Gourd Info Page

Hand Pollination of Gourds

Each gourd vine bears male and female flowers. The male flowers usually appear first. It is very easy to tell male from female flowers as the female flower will have the small gourd shape below the bloom, while the male flower ( photo at left is male flower ) grows on a stem without the ball shape below the flower.

The first vine that grows will generally have mostly male flowers, but you can make it produce more female flowers ( thus making more gourds ) by cutting the ends of the vine back.

Left on their own, gourds depend on insects such as bees and beetles for pollination. One problem with this is that gourds cross-pollinate very easily, and the seeds the gourd produces will usually not be true, and will produce a gourd with characteristics of both plants.

Another side effect is that the germination rate of the seeds will be very poor. Normal germination for gourd seeds can be as low as 25%, but by hand pollination, germination can be as high as 80% or more.

Hand pollination is a very simple procedure. It simply involves shaking or tapping pollen from the male flower to the female flower ( the photo on the left is a female flower, notice the tiny ball shaped gourd below the flower ).

Most gourd flowers open at night and usually last only one night. The best time for hand pollinating is just before dark, when the flowers have already opened, and there is still enough light to see what you are doing.
Simply break off the male flower, and hold it over the female flower and "tap" the pollen from the male flower, or if you prefer, you can "kiss" the two flowers together.
( Notice the difference between the male flower on the top and the female flower below, it is very easy to tell the two apart ).
One male flower can pollinate several female flowers, simply discard the male flower when through.

The final step is placing a bag over the pollinated female flower. This prevents the flower from being cross pollinated by insects that have visited other types of gourds.
This is necessary to insure that the gourd will produce true seeds.
We use 3 inch by 5 inch draw string muslin cloth bags. The bags slide easily over the flower and you simply pull the drawstring snug, no need to tie. After 48 hours, remove the bag and re-use it. Will last for years.
If you cannot find these bags locally, you can order them below.
Happy Gardening!

3 inch x 5 inch Cloth Muslin Bags with drawstrings. Lightweight, and will last for years. Perfect for hand pollination of many plants, or for drying/storing seeds.
 10 ea. 3"x5" Cloth Muslin Bags with Drawstrings $5.95
 50 ea. 3"x5" Cloth Muslin Bags with Drawstrings $26.95
 100 ea. 3"x5" Cloth Muslin Bags with Drawstrings $49.95

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