birdhouse gourds growing in the garden

How to Grow Birdhouse Gourds!

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It’s easy to grow birdhouse gourds and make your own birdhouses from them. All you need is a little patch of dirt and some birdhouse gourd seeds. Growing gourds is easy and there are so many neat ways to use them.

birdhouse gourds growing on a vine on a chain link fence

Birdhouse gourds are unique and birds love to make nests in them, plus you can have tons of fun decorating the gourds and using them to decorate the garden.

Plant birdhouse gourd seeds in the spring. They take several months to make fully mature gourds. Each vine will grow several gourds. We planted two plants and ended up with about 30 or so, but according to my research, that is not the traditional yield.

For ideas on feeding birds, check these out:

Growing birdhouse gourds from seed

To buy seeds the kids harvested from plants they grew in their garden, click the highlighted link. We have birdhouse gourd seeds some times of the year. 

Plant birdhouse gourd seeds about 1/2 inch deep. Cover with soil and lightly pat. Water well. Keep seed watered until the plant is established. 

To grow birdhouse gourds, the vines need a sturdy trellis and they grow about 15 feet. When the gourds turn from green to brown on the outside, you can cut them off the vine and store them for drying. They need plenty of ventilation as they cure. We laid ours out in the grass and left them in the weather all winter long.

How long does it take to grow a birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse gourds take several months to mature before they are ready for drying. You need a long growing season to grow them.

Pick gourds when they begin to turn brown, cut stems about 2-4 inches from the gourd. Allow to dry in a cool dry place. First, wash them with a mild detergent to inhibit any bacterial growth. Then when they are completely dry, store them on newspapers without touching each other or hang them up to dry. You will know they are completely cured when the seeds rattle inside.

Drying birdhouse gourds

After they dry for about 6 months, you can soak the birdhouse gourds in water and scrub the remaining skins off. You can leave them the natural color or paint them. The natural color is tan but they have spots that look kind of like mold. If you paint them, you need to use a paint that will not wash off. You can use house paint, acrylics, oil paints, or we used spray paint because that is what we had.

kids choosing birdhouse gourds to make birdhouses from

The gourds are enjoyed by purple martins. They like a 1 ¾ inch hole. I used the drill bit I had. Then I drilled a hole for the door and smaller holes on top to add a hanger. I made our doors just a little shy of the middle closer to the bottom so rain wouldn’t pour in the holes. You can also drill drain holes in the bottom if you think water might get in.

After you drill the holes, you can work on getting the membranes and seeds out so the birds will have room to make a nest inside. The kids really enjoyed that part of our project. We shook them into a bucket so we could try to grow them again.

Next, I gave the kids acrylic paint pens to decorate their birdhouse gourds with. If you are trying to attract purple martins, you should paint your birdhouse gourds white. After they decorated them, I gave them a pipe cleaner to string through the top holes so they can hang them up at home.

kids decorating birdhouses made from gourds
kids painting birdhouse gourd birdhouses

The kids LOVED this project. It took a year, but it was really fun and I’m sure there is a bird out there somewhere that will appreciate each child’s efforts. What cute birdhouses these gourds make. 

birdhouse gourds painted and turned into birdhouses

For more gourd growing fun, try one of these:

How to grow:

Gourds for sale

If you’re looking for birdhouse or other gourds that are already grown for your bath, art project, birdhouse, or containers, check out our Etsy site. We have different gourds available at different times of the year. 

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  1. When winter comes, my birds need a nest. I made it from gourds. I started by rinsing the gourds with warm soapy water, then wiping with alcohol or distilled vinegar after the gourds were dry. Soap water cleans most debris, while alcohol or vinegar cleans chemically. I hung it up so I didn’t have to rotate it for a week.

  2. We did this with gooseneck gourds but, when they are drying, you must turn them every day or so so the gourd will not stay in the same position and mold in the area where the most moisture is. Our grandsons LOVED their gourds and are hanging them up in the garden of their new house this weekend. Great project and soooo much fun! Isn’t nature amazing?!?!? Have fun!!

  3. How cool! I’m trying to grow bottle gourd this fall. I don’t think they’ll be as pretty as yours though!

      1. Depending on how many grow, I might eat a few of the smaller ones and let the bigger ones dry. Since they are long and uniform, they supposedly make good cups or vases, which I would use in the garden somewhere. That might be more advanced gardening though, so I will just be happy if my plants survive. 🙂

  4. This is so so brilliant! Lucky kids and lucky parents! Not to mention, the birds. We need lessons like this in all of our schools, teaching kids how to garden. Your kids learn so much doing your hands-on activities. Much better than little desks and textbooks. Bravo!