Mastering Zucchini Plant Growth: 5 Essential Tips for Success

The plants are prolific, but that doesn’t make them immune to a little help from the gardener.

Zucchini varieties can be divided into two groups. Some varieties are vining, and will need space to spread or trellis. Bush types are better suited to small spaces and planters. Zucchini requires six to eight full hours of sun, and fertilized soil that is consistently moist.

Here are five tips that will help you harvest your zucchini more reliably throughout the growing period.


Plant in the ‘Hills
planting in hills concept
The Spruce by K. Dave
The term “hill” in gardening refers to an elevated mound of dirt. You can grow zucchini in rows but hilling has several advantages: the soil in hills warms up faster early in the growing season, so you can start planting as soon as you have the last chance of frost. Hills also provide better drainage. Planting several zucchinis in a hill also allows for better pollination. If you decide to plant seeds or buy seedlings, group at least two to three plants together to ensure the best pollination. Hilling also allows you to add compost to the soil. Zucchini plants love rich soil. Hilling provides them with extra nutrients. Plants need an inch of water every week.

This is important because each female flower only opens for a day. No pollination means no zucchini. If you have several plants growing close together, the chances of pollination are greatly increased.


Monitor Pollination
bees pollinating zucchini
The Spruce by K. Dave
You will also need to open both male and female blossoms at the same moment. Only female flowers produce fruit. Male flowers are only there for pollination.

Gardeners can become frustrated when they see many flowers but no fruit. Be patient. After the plants have matured a bit, they will begin to set flowers of both genders. Thanks to the early male flower, there should already be a lot of pollinating insect in the area. If you can see small fruits behind the base, you will have female flowers.

You can take matters of pollination into your own hand if you are really committed to your zucchini harvest. To ensure a good pollination, you can dust the pollen from the male flowers onto the female flowers. Use an artist’s brush to transfer the pollen from the male bloom onto the female bloom. Don’t throw away those early male blooms. You can pick them and fry them with batter.


Don’t Plant Too Early
planting a zucchini transplant
The Spruce by K. Dave
Zucchini is not tolerant of frost and cold temperatures.1 You will therefore gain nothing by planting it too early. If the fruits are formed in cold weather, their skin will be pitted from the chilling injuries. Depending on your climate, you may want to wait until the soil has warmed up, at least by mid-spring. It should be safe to plant when the danger of frost is gone and temperatures are reliably over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use row covers or mulch at night to protect your plants if temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Keep these row covers on hand in the fall for an extended harvest.


Consider Succession Planting
Success planting
The Spruce by K. Dave
Zucchini grows quickly, and can produce fruit in as little as 50-60 days after seeding. It’s natural for zucchini plants to slow down their production during the growing season because they work so hard producing fruits.

Some gardeners believe that the initial glut is enough. If you want a constant supply, then succession planting will be the best option. You can start new zucchinis two to three more times during the growing season, depending on your climate.

It’s easy to grow zucchini from seeds, and you don’t need to start them indoors. Once your first zucchini plants are mature, you can direct sow seeds in your garden and expect to see sprouts within days. This second planting is often done by gardeners in mid-July (or mid-August) or both. Later plantings will grow faster than spring plantings.

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Watch out for Squash Borers
zucchini pests
The Spruce by K. Dave
The adult Squash Vine Borers are attracted to zucchini.1 They emerge from their winter hiding place in the soil in late June or early July and their first task is to lay eggs near the base of the squash plants. The larvae begin to feed on the plants’ stems when the eggs hatch. The stems are cut off from the water flow and your zucchini plant will die quickly.

The adult squash vine borer looks like a wasp, but it’s actually a moth. These moths fly at night and lay their eggs near the base of plants that are susceptible. You can avoid squash vine borer infestations by planting your zucchini after mid-July. There is no reason why the vine borer will stop and lay eggs in your garden if there are no plants of zucchini. Delaying planting by one year will also stop the squash vine borer from infesting your plants if there are any in your soil. They will not be able to feed on your plants, and they won’t have anywhere else to go. Row covers can be used to stop the adult zucchini laying eggs. However, you will need to manually pollinate the flowers.

If you want to get early zucchinis, then there is a way that requires the use of foil. Wrap the base of every stem with aluminum foil. Cover the first 2 to 4 inches where the stem emerges from the ground. The larvae should not be able bore through the foil if you wrap it tightly.