Why Bitter Gourd Leaves Turning Yellow?

Its heart wrenching, when your plant leaves starts turning yellow day-by-day.

Though, not always it’s an alarming issue. Old leaves of plant turn yellow and shed as they age. Luckily, new leaves are been substituted.

You must panic when new leaves of bitter gourd are turning yellow.

If you tend to ignore, then soon you may lose your plant.

Bitter gourd plant leaves turn yellow due to internal or external stress. Lack of essential nutrients, overwatering or underwatering, extreme climatic conditions, soggy soil or pests can cause discoloration of leaves.

Bitter gourd or bitter melon is one of the most famous Asian vegetables. People eat it as chips, or stuff other vegetables and sometimes even meat in them.

As the name suggests, bitter gourd has a very mouth puckering acquires taste, and people have to get used to the taste.

Bitter gourds are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes all the melons like water, musk, and also cucumbers.

Bitter gourd though, can be grown as the cucumbers do, but since they are a subtropical plant, they need at least three to four months of hot and humid weather to mature appropriately.

Also Read: How Much Water Does Radish Need?

Bitter Gourd: Soil, Water and Sunlight


Prepare the potting soil by mixing garden soil, sand, old compost and perlite. This is to ensure the excess water is drained, at the same time it has ability to retain moisture.


Without sunlight, your vegetable plant may experience stunted growth.

Bitter gourd needs 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.


Water the bitter gourd plant consistently to keep the soil moist. If you’re living in tropical region, water generously in the morning and evening.

If needed, use hay grass to avoid escape of moisture into atmosphere.

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About Plant

Bitter gourd is a vining plant and has deeply lobed leaves. The gourd grows in the same manner as cucumber and squash grow. The plant’s vines are about 13 to 16 feet long, provided you don’t prune it.

Fruits of these plants are oblong; they are either super smooth or warty. They are about 8 inches long, but the length varies from fruit to fruit, between 2 and 8 inches.

When the bitter gourd ripens, it colour changes from yellow to orange. Flesh of the bitter gourd is watery, crunchy, and very similar to cucumber.

Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Grow Potatoes in a Bucket?

Why Bitter Gourd Leaves Turning Yellow?

It can be overwatering, underwatering, insufficient sunlight, choosing wrong soil, low level of nutrients or pests.

Whatever the cause be, you must initially diagnose the issue to revive the plant.

Well let me add this, if only few lower or older plant leaves are turning yellow then you don’t have to worry, it’s normal.

Overwatering – common with new gardeners

Growing plant in backyard is an excellent feel. However, sometimes curiosity does bad than good.

Excess watering your plant will result in discolored foliage, stunted growth and root rot.

To revive the plant, you must stop watering and allow the soil to dry completely. Set the watering frequency and avoid overwatering.

Underwatering – when you leave for unplanned vacation

As a gardener, it is hardly possible to ignore watering plants.

So, how can plant go underwater?

When you’re on an unplanned vacation. Drooping and yellow leaves are signs of underwatering.

To revive, start watering generously and next time arrange some alternative way to water your plants. In some cases plants can completely dry and can’t be revived.

Sunlight – Plant needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight

When bitter plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, it fails to produce required amount of food, resulting in yellow leaves.

Nutritional Deficiency

Yellowing foliage or yellow veins is a clear cut sign of nitrogen deficiency. Nitrogen deficiency can negatively affect the plant through entire life.

Depletion of potassium can also cause the leaves to turn yellow in some cases.

Suppose you have noticed that your leaves are turning weak and breaking easily, may be they need potassium. If your plants’ leaves are turning into a dull color, they need nitrogen, as the leaves of the plant’s tent go dull before they turn yellow.

Plants that have an ample amount of nitrogen will have shiner leaves, and the plants that have a generous amount of potassium in them are going to be tough and won’t bend or break easily. In this case, your plant requires nitrogen and potassium.

If you are worried that the reason behind bitter gourd leaves turning yellow is an infection, no, it isn’t. It is just that your plant has a deficiency of potassium or nitrogen or even both in some cases.

But on the contrary, some infections can also cause deficiencies; in this case, you will have to look at other factors like curling of the leaves, etc.

Potassium deficiency remedy

In case of a deficiency in potassium, you can use any of the three things to bring it back to the normal levels

  • Potassium sulphate
  • Monopotassium phosphate, this will also add phosphorus
  • Wood ash, just make sure that soil isn’t too alkaline, as wood ash tends to increase the pH levels of the soil.

Nitrogen deficiency remedy

In the case of nitrogen deficiency, you can use all-purpose, full fertilizers made for vegetables as they are a good source of nitrogen.

You can also use ammonium sulphate or urea or even mono ammonium phosphate (this has little nitrogen and a lot of phosphorus.

Soil deficiency

If you have noticed any sort of nutrient deficiency symptoms in the outdoor soil, you might be facing an issue with your soul’s pH levels, and it is advised that you get it tested and do the needful.

Check this out: Growing Swiss Chard in Containers

Here is a list of some of the nutrient issues you can look into your plants

If you have noticed that the leaves of the plants are smaller and the underneath are purple, you will have to add phosphorous. Phosphorous is the best option for plants during the cold season.

If the fruits’ size is unusually small, then this may indicate that they have a deficiency of potassium or phosphorous.

If, after the primary face or even during the older phase, the leaves have started to yellowing and their veins remain greens, this means that your plant has a deficiency of magnesium.

If the leaves’ underside has a purplish tinge and gives a translucent look, this means that your plant has a sulphur deficiency. Sulphur deficiency, like iron deficiency, causes the leaves to turn yellow during the new growth.

Now that you are aware of the deficiencies and the reason behind bitter gourd leaves turning yellow let us take a look at how you need to grow the bitter melons so that they don’t get any of these diseases plantation and earlier care is very important. These two steps can change the future of the plant.

Proper planting time

The bitter gourds/melons are a warm-season crop, and the best timing for growing them is tropical and subtropical heat and humidity.

Always grow bitter melons in the area where the daytime temperatures range from 24 to 31 degrees centigrade ( 75 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Start planting your bitter melons in the timeline of late spring to early summer. Begin by sowing the seeds outside, or you can also transplant the plant but no sooner than two to three weeks after all the danger revolving around frosting has passed and the soil has started to warm up.

Also Read: Is Peat Moss Good for Tomatoes?

Place where you plant bitter melons

As stated above, the bitter gourds grow in hot and humid climates, this means to choose a location which is warm and sunny, and the sun’s rays in the area for at least 6 hours each day.

Always plant bitter melons in the soil that has a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.7, also it must be compost-rich and well-drained.

Before you begin to plant or add the compost and manure, make sure you have made the beds to make your seeding and every other step easier.

Bitter gourd can tolerate sandy or silty loam soil, but the soil should have a great drainage system.

Planting and spacing

  • Begin by sowing the seeds in holes about ½ inch deep, and their space between then is 12 inches.
  • Begin by sowing around two seeds in each hole. The seeds will begin to germinate in about 8 to 10 days.
  • But keep in mind that low and high temperatures and too dry and too wet soil can also slow down the process of germination.
  • If the plants are trained on a trellis or fence, then the spacing between them should be around 9 to 10 feet.
  • These plants love to sprawl on growing, so make sure that they are grown on straw or plastic mulch as this will prevent them from resting on moist soil as this may lead to them rotting.

Now that you have planted and germination has begun, you must take care of the pants even during the middle period, as this will avoid the problem of bitter gourd leaves turning yellow and bitter gourd turning yellow.

Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Grow Spinach?

the middle period

The process of trellising can easily prevent the disease and make the process of harvesting a lot easier. Start by placing the trellis 6 feet high and wide or place them next to each plant.

After you have noticed that the vine has begun to grow to the top of the trellis, start pruning or pinching away all the lateral branches from the soil up to the 10th mode.

This will provide stimulation to the upper branches and allow them to grow and produce a higher yield.

Then prune the plant from its lateral areas around the 2 to 3 feet long part, begin by pruning the growing tip when it has reached the top of the trellis.

This will make sure that the plant is producing high amounts of flowers, and the fruiting will also start sooner.

The fruit that has grown from the trellis will grow longer and have a straight shape than those that have grown on the ground.

Feeding and watering the plant

Always keep the planting beds of the bitter melon moist, which means water them regularly to have proper fruit growth and development.

Add aged compost as it is the best food for plants. You can also slowly add organic fertilizer, like 5-10-10, around the plants at the early stage.

You can also side-dress the plants with aged compost during the growing season as it will add nutrients and help the soil retain moisture.

To boost the plants, make sure you are watering compost or adding a comfrey team every third week of the growing season.

Perfect companion of bitter gourds

The perfect companion plants of bitter melons are Beans, corn, peas, pumpkins, and squash. Make sure that you are not growing bitter melons with herbs and potatoes.

Pests that can harm the bitter melon

Bitter melons get attacked by spotted and striped cucumber beetles; the cucumber beetles are known for carrying a bacterial disease that causes the vines to collapsing, and once collapsed, they don’t recover.

Begin by spraying the adult beetles with insecticides that are rotenone or pyrethrum based.

Always use the pesticides during the dusk as this way, you will not be able to harm the honey bees.

Attack by fruit flies

Fruit flies also attack the bitter melon and cause them to riot the fruit. Make sure that you are preventing the flies from not reaching the fruits.

You can do this by covering the fruits with paper bags and securing the bags with twine or rubber bands.

You can also wrap them with newspapers when the fruits have reached a height of one to two inches.

The diseases which infect the bitter melon

Bitter melon is susceptible to the same disease that plague squash and cucumber are susceptible to.

These diseases include fungal diseases like downy mildew, powdery mildew, rusts and rots, watermelon mosaic virus, and bacterial wilts.

To prevent these diseases, trellis the plants, trellising will increase the circulation of air around the vines and keep the fungal infection at bay. If the vines are non-trellised, you can use straw or plastic mulch; this will prevent the plants from resting on the soil.

Keep in mind that the plants that have been attacked by the virus have no cure. So always make sure that you have seeds that are disease resistant.

Harvesting of bitter melons

Start harvesting the bitter melon about 12 to 16 weeks after planting and around 8 to 10 days after the first blossom of the plant drops.

This will be when the fruits are around 4 to 6 inches long.

The fruits of the bitter gourd will have a pear shape and the skin will be light green and have few yellow streaks.

Keep in mind that if the fruits stay for a longer period on the vine, they will begin to over-ripen, in that case, they will turn yellow, and their size will be too large and become bitter as they grow.

Fruits belonging to the same vine will have various bitterness, melons when they are immature or overripe, and can have a bitter taste.

After riping the thin layer of flesh on the bitter melon turns orange to bright red, the fruits’ flesh surrounds a hollow interior cavity with a white pulp that is spongey and has seeds.

Fruit is watery and crunchy, just like the cucumber.

Bitterness of the melon is the result of alkali momordicine. The plant’s bitterness also depends upon the color, the darker the color, the bitter the taste is going to be.

Important note!

Once the melons have begun to ripe, you will have to pick the fruits after two to three days regularly.

The reason behind this is that the more you pick, the more the fruits will form on the plant. Else, bitter gourd fruit and its leaves turn yellow.

Diseases of bitter gourd

Powdery Mildew (Sphaerothecafuliginea):

This disease usually occurs when the humidity is high, and it only occurs on the older leaves at first.

It can be controlled if you spray Carbendazim (1ml/liter of water) or Karathane (0.5 ml/liter of water) after the disease’s appearance. You should do 2-3 sprays at an interval of 15 days.

Fusarium Wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum):

In this disease, the plants will show symptoms of temporary wilting, which then further becomes permanent and progressive, which affects more vines.

In this, leaves of the affected plants start yellowing, lose the turgidity, and starts drooping.

You can control this by three sprays of Karathane (6 g in 10 liters of water) or Bavistin (1 g /liter of water) immediately or after you have noticed the initial symptoms at an interval of 5 to 6 days.


Bitter gourd leaves turn yellow when you don’t care to pat attention.

Regularly, check plant’s essential needs. Soil, water and sunlight.

Along with this conduct soil test before adding balanced fertilizers. Well-drained soil that retains moisture and filled with nutrients is best suited for vegetable plants.

Regulate watering frequency according to climatic conditions in your region.

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