Growing winter melon in pots

Growing winter melons in pots are very easy. They are actually summer-grown tender plants that are commonly harvested in either late summer, autumn, or early winter. The scientifically name of winter melon is Benincasahispida and is a member of the cucurbit family a variety of musk melon. The exact country origin of winter melon is unknown but they are primarily Asian vegetable.

Furthermore, winter melon is also known by different names in some other countries: Sufed Kaddu, white gourd, Togan,  tallow gourd, Tong Qwa, ash gourd, gourd melon, Chinese watermelon, Doan Gwa, Dong Gwa, Petha, white pumpkin, Fak and Alu Puhul.

When the plant actually mature it resembles a watermelon. The flesh of the melon is actually white, thick, and also firm in appearance with a quantity of small seeds and it taste something like zucchini squash. The melon can also be stored for a long time, around six to twelve months when mature if stored in a cool and dry area.

How to Grow Winter Melon Indoors

Light and temperature requirement: Actually winter melon prefers warm mild weather and not full winter. The optimal temperature for fast growth of winter melon plant is between 482 – 572 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually the ash gourds are adapted to a broad range of rainfall conditions. The winter melon plants should be placed at a bright sunny spot, under open sunlight, as the plants require full sunlight. But in summer, protect your winter melon plants from the afternoon sun.

Soil requirement: Winter melon plant can actually grow in a range of soil, however they do best in well drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matter.  Winter melon plants can also tolerate a wide range of pH even alkaline pH of up to eight but the optimum pH range is 5-6.

Water requirement: Water the winter melon plants everyday in summer. You can use a watering can to water the Winter melon plants and make sure you water in a shower form not in a single flow. You can water every three to four days in their initial growth days. When the Winter melon plant starts blooming, start watering them every alternate day. Don’t forget that overwatering of the plants can cause root rot.  

Location to grow Winter melon: Winter melon is a vining plant, either you grow them in a place enough for it sprawl, or you place them near a wall or fence or pillar for support.

Fertilizers requirement: Winter melon is not a demanding plant, the plants will be fine without addition of fertilizers. But if your soil actually lacks essential nutrients you can easily apply an all–purpose fertilizer or you can also enrich the soil with compost or manure.

Suitable season and time for sowing Winter melon: The planting of Winter melon is done twice in a year between January and March or September and December. Also, sowing can be done between May and June after the first few rain showers.

Spacing the winter melon plants: In a pit of about 1 to 2 cm, you can sow four to five seeds in each. Pre-sow the land i.e. Water the land before three to four days of sowing. After germination you can easily remove the unhealthy plants and then keep three plants per pit.

Growing Winter Melon in Container

Winter melons are heavy feeders and they actually require lots of water, make sure you use a large sixteen to twenty inches pot with drainage poles.

Steps of sowing Winter melons:

  • You need to select a container of your choice.
  • You have to fill the container with proper potting mix.
  • Sow the winter melon seeds at the centre of the pot.

Winter melon growth stages

  • After about eight to ten days the winter melon seeds will germinate and little sprouts will be visible.
  • The false leaves that are called cotyledons will be visible in the second week of germination.  
  • The first leaves will appear above the cotyledons at the end of second week.  
  • The seedlings will actually start growing after the second week.

How to Harvest Winter Melons

Under normal condition the winter melon will start flowering at the end of the 3rd month. The ripe winter melon fruit will be available and ready to harvest after three months. The stem that is attached to the fruit is thick, you need to use clippers to pluck the fruit.

The harvesting of the winter melon can be done on both mature and immature stage. For food consumption the fruits can be harvested at an immature stage.

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