Hi I have excellent bottle gourd. There are 100s of flowers. Harvested 4 big fruits (2 feet long). There are considerable number of fruits (just 3 inches in size) are not growing and getting dropped after browning ! Is it because of pollination issue ?? What is a typical male and female flower ratio in bottle gourd ? if it is 50:50, if so am I expected to get 50 fruits from a 10 feet by 10 feet plot?? if so I will become a millionaire !!!

antoniraj (author)AzhaguvelP2017-07-27

First prune all laterals after 12 nodes. The female flowers between 5th and 10th nodes grow very well. Also try pollinating female flowers manually.

LoveGardening (author)2017-07-25

Great post, thanks for sharing. I have three ridge gourd that are very healthy looking and have around 10 gourds more than 8 inches long growing on it already. THis morning I noticed that quite a few of the newly forming female buds are yellowing and feeling limp to the touch. Is it a sign of some deficiency? The plant is still growing and forming new buds and looks healthy overall.

antoniraj (author)LoveGardening2017-07-27

Try pollinating the female buds manually. Pruning also helps in getting good yield

rajivkarora (author)2017-07-13

I have 3 ridge gourd plants. I have already pruned 9 gourds. But I cannot see any new fruit\gourd growing. Is there any problem?


Do not add too much of Nitrogen based fertilisers and compost. This will make the plant grow vigorously without any male flowers and fruits.


Thanks for the reply. I just noticed there is no female flower left on my plants.

RajeshS123 (author)2017-04-06

My plant is growing well but the fruit seems to be stunted. The gourds grow but remain quite small. Also, some fruit seems to be turning yellow. Would greatly appreciate some advice. Please see photos.

antoniraj (author)RajeshS1232017-06-05

Plant growth seems to be affected due to nutrient deficiency. Add farm yard manure or vermi compost to the plant. Make sure the plant gets enough sun light also as it is growing against a wall

MunikumarR (author)2017-04-08

Sir this is the problem. Please show me the solution and what care that I can take

antoniraj (author)MunikumarR2017-06-05

Your plant may be affected by Bitter Gourd Mosaic disease, caused by a virus. If it is an young plant, uproot and throw away. If it is well grown then try spraying neem oil mixed with water

Lokeshwari gopinath (author)2016-12-20

Sir i have planted the ridge gourd.and its been a month and above..U may see the fruit is ripenning before the flower blooms.There is no way to pollinate.Can u suggest me a remedy please do reply.Thank you


Initially it may happen. Do not over water and do not add more compost / fertilizer. You can also prune and train your plant on a trellis. You will get good male and female flowers soon. Look for them early morning and hand-pollinate the flowers

MunawarK1 (author)antoniraj2017-05-12

Any fungicides we use

antoniraj (author)MunawarK12017-06-05

Normally I use home-made organic pest control method only. I do not use chemicals

MunawarK1 (author)2017-05-12

Is it possible the nitrogen difficiency in bitter Gourd

antoniraj (author)MunawarK12017-06-05

Yes, nitrogen deficiency in bitter gourd is possible.

MunawarK1 (author)2017-05-12

Dear How to pollinate the plant by itself

antoniraj (author)MunawarK12017-06-05

You need lots of insects like honey bees which pollinate the plants

MunikumarR (author)2017-04-08

Sir please give me your kind reply

DeepthyS (author)2017-03-28

Thank you for the instructions. I have started with bitter gourds this time. I was bit confused at the pruning instructions.

1. Allow the plant to grow without any laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes above the top of the trellis - Do we count to 12 node from the bottom of the plant or from the beginning of the trellis?

2. You may find laterals growing from the nodes -- Aren't these laterals already pruned as part of above step as we are removing laterals and tendrils about 12 nodes before cutting the main stem?.

Appreciate your response.

antoniraj (author)DeepthyS2017-03-29

1. we remove all laterals below the trellis so that a single stem of the plant grows up to the trellis. Then count 12 nodes or let the plant grow further about 2 to 2-1/2 ft and pinch of the growing end. Then you can bend the portion above the trellis without breaking and tie it flat over the trellis

2. Most of the nodes above the trellis may not have laterals when you cut of the main stem. So naturally you will find laterals growing from most of the nodes above the trellis

Bitter gourds are very easy to grow and do not require much pruning and training over the trellis. Only thing is, remove all laterals below to trellis to make it manageable

DeepthyS (author)antoniraj2017-03-29

Thanks much for the response. Very helpful.

ReenaK3 (author)2017-03-24

Count each lateral to 12 nodes and prune the rest...did not understanf this part

antoniraj (author)ReenaK32017-03-26

A node is a point in a vine from where leaves and flowers grow. You will get good quality gourds / fruits between 5th and 10th node. So count 12 such points and pinch of the rest of the vine at the growing end

ReenaK3 (author)antoniraj2017-03-27

Thank you. I am growing them for the first time. Do these gourds require full 8 hrs son or 3-4 hrs is enuf

antoniraj (author)ReenaK32017-03-27

Give them as much sunlight as possible. 3-4 hours also good if you are growing them in your balcony which gets limited sunlight

katerlyn (author)2017-03-10

Please put Luffa in the title and key more people can find this! I will be on my fourth year of growing luffas and I adore using them for dish scrubbing and in the shower. Thanks for your instructable!!

antoniraj (author)katerlyn2017-03-12

Thank you for the suggestion. I have added "Luffa" to key words

katerlyn (author)2017-03-10

I want to add that the growing season is short in Northern Illinois so often I have to dry my luffa gourds out in the microwave and then peel them...I try not to do this to save the seeds, however.

skrishnan5 (author)2017-03-07

All my bitter gourds are turning yellow at an early stage itself.... They are not growing fully... What to do ?

antoniraj (author)skrishnan52017-03-09

There may be many reasons.
1. They are not properly pollinated. Try hand pollinating
2. Due to extreme climates like cold weather or dry high temperature
3. Moisture condition. If the plant is in a container, you need to water few times as required to keep the soil moist. If it is in ground make sure you are not over-watering the plant.
4. Do not over-fertilize

khianzkie (author)2016-12-06

It is possible to propagated the bitter gourd by undergroun stem?

antoniraj (author)khianzkie2016-12-06

I have not tried it. you can try it and post your results for others to follow

Gomathy B (author)2016-11-30

What is a node? Thanks for your instructions. I am ready to harvest my very first bottle gourd.

antoniraj (author)Gomathy B2016-11-30

If you closely look at the plant, you will find leaves and buds growing from places along the stem of the plant. That place is called a Node. Enjoy your harvest...

Gomathy B (author)antoniraj2016-11-30

Is it points where both leaves and buds grow together or also points where just leaves grow?

antoniraj (author)Gomathy B2016-11-30

points where both leaves and buds grow together and also points where just leaves grow are all known as nodes

Gomathy B (author)antoniraj2016-12-02

Thanks. I wasn't very strict about following your instructions this time and if I am lucky, may have 2 more weeks before it gets too cold. But your point on no laterals below the trellis is very important. But my trellis is only about 4 feet tall on a raised bed. It is 3x5. Do you think I will be able to get a greater yield in this space by pruning below the trellis?

antoniraj (author)Gomathy B2016-12-04

you can get good yield as height of the trellis does not affect it. only thing is you have to crawl below the trellis to harvest the vegetables

Gomathy B (author)antoniraj2016-12-05

Thank you!

RajeshS123 (author)2016-11-15

I have planted a few karela seeds and now have some very healthy young plants which are growing robustly. I am preparing to build a structure to support their growth.

Will this plant do well and produce fruit on a trellis which is strictly vertical with no horizontal plane?

I'm asking because all of the images I have seen show this plant growing and producing fruit on a horizontal structure. In these photos the plant climbs up the sides and then across the top but I only see fruit hanging from top.

I only have room to build a trellis with one vertical plane. I can't imagine why this would prevent the plant from fruiting as it seems illogical but I thought I'd ask.

antoniraj (author)RajeshS1232016-11-19

If you do not have room for making horizontal plane, no problem for karela. They will find their own support

Lokvani (author)2016-11-06

I have ridge gourd plant where leaves are turning yellow in color. I have another pot which has an healthy growth Please see the photos request expert advice

antoniraj (author)Lokvani2016-11-07

If the yellowing leaves are at the lower level of the plant and the plant at the growing end are healthy, it is normal as older leaves will dry and fall off. If the entire plant is affected like this, then it may be a fungal infection. Better to uproot and discard the plant to prevent it affecting the healthier one

AmitN25 made it! (author)2016-09-20

hello sir

my bottle gourd vine produced a large number of small guards but none of them grew to an adult fruit and fall. what may be the reason of not producing any bottle gourds. please help me what will i do.please mail me at

antoniraj (author)AmitN252016-09-21

This may be due to non-pollinating of young female flowers. try to hand pollinate the flowers early morning. I hope you will get good fruits soon

BHARATHIr3 (author)2016-09-07

sir following your instruction iam growing ridge gourd for the first time.plant has reached the trellis,it took 28 nodes to reach there.i pruned the main stem after 12 more nodes over the laterals are growing frrom all these doubt is shoud we need to prune these laterals too after 12 nodes? and shouldl we prune all the tendrils above the trellis too?again if more branches come from these laterals-what to do? since iam growing this iln a big pot should i let the plant keep on growing,when will it produce flowers?

laterals too after 12 nodes?

antoniraj (author)BHARATHIr32016-09-07

Yes, prune all those laterals after 12 nodes and also the tendrils if possible. Most of the male and female flowers appear between 4th and 10th nodes. If you do not find any flowers in the laterals prune them also. Provide good support as you have planted it in a pot. Do not add too much of nitrogen based fertilisers. This will increase vigorous plant growth but less flowers

kumarsubodh made it! (author)2016-09-02

Dear sir,

I have planted Sponge guard and bottle guard together in one planter. However, sponge guard plant is drying up while bottle guard is doing fine. What may be the reason and remedy? watering is in time.


About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan ... More »
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