ugu plant leaves

Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin): See Easy Steps On How To Plant Ugu.

Ugu as its called in South Eastern Nigeria is a well known vegetable grown in Nigeria and other West African countries.

Its called Fluted Pumpkin in English which is very different from the popular Pumpkin (ukboghuro).

Its other names Fluted Gourd, Sokoyokoto in Yoruba, Kabewa in Hausa and Ikong-Ubong in Efik.

The botanical name for Ugu is Telfairia Occidentalis, and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family.

Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin) is a tropical vine plant grown for its leaves and seeds.

The Ugu leaves are edible,

Used in various cuisines and soup,

Taken as fresh juice (Ugu leaves mashed and the juice extracted),

The seed found in the gourd is edible, taken as snacks by roasting or boiling it.

Ugu seed can serve as a soup thickener by drying and grinding it into fine particles.

Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin) is also used for medicinal purposes.

The leaves are rich in:

  • dietary fiber,
  • minerals,
  • vitamins A, B6, C,
  • phosphorus,
  • protein,
  • riboflavin,
  • thiamine,
  • manganese,
  • niacin,
  • folate,
  • magnesium,
  • iron,
  • potassium,
  • anti-oxidants and vitamins flavonoid,
  • poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthins and carotene.

Planting Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin)

Its an annual crop grown all year round.

10 plant can serve a family all through the year.

Planting season for ugu is between April and May, because during this period, the rains are minimal,

and dry season planting is done in November

This should be done very early in the morning or late evening. You can also plant when the weather is cool and calm.

The best kind of soil for it is loamy or sandy-loamy soil

Ugu plants do not grow well in waterlogged area

Clearing Land To Plant Ugu

To grow Ugu in your garden firstly,

  • clear the area in which you intend to grow the vegetable,
  • till the soil, this helps to encourage root penetration and proper germination of the seeds.
  • Ugu (Fluted pumpkin) does well in sandy-loamy soil.

Land Preparation

  • make beds for the vegetable, although this is not compulsory depending on the kind of soil and your location, raising beds is very useful in encouraging proper management.
  • You can grow fluted pumpkin in containers.
  • Add organic manure/fertilizer to the the soil

Seed Selection For Ugu

  • Ugu is grown from seeds, harvesting of the pod bearing the seeds happens at the end of a cycle. You can get as much as 30 seeds from a small pod.
  • Dry extracted seeds for a day or two, they should not be over-dried to preserve the viability of the seeds.

The drying of the seeds helps them to be resistant to pests that could have eaten them up in the soil.

It also prevents them from rotting.

  • Apart from sourcing seeds from already grown pods in your garden, you can buy fluted pumpkin (Ugu) seed in the market/store
  • or buy fluted pumpkin seedlings from nurseries owners.

Planting Spacing

  • Dig a hole of 4cm (1.5 inches)-5cm (2 inches) into the soil
  • Drop in three seeds in each hole with the tip facing down.
  • Cover the seed with a little sand; be sure the fluted pumpkin seed is well covered to avoid exposure to the sun.
  • If planting from seedlings transfer seedling into the soil with care.
  • Plant the seeds 60cm (2ft) to 90cm (3ft) apart.


  • After planting the seeds water the soil.
  • Water every two days, morning and evening.
  • During raining season watering may not be necessary.
  • During dry seasons or droughts, intensive watering required.
  • Fluted Pumpkin plants needs frequent watering to stay growing and green.


Remember ugu is a trailing plant

  • After 10 days, place a stick of 1m (3ft) – 2m (6ft) heights close to the plant.
  • building a trellis around the planted area is preferable.
  • stick or trellis can be of wood, bamboo, plastic pipe or iron rod.
  • The plant will climb around the stick/trellis while growing.
  • It is better to use a stick/trellis because the plant will grow better when it climbs around.

Maturity and Harvesting

With adequate water, fluted pumpkin germinates 10 days after planting.

harvesting can start four weeks or one month after planting or when the stems are long.

after about four weeks you can cut or trim the tip of the stem to allow plant to start branching out.

use knife or scissors when harvesting.

harvesting ugu leaves can be a little tricky, take care not to damage the plant.

To harvest cut the stem a little distance away from the bottom of the stem.

Position your hands where you have the nodes and cut.

Ugu Pod
the ugu pod begins to surface after about 5 to 6 months after planting the seed.

First the plant begins to flower thereafter the pod emerges,

The pod takes about two months to ripe,

The pod is ripe for harvest when the tendrils are dried, sometimes they fall off on their own.

note that not every seed will be able to produce the pods.

Soil Fertility Boosting

Use any organic manure of your choice,

manures are usually applied on the soil before planting,

then four weeks and six weeks after planting.

Organic fertilizer/manure has proven to be



and safer than inorganic one.

Since harvest is daily or weekly depending on the usage, the soil should have enough nutrients so that the ugu (fluted pumpkin) can keep growing well.

Pests and Diseases

The common pests of ugu are: 

  • Grasshoppers which feed on the foliage and stems, 
  • Leaf and Flower Beetles which feed on the leaves, 
  • White Beetle feeds on the fruits and flowers, 
  • Aphids hinder growth by feeding on the stem, 
  • Thrips which causes flower abortion
  • and Green Shield Bug feeds on leaves, stems and fruits.

Diseases that affect the ugu (fluted pumpkin) plant are:

  • White leaf spot disease, caused by Phoma sorghina, reduces the leaf lamina, it also affects the seed.
  • Erwinia aroideae causes soft rot of the leaves with yellowish ooze; it also affects the fruits.
  • A prevalent virus disease is Telfairia Mosaic virus (TeMV), causing mottling of the leaves and low leaf yield;

it also causes chlorosis, stunting and abnormal fruit development.

transmitted by the Aphid (Aphis spiraecola) via the seed.

The storage diseases of fluted pumpkin (diseases that affect the seeds during storage) are:

  • Rhizopus stolonifer
  • Aspergillus niger
  • Botryodiplodia theobromae 
  • and Erwinia spp.

Research says that in the long term storage fungi is capable of causing 95% loss in storage while bacteria can cause only 5% loss.

Weeding/Pest Control

Weed prevention methods are:


as well as manual weeding

is required to maintain the ugu plant.

Early weeding is the best thing to do if herbicides and mulching are not applied.

When weeding delays the leaves will turn yellowish

because the weeds will always feed on the nutrients on the soil too.

Recommended is manual weeding due to the crawling nature of the ugu plant.

It always covers the ground where staking is not used.

In this case, the vegetable suppresses weeds as they grow into maturity,

be careful not to trample or uproot the fluted pumpkin plant during weeding. Most diseases that affect fluted pumpkin are airborne.

You must protect your ugu plant from goats and other herbivores by proper fencing of the garden.

See Also: Planting Corn: Easy Steps On How To Plant Corn

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