Bird House Gourds!

The seeds that grow into birdhouse gourds are funky looking and amazing. One of the kids said they looked like space ships. Last year we planted some so we could make bird houses. It’s a long process, but a few days ago, we got to finish our houses.
Plant your birdhouse gourd seeds in the spring. They take several months to make fully mature gourds. Each vine will grow several. We planted two plants and ended up with about 30 or so, but according to my research, that is not the traditional yield. 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.
After they dry for about 6 months, you can soak them 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.
The gourds are enjoyed by purple martins. They like a 1 ¾ inch hole. I used the drill bit I had. 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 gourds with. If you are trying to attract purple martins, you should paint your 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.
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.
I don’t know if the seeds we harvested will germinate or not, but if you want to try it, send me a message at and I’ll send you a few to try in the spring!



  1. 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!

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