How to Raise Bottle Gourds
Bottle gourds are large gourds suitable for making water dippers, bird houses and craft projects. These gourds are relatively easy and fun to raise. Gourds are produced on fast-growing, climbing vines. Its 4-inch, white flowers produce irregularly shaped fruit with rectangular seeds. While most bottle gourds are used for decorative purposes, some varieties may be harvested young and eaten.
Soak seeds in water for 24 hours to assist in germination.
Prepare a 1-foot-wide patch of soil that measures between 3 and 6 feet long with a tiller or spade. Remove any stones and weeds. Erect a fence, trellis or other climbing structure alongside the planting area.
Plant soaked seeds 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch deep, about 6 inches apart, in a row, watering them in well.
Thin the gourds after germination as necessary so they don't crowd each other. Allow the gourds 100 to 180 days to mature, watering weekly if they don't receive at least 1 inch of rainfall. During extremely hot and dry weather, increase watering frequency to once daily.
Leave gourds on the vine until the vine dies. Harvest them once the vine is dead and the gourds are brownish in color.
Grow Bottle Gourd Squash
Till the soil in a straight row to a depth of about 8 inches. Add several inches of organic material, such as compost, manure, leaf mold or sphagnum peat, to add nutrients to the soil, increase drainage and improve structure. Choose a site that receives full sun to partial shade. Gather the soil into 12-inch tall mounds spaced 9 feet apart along the row. You can install the trellis before planting, if desired, or no later than when the plants reach about 6 inches tall. Reduce watering in late summer after the gourds have developed and wait for the gourds to mature on the vines. Wait until the vine grows long enough that it can easily reach the trellis without pulling on the vine. Bottle gourds tolerate light frost, so you can leave the gourds on the vine much later than other gourds. When they are dry, you can paint the gourds or drill a 2-inch-diameter hole in one side to make a birdhouse.
Bottle gourds should be planted well away from squash, pumpkins and other gourds to prevent cross pollination.
- Water daily, the heat of the day may cause your gourds to wilt in mid summer.
- Don't plant under trees if you don't want your vines (and your gourds) twenty feet up in the air.
- Keep seeds from your largest gourds to plant for the following year if you want to grow Purple Martin houses.
- Fences make a great place to plant your gourds along.
- Bottle gourds should be planted well away from squash, pumpkins and other gourds to prevent cross pollination.
- Bottle gourd seeds
- Tiller or spade
- Trellis, fence or wire plant stucture
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Gourd, Bottle; James M. Stephens
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Growing Gourds
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Growing Cucumbers, Melons, Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds
- Ohio State University Extension: Growing and Curing Gourds in the Home Garden
- Los Angeles Times: Growing Bigger, Better Bottle Gourds