Snake gourds, some of which are edible, can be tricky to grow. These elongated, curved fruits with a hard outer shell often are used for decorative purposes and to make musical instruments. Snake gourds only grow in warm climates. The seeds have a hard outer shell and do not readily germinate. The gourds can grow to more than 48 inches long.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Snake gourd seeds
Scarify the seeds. Scratch or scrape the hard outer shells of each seed with a knife to make it easier for the new shoots to burst through.
Soak the seed in water for a week to start the germination process.
Plant the seeds about 1/2-inch deep in the soil or hothouse seed trays. Tamp soil down firmly and water well.
Prepare the ground by tilling the soil and mixing in a good mulch.
Plant the gourd seedlings beside a pergola or make a trellis with poles and wire, similar to a wash line, so that the vine will be at least 6 feet off the ground and the mature fruits will hang down. Fertilise when the plants are half grown.
Pollinate the flowers. Dip a soft paintbrush or cotton swab into the male flowers and touch it on the female flowers. The female flowers are identified by the miniature gourd growing beneath them.
Harvest the fruit only when it is fully mature. Cut off the tops carefully and remove all the insides. Retain the seeds to be dried and put away for next year.
Place the gourd in a warm spot and allow it to air dry. Decorate or paint it when it is fully dried and glue the end back on if desired.
Tips and warnings
- Plant 50 per cent more seeds than you expect to allow for failed germination.
- Do not transplant the seedlings until all danger of frost is gone.
- Snake gourds can be grown in pots. The pots should be at least 8 inches in diameter and deep enough to allow the roots to develop sufficiently.
- The flowers of some species only open at night and do not last more than a few hours. If you do not have insects flying around at night and seeking the nectar, you will have to pollinate the flowers yourself.
- If gourds sit on the ground, they are likely to rot from the continual contact with wet soil.
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