Have your squashes failed to bear fruit? Let’s go through this to find out why. First of all, it is essential to know that squashes and all types of cucurbits (whether they are melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchinis, or courgettes) produce both male and female flowers.
Because the flowers are physically separate, even though they are on the same plant, they absolutely must have the assistance of pollinating insects to transfer the pollen – produced by the male flowers – to the female flowers. If you look behind the flowers, you can differentiate them.
Female flowers have a distinct bulge behind them, while male flowers have a simple straight stalk. For the fruit to mature, this is the ovary that must be fertilized. When the plants finally start to bloom, what tends to happen right at the beginning of the summer is that they produce lots of male flowers but very few (if any) female flowers. Typically, this takes place between two weeks and about one month. It’s perfectly normal.
Is there anything you can do about it? Unfortunately, there’s nothing to do except wait for the plant to bulk up a bit, gain some strength, and then finally start producing female flowers, which, because of their larger size, you need more power to produce.
After a month or so, if a plant still has only male flowers or very few flowers overall, it is likely to be a nutrient imbalance despite plants looking healthy. Nitrogen will promote lots of leafy growth at the expense of flowers, so either reduce the amount of nitrogen that you apply or switch to a feed containing more phosphorus, encouraging more flowers and therefore more fruit.
You may need to boost the growth of your plants with an organic liquid tomato feed.
The weather also causes poor or sporadic flower production. Plants like these can feel highly stressed when it’s especially hot and dry.
They will be more concerned with conserving energy than throwing out more flowers and swelling water-intensive fruit. Plants need ample water, so keeping them well hydrated is the best option. Water deeply to ensure moisture reaches the roots.
Water that runs off the soil’s surface can be trapped in a well or dip around the plant to allow it to sink into the ground.
Let trailing or vining varieties of squash sprawl out along the ground so they can sprout more roots. The leaves will do this whenever a node touches the soil. The deeper the roots are the more moisture and nutrients the plants can absorb, making them more resilient to challenging weather and pest attacks. It is worth checking the vegetable garden every day to see how it is doing.
Additionally, you can check for pests with this method. Due to a squash’s thick and robust leaves, slugs and snails are rarely attracted to them. On the other hand, the flowers are soft, delicious, and basically irresistible, making them an easy target for pests and other pesky nibblers like deer and rabbits.
Make sure you avoid these pests, particularly slugs, especially in wet weather. In theory, squash plants produce both male and female flowers on the same plant, so one plant should be enough to ensure successful pollination.
Having more than one plant makes them produce much more and set fruit easier.
Try out our slug traps – they are excellent!
In my view, it is not enough to have two plants – three, four, or five are even better! As a result, you will have various plants at different stages of growth, hopefully with a range of flowers. By doing so, there should be enough male and female flowers in bloom at the same time. Of course, you could have many female flowers, but then the fruit never really develops and instead starts rotting at one end before dropping off.
Female flowers often cannot reproduce because they were not pollinated enough or not pollinated at all. Possibly there aren’t enough male flowers around to ensure a sufficient supply of pollen, required for successful fertilization and fruit set of the female flowers.
A lack of pollinating insects might be the reason. The inclusion of more flowers around the productive plot will improve pollination rates throughout the garden since they will attract more insects. There are often times when you will need to take matters into your own hands.
The best way to identify mature male flowers is to look for one that has just opened or is about to open.
Remove it, peel back the petals to reveal the pollen-carrying stamens, then rub them gently back and forth onto the stigma. When you can, do this early in the morning, so the flowers are at their most receptive. You’re done! Hand pollination can also be done with a fine artists brush, which works best for smaller flowers like cucumbers.
In short, you do not need to worry. Whenever there is a will, there is a way, and I guarantee you one way or another, you will get your squash fruiting.
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