Judging Gourds -- Part 1

Where gourds are to be judged and ribbons or prizes are to be awarded, there are certain standard rules that have been adopted by the American Gourd Society. Both exhibitors and judges should carefully consider these rules when dealingwith gourd specimens or displays. The ACS makes these standard rules hoping they will be helpful to all concerned.

It is not only important to be familiar with the rules of a particular horticultural show, but also to be knowledgeable about  gourds and how they can be best exhibited. Show regulations are published in advance, giving location of the show, general information, class specifications, entry closure date, set up and tear down information, plus times set aside for judging of entries. It is important that you secure a copy of the schedule well in advance.

Gourd exhibitors and judges should understand the point scale by which gourds are judged. They should be familiar with the following points:

  1. The various gourd classifications.
  2. Knowledge of cultural perfection and quality.
  3. Techniques of staging and artistic arrangement.
  4. Suitability of accessory material.


The gourds should be free from blemishes of any kind and must have stems from one half to one and one half inches or slightly longer for larger gourds. They should be mature and clean. To test for maturity, most gourds are dried at the blossom end and solid and firm to the touch. The dried stem of a gourd tends to drop off if the gourd is under any pressure or if it bears its own weight. It is best never to handle a gourd by its stem. Cleanliness is necessary and important to bring out the beauty of the gourd, with or without waxing.

Gourds that are oddly shaped or have an ususual color or growth should be enteres in the unusual class not as a specimen gourd. A specimen gourd has no indication of excess grooming or training, and in entries that list a specific variety of gourd, trueness of type and color must be observed.


Artificial plants, grass, leaves and other such plastic items are considered inappropriate and should not be used, and if used would disqualify the entiy.

Keep in mind that the accessories or containers should not detract or take away from the beauty of the gourds. Accessories are used to assist and enhance your gourd entry, not detract from it. The schedule will specie the type of container, bowl or basket that may be used. Gourds must predominate in all arrangements and displays.


The accessories should be in keeping with the season. Natural materials such as leaves, evergreens, ornamental corn,flowers, grasses, and vines may be used against a background of some neutral material such as monks cloth, or burlap if the schedule so specifies. Current season displays should only include fresh autumn accessories as they best compliment the gourd display. Pumpkins and squash should not be included unless specifically allowed and written into the schedule.

Varying color combinations of yellow, orange and greenand white may be found in ornamental gourds, while various shades of green are found in hard shells or Lagenarias. Properly exhibited gourds should provide an effective and harmonious color arrangement or display.

TIP: The schedule is the law of the show! Read it carefully and abide by the rules.

Read more judging tips from the American Gourd Society or go: