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Pollinating Squash

July 14th, 2008

A couple weeks ago I notided that some of the small pumpkins and zucchini were shriveling up on the vine and falling off. I thought it was from all the rain we were having, then I was reading and realized it was due to poor pollination. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and started pollinating the squash myself. Here’s what I learned.

This is what happens when you have poor pollination.

Squash plants has 2 different kinds of blossoms: male and female. The male blossoms produce the pollen and the female blossoms produce the fruit. Usually several male blossoms are produced for every female blossom. How do you tell the difference between a male and a female blossom? There are 2 ways to do it.

First the male blossom is usually on a long straight stem as you can see here.

They also have a single stamen on the inside with pollen on it, as you can see here.

The female blossoms are close the main vine attached to what appear to be small fruits (this is a butternut squash as you can tell by the shape).

The female blossom as a multi-stemmed stigma on the inside as you can see here.

So how to you pollinate your own squash? First you check to make sure the male blossom is mature and producing pollen. A little pollen will come off on your finger when you touch the stamen.

Pick a mature male blossom and peel back the flower petals.

Now all you have to do is rub the male stamen on the all parts of the female stigma and you’re finished. This is what your squash will look like if they’re properly pollinated. This zucchini blossom fell off the next day and the zucchini will be eaten today for lunch.

Make sure you check your plants every day for mature female blossoms. They wilt quickly!

12 Comments to “Pollinating Squash”
  1. Chicago Mike on July 16, 2008 at 11:21 am


    That is more than I hoped for and very cool.

    Now I have to keep an eye out and make it happen.

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  2. Susy on July 16, 2008 at 11:47 am

    It’s quite interesting and it really does make a difference. I have more squash forming now that I’m hand pollinating.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Jinger on July 17, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Brian just introduced me to you site – this is awesome. Pollinating article very interesting! You go girl – lots of work! Will check back daily – now and pass along the site to Krista she will love it!!!

    Reply to Jinger's comment

  4. Susy on July 17, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Thanks Jinger. It is a lot of work, but fun and relaxing as well. It’s a great deviation from my daily computer work!

    Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Nature’s Fingerprint at Chiot’s Run on January 19, 2009 at 10:58 am

    […] noticed even more as I garden. I noticed the pollen pattern on this zucchini blossom while I was pollinated one day. It’s like it has it’s own fingerprint. Amazing. This is a little curly that the […]

    Reply to Nature’s Fingerprint at Chiot’s Run's comment

  6. Brenda on August 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Hi! Sounds like you know your squash! I have read about the hand polinating and definitely plan on doing that once I can get a female flower to open. I live in Phoenix, AZ and pretty much the only things that will grow here in the Summer (we get up to 115+) are the winter squash, so right now we are growing Pumpkins and Butternut Squash. There are pictures on our blog. Here’s a question for you… we just started getting flowers opening up on our butternut squash in the last couple of days (planted the seeds the end of June) and I have a TON of male flowers in various stages of development, but haven’t gotten any females yet. Same thing with the pumpkins. I’m just starting to see females starting, but most of them have shriveled up when they are still very young. I’m only getting female pumpkin buds at the every end of the vine. Is it normal for the girls to arrive so much later than the males? I’m sure I just have to be patient, but wanted to know if this is what is expected. Thanks!
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Pumpkins in Bloom =-.

    Reply to Brenda's comment

    • Susy on August 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm

      It is common for male flowers to appear before the female flowers. Mine always do, I think it’s the plants way of assuring that they are ready to bear fruit. I also often I have a few female flowers that yellow and shrivel as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Alex on August 9, 2009 at 6:15 am

    This is great! Thanks for the info! This is my first time with butternut squash and I didn’t even know there was a male and female flower, so I started to wonder when the flowers died off without a sign of a fruit.
    After reading this, I went back to take a better look. And behold, under the canopy of leaves, I saw more flowers, but these already bear a tiny fruit at the base. I will still hand pollinate, just to make sure I get a nice crop.
    Thanks again!

    Reply to Alex's comment

  8. Tammy on August 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I am growing some Ambassador Squash.Right now all Male flowers
    are blooming.I hope the females will come soon.Just a few weeks
    ago the leaves on the Squash plant were turning yellow.I started
    using K-Gro and now the leaves are really green.I find that giving
    your plants the propper nutrients really does help.

    Reply to Tammy's comment

    • Susy on August 23, 2009 at 10:13 pm

      Very true. I keep a close eye on my potted plants and feed them occasionally throughout the season. They usually perk up nicely after I feed them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Wenchypoo on June 7, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Okay…I’ve read, and here I go a-pollenating! Since I am allergic, I’ll use a Q-tip instead.

    Reply to Wenchypoo's comment

  10. […] entpuppt hat. Susy Morris’ Blog „Chiot’s Run“ zerstreute letzte Zweifel zu diesem Thema. Knifflig daran ist, daß nicht zwangsläufig gleichzeitig männliche und weibliche Blüten […]

    Reply to Rezept No. 8: Frittierte Zucchiniblüten « Balkongartentagebuch's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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