Using Decorative Gourds: Learn About Things To Do With Gourds

Pile Of Decorative Gourds
gourds 1
(Image credit: Studio Light and Shade)

Fall means autumn leaves, pumpkins, and decorative gourds on display. You can grow ornamental gourds in your own garden or buy them at the farmer’s market. However you get them, figuring out cool ways of using decorative gourds is the most fun of all. If you are looking for some ideas about how to put together ornamental gourd displays, read on. There are lots of wonderful things to do with gourds in autumn.

What are Decorative Gourds?

Gourds are relatives of pumpkins and squash, annual vines easily grown from seed. The edible type of gourd is a garden vegetable. Ornamental gourds are dried and hardened to use for decoration.

Edible squash is picked when immature, but decorative gourds must be allowed to mature and dry on the vine.

Ornamental Gourd Harvesting

Ornamental gourd harvesting should never involve twisting. Instead, use shears to harvest the gourds, snipping the stem to leave several inches (8 cm.) on the gourd. Wash and dry the gourds and then store them in a dry, warm, airy space without much light. 

When the stored gourds become light and the seeds rattle inside, they are ready for use. This will take from one to three weeks. Seal them with clear shellac to preserve the color. At that point, it is time to start thinking of exciting things to do with gourds.

Grouping decorative gourds together as a center-of-the-table display is one way to create ornamental gourd displays. You can also include pumpkins, pinecones, and fall leaves in your centerpiece. For that extra wow factor, place a runner down the center of the table first, then organize an appealing mix of gourds and other autumn related dry or fresh materials. 

It’s also possible to create a lovely display to hang on a doorway or position on a mantlepiece. Dry gourds are easy to paint and you can also etch designs on them with small, sharp knives

Using Ornamental Gourds

Just because these gourds are called “ornamental” doesn’t mean you can’t give them practical uses. Many people enjoy using ornamental gourds for hanging baskets, bird feeders, or even bird houses.

Another exciting idea is to make decorative gourd lights. Use a sharp nail or screwdriver to poke patterns of holes on the sides. Then cut off the top and position a tea light inside. These are truly magical when lit.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.