Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hard-shelled Gourd
Lagenaria siceraria 'Bushel Basket'

Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lagenaria (lag-en-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: siceraria (sy-ker-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Bushel Basket

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive nonnasflowers On Nov 29, 2009, nonnasflowers from De Kalb, TX wrote:

This is the first time I've grown the bushel gourd and we(hubby, kids, and granchildren) have enjoyed watching them grow. I planted two hills, 6 seed to each hill and only one plant grew from each hill. I have fourteen large bushel gourds, (the largest weighing 47 lbs.) that are drying good at this time. Some how bird house gourds grew among the bushel gourds, and we have 69 large birdhouse gourds, the largest weighs 22 lbs. We have an above ground storm shelter, and I made two hills on it, digging large holes and filling them with saw dust compost that had been aging about 4 yrs, and with cow manure that had been pulverized and dried for hay meadows. I am looking forward to doing some craft work with the gourds. We have an abundance of martin birds who will enjoy the bird houses we plan to make for them.

Positive onalee On Jul 9, 2009, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Despite the vine's need for vast amount of space, it's a fascinating plant to grow that adults and kids love. The resulting gourds can be made into baskets, dishes or just paint or stain them for a conversation piece (and bragging rights – who grew the biggest gourd?)!

The vine requires a long hot growing season of 120+ days. Since gourds demand a long growing season, they can be started indoors 4 weeks prior to planting outdoors. I have successfully started gourds in regular pots with soil and transplanted them to the garden although instructions I have seen on the internet say that gourd seeds should be planted in individual containers, such as peat pots, since their roots will not like being disturbed during transplanting. You may want to try some each way to see what works for you.

If you started your plants indoors, you need to start "conditioning" the plants to the great outdoors a few days before transplanting. Outdoors generally has lower humidity, less frequent rainfall and higher light levels, and if you plant your babies out directly, they may wilt. Instead, start taking them outside in the shade for a few hours a day—then letting them have some direct sunlight for a couple hours a day, shade the rest. Let them wilt just a tiny, tiny bit while they're outside. Give them at least 3-4 days of this sort of "abuse" before you plant them out. This is called "hardening off' and it generally results in plants that just keep right on growing without breaking stride. Once the danger of frost is past and your plants are hardened off, transplant them into tilled soil that has a GOOD AMOUNT of compost and fertilizer added. Gourds require high nitrogen content in the soil for best results.

I usually plant my seeds directly in the soil, planting about 3 seeds together in a ‘hill’. I prepare a spot about 2’ – 3’ long and 2’ wide by clearing any grass or weeds and amending the soil heavily with chicken manure, cow manure or fertilizer. I do this at least 2 weeks before planting to allow the amended soil to cool off – planting when the soil is freshly fertilized may kill your seedlings as it is too hot and will burn them. I keep the hills about 2” below grade so it will hold water, then I make a trench about 12”-18” long in that spot and space the seeds in there, ½” deep, and allowing 5 feet between hills. Due to the weight of Bushel Gourds, your vines will need to grow along the ground, as pumpkins do. Once the gourds started forming, I put pieces of Styrofoam under them to keep them from being in contact with the ground. This kept them from staying too wet and rotting.
Gourds like a soil pH around 6-6.5, slightly acidic. If you plant during dry months, you will need to water the vine until they are established or there is heavy rain at least weekly. Once you have vines growing, I fertilize them every 3 weeks or so with a balanced fertilizer careful to not to get any fertilizer in direct contact with the vine.

Once the vine is about 8 to 10 feet long, pinch off the tip of the main runner so that the plant will send out side branches. It's on these side branches that the female flowers (and gourds) grow. This is very important, otherwise, you may have many flowers but few gourds.

There are male flowers that need to pollinate the female ones. The first flowers to bloom are male and will not produce any gourds; so don’t get discouraged when the first flowers fade without producing fruit. Female flowers have a little bulge behind the flower that looks a bit like a little gourd. Male flowers only have a stem. If you have plenty of bees and insects, they will do all of the work naturally for you. Or at night when the flowers open up, take a bit of the male pollen and shake it onto the female flowers.

One vine may produce up to 3-4 bushel gourds, although you may only get one per vine.

The vines will love many long drinks of water throughout the summer. But when autumn approaches, do not give them any supplemental waterings. Let the vines wither and die as winter approaches. Leave the gourds on the vine until a light frost or the stems turn brown. If you need to pick a gourd before the frost, the gourd should be very firm to the touch. Cut the gourd with an inch or more of stem. Wash the gourds in soapy water. Household bleach may be added to the water if desired, and may help delay mold formation. After the first frost, cut the gourds from the vines and put them in a dry warm place on a screen or some that will allow good air circulation. It is important that air can circulate all about them, drying them. If a gourd becomes soft and begins to rot or
becomes shriveled, throw it away (save the seeds!!). However, a bit of mold on the gourds is fine and normal. It may take 6 months to dry large gourds. They will be ready when they are very light in weight, and you can hear the seeds inside rattle when you shake them.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hereford, Arizona
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Laurel, Mississippi
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Whites Creek, Tennessee
De Kalb, Texas

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