Growing Squash and Pumpkins

Squash and pumpkins are among most everyone's favorite vine crops, but even the most seasoned gardeners can be frustrated by dropping fruit.

| Summer 2018

  • pumpkin
    A young pumpkin grows on a plant in well-balanced soil.
    Photo by Getty Images/vavlt
  • zucchini
    Zuchini grows well in soil covered with mulch, which helps the soil retain moisture.
    Photo by Getty Images/svehlik
  • squash-pumpkins
    An assortment of pumpkins and squash picked in autumn.
    Photo by Getty Images/bhofack2
  • honeybee
    A honeybee collecting pollen and nectar from a pumpkin flower.
    Photo by Getty Images/BentheBeeMan
  • squash-plant
    Shaded squash plants will produce nice fruits when grown in a partly shaded area.
    Photo by Getty Images/dgphotography
  • water-squash
    Pumpkin and squash plants require deep watering at least once a week.
    Photo by Getty Images/bacillux

  • pumpkin
  • zucchini
  • squash-pumpkins
  • honeybee
  • squash-plant
  • water-squash

There’s no question that squash and pumpkins are among most everyone's favorite vine crops. However, even the most experienced of gardeners, with the most nimble of green thumbs, can be afflicted by dropping fruit.

It can be very frustrating to see all of our hard work falling off the vine to rot on the ground, before it even had a chance to grow. Following are some ways you can take preventative steps against fruit drop, along with a few tips for encouraging healthy growth of your developing fruit.

Causes & Remedies

While there are multiple reasons for fruit drop in squash and pumpkin plants, the four most common include lack of pollination, extreme weather, poor soil, and improper irrigation. Here are some simple steps you can take to fix the problem, no matter the reason.

Lack of Pollination  

Cross-pollination between the male and female flower enables the fruit to grow. Pollination usually occurs when bees land on the male flower and carry the pollen on their legs to the female flower.

The male and female blossoms look similar, but if you take a closer look, you’ll spot the difference. Male flowers are more numerous and don’t bear fruit. They appear earlier in the growth cycle, and they have long, thin stems. Female flowers, on the other hand, sit closer to the vine, with a small round fruit at the base of the blossom. The dropping of the male blossom is considered normal, because only the female flowers produce fruit.

When bees don’t perform their job of pollinating the female flowers, you can opt for manual pollination, which should be performed early in the morning, when the flowers naturally open, and can be done in one of two ways.



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