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
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
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
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
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.
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