i am planting speckled swan and apple gourd, do they
need to climb to grow well?
I don't know if they "need" to, but I know that they sure like to. This is the first year I have planted speckled swan gourds and after they over-ran the small string trellis that I started them on, I "bridged" them over to a large (30'X10') pergola that runs along the back of our garage. Once they got to the top of the pergola they exploded and have about covered the entire pergola - along with 2 chinese wisteria that were already there. For a while they did not seem to be setting much fruit on the vines that were on the pergola, but after a healthy dose of compost and a shot of balanced fertilizer there are now about 2 dozen gourds hanging down through the pergola. It looks pretty wierd - my wife now calls it the Gourd House. Since they are hanging, gravity has straightened the necks. About half of them have the swolen section near the vine end typical of speckled swan variety, but the other half doesn't. I couldn't tell you if this was the result of allowing them to hang or not. So far I have not had to support any of the gourds artificially and some of them are in the 8" to 10" diameter range and feel to be about 10 pounds or so in weight. I have separated several of them that were growing together. I don't know if it was necessary, but I thought that the places that two gourds were touching would be a spot for damage from fungus, rot or insects. That is about all I can tell you. Like I said, I don't know if it is a requirement that they climb, but it sure hasn't hurt. By the way, the string trellis that I used to start them was barely strong enough to support the vines. Now that I know what to expect with the size and weight of the gourds that will develop, next time I am going to build something more sturdy, attractive and permanent to get the vines from the garden to the top of the pergola (don't tell the wisteria I said this, but as soon as the gourds are harvested the wisteria is getting moved). Good luck and have fun!
The speckled swan will not develop a bent neck if it is hanging. It will turn out like any other bottle gourd with a straight neck.
The apple gourds will very likely have an elongated shape if they are hanging. To get the nice rounded apple shape, grow them on the ground and set them up as they reach the size of a softball.
I do know one result that someone experienced by having their swan gourd climb was that the neck grew straight rather than curving back on itself due to the weight of the gourd. It did produce a neat effect of looking like a genie bottle. So it would depend on what look you want. I have heard that if do climb your vines and a gourd needs support to put a nylon around it and tie it to the trellis or beam. This gives the gourd room to expand and support from its weight pulling it down. My swan gourd that I planted did just fine growing without climbing. I wasn't expecting as enthusiastic a plant as I got. It was my first experience with gourds and I am hooked.
As far as goose gourds, I learned the hard way. Last year I trellised mine and they all turned out straight without the crook in the neck to make them look like a goose. This year I have some of my apples on a trellis and some on the ground. The results are mixed. Some on the trellis are elongated and some are squat. The same with those on the ground. Jendle66 - Too bad that someone didn't warn you that gourds are addictive. I learned that too, the hard way and now I sure am hooked too. I took some pix of my little gourd patch growing this year just to see how fast those little buggers grow. If you want to see them, go to picturetrail.com/genepa Gene
Back in 2003 my garden-growing, green-thumb sister in West Virginia sent me some seeds for a "speckled swan" gourd. I wasn't much into gardening back then, so put the packet away and forgot about it.
On may 7th, 2006, my sister died suddenly of a brain aneurism and left me longing for her and all her stories of strange and unusual plants she would grow.
This past April my husband and I got a burst of enthusiasm to grow some tomatoes ... and so while he was doing a bit of tilling, I asked him to work me up a small plot by the chain link fence and I would see of any of those funny "speckled swan" gourd seeds would germinate. I planted about 1/2 the seeds in the packet (about 2 dozen) and buried them carefully, then waited.
About 2 weeks or more later, I was still waiting, fearing the worst. Then, on May 7th, 2009, one lone seedling popped through the ground: on the 3rd anniversary of my sister's death!
And it was the ONLY one to make it.
Needless to say, it has become my "baby," and I watch it like a nanny, making sure it has sufficient water and Miracle Grow. Well, GROW it has! At one point, noticing that it seemed to spike a lot in only one day, I decided to tie a pink ribbon on the fence at its tallest point. 24 hours later, I took a ruler and measured the growth: 8" in one day! That is AMAZING!
Now it is 3 months old and sporting 3 rather large bottle-shaped gourds with long, straight necks. Because I didn't know that growing it on a fence would not allow it to produce the curved neck I was hoping for, I am trying the nylon hose idea of another gardener, and will wait and see if that's going to work. If not, there's always "next year!"
Anyway, I still call it my Miracle Vine and am hopelessly hooked on gourd-growing.