Lagenaria : Greenhouse Plants

T – tropical, minimum of 18°C (65°F)

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Asia and Tropical Africa

Lagenaria vulgaris (L. siceraria) is the Bottle Gourd or Calabash Cucumber grown for its variously shaped fruits which are not edible but put to a variety of other uses. This is great fun to grow but, although plants will do quite well grown outdoors as annuals, the fruits rarely have a long enough season to mature properly. If you have the room in a greenhouse a good harvest of gourds should be possible. Specimens are best grown in borders but will still do well in large pots. Seed should be sown in February to give the longest season possible but temperatures of 21-24°C (70-75°F) are optimum and will have germination starting in three days. If at least warm conditions are not available initially it is better to delay sowing until April or May. Thereafter the higher the temperature the bigger and harder skinned the gourds will be.

Good results can still be had with a minimum of 10°C (50°F). Pinch the tips of the plants out when they reach 1.5 m (5 ft) and train subsequent lateral shoots along horizontal wires. Watch for flower production and if they are female flowers (those with a miniature fruit waiting behind the flower) pollinate these by hand and stop the end of the shoot at the second leaf after the flower. Should the fruit fail to develop then cut the whole lateral back to the first leaf joint. Another lateral will grow and you can try again. In this way; with one fruit per lateral and two leaves beyond it you are controlling the mass of leafy growth that would otherwise have formed and limiting the number of gourds so that they will grow large. When you are satisfied that you have plenty of gourds simply prevent further growth and let what you have mature nicely. It is not easy to find other plants compatible with the gourd so it may well be a case of turfing other plants outside for the summer and sticking to gourds and cucumbers.

20. July 2013 by admin
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