The Q&A Archives: Growth problems with Birdhouse gourds

Question: I have many, many little gourds on my birdhouse gourd vines but only five have matured. Others don't get bigger or turn yellow then brown then they die. Is this normal? Should I cut off some little ones and hope the plant puts all it's energy into growing the ones I haven't pruned?

Answer: Bottle gourds are generally cut from the vine after the first frost of the season. Then they're allowed to dry in an airy place for several months until the seeds inside rattle when the gourd is shaken. If your gourds are rotting, rather than maturing, it sounds as though they're getting too little sunshine and warmth, or are too crowded. Try removing all but the largest few gourds on the vines, to direct the plant's energy into ripening just a few fruit. The littlest ones won't mature before cold weather sets in. Bottle, or Birdhouse gourds, need a very long, very warm season in which to mature (140 days). Perhaps your summer weather was too cool this year, or the plants got a late start. Try starting the plants earlier next year, in the sunniest spot possible.

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