How To Hand Pollinate Squash For More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

Growing Zucchini & Squash

For many years I have been growing zucchini and squash.  I can remember when I was a kid and headed out to the fields to pick some zucchini and squash.  

There were LOADS of squash, we had such a hard time keeping up with them and often times would hand them out to neighbors so we wouldn’t waste them.

As the years went on I started to notice less and less.  Some years would be great and others I would get no squash at all.  What was I doing wrong?

A Decline In Bee Population

Through the years I have also noticed a huge decline in bees.  Bees are a huge part of gardening and many fruits and vegetables can not grow without the the help of bees.

The bee population has been on a decline for many years now and it currently is dangerously low.  I know many home gardeners who now bring bees into their garden so that their gardens flourish and grow with great success.

The bees job is to go into the plants and grab the pollen and pollinate female flowers from the male flowers.  I know, a bit confusing, but if the female flower doesn’t get pollinated with the males pollen, it can not grow fruit.  

Today we are going to look at a zucchini and squash plant and I will show you how to self pollinate squash flowers so that you will produce more squash!

The Birds and The Bees

Who knew that we were going to talk about sex?  But in a sense, we are going to talk about it.

Did you know that a zucchini can not grow unless the male pollinates the female flower.  Kind of like the sperm implanting the egg isn’t it?  

Once the female flower gets the pollen from the male flower than the female flower can grow a “baby” or it’s fruit.  Pretty amazing right?  

So lets look at what the difference is between a female and male flower.

Female and Male Stems Differ

Lets look at this picture closely.  The first thing you need to do is identify which flowers are males and which flowers are females.

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

The first area we are going to look at is the stem of the flower.  A female flower has a thick stem, it almost looks like a zucchini is starting to grow.  (Do you notice in the picture above how thick the stem is?)

A male flowers stem is much thinner than the female flower.  Look at the picture below.  Notice the difference?

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

Female Stigma

There is also another way to tell the difference between male and female flowers.  Look at the center of the flower (in picture below).  The center is where all the pollen is stored.  This is the heart of the flower.  

In a female flower the center is called a female stigma.  Notice that it has multiple prongs.

squash 3.001

Male Anther

The center of a male flower is much different than the female.  Take a look at the picture below.  Notice that it only has one prong.  This is the male anther.

The pollen of the male anther is the only way that fruit can grow on a female flower.  It really is a simple process to pollinate a female flower with the males pollen.

squash 4.001

How To Self Pollinate Squash Flowers

So in my case, my bee population is really low this year.  So I have decided to take the steps to self pollinate my squash plant.

I should note that oftentimes when a squash plant first start to bloom with flowers they might only produce male flowers.  This is normal and most likely in several weeks the female flowers will start to bloom.  So if you are only seeing male flowers, wait a week or so and check back.

It is best to do this in the morning.  At night the flowers close up and in the morning they open up when the humidity is relatively low.

You will need a dry paintbrush. With the dry brush, lightly touch the male anther and get the pollen on the brush.

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

This is what the pollen will look like on the brush.  One male flower can pollinate many female flowers.

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

Now simply brush the pollen from the male anther onto the female stigma as pictured below.

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

Are You Ready For Some Squash?

That’s it!  Now leave them be and pretty soon before you know it, you will have a ton of zucchini and squash like this one!  

And once you get your first squash, be sure to check out our Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe {Gluten Free & Grain Free} over at Whole Lifestyle Nutrition.

How To Self Pollinate Squash To Produce More Squash | GrowingRealFood.com

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If you notice my Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube are “Halle Cottis”, Yep that’s me!  I also have another site Whole Lifestyle Nutrition and I use the same same Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram accounts for both sites.  

Both sites have the same concepts of cooking, eating and growing real food, but Growing Real Food really focuses on simple techniques to show you how to easily grow real food.

So you tell me, have you had issues growing zucchini and squash before?  Have you tried this method yet?

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7 comments
Sandi
Sandi

That is not a 'thick stem' on the female flowers... it is actually the tiny, undeveloped zucchini that will continue to grow into your big zucchini once it's pollinated.

Arrblair Smith
Arrblair Smith

test livefyre fb social sync wearegrowingrealfood

Rhonda Harader Cain
Rhonda Harader Cain

I ended up just pulling up my zucchini plant...no time to pollenate & full of bugs! Spaghetti one is doing well & lil butternuts coming in, too. Question..have had a fungus or something in certain areas...white string like stuff. One I turn the dirt, it eventually disappears. Should I pitch the soil & start over? 1st time this has happened.

Foy Update (@FoyUpdate)
Foy Update (@FoyUpdate)

As a horticulturist the way you are using self pollination seems off. Self pollination just means that a plant can fertilize itself and doesn't need a second plant. It doesn't imply the way the plant is pollinated. I think better terms are manual pollination or hand pollination. Also I think it is worth mentioning that squash often produce only male flowers in the beginning and won't set fruit right away. It's the plants natural way to ensure cross pollination happens. It's part of how squash are that they don't set fruit for the first couple of weeks of flowering. Usually if gardeners are patient they will have so many squash and zucchini they will wonder why they ever worried. Of course if one really wants to make sure the squash fruit sets hand pollination is an option.

almas nathoo
almas nathoo

Hi. Thanks for the great information. I got a big zucchini plant and notice that the zucchini I got small one and die off. I have many flowers yet so I can do it tomorrow morning. Keep send important information for my use. almas

Erinicus
Erinicus

@Foy Update (@FoyUpdate) Thanks!  I was wondering why my plants only had male flowers!

HalleC
HalleC moderator

@Foy Update (@FoyUpdate) Thanks for the update Foy!  I will make some changes as you have some valid points.

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