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Pruning the Gourd Vine

Encouraging production

Most people know about growing gourds and understand the fact that they are a vining plant. The main shoot of the vine will grow male flowers, if you prune your vine too short, you will end up with a limited number of females and quite likely no male flowers at all. If you let the main shoot grow too long, you miss prime opportunity to encourage fruiting and increased production. (more information below image)

gourd vine
(Do not go by leaf count on image, picture for visual reference only)

The main vine should be allowed to grow to a length of 16-20 leaves, then the end of the main shoot should be pruned off. This shocks the plant into preservation of it's specie and the reproductive process begin. At the center of the primary vine and leave knuckle a new vine shoot will grow, these are called laterals. The main shoot will produce male flowers only, and the laterals will produce female flowers from the knuckle of the first four leaves of that lateral, (this number may vary depending on the vine and type of gourd).  The remaining leaves on that lateral will then produce more male flowers.

Basically the premise is this, the vine wants to grow fast, by pruning the end of the main shoot which is primarily male flowers, it quits growing in length then puts its growth energy into the laterals which will produce female flowers, (the fruit of the vine).  As each lateral develops four leaves, each of those four knuckles will produce at least one female.  Beyond this it will begin producing male flowers once again.  Allow the lateral to grow at least two leaves beyond the female flowers, (about 6 leaves), then prune it again.  Once again, each knuckle of each leaf on this lateral will then produce second generation laterals, repate again as far as you can follow this growth.  Be sure to allow at least 6 leaves per lateral to allow for the production of male flowers.

Once you get to the third and forth generation laterals, it becomes very difficult to follow the vines out and know where the laterals need pruning.  At this point, I walk along the gourd patch, fence or trellis and look for vine tips, look along that vine and see if it is developing male or female flowers.  If you see at least two male flowers forming it is safe to prune the tip of that lateral.

OVERZEALOUS PRUNING can result in all females and no males! Be sure you allow at least 6 leaves per lateral to insure male flower production.


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