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I transplanted a 10 or so gourds seedlings growing around my garden (which somehow survived my compost [mainly because I composted them intact and smashed them with a brick later]) around a teepee that I want them to grow up so my kids can play inside (Idea from Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots, although it doesn't say anything about transplanting).

I've got a feeling some of them are going to betray me and start growing where I would prefer they not grow, when do you know that they're going to send their first shoots out in the right direction?

Can you apply the same principle to cukes (a similarly seditious vegetable)?

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I've never had any success, and tend not to do much with creeping plants; but don't you just train them onto the teepee - perhaps using string to hold them in place, as necessary? – winwaed Jun 10 '11 at 16:21
@winwaed I dunno, I've never had any success with gourds not just taking over my entire garden. And I plunked this thing smack dab in the middle. – Peter Turner Jun 10 '11 at 16:29
The other thing, and hopefully the answerer will answer this, is does it negatively affect the plant to have it's main stem doubled over on itself. It seems to me that it would be much more likely to snap off with a strong wind. – Peter Turner Jun 10 '11 at 17:43
I don't grow gourds, but do grow pumpkins and squash that are related -- with those I just gently move the vines where I want them to go. – bstpierre Jun 11 '11 at 0:26
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Gourds climb using tendrils, so they do not twine around the poles like beans. You cannot tell exactly which direction they will grow, but most plants will head towards the light. Vining plants also sometimes wave their heads in circles as they grow in order to find a support.

For best climbing results, train the vines that go wandering away back onto the teepee, even if that means turning the whole plant a different direction. Cucumbers will grow the same way, but they aren't as fast and need more water.

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Some plants do have a direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise), is this what the question is getting at? If not, then they probably grow towards the sun (which I've seen with ivy grown as a pot plant) or effectively random. For the latter, there's no answer to your question.

For the clockwise & anti-clockwise, Flanders & Swann wrote a song on the subject but it was about ivy and honeysuckle. Then there's also the question of whether they turn the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere (joke).

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Well when the gourds grow they have two leaves starting out, then they send out one long stem on one side or the other of the two leaves. I was wondering if there was a subtle way of telling which side of the plant that long stem was going to grow out of at the stage when there are only two leaves. – Peter Turner Jun 16 '11 at 14:11

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