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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

bottle gourd

Other Common Names Include:

Calabash, Chinese Preserving Melon, Cucuzzi, Guava Bean, Hulougua, Hulu, Italian Edible Gourd, Lauki, Long Melon, Suzza Melon, Yugao, Zucca Zuzza

Latin Name: Lagenaria sicerari var. clavata

Plant Family: Cucurbitaceae

Close Relatives: Cucumber, gourd and squash

Uses and Markets: Culinary (Andean highland, Caribbean, Chinese, east African, Indian, Italian, Mexican, South American and Southeast Asian cuisine): immature fruits cooked similar to zucchini; young shoots and leaves are used in soups; flesh sometimes used in icing for cakes. Ornamental: mature fruit can be dried and used as containers, utensils or decorations. 

Bottle gourd growing on trellis Bottle gourd: flower Bottle gourd: fruit Bottle gourd: bruising
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Soak seeds in warm water for 12 hours prior to starting transplants. Some cucurbit crops respond well to season extension techniques including plastic mulch.  For more information on season extension, refer to the General Agronomics section.  

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from seeds, less commonly by direct seeding.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Late April or early May.

Field Seeding Date:

After last frost.

Field Transplanting Dates

After last frost, 3-5 weeks after greenhouse seeding.

In-row spacing

60 cm-3.0 m (trellised) or 2.4-3.0 m (ground).

Between row spacing

1.2 m or more.

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

Delay planting until the soil temperature is 15°C or higher.  The optimum soil temperature range at planting is 25°C-30°C.


Apply up to 110 kg/ha N. Broadcast 65 kg/ha N and all the phosphate and potash required prior to planting. Sidedress the remainder of the nitrogen before the vines start to run. On sandy soils, a second application may be necessary after the vines begin to run. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soil.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Cucurbit crops may benefit from staking or trellising to reduce fruit damage on the ground, keep fruit clean and increase harvest ease.

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a temperate warm climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

40-90 days to first harvest depending on cultivar.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Use harvest guidelines for cucumber as a guide for fruit harvested for consumption.  For more information, refer to the cucurbits section of the OMAFRA Crops website.  If possible, harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs.  Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Gentle handling is required to avoid fruit injury.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 85-90%

Temperature: 10-13°C 

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 7-14 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Cucumber beetles, aphids (e.g. Aphis gossypii)

Diseases: Powdery mildew, alternaria blight

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Two-spotted spider mites, leafhoppers, squash bugs

Diseases: Downy mildew, damping off and root rots, bacterial wilt, angular leaf spot, scab, anthracnose, gummy stem blight (also known as black rot or alligator skin), fusarium wilt, phytophthora blight, septoria leaf spot, cucumber mosaic virus.

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: cucumber beetle, powdery mildew.  This crop may be susceptible to many of the same pests as cucumber and squash.  Downy mildew is a serious disease of cucurbit crops.  Cucumbers are the most susceptible to infection, however melons and other cucurbit crops can be affected by certain pathotypes of this disease.  Downy mildew is wind borne and highly infectious. In susceptible cucurbits, it can destroy on unprotected crop in less than 1 week.

This crop is in Crop Group 9: Cucurbit Vegetable Group and Subgroup 9B: Squash/Cucumber Subgroup. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For more information on pests of cucurbits in Ontario, refer to OMAFRA’s Ontario CropIPM tool or OMAFRA’s vegetable production and protection publications.  For pest control products registered on cucurbits refer to OMAFRA Publication 838.  It is important to note that not all pest control products registered on cucumber are registered on bottle gourd. 

Cucumber beetle Melon aphid, Aphis gossypii Powdery mildew on cucurbitAlternaria on cucurbit
Additional Notes
  • Flowers open at dusk and stay open until early morning and therefore require night-time insects to complete pollination. Hand pollination can increase fruit set.
  • Bottle gourd is sometimes referred to as fuzzy melon (Benincasa hispida var. chieh-gua) in Chinese, however it is not the same species of plant.
Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., and S. Westerveld. 2009. Non-traditional crops demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  2. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., Westerveld, S., Bilal, A., and M. Brownbridge. 2011. World crops variety trials and demonstration. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre/Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, unpublished.
  3. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAF and MRA Herb Demonstration Garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Munro, D. B., and E. Small.  1997.  Vegetables of Canada.  NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  2. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  2010.  Publication 363 Vegetable Production Recommendations 2010-2011.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  3. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  1998.  Publication 3346 Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook, Second Edition.  University of California, Oakland.