Gourds contain three chief forms — Cucurbitaceae, including soft-shelled kinds like pumpkin and squash; Luffa, textured gourds often utilized to create back scrubbers; and Lagenaria, hard-shelled gourds also known as dipper or bottle gourds. Hard-shelled gourds are often utilized to create bowls, dippers or birdhouses, and the gourds also make intriguing pots for plants that are hanging.
Establishing gourd planters is a craft that needs advance preparation, since the gourds have to be completely cured to keep them from rotting, a procedure which can take as long as three to six months. Gourds have to be completely dry prior to treating, and green gourds decay quickly. To heal a gourd, lay it on a thick layer of papers at a dark, dry place. Turn the gourd weekly or 2 to promote even drying. The gourd is dry when it rattles when shaken. Don’t be worried whether the gourd develops a layer of mould, since this is a standard part of this drying procedure. Discard gourds which are soft, spongy or wrinkled.
When the gourd is completely clean and dry, cut the top to create an opening for the plants. To cut the gourd, pull a rule with a pencil; then cut the gourd with a sharp tool like a hacksaw, craft knife, pumpkin knife, craft saw or scroll saw. Make several holes at the base of the gourd, because the plant and also the gourd decay fast if water is not drained. To create holes for hanging the planter, make three evenly spaced holes about 1 inch from the surface of the gourd. Holes can easily be manufactured with an electric drill or an ice pick.
Gourds include dried pulp and seeds that have to be taken off. However, the interior of the gourd needn’t be perfectly pulp-free, as a little pulp will not matter when the gourd is filled with potting mixture. To clean out the gourd, scrape most of the gourd’s innards with a long-handled metallic spoon. Scrub the outside of the gourd, but do not scrub so hard that you eliminate the complex patterns left behind by the mold, since these designs create an intriguing planter. When the gourd is clean, then wipe the inside and outdoors with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Frequently, dried gourds have an unpleasant odor. If it occurs, coat the interior of the gourd with a baking-soda-and-water paste, and let it sit for several days before rinsing.
Many artists like to safeguard gourd planters with a coating of acrylic or polyurethane spray. But an oil-based spray is not as toxic, particularly when the planter is utilized for herbs or other plants that are edible. Instead, leave the gourd uncoated, and revel in its natural beauty. Although spray generally prolongs the life of the planter, all gourds eventually deteriorate when subjected to sunlight and water. Fill the planter with a lightweight potting soil, as garden soil is too heavy. When the gourd is planted, hang the planter by threading wire or sturdy twine through the holes. Hang that the planter under the overhanging roof to protect it from direct sunlight and rain, or set the plant hanger inside where it is protected from the elements.