Tips for Growing Birdhouse Gourds

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021

Learn gardening tips for growing birdhouse gourds that are perfect homes for your cavity nesting birds, such as swallows and wrens.

Did you know that you can grow birdhouse gourds? It is surprisingly easy to grow gourds and transform them into birdhouses. I kept one for myself and gave others away as gifts.

It all starts with a pretty, white flower.

Gourd Flower

Growing Birdhouse Gourds

Plant your gourd seeds out in the garden, once the danger of frost is over in spring.  They sprout easily and grow quickly.

Gourd Seedling

Beware – this tiny little seedling grows quickly. They can take over your garden if you aren’t careful.

Gourd Vine

I must admit that this is my ‘rampant’ gourd vine that I grew last year.  As you can see, it  grew out of the vegetable garden and onto my lawn.

It even took over part of my patio.  Even experienced and horticulturists sometimes don’t always follow directions.  In the future, I will always allow the right amount of room for my gourds to grow.

Noelle Johnson
Ripening Birdhouse Gourd

This is the first gourd that I discovered ripening on my vine.  Then, I started looking underneath the other large leaves and found 16 more growing!

Once they began to dry, I harvested them and put them on a pallet to dry.  This process takes months and the gourds will slowly turn from light green to a pale beige.  During this time, the gourds may discolor on the outside and even grow some mold, which you can simply wipe off.

The gourds are ready when you shake them and can hear the seeds inside.

Fast forward 8 months from date of harvest.

How to Turn a Gourd into a Birdhouse

First, I drilled a 1/2 inch diameter hole where the main hole was to be.  Then, I carved the hole to the size I wanted.

The diameter you make the hole depends on which kind of bird you want to take up residence in your new birdhouse.

  • Downy Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Titmouse – 1  1/4 inches
  • Bluebird, Swallow, Wren –  1  1/2 inches
  • House Finch – 2 inches
  • Northern Flicker – 2  1/2 inches

Once you have created the hole, remove the inside seeds and membranes.  I did this using a butter knife.  Don’t worry if you leave some behind – the birds won’t care.

Drill 5 small holes in a circle around the base for drainage and then sand the outside of your gourd until smooth.

To hang the gourd, I made two small holes on the top of the gourd, on either side of the stem.  Them I took wire and bent them, as shown above.

Insert the wire in each of the holes.

To protect your bird house, spray the outside of the gourd with polyurethane or paint it your favorite color and hang from your favorite tree.

Now, my gourd is ready for some feathered friends.

So, how about you?  Do you want to try growing birdhouse gourds?  Get started this spring by planting some seeds and next year, you too will be able to make your own gourd bird house.

Next, learn how to make a Purple Martin Gourd House.