Ornamental Gourds

By: C. Colston Burrell
Ornamental gourds grow in a wide array of colors and shapes. See more pictures of vegetables.

Ornamental gourds are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also contains cucumbers, melons, and squash. A durable outer shell allowed gourds an important role in human development, as evidenced by their prehistoric use as containers, markers, musical instruments, tools, and other artifacts. The gourd family has many familiar members which we know today.


Ornamental gourds related species:

  • Yellow-Flowered Gourd (Cucumis pepo olifera): These are closely related to squash. Hard-shelled fruits of many shapes and colors (both solid and striped) grow on long-stemmed vines.
  • White-Flowered Gourd (Lagenaria siceraris): This is a rapidly growing vine with large fruits of many sizes and shapes. Depending on the shape, they are often known as bottle gourd, calabash, dipper gourd, siphon gourd, snake gourd, and sugar-trough gourd. Besides being used as ornaments and as containers, they are also used as musical instruments.
  • Dishrag Gourd, Vegetable Sponge (Luffa aegyptiaca): The long, gourd-like fruits have a fibrous skeleton, which, once the skin is removed, can be used for scrubbing purposes. They grow on a vigorous vine.

Growing ornamental gourds: Full sun, a rich soil high in organic matter, and plentiful moisture are important for good growth by gourds. Sow outdoors when the ground is well-warmed and all danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds in hills of 6 to 8 seeds to a group. Thin seedlings to 4 per hill, selecting the strongest ones. Space hills 8 feet apart.

Propagating ornamental gourds: Start new plants from seed. Roots of gourds resent disturbance, so sow in place outdoors. If started earlier indoors, plant in peat pots that can be transplanted into the ground, pot and all. Seeds germinate in 4 to 8 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Uses for ornamental gourds: The vines of gourds can be used to grow over arbors, trellises, pergolas, fences, and arches, or may be left to grow on the ground. Their rapid growth will allow them to reach 15 to 30 feet. After harvesting mature fruit, wash well, dry, then coat with floor wax or varnish before using in ornamental arrangements.


Want more information? Try these links:

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