Bittergourd seed viability

Last year, when my first bittergourd vine started dying off, I got worried that I had not saved seeds for a new vine, because I didn’t know that the fruit would be a hit on the dining table. I was lucky to be able to scavenge some seeds from the ground below the vine, but they were probably not of the best quality. Well, beggars can’t be choosers, right? I grew one vine from that lot of seeds and kept a couple of seeds as backup.

My luck held in the following months when a bird deposited a new seed that grew into a healthy plant, and I managed to save good seeds from an over-ripe fruit from that new plant. However, I wondered about the seeds that I’d saved from last year. So, since I’ve been in a seed-sowing frenzy lately, I added them to the mix. It would be interesting to see if 9-month old seeds would still be viable.

The new sprout from the old seed on the left, compared to a previous sprout from a fresh seed.

They were, but the plants that sprouted didn’t look as healthy as those from fresher seeds. The main thing I noticed was that the seed leaves were smaller and thinner than those from a fresh seed.

The good thing is, even though the sprouts didn’t look so robust, they did continue to grow as normal plants as they got older.

The next generation of bittergourd, grown from 9-month old seeds.

I guess fresh seeds will give you stronger seedlings, but when all’s said and done, the plants will grow as best they can!

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Bittergourd seed viability — 3 Comments

  1. I hv had seeds that were over a year old, yet they did sprout. Plants were normal, so also the fruit. They do die off, for me anyway, after about 4 or 5 fruits. Pretty good as I could use them in a dish with sour mustard, ribs, and tomatoes (home grown as well). Lasts me for a week, at least, since I’m the only person eating it. Like u, I’ve saved the seeds from an over-ripened fruit (leaves so dense I missed seeing the sucker!); don’t know how it’s gonna pan out but will be planting some of the retrieved seeds soon.

  2. That’s why I need to share out seeds – coz they become unviable so quickly! Let me know when you need some more from my stock? :)
    All the best for your bittergourd growing.
    I heard that the plants make the ground bitter??? Is that old wives’ tale?

    • I haven’t confirmed that myth yet. If my winged beans go bitter, I’ll let you know. :P
      And thanks about the seeds. Right now I’ve got so many young vine plants that I’ve got to do more trellises first – and fast!