Growing healthy squash: Pollinating by hand

Pollinating Squash by Hand

Butternut! Acorn! Patty pan! Spaghetti! Zucchini! These are some of the delightful squash varieties that come with summer. (That is, so long as you can beat the powdery mildew that our greenhouse is prone to.) Also important to growing healthy squash is making sure that they get pollinated.

Squash plants produce both male and female flowers, with the male flower located at the end of a thin stem, and the female flowers located at the end of the squash that forms. It can take several visits from a pollen-laden bee to successfully pollinate a female flower, and sometimes we don’t have enough pollinators finding their way into our greenhouse.

Female flowers

Male flowers

If you notice wilting flowers on your squash, there’s a chance that the flower was not properly fertilized. In order to make sure your flowers become pollinated, use a fine paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male flower to the stigma on the female flower. When looking ahead to planting next year, consider planting sunflowers or alyssum flowers alongside your squash plants in order to encourage pollinators to visit.

For more information, read this article by West Coast Seeds.

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