Friday, June 19, 2020

How To Hand Pollinate Squash Plants to Ensure Enough Zucchini to Eat

If you've been around Pig In Mud for a while you know my gardening these days mostly consists of adding some vegetable plants to containers. And while we all like to joke about over-productive zucchini, so far this year I haven't been getting any to eat. The ants and bees just haven't done a good enough job of pollinating my plants so they produce vegetables, and I've picked off at least six shriveled hopefuls. So I decided to take things into my own hands (literally) and try pollinating them myself- I feel kinda like a mad scientist:@) The flowers tend to open in the morning and will close by the heat of the afternoon, so this will be a part of my morning routine as long as the plant continues to bloom.

The plant makes two types of flowers, male and female:
Male = Flower on end of long thin stem. 

Female = Flower on end of (potential) zucchini. 

Gently rub paint brush or q-tip against anther (fuzzy yellow part in center) of male flower: 

You'll see the yellow pollen: 

Gently rub pollen on stigma  (fuzzy yellow part) of female flower.
Some folks choose to pick the male flower off of the plant, peel the petals off  and then just rub the anther on the female plant. It's your choice.
I'm just poking the handle of the cheap paint brush into the planter dirt so I can re-use it the next day.
This procedure works with any squash plant, and yes, that includes pumpkins:@)
 I took these pictures around 7AM on Wednesday morning, 6/17/20.
Two days later (this morning), each squash I pollinated is over 4" long!

And that my friends is how we make a baby zucchini...
Soon to be named... DINNER.

Sunday 6/21/20 update, I picked these two this morning:


  1. Well what a mad scientist you are, Lynn!! Your experiment sure had quick results and made me smile thinking of how your “baby” will soon be named “dinner”.

  2. I went out early this morning to cut my zucchini. The pollinators are doing a good job here. I was careful to not get stung, but the bees did not like me messing with their space. Now if they will just do a better job on the cucumbers!

  3. There's a method to her madness :) How big is your container and did you buy a special variety to keep it contained, so to speak? Maybe I can find a good size plant and still try it yet this summer.

    1. Hello, this container is around 22" wide. I've planted them in smaller ones too. Yesterday I picked up a 50¢ pack of yellow squash seeds and tossed them into a 5 gallon bucket just for giggles. They do have hybrid container zukes, this one is just a regular plant from the garden center though. Have fun:@)

  4. Wow, we have simply let nature take its course, but I had no idea...definitely will go out tomorrow and help it along! With the heat the blossoms aren't even lasting long enough to get pollinated, I think!I have lots of brushes I'll just label them...Thanks, bunches! Sandi

  5. I had this exact problem with a tangerine tree I had years ago. I lamented to my neighborhood organic nursery and Bill said I had to have sex with my tree because of the lack of pollinators. He said to take a brush and go around each flower twice. Sure enough. Tangerines that year. The tree is gone now but the skill remains. I'm getting a garden going big time this year and am planting zucchini for the first time so we shall see. Glad to know there is a fix if I need it. I see butterflies in my garden every day so hoping the bees aren't far behind. Farmer Bill keeps bee hives so I hope I'm close enough for them to visit.

  6. I do admire your patience and gardening skills Lynn!! Happy harvesting!

  7. I literally looked up this info yesterday since I have a lot of flowers on my plants but I haven't seen many bees or butterflies in my garden yet. I think I have all male flowers right now. I read the female ones have a bulb at the flower's base. I'll check again in the morning when they are open--your photos totally motivated me!


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