Growing Squash

Plant summer squash for a huge harvest.

Summer squash are so productive that most gardeners need only a few plants to provide all they need.

Grow butternut squash for winter storage.

Winter squash such as butternut are grown in summer for fall harvest and winter storage. These vines need plenty of room to grow.

Growing squash is easier than you might think. Plant a buttery Yellow Crookneck, delicately flavored Golden Scallop Pattypan, and a Black Beauty zucchini, and by time peak season rolls around, you could be picking several squash a day — more than enough to eat, freeze, and gift to friends and neighbors.

There is no hurry to harvest nutrient-rich “winter” squash like Acorn, Buttercup, and Butternut, which ripen to full maturity before they are picked. These varieties grow through the summer, but when stored properly, keep well into the colder months.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Squash has male and female flowers. Female flowers become fruit when pollinated by bees with pollen from male flowers.

This female flower bud (the one to the left) shows a tiny squash between the flower and the stem. Only females set fruit, but not without help from pollen spread by bees and other insects from male flowers (like the one on the right).

Squash need plenty of sun and good drainage, and they love wrapping their roots around bits of decomposing leaves or other compost. Prepare the ground for squash by mixing in a 3-inch layer of compost along with a timed-release or organic fertilizer at the rate recommended on the label. Squash are usually big plants, so space plants at least 3 to 6 feet apart (follow directions on the stick tag). A light mulch is sufficient because squash leaves are so broad and dense that mature plants minimize weeds and provide cooling shade. When setting out squash seedlings in sunny weather, you may cover them with an upside-down flowerpot or other shade cover for a couple of days after transplanting to help prevent wilting.

Squash bears both male and female flowers. The female flowers are easy to identify by looking for a tiny squash below the blossoms. Male flowers, which often begin to show up a week or two before the female flowers, sit directly on the stem. To help female flowers develop into squash, bees and other small insects pay numerous visits, leaving behind trails of pollen brought from male blossoms. Male flowers often drop to the ground at the end of their life; don’t be alarmed, as this is normal.

Troubleshooting

Squash vine borers dig into your squash stems and leave a trail behind that looks like sawdust.

Squash vine borers can be a real problem for gardeners in the eastern U.S. and especially the Southeast. A sawdust-like residue on the plant stem is a sure sign that a borer is inside.

Squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles often injure squash, with damage most severe late in the season, when plants are failing anyway. In areas where pest pressure starts early in the season, grow plants beneath floating row covers, or use covers made of net placed over hoops. Remove the covers to admit pollinating insects when the plants start to bloom.

Harvest and Storage

Zucchini fruit should be shiny when you harvest it for best taste and texture.

Harvest zucchini while the skins are still glossy.

If you’ve heard that squash blossoms are edible (they are!) and you want to try them, go ahead and pick the first blossoms that appear. Remove the inner parts, and use the petals to add color to appetizers and salads. Harvesting the first flowers won’t hurt the plants’ production, because the early flowers are males, which bear pollen but not fruit.

You may harvest yellow squash, zucchini, and other types of summer squash as baby squash, or you can cut them larger, up to 6 to 8 inches long. Use a sharp knife to gather your bounty at least every other day while the plants are producing. Should you miss a picking or two, remove the overripe squash as soon as possible to reduce demands on the plants for moisture and nutrients. If you find yourself with a bumper crop, squash pickles are easy to make, or you can grill marinated slices before storing them in your freezer. Summer squash also work well when dried.

You can store butternut squash fruits for the winter.

As butternut plants turn yellow in the fall, gather the fruits and wipe them clean to reduce spoilage. Move indoors for storage before freezing weather.

When the rinds of winter squash are tough enough to resist being punctured with a fingernail, cut them with a short stub of vine attached. Be patient, because only fully ripened squash will keep for months in storage. Wipe fruits clean with a damp cloth, and store them in a basement or other cool place. Until you are ready to cook pretty acorns or butternuts, it’s fine to include them in fall table decorations. Consult our article on how to store winter squash for more in-depth info on curing and storing these fall-harvest varieties.

FAQs

It looks like there are two squash plants in each compartment of my plant pack. Can I separate them or should I plant them together?

Plant them together.

What causes a healthy-looking plant to fail to produce squash or to produce small squash that quickly rot?

This could be a pollination problem. The female flower must be properly pollinated for healthy fruit to form, so be sure that you haven’t done any spraying to harm bees. Are your plants under row covers where bees can’t reach them? Also, be aware that under moist conditions sometimes the little fruit coming along behind the flower rots along with the flower. If this is the case, you can clean old blooms off developing fruit as you are out harvesting, or wait for the weather to dry out a bit.

How can blossom drop be prevented in squash?

The blossom drop that you see is probably the male flower, which is intended to dry up and fall off. Only the female bloom produces fruit. You can tell the difference in the flowers by their stems. The male stem is thin, while the female stem is swollen; that is where the fruit will grow. All squash plants have both male and female flowers.

When should zucchini be harvested?

Harvest when fruit is young and measures no more than 8 inches in length. Check plants every other day at the peak of production and never leave any on the vine, even if they are too big and tough to eat. This saps energy and will signal the plant to stop producing.

When should yellow squash be harvested?

Yellow squash (crookneck and straightneck) can grow up to 10 inches long, but don’t let them. They taste best when harvested young. Pick squash between 4 to 6 inches in length to ensure tenderness.

How much of the stem should I cut when picking squash?

With winter squashes (acorn, butternut, hubbard) it’s important to cut so that the fruit has an inch or two of stem to prevent rot in weeks of storage. With summer squash (yellow squash and zucchini), it doesn’t matter because you will use the squash soon. However, it is important not to yank or rip the fruit from the plant. Cut it from the vine with a knife or shears so that the plant is not injured. These plants will continue producing for a while if healthy.

168 Comments

desiree

I have gotten 5 wonderful squash already this year but now there are lots of males and no more females. I picked the last squash 4 days ago. Should I be worried? I am in GA and during the day the plant is wilting but always comes back at night, is it stress that is making it stop producing ladies?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Desiree,
No reason to worry! Male flowers usually always outnumber the female flowers. Any stress on the plant will limit flower production. Try these watering tips and mulch well to conserve soil moisture. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Roger

This may be a question for you Ask an Expert but will try here first. I have read over many of the questions in this forum and don’t see an exact question but some kinda like I have. My crookneck squash grow to about 2 inches and stop growing, rot and fall off. I an sure I am having a pollination issue. I tried to self pollinate but the female flowers do not open all the way so they rip apart if I try to open by hand to self pollinate. I check the plants every day waiting for the flowers to open but most remain closed until they start to show signs of the baby rotting and falling off. Is there a reason the female flowers are not opening up to allow pollination to occure. I do not have bees around yet this year. I have ants on the male flowers but I assume they are not transferring pollen to females. Any suggestions? I am waiting to see if the ones I pollinated by hand take even though the flower was damaged trying to open enough to pollinate. I know this is a long message but wanted to paint a clear picture of my problem. I am in East Texas if that helps.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Roger,
What time of day are you checking the flowers? Flowers are typically open for only one day – early in the morning. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Laura

I have ants at the base of my squash and going in the ground where the stem is. What can I do about them?

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Danielle Carroll

Hi Laura,
Ants in the veggie garden can be a real nuisance. A lot of times, ants are feeding on the excrement of other insects. So be sure and check the plant for other insects. You can use a pesticide labeled for ants – just make sure the label includes vegetables! There are several options available to homeowners for veggie gardens as well as diatomaceous earth (which gets them as they walk across it). Insecticidal soaps are also used – directly sprayed on the ants. Just be sure and follow the label direction. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Jessie,
You could try and trellis the two, but they are both grow ‘shrub-like’. These squash grow to be about 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall – not just a single vine like some other crops. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Julie

I bought some straightneck squash and some zucchini. As I was planting them, the stems kept breaking. Do I need to start all over, or will they produce fruit still?

Thank you!

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Jule,
If the stems broke off below the leaves; the squash will have to be replanted :( -danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
jen

Hi! I’m growing zucchini and yellow crooknecks for the first time and I’m getting a couple fruits as of today! I noticed some small areas of opaque spider webs at the base of a couple leaves and some white spots on a few leaves so I sprayed with a neem mixture. Was this okay or should I rinse it off? Now I’m worried I’m blocking pollination :(

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Jen,
You should be ok! Just try and spray pesticides at dusk once the busy bees have gone back to the hive :) – danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Heather

I started my plants by seeds this year I have never done that. I normally buy plants and just put them in the ground how ever this year I did seeds. I’m in Ohio they guy told me I could start them in feb. that was not a great idea I did it with natural light by a window slowly they just started dieing. If the roots are still intact if I plant them will they grow back or do I have to start all over?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Heather,
If the roots are intact and the plant is alive – you can try and plant it. If the seedlings do not look so great, you may want to start with new transplants or seed. Healthy plants are essential for a healthy garden. Starting seeds indoors is not as easy as it seems. Sunny windows do not usually provide enough light for healthy transplants. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Casey

I am growing zucchini, and when the flowers on the fruit die, the fruit turn rotten. Why is this happening?

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Danielle Carroll

Hi Casey,
Zucchini squash are in the family of plants called cucurbits. These plants rely on insects, namely bees, for pollination. This article on Squash pollination will give you some tips on hand pollination if you insects are sparse. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Carol

I’m having trouble growing zucchini. Twice now, the plant grows beautifully with big green leaves, but then the leaves start to droop like it needs water. When I give it more water, it doesn’t perk up. Then, the leaves will start to turn yellow and mottled looking until eventually the plant dies. There are no flowers during this whole growing period. I did some research and think it might be vine borers. What do you think and what should I use on these pests? I don’t have a picture to show you as this happened some months ago. I have almost given up on growing zucchini.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Carol,
I feel your pain. I have battled squash vine borers as well. The adult is a pretty moth that resembles a red wasp. You can do surgery on the plant -as seen here- if you catch it early enough. I have had some luck wrapping the base of the stem with panty hose to deter the moth from laying the eggs. The moth lays the eggs on the stem, they hatch, and the tiny borers bore into the stem. Here are some more pictures and controls from Virginia Tech extension that will help you identify the damage and controls. Butternut, a winter squash is resistant to the squash vine borer. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Rachel Walden

I want to grow yellow crookneck squash this summer is it to late to plant them? if not can i plant them in a pot? i have 3 pots that are about 3 feet wide is that big enough? i would like to have about 3 to 4 plants. they produce about 4 to 5 a day right?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Rachel,
I do not know what area you are in, but in most areas it is not too late. If you let me know what area you are gardening in,, I can get you a planting guide. Yes, that size container is plenty large enough…and you can expect 4 to 5 per day once the plants are flowering and producing squash. – Danielle, Bonnei Plants

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Garrett

Hey, I planted a variety of vegetables in pots several weeks ago such as squash, zuchinni, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. All of my plants started out fantastic! Last week my cucumber plant started to turn yellow and this week it died. Now, there are a couple of leaves on my squash and zuchinni plants that have turned yellow, and some are outlined in brown. The majority of leaves are still green, but is this normal? I really do not want to lose more plants…plus, a family member had cancer, so I am trying to go as organic as possible with this plants. Look forward to hearing back!!

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Garrett,
I am sorry to hear about your family, but glad to hear about your healthy eating habits :) You may want to upload a picture to the Bonnie Plants Ask an Expert site for a better recommendation. Include details like watering practices, potting media, and sun exposure. This is a publication from Clemson University extension with pictures that may help you in the meantime. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Criss

Hi. I have been growing squash for about ten years now and I’ve never had this happen. I direct seeded crook neck and zucchini squash into my raised beds about a month ago. Crook neck is putting out female flowers but no males and the zucchini hasn’t flowered yet so I can’t pollinate from those and the females are aborting. I have never seen the females come out before the males and I have no males in sight. Is this common and I’ve just never paid attention or is there some type of deficiency? All of my crook necks are doing this right now.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Criss,
I have had a ‘backwards’ patch of cucurbits before too! I even saved the research article from Ontario – about weather patterns and flowers. Here it is. Hope this helps. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Criss

That does explain it! We have had an unusually long spring in east Texas this year and it had dipped in the high 30s low 40s several times in the past few weeks. We are supposed to have record lows tonight after 85 degree temps all week. Hopefully the plants will straighten out when it warms up more. Thank you.

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Jim

Hi, I live in South Central PA. and I want to know when is a good time to plant summer squash?

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Danielle Carroll

Hello Jim,
This is the vegetable gardening guide from your home state extension office, complete with dates for vegetables planted in your area. As soon as the threat of freezing weather is over and the ground has warmed up, it’s time to plant your squash. Looks like you should be planting very soon! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Ally

Hello! and thank you so much! I have grown starter plants, and Im hardening them off right now- they are starting to grow flower buds- but the plants are still small (5-6 in long). I understand that with other plants if they do this early it means they are under stress and are rushing to complete their cycle- should I pinch off the flowers to encourage better root and leaf growth at this stage?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Ally,
You can leave the blossoms on your squash plant! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

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Alanna

Hello! I’m having trouble with black ants eating the insides of the flowers on my yellow crook neck squash. The squash grows about two inches in length then the flower end rots and the whole things rots. At first I didn’t know what was causing this to happen until I saw the ants going in and out of holes in the center of the flower, so I figure they are damaging the developing squash. We’ve tried everything from organic ant control to regular pesticides with zero success. The plant is huge and produces lots of flowers but we haven’t had one viable squash.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Alanna,
Ants are attracted to the nectar in the flowers, but I do not think the ants are the problem. It sounds like pollination. Squash and other members of the squash family have separate male and female flowers. Pollen from the male flower must be transferred to the female flower or the young squash will grow only a couple of inches before the fruit stops growing, rots, and falls to the ground. One reason to be careful using pesticides when the squash are in bloom. Try hand pollination and see if that helps! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
DAvid

Two years ago I planted yellow and zucchini and had great success. Last year I added new garden soil to whole garden and planted in same place. I tried planting and replanting from April to August with no success. I put the plants on hills like suggested. I tried using plants a started, plants I bought and with seeds on several occasions. The plants I started indoors and the ones I bought would just sit with no growth for a couple of weeks and die. The seeds would sprout then simply die. I tried watering more and when didn’t work I watered less. The rest of my garden did well. They were in full sun. No bugs on them. I even bought a couple plants that had small squash started. When I planted them they just sat there for a a couple of weeks and died. I had a spaghetti squash and a watermelon plants two rows over that did great. I am perplexed.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello David,
Sorry to hear about your plants. It is perplexing especially since your other squash and watermelon did well and they are all in the same family. After you have planted a couple of years, it is good to rotate your crops in the garden to keep everything healthy. Here are some tips on warm season gardening. Let us know how your garden plants do this spring! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Paul

“New garden soil” was the change in your squash garden. Can you get it outta there, or did you mix it in? Contaminated, I conclude.

Reply
niner lover

I picked up one of your yellow crooked neck squash, it is a seedling, I mounded it and put miraclegrow under the plant and mixed in good soil. But after a couple of days the plant looks like it is dead. What can I do to avoid this when I replant? Also is there a problem with packing down the soil around the plant?

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Mary Beth

Hi. Sorry to hear that your squash didn’t make it. I wonder if perhaps you applied undiluted fertilizer directly on the plant roots or if you watered the Miraclegro in well? Too much fertilizer can burn a plant. Here’s an article on tips of application. There is not a problem with packing soil around the plant if you are mounding up for squash, though you shouldn’t need to if you watered it in well and the soil “settled.” ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Rosana

How much space do I need for my squash?
Do I need a trellis?
whe to plant outdoors?

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Danielle Carroll

Hi Rosana, Summer squash are bush type plants that are planted about 30 inches apart and do not need a trellis. Squash are warm season plants and are planted after the threat of frost and cold weather have passed. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Lee

When you say that you can plant three varieties in one 6ft wide bed, what lenght of bed are you referring to? Also, are you recommending only one plant of each type (transplants), or three hills with three of each type of squash?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi lee,
Typically beds are 3 to 4 feet wide. Gardening in a bed 6 feet that would be 3 plants not three hills…which are spaced farther apart. The suggestion is for those with small spaces. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

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SharonS11157@aol.com

My husband thinks yellow squash don’t take much water and now the leaves are turning yellow and drooping. We have them mounded and you can see they need water. Can you help?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Sharon,
Squash are pretty big drinkers – requiring about an inch of water per week. Once the plants are established, soak the soil to a depth of 6 inches or so several times per week. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Manu,
Here are the planting dates from the Univeristy of Florida Extension for most vegetables grown by home gardeners in the state! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Errol

I will be starting my garden very soon and i have bought the squash seeds. is it better to start growing them in the house or outside

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Errol,
You can do either. If you start them in a small pot, you can plant them outdoors 4 – 5 weeks later. Just be careful not to damage the roots when you transplant. You can direct seed them outdoors when the threat of frost has passed – some find this easier when starting from seed.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
SARAH

hi,
i live in SW Louisiana and would love to plant in 5 gallon containers. Would that be possible to plant spaghetti squash in them as well?

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hi Sarah,
Spaghetti squash is a plant with really long vines. It is possible to grow in a container – but you may need a trellis for the vines and a make shift sling for the fruit (because it is heavy). -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
robert thomas

how much and how often do you water an upside down hanging yellow squash plant

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello Robert,
Since they are growing in a container, I would water when the top inch or so of soil has dried. That will vary based on temperatures. I have containers now that I only have to water a couple of times per week. In July and August, I have to water some of them twice!
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Claire Wayner

Hi Kelly & Mary Beth,

I want to grow summer squash (the yellow kind) in my area (Baltimore, MD, climate zone 32). I think this is a spacial plant (a.k.a. requires a LOT of space to grow), but I just wanted to make sure. If it is, could I possibly grow it up a lattice like a vine? ~Claire W.

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Claire,
I’m not sure what a “LOT” of space is in your garden, but you can count on about 3′ square area for a squash plant. This cute PattyPan Squash would be a fun one to grow, as well as the regular Straightneck yellow variety. As we mention in the article, you could put 3 varieties in one 6′ wide bed and pick 3-4 squash per day in the height of the season. They should be planted in hills in the soil, as they grow into rather large-leafed roundish plants. Use your lattice for the winter squash that vine and grow in all directions; they can be trained to “go up.” ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Misty,
It could be any number of things. First of all, if you have a photo, send it to our Ask An Expert service. Before doing so, though, ensure that your small fruits are from flowers that are properly pollinated. The tiny “baby” fruit on a female ovary blossom will look like it’s beginning to form but abort if not pollinated. We’ve covered this in great detail here — and how you can try your hand at pollinating them yourself. If you see no signs of rot or fungus, try this for a bit before writing AAE. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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caroline

hi i tried growing butternut squash last yr the plants were healthy and i got lots of little squash on the plants but as they got to about 3inches long they one by one turned black can you please tell me where i went wrong, these plants were grown in a polytunnel, also the yr before i grew them outside and the same thing happened.

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Caroline,
Could it be this? Look at the link to compare your squash to choanephora wet rot. This is from the University of Minnesota, but the picture of the rot looks the same in all states. Avoiding wetting the plant and flowers is the best method of control. Sometimes, early squash are effected, but the later squash are not. If you don’t think this is it, write to our Ask An Expert and supply a photo (if you have one). ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Jeh Mempin

hello :)

why is my squash dropping it’s fruit when it’s about a fist huge?
why are the stem breaking, is it normal?
can i fertilize it if it’s 3 inches tall, and have 3 leaves?

please help.. :(

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Jeh,
Quick question before we get a little farther along…Do you mean that your plant is 3 inches tall or 3 feet tall? I ask to make sure how large your plant is, as it sounds like it is already fruiting. Let me know and we’ll write back quickly. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Noahsalsaverde

Hi, I have two large healthy squash plants, but still have a long while to produce. Today I noticed that some of the leaves are turning black and dying. Yesterday we had extremely high winds and my plants were taking some what of a beating. Could this be related, or is it something else?

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Noah,
Your plants may have been damaged by the high winds. Here’s a link from the University of Kentucky that has a photo of wind damage for you to compare. Click on page 7 to see photos and explanations. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Noahsalsaverde

Thanks Merry Beth, I was able to ascertain from your link that the damage to my leaves was from wind burn. Is there any long term affect of this damage? Is it suggested I remove the damaged leaves? Both my plants are just starting to sprout little squash and seem to be doing quite well, besides the burnt up leaves.

Reply
Mary Beth

You are welcome, Noah. If the damage is limited to numerous leaves but the stems are still intact and healthy, you should be fine. Simply remove the withered leaves and ensure that the plants are properly watered at the roots during this windy time. (oftentimes overhead watering during days of high winds means the tender roots are getting no water, as it blows away.) Good luck with these little squash! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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judy turner

When the squash starts to produce, do you leave it on the ground to mature or do lift it somehow? Thank You

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Mary Beth

Hi Judy,
Are you growing summer squash (yellow crookneck, zucchini) or winter squash (acorn, butternut)? You probably wouldn’t have time to even worry about summer squash being on the ground long enough–you need to pick it so quickly. It’s not a bad idea to mulch heavily with straw or another ground cover around your plants, as a weed barrier and to protect the young butternuts or other squash from resting directly on wet soil. With watermelons and pumpkins it is more common to put a support, like a wooden block or brick, underneath the heavy fruits. I think you will be fine not to do so. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Suhail

HI. I am making an attempt to grow gem squash in a mix of potting soil and fertilizer. Tips on how to grow them would be appreciated. Thank you!

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Suhall, You’re in the right place. Gem squash belong in the same family as the summer and winter squash that we describe on this page. The planting, nurturing and harvesting information provided here applies to gem squash with one difference: you can harvest them in the young, soft-skin stage or later (like winter squash) when the skins are thick and hard. You’ll need about three months of warm temperatures and no frost to grow from seedling to fruit, so I hope you are located in a warm region right now! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Noahsalsaverde

My squash stems are splitting down the middle. They look dray and frayed. It is not the same as vine borers. My other plant is doing very well and growing at a good rate, still immature. But the other one isnt growing as well as the other and has some slightly yellowish leaves. Explanation? Solution?

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Noah,
Since you sound familiar with squash vine borers and know it is not that, it may simply be signs of aging and heavy production. Are the stems or vines very thick and supporting a lot of top-heavy foliage? Mine split in this manner when it grew over the side of the raised bed and couldn’t bear the weight. Try burying that area of the stem with a small mound of soil and compost; sometimes they root and continue growing healthily. Your yellowing leaves could be normal signs of a “tired” plant if it’s still going strong in October after a summer production. If you have many yellowing leaves or spot other clues we can use, please write back. You can always send a photo to Ask An Expert for diagnosis, too. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Prettygirl

I’ growing crooked nec squash in a container and my plant looked really good and vibrant, but now the leaves look like they are dying. What should I do?
Sincerely,
Prettygirl

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Prettygirl,
This squash, known in the “Summer Squash” category, thrives in warm weather. If you are experiencing cooler temperatures, the leaves may begin to wilt. If that’s not the case and it’s hot where you are, check for squash vine borers in the base of the stem. Also, be sure you are watering thoroughly 2-3 times per week. Also, look for signs of powdery mildew, which is common on squash. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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kris

we have 3 squash plants which are huge and keep bearing flowers but no squash. is there something we are doing wrong.

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Kris,
Either your plant is still very young in development as is bearing all male flowers, as they do in the beginning, or your female flowers are not being naturally pollinated. This article on identifying the flowers and hand-pollinating your squash plants may help. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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cyndee williams

I planted Butternut Squash this year. They grew well, however when I picked them, dark brown areas were seen on the squash. Should I discard, or will they be edible and safe ? Thank you. ( I am hoping to can them if so.)

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Cyndee,
The dark brown areas could be where the squash sat on moist soil or mulch and began to mildew. Or, insects may chew or bore into the skin, causing bruised flesh or rotting areas. It may simply be where the fruit sat on the soil and is nothing to worry about. After harvesting, you can dip the squash in a bucket of water diluted with bleach, allow to dry and store in cool temperatures with moderate humidity. Read specific instructions from the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service. If you think that the squash are soft or damaged in those areas, do not store them with fruits that are clean. Butternuts do need to cure for a short period before enjoying, though keep an eye on these to see if the damage spreads throughout the fruit. Good luck! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Mary Beth

Cyndee,
We published a new article yesterday that you might find useful. The photos are particularly helpful, so that you can see the difference in the marks / discoloration where the fruit sat on the soil versus those marks of potential rot. Check out “Harvesting and Storing Winter Squash” for more information. Let us know how it goes! (and how it tastes…) ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Reply
chan3vans

Hi Mary I forgot the name of my squash but started yesterday its spring time
Do u have suggestions of how I should plant and water and harvest then and
How long it takes thank you.

Reply
Danielle Carroll

Hello,
Make sure your garden soil is well prepared. Set 3 transplants in hills spaced at least 30 inches apart. When setting out squash seedlings in sunny weather, you may cover them with an upside-down flowerpot or other shade cover for a couple of days after transplanting to help prevent wilting. Once plants become established they will need about an inch of water per week. Do you remember if they were summer squash or winter squash? Some summer squash varieties are ready to harvet in 60 days. Winter squash takes longer (90-120) days. Read more about harvesting squash here.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Ursula

I am living in zone 5 and I am wondering when I can stop watering (drip irrigation) the butternut squash in fall?

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Ursula,

You should keep watering your plants until the fruit is ready to harvest. Butternut squash will be ready to harvest when the rind turns yellow and is tough enough to resist being punctured with a fingernail. Depending on when you planted, your crop should be ready around now. When you harvest, cut the squashes with a short stub of vine attached. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Rachel

A squash plant randomly grew in Our backyard, and I’m guessing it’s because we probably through the seeds out of other squashes in that area. Is it ok to eat the squash?

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Den

Ive planted my squash in pots and Im not getting great results. Do they need to grow on the ground, kinda let it grow like a patch? I can’t figure it out. They get plenty of sun and water.

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Mary Beth

Hi Den, you can certainly grow summer squash in pots, but it prefers to ramble and vine. For success, make sure you use a container at least 24″ in diameter, as show in this article on “What Size Pot?“. Also, make sure that your container has proper drainage holes and gets proper watering–pots dry out faster and usually need daily watering in the heat of summer. If the foliage is green and healthy, you should see male flowers in abundance first, followed by female flowers a week or so after. This frustrates some first-time squash growers often, as they don’t realize this first flush of male flowers will not result in fruit. You might also enjoy reading an article on how squash gets pollinated. We’ve had many gardeners asking about hand-pollinating this summer, due to lack of pollinating insects and bees. Let us know how it grows. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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jodi

Very disappointed in my squash and zuchini plants this year…they stayed small and throughout the summer I have not gotten a single fruit on any of my twenty or more plants. The plants only ever put off males flowers never any female..

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Jill

Hello…this is my first year growing butternut squash. I have some good sized fruits on the vine which are maturing quite nicely but there are some that have stopped growing. Is it ok to eat them small if they have fully ripened. Please let me know thanks!

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Jill,
Sure, they should taste just fine! Just be sure they are fully ripened and cured on the vine (in harvesting tab above) to acquire the sweetness that you’ll crave. Happy growing. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Ali Freeman

Hello!

I am currently raising 2 zucchini, 1 crooked neck yellow squash, and 1 cucumber in my veggie garden. They have all been in the ground since late May and I still have not harvested a single veggie! The plants are big with nice leaves and long meandering stems, but there is no fruit. I am getting flowers on all of the plants (though my biggest zucchini has very few yellow flowers, they are mostly green.) Could this be a sun issue?? We live on an old pecan grove and super sunny gardening is hard to do. The entire garden probably only gets about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Thanks!

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Ali, Sorry to hear you haven’t harvested anything yet! It could be a sun issue, as these plants really prefer 6 to 8 hours a day, but I’d think you’d get something with 4 hours of sunlight. It could also be a problem of poor pollination, as all three of these plants need pollinators to help them produce. Have you seen many bees buzzing around your garden? If you or anyone near you has sprayed pesticides, that could account for a low pollinator population. You can try pollinating all these crops by hand. Our blog post about this topic will help you know how. I hope this helps! Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Larry Eub

You need Bees, some areas… have such a low bee population, that it adversely effects veggies just like yours. research who in your area has bees, and invite them to bring over a hive and put it near your garden, if you have the space…
300% more fruit/ veggies
Large farms bring in bee colonies ALL THE TIME, every year, to maximize their crops

Reply
Amy

Hi, I have the same shriveling problem and I am pretty sure that it is from lack of pollination, I have tried the hand pollination and will see how that does, because I am in north Texas where lately its been over a hundred everyday this week, but the plant itself is huge, and has tons of male flowers, I have noticed the flowers are open in the morning and was worried that there was a problem when they started closing up, but they reopen in the morning, so I will keep hand pollinating in the morning, but my question is how often should you try to hand pollinate for it to produce good squash (also had some strange double squash two females who had two separate flowers, but the fruit had grown together…Siamese twins lol, but they are starting to wither well one is bad the other side is starting to)! The leaves are huge and the plant seems to have spikes on it, or thorns, is that for protection or is that bad?

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Mary Beth

Hi Amy,
The blooms on squash open early in the morning, hopefully get pollinated, and then close that afternoon and shrivel to a pulp. They last one day. Hopefully you’ve been able to get to a few to pollinate within their daily life span, as it sounds like it is producing fruit for you. To answer your question, you’ve got that one day to make a squash out of that bloom! And yes, the plant does have sticky spikes on it that are not fun to brush against, but they are perfectly normal. Enjoy! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Dianne Deno

I planted black beauty zucchini for the 1st time and spaced them approx 3 feet. The plants grew large and many flowers bloomed but unfortunately no zucchini. 60 days in ground /upstate New York, I’ll make the effort again next year, any suggestions to help me?? Wrong soil or was the extreme heat a factor?

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Mary Beth

Hi Dianne,
It could be a pollination issue, or that you have yet to see female flowers. We covered this in a recent article for folks having issues with pollination in the cucurbit family (squash, melons, cucumbers). Take a look at the photos to see if your plant has produced female flowers, and if so, how you might aide it in pollination. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Asia

I planted my yellow squash plant on June 2nd and so far I’ve been able to harvest 3 squash from the plant. There has been more squash but the start out growing and then the shrivel up and turn brown. I thought that the plant would be producing abundantly by now. I’ve noticed that some of the leaves are a beautiful green shar but have yellow spots on them. There are also other leaves that seem to be turning white. I read online that this is mildew. So I have 3 questions:
1. Why are the squash dying on the plant?
2. What are these yellow spots?
3. What could be causing the mildew? It’s been very hot here and water doesn’t pool on the leaves.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Asia,

Thanks for your questions. Let me address one by one but out of order… (1) The squash may be dying on the plant because of poor pollination. Read our blog post on this topic to learn more and see a few ways you can help your plants out. (3) The white on the leaves sounds like powdery mildew, which resembles baby powder on leaves. This is very common on squash and can be helped by spraying plants with a fungicide labeled for powdery mildew. You should be able to find something at your local garden center. (2) I am not sure about the yellow spots. Try the solutions for poor pollination and powdery mildew to see if that helps the overall plant health. If not and the yellow spots seem to be getting worse, please send your question along with a photo to our Ask an Expert service. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Denise

Hi, this year I’m trying to grow Crook Neck Yellow Squash. Not knowing anything about growing Squash and fretting because many of the blooms fell off and not Squash, FINALLY 2 Squash lonely to discover they contained WORMS! UGH! How do I get ready of these things? I also have one Roma Tomatoes stalk and one Bell Pepper stalk in the same 4’x4′ plant box.

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Denise,
Sorry to hear that you are having troubles! The good thing about summer squash is that they will bloom prolifically. You can protect plants with sprays of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) applied according to label directions. This is natural and commonly used by organic farmers and gardeners. Ask your local garden center to help you with the purchase and read the label for best application instructions. Let us know how it grows! Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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Sandra

I have a container garden on a cement courtyard. Can get very hot I try to water every day!
I planted two wine barrels, neither have holes ( my brother said not to put holes) one does have plastic bottles on the bottom. I planted tomatoes, I also put watermelon in one and squash in the other. Were doing ok but now everything is turning yellow. Squash and melon is not growing. Leaves are About 4 inches and light green to yellow. Some have brown spots, looks like sunburn. Tomato was growing but stopes and never really turned dark green always lime green to now yellow. When planted I did put chicken manure in maybe to much. The have full sun all day 8 + hour a day has been getting 90+ during day a d 60s at night. I check the soil and it is damp to dry 6 inches down, never real wet! Have not fertilize since I did touch in the beginning I think they are dyeing. What to do?

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Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Sandra,

Sorry to hear about your gardening troubles! So do these pots not have any drainage holes at all? If so, that could be your number one problem. Containers need good drainage. (Sorry to trump your brother!) If they don’t have drainage, the plants will get too much water, which causes them to look yellow or light green. Your plants will also be susceptible to root rot and other fungal problems if they don’t have adequate drainage. Is it possible to add drainage holes now? If so, you might try. I hope this helps! Also, be sure to read the articles in our Container Gardening section for more best practices.

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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GreenThumb Verdad

So much squash, don’t know what to do, very satisfied with your plants.

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seth

Hi, I planted several butternut squash mounds as soon as the soil was warm enough. The vines are growing like mad, and look great, however the blossoms won’t open. There are dozens present, (I autopsied one just to make sure it was a flower not a leaf cluster) ….they just wont open. Am I missing something? I’m worried I’m going to run out of summer!

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Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Seth,

Blooms are typically only open in the morning. Maybe you’re not an early bird and you’re missing them? It sounds like you’re having problems with pollination if you’re not seeing fruit forming yet. Read our blog post about cucurbit pollination for info on how to try pollinating by hand. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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seth

Thanks for the answer Kelly. However, it was not a pollination or blossom drop issue. The buds refused to open at all. I am an early bird, so was not missing them. Yesterday, a couple of flowers decided to make an appearance. I think the problem was too much heat. It was over 100 here in Boise for 6 days in a row, and the temp has finally dropped back to the normal 90’s.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Yes, the high temps this summer are a real challenge for gardeners. I’m glad to hear your plants are doing a little better now! -Kelly

Reply
Michael O'Brien

my squash plants are expanding all over my yard,some of the squash are large,how do you tell when squash are ready to be picked

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Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Michael,

Congrats on growing squash so successfully! See above in the “Harvest & Storage” tab for info on when and how to harvest your squash. You can also look at the fruit size info on all our specific squash varieties to know what size the squash should be when picked. Happy harvesting!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Anthony

I have planted zucchini for the first time. The leaves are huge just after a few weeks and are starting to produce a few squash. I have noticed some leaves with holes and now some pepper like particles on the leaves. I havent seen anything on this site to help identify what this could be. Im in Florida if that helps.

thank you!

Reply
Mary Beth

Hi Anthony,
Congratulations on your first zucchini. Get ready with lots of recipes, now! Hopefully you will have lots in production very soon. Because it’s hard to identify what you describe via email, I wonder if you might email a photo to our Ask an Expert service? They will take a look and reply with a diagnosis and recommendation. We will be adding a section on pest and disease problems very soon — complete with photos — but this is a great personalized service in the meantime. Happy growing. Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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John C

I have several types of wintewr squash planted. For the last few days the sun seems to wilt the leaves. I water in the morning to prevent this, but it still occurs. After sun goes down (after a few hours) the leaves regain their full size.
The sun isn’t as hot as last week when this didn’t happen. What to do???
Thanks John C.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi John,

The fact that the leaves always perk back up in the afternoon makes me think they’re just wilting naturally in the heat of the day. It doesn’t sound like a problem. Just keep watering well and watching them. If you start to see any other problems, send your question, preferably with a photo, to our Ask an Expert service. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Jennifer

I have yellow squash, zucchini & tomatoes in the same box. The zucchini are growing to ENORMOUS size (over a foot long and 2-3″ in diameter). The tomatoes are growing very rapidly as well. The summer squash had a good start but then they all started to rot. Many grow but then get to about an inch in diameter and start rotting. I finally pulled the plant out of the box because I didn’t want it to interfere with the growth of the healthy plants. Why did that happen and what I can do better next season to help them grow as well as the rest?

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jennifer,

Glad to hear that most of your plants are doing well. The problem with your squash sounds like choanephora wet rot. Compare what you’re seeing with this picture of choanephora wet rot on squash from the University of Minnesota (the rot looks the same in all states). Does this look similar? Avoiding wetting the plant and flowers is the best method of control for this problem. Water plants at their base instead. Sometimes, early squash are affected, but the later ones are not. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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JJ

So, I decided to expand my container vegetable garden this year, which included ONE squash plant. Now, it seems to have taken over my largest container and it’s a large container! Can I cut some of the leave without harming the plant? I’ve already started to harvest from it but the leaves are so large, I can’t even see the ID tags to know what else I put in the container with it! Also, I did discover there was a cucumber plant in the same container and I’ve been hearing/reading about cucumber beetle. Should I be worried now?

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi JJ,

Yes, squash gets huge. That’s why we recommend only one plant per 24-inch pot. We don’t recommend pruning your plants as that can open the plant up to disease and pest problems, so this may just have to be a case of choosing one plant over another! If you’ve been harvesting a lot from your squash, it will likely die off soon and you can remove it, allowing the other plants to fill in the space. Regarding the cucumber beetle, you shouldn’t worry unless you’ve seen damage on your plants but you can be on the lookout. Cucumber beetles feed directly on the plant, causing visible damage, and they may carry a bacterium that causes the leaves to wilt, too. Infection typically occurs when the plants are half-grown. Happy growing in your container garden!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Noteybook

Hey there! I just bought a butternut squash plant, and I’ve noticed it has 2 little squash plants growing, about 3-4 inches long each. The female flowers on the end of them look wilted and shrunken, though the fruit look perfectly fine. I’m a rather new gardener and I’m having difficulty telling if those 2 are growing, fertilized squash, or unpollenated. They’ve been there for around 4 days now. There is one male blossom open at the moment, and a few male/female flowers growing. I haven’t been able to find a time when the female flowers would be open, if they even would be at this point. The plant is still rather small at this time, and I have it in a 36″ x 12″ x 18″ container.. though it does have new vine growth and looks healthy. Any thoughts?

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jodi

I planted yellow squash and zuccini in buckets this year. They started out strong but seem to very small to me. The leaves are really no bigger than just over an inch or two. They are now producing male flowers but no female flowers. They are planted in potting soil since our own soil is poor quality. I am starting to wonder why they are so small. Also if I can expect any fruit at all from the Tiny plants.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jodi,

If your buckets are less than less than 24 inches in diameter (our recommendation for summer squash), then the small plants could be due to root restriction in a smaller container. Squash produce male flowers first, then start putting on female flowers, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Give the plants some more time and see how they do. You should be able to get fruit but your plants and yields may be smaller. Also, be sure to feed your plants to give them a boost. We recommend our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Elisabeth

I purchased a yellow crookneck squash (your brand) yesterday. It seemed healthy, a little lanky and not bunched up but healthy. I know it is a bit late to be planting but thought I would give it a try. I planted it as directed in the biodegradable container. I planted container depth as specified and watered after planting. My issue is after planting yesterday, today one of the leaves, not all is wilting and starting to brown on the tips. Is that an issue or normal? I also planted and bout a zucchini and it is doing well and not wilting…Any help or thoughts would be great. Thank you.

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Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Elisabeth,

Hopefully your squash has perked back up in the past couple of days. The slight wilting could just be your plant getting used to its new home. Our biodegradable pots prevent transplant shock very well, but if you’re planting in the summer heat, the plants may still have a little transition period. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi George,

Yes, the slight bumpy texture is natural with crookneck squash. Harvest when squash are about 6 inches long and while the skins still feel soft. Be sure to check out some of our squash recipes, and enjoy!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Denise

HI Kelly! As I was reading above, I thought I might be experiencing blossom end rot on my squash and zucchini, but it’s not just the blossom end that is shriveling. The fruits get about two inch size, but then they begin to shrivel. I always assumed since any fruit at all was growing that it was getting pollinated, is that not the case? I’ve seen a few bees around, though not many. Is there anything else that could be causing the tiny fruit to be shriveling, like watering? It’s been pretty dry here and I’ve been trying to hand water, but this problem has happened the last few years and I don’t get very many full sized fruits before the squash bugs and powdery mildew take over. Fingers crossed, I’ve not seen a squash bug yet! Thanks!!

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Denise,

I got this answer for you from our Ask an Expert service: It sounds like choanephora wet rot. Click on this link to a picture of choanephora wet rot on squash to compare. This is from the University of Minnesota, but the picture of the rot looks the same in all states. Avoiding wetting the plant and flowers is the best method of control. Water plants at their base instead. Sometimes, early squash are affected, but the later ones are not, so there’s still hope. Poor pollination can also cause small fruit to drop, but if it is actually rotting, it is probably the wet rot. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
rich hopp

I have green zucchini and yellow crooked necked squash growing. When size should they be when I pick them? I appreciate the help.

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jeff

I made some above ground planters with a floors and I filled them with dirt and stuff from my compost bin . And now I have some type of squash growing from my kitchen scraps . The problem I having is that there wilting if not dying. what do you think is going on.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jeff,

It’s tough to say what’s going on with these volunteer plants in your compost pile. It’s lucky they came up at all! Does your compost pile get full sun and enough moisture, as much as a regular vegetable garden would get? I’m glad you’re making your own compost. You can read some best practices for composting in the Composting section of our website. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Michelle Clark

I am growing crookneck squash and lemon boy tomatoes. Both were doing well, but have now turned orange and are rotting a bit on the bottom. Do you have any suggestions?

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Michelle,

Both squash and tomatoes (as well as eggplant, melons, and peppers) can experience a common problem called blossom-end rot. Read our article “Conquer Blossom End Rot” to see if this sounds like what’s going on. The article includes some suggestions for solving this problem. If this doesn’t look like what you’re seeing, please send your question along with a photo through our Ask an Expert service. I hope this helps!

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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kris

i am having a fabulous time thus far in my garden this year , i planted early this year due to the warm spring , 5 early girls already, loads of cherry tom. i got a long neck squash off of one of my plants, enormous , in comparison to the other 2 i picked , must have been quadruple in size , so excited , problem as stated in before conversation , ( i wish i had read this 1st) i cut back some of the other leaves , as they were encroaching , now i am concerned about disease . help!!!

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Kris,

So glad to hear about your great garden! I’m not sure what’s giving you concern about disease. Let me know some details and I’ll be glad to help!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Dennis Riddle

Is there a way to still use oversized yellow and zucchini. I hate to throw away my hard earned vegetables. Thanks

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Dennis,

Sure, you can use them any way you like! The oversized squash and zucchini is still edible, it just may not taste quite as good as fruit picked when smaller. How about this recipe for squash puppies? It calls for grated squash, which might be a better use for the oversized ones that have a little less flavor. If you try it, let us know how you like it!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
jennifer

How long do squash plants last during the summer? I live in Alabama and have seen a reduction in harvest. I am wondering if it is time to pull the squash up and plant something else in it’s space for the rest of the summer. I used to pick 3-4 squash a day and now I pick 3-4 a week. Is this normal as it gets hotter?
Thanks

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Jennifer,

Congrats on what sounds like a great squash harvest! Yes, this is normal. Producing fruit takes a lot out of a plant, as does heat. It sounds like your plant has done its work for the season and is ready for rest. You can pull it up and rotate something else, maybe a pepper or heat-tolerant tomato, into the space. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Pamela

I planted crookneck squash and zucchini in the same area. I have gotten a few zucchini and one giant squash! However, while the squash is shaped liked a crookneck, it is the color of my zucchini and after a week of sitting on the vine as big as it can be, still isn’t yellow. Have I done something wrong? Should I pick it? Can I eat it?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Pamela,

Yes, go ahead and harvest it. If you let it get too big, the flavor will suffer. I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. It’s possible that this was mislabeled and is another zucchini plant instead of a crookneck squash. See what you think after you harvest and eat.

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
richardawalters@att.net

Has a squash plant that is resistane to squash vine bores been developed? Also leaves develop a white coating that
looks like powder, any suggestions?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Richard,

Most summer squash are fairly susceptible to the squash vine borers, unfortunately. Waltham Butternut squash is known to be pretty resistant, so you could try it for a fall squash harvest. It sounds like your plants could have a bit of powdery mildew, which is common during wet weather. Make sure your plants’ leaves get plenty of sun. If you only have a few leaves showing the powder, remove and trash them. If the problem persists or worsens, you can use a fungicide on your plants. Find and contact your regional Extension agent for specific recommendations.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Angi

My yellow squash are not growing well… and my zuchinni is Rapid in its growth. How can i boost them… I have fertilyzed them and watered them well… as they are in sun and shade i have not been very good at planting yellow squash but I try every year. My pumpkins are DOING awesome, and I will have zuchinni soon.

Thank you
Angi

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Angi,

Congrats on your zucchini and pumpkins! I’m sorry that your yellow squash isn’t growing as well. Could the plants be spaced a little too closely? We recommend planting squash at least 30 inches apart. Maybe your prolific zucchini is providing competition for your yellow squash (and winning). Also, make sure you’re not overwatering. You can read up about how much water vegetables need in our Watering section. I hope this helps!

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Jenne

I have lots of flowers and no fruit on my squash and zucchini plants in a raised garden box in Arizona (with shade screens). Am I doing something wrong? Someone said I need to pollinate them by gently brushing with a clean paint brush. I tried this morning. Any other suggestions?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Jenne,

Do you see bees in your garden? Poor pollination can be caused by too-wet or too-dry weather, both of which discourage bees. My guess is that dry is more likely in your neck of the woods! The pollination rate should pick up if weather conditions change. Hand pollination can be tricky, but your technique may work.

To encourage pollination in your garden, be sure to plant other plants with blooms that attract bees, such as Bee balm and lavender in your garden. Also, be careful with pesticides, even organic ones, and don’t spray during times when bees are active.

Another common question about squash is “Why are my flowers falling off?” Squash plants produce male blooms first, then female ones. Is it possible that your plants haven’t quite gotten to the female stage yet?

I hope this helps. Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Anne-Marie

My yellow squash are about 2 inches long, and I have noticed that the end is now turning brown. They seem a little shriveled. What is causing this?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Anne-Marie,

Is the brown end on the blossom end of the fruit? If so, this could be blossom-end rot, which affects not only tomatoes but also eggplant, melons, and squash. Read our article “Conquer Blossom End Rot” to see if this sounds like what’s going on. The article includes some suggestions for solving this problem. If this doesn’t sound like what’s going on, please send your question along with a photo through our Ask an Expert service. I hope this helps!

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Lorie

I rhought I bought straight yellow neck squash. All of the squash are green. Does the squash eventually turn yellow? Or did I get a miss labeled zuc plant?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Lorie,

It’s hard to tell without a photo, though it’s possible you have a zucchini squash instead of straightneck squash. Can you send your question and a photo to our Ask an Expert service? That way, you can know for sure.

Thanks!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Tye

My Yellow Squash are growing however, I am noticing these little bugs that roll up in a ball and some crazy looking ants – one of the young squash had a hole eaten through – What can I do to prevent this! HELP. Please!
Thanks
Tye

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Tye,

Your best bet is to send your question through our Ask an Expert service. This connects you to a nationwide network of Cooperative Extension experts. If you have photos, all the better! I hope this helps.

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Darin

We to have a problem with ants and dirt based pests. My fix for this year is treat the dirt heavily with Sevin Dust. Made the mistake last year of treating the veggies in the heat of summer. Wasn’t kind to the melons.

Reply
Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Darin,

Yes, you have to be very careful with insecticides and pesticides to avoid hurting plants more than you’re helping. Always read the label instructions carefully and apply only as directed!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Emil

I am growing squash and pumpkins this year. I have had the issue of female flowers opening when no male flowers are present. Is it possible to freeze male flowers until a female opens for hand pollination?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Emil,

Congrats on growing squash and pumpkins, though I’m sorry you’re having trouble with pollination. This is a problem for many gardeners. The male flowers only remain on the plant for a day and then they fall off, which makes pollination tricky for these plants. I don’t think freezing is the answer, though, as freezing could cause the pollen to not be viable. You could try saving the male flowers in a plastic storage bag or paper bag, leaving it in an unheated or cooled environment, and trying hand-pollination that way.

Poor pollination is often a weather problem, either too wet or too dry, and may pick up when weather conditions change. To encourage pollination, be sure to plant other plants with blooms that attract bees, such as Bee balm, lavender, and geranium, in your garden. Also, be careful with pesticides, even organic ones, and don’t spray during times when bees are active.

I hope this helps. Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
FRANK

I’m having trouble growing zucchini squash they don;t get any bigger than about 3 to 4 inches long. the plants themself grow very nice but the fruit themself are very small?

FRANK

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Frank,

Congrats on growing healthy zucchini plants, though I’m sorry about your fruit. Do the fruits rot after growing to 3 or 4 inches? If so, this could be a pollination problem. The female flower must be properly pollinated for healthy fruit to form. Have you sprayed anything that could harm bees? Are your plants under row covers where bees can’t reach them? Also, under moist conditions, sometimes the little fruit coming along behind the flower will rot along with the flower. If this is the case, you can clean old blooms off developing fruit as you are out harvesting, or wait for the weather to dry out a bit. If these options don’t sound plausible, I suggest you submit your question to our Ask an Expert service for more expert advice. I hope this helps!

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
Jennie

My black beauty zucchini squash are growing in very large pots next to eachother they are growing good with nice yellow flowers but then they dry up but no squash what am I doing wrong. Please help.

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Jennie,

We get this question a lot, and typically it’s a case of not realizing there are both male and female flowers on squash plants. The plant produces male blooms first. These drop off and are followed by female blooms a week or so later. Have you seen both sets of blooms? You should also promote pollination by planting flowers near your squash plants. The bees will be attracted to your flowers and pay a visit to your squash, too. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Reply
christy

My zuchini patch looks like a jungle. Can I cut some of the large leaves off without damaging the crop?

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Christy,

Yes, zucchini can get quite large, around 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall. That’s why we recommend planting our Black Beauty zucchini plants 3 to 4 feet apart. While some gardeners do prune their zucchini plants, we prefer to give a plant enough space and let it grow as it needs to. Pruning can leave open wounds that are entry points for diseases. You can learn more about how to grow zucchini (a type of summer squash) on our Growing Squash page.

Happy gardening!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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Lori Miles

Can you plant summer squash in containers? My son brought home a plant and we don’t really have any place to plant it..

Reply
Kelly Smith

Hi Lori,

Yes, you can certainly plant summer squash in a container. You’ll see in our “What Size Pot?” article that a 24-inch (diameter) container is best, as these plants get rather large.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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BRIAN HOWARTH

Hi, i’m growing Zucchini Squash in bucket, for the first time after planting some in my above ground veggy bed. So far so good, started these from seed. I have already harvested 5 so far and they taste great! Also do Marketmore Cucumbers the same way, have to give half of them away they grow so fast…thanks

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