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Zucchini Questions

I've heard that zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but this is my first time with it and I have some (very) basic questions. I have a healthy-looking plant with a few flowers on it, but the blossoms just drop off their stems after a while. Is this normal (in mid-June in Virginia)? Also, I'd like to keep some of the blossoms to eat - what is the best way to harvest them, and will it keep fruit from growing?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I am glad to hear that it is easy to grow because I have 5 plants. I live in Toronto where it has been quite cold this year. I just saw one flower on one of my plants. But the plants are still so small. Is this normal? I wasn't expecting any fruit until the end of August.

    Is the appearance of this flower on such a small plant a sign that something is wrong? Or a good sign.

    1. It's my first zucchini year too! I'm in zone 10 on the west coast and I've already got 3 baby zucchini. I've had a few of the blossoms fall off and I just assumed they were spent male blossoms. I'd love to know if they are a sign of some other issue.

      1. Can't help with the blossoms falling off, but to harvest blossoms for eating, pick them just before you're ready to start prepping. Use a pair of sharp small scissors and snip out the stamens/anthers, rinse in cool/cold water, gently dry with a paper towel.

        1. The early blossoms on zucchini are all male - these will fall off without producing fruit. Later on, the plant will grow a mix of male and female blossoms, and female blossoms are the ones that will develop into fruit.

          1. lotuseedpaste has got it -- you're just seeing male blossoms right now, which is normal. Female blossoms will have a tiny little zucchini attached. This is true for all cucurbits -- squashes, cucumbers, pumpkins.

            Check the plant for the tell-tale miniature zucchini. If you don't see any, there's no reason not to harvest the male blossoms for eating. And when you do start to get male and female blossoms at the same time, you can harvest all but two or three of the male flowers. The fruit should still get pollinated by wind or insects. (You can hand pollinate, too, by picking a male blossom and rubbing its pollen on the inside of several female blossoms. I think I've heard that one male flower can pollinate up to six female flowers.)

            Best way to harvest the flowers is to do it in the morning. That's when they're open fullest. Store them in a ziploc bag in the fridge and use as soon as possible.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mudster

              Do the minature zucchini appear on the female flowers as soon as the flowers do? If not, how do you tell which are male?

              1. re: equinoise

                The miniature zucchini appear as the stem of female flowers at an early stage of bud development, well before the flower opens.

            2. Thanks for your help! I'm feeling much better about my plant. I picked some of the blossoms last night and fried them up in a light batter. Perfect!

              1. If you really like those zucchini blossoms, there is a variety of zucchini, Zucchino da Fiore, grown just for the flowers, that only produces insignificant veggies. Just big beautiful flowers for eating!
                Try this one next year!

                8 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  don't forget you also need your pollinators to do their job, and certainly in the northern climates they are not too abundant right now. plant some attractive flowers for them near to your zucchinis.

                  in western canada we don't start harvesting zukes (or most things really) until late july/aug. then we are gorging trying to eat it all!

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    One of my zucchini plants is supposed to be "Sicilian Zucchini". Unfortunately, it is not growing as well/ fast as the other 4 ordinary Zucchini plants. It is very small with tiny white flowers that dry up and keep falling off without actually opening.

                    Should I just let it be or is it safe to transplant it to another area with more space to grow?
                    Same problem with my acorn squash plants. The flowers are all dried up and just fall off without the flowers even opening. Very little leaf development.

                    And advice?

                    1. re: Smachnoho

                      Smachnoho, if you have 5 Z. plants and a small family, you may later be glad that not all of your blossoms are setting fruit! Or based on my 5 plants, hopefully you have lots of friends who like Zucchini.

                      1. re: DonShirer

                        The first year we ever had a vegetable garden we started our plants indoors from seed and as long as we had the plants, we thought we might as well plant them all just to make sure we had enough squash---six dozen zucchini plants. I used to fill the car with zucchini and make the rounds of every single person we knew. Every day.

                        1. re: Querencia

                          SIX DOZEN PLANTS? Uh...think that was enough?

                          1. re: Querencia

                            I can't even fathom having that many plants. The most I've ever had was three. I would check them almost every day because I like the smaller zucchinis, but there always seems to a sneaky one that gets missed and all of the sudden you have a giant one. I had one a couple years ago that was too big to eat by the time I found it so I just let it grow all season to see how big it would get. This is a picture of it next to my 60 lb dog.

                        2. re: Smachnoho

                          Those sound like unhappy plants if they don't have much leaf development at this point. Are they getting enough water? Too much water? Stick a moisture meter (or your finger) into the soil to check, 3-6 inches down, not just at the surface.

                          Are they getting enough sun? They like full sun, preferably 8+ hours.

                          If the water and sun are good, then maybe it's the soil. Did you add anything to the soil before or when you planted? Is the soil heavy or sandy? Possibly they need a nitrogen boost, but feeding sickly plants can be difficult because they're already struggling. Maybe try a foliar spray of fish emulsion or some such.

                          Those white-flowered Italian squashes generally produce a HUGE number of blossoms but only set fruit on a tiny portion. Which, given the number of blossoms, is probably a good thing. But in Toronto, I'm doubtful you'll get much. They seem to take an awfully long time to get established. How early is your first frost?

                        3. re: cleopatra999

                          You can also help pollinate using a q-tip

                      2. Does anyone know what the what causes a whitish color on parts of the leaves? Regardless the cause, I'm concerned about what to do, if anything. Thanks in advance.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: conniemcd

                          Most likely cause for whitish color on leaves is powdery mildew. Fungicides can slow the process down a bit, but zucchini usually succumb to it eventually in humid climates. Potassium bicarbonate has some curative action without the potential for leaf damage from some home-brew recipes using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

                          If you are growing a gray zucchini such as Greyzini, light gray mottling on the leaves is normal.

                          1. re: conniemcd

                            I agree that it's most likely powdery mildew.

                            I don't like to use fungicides so mine almost always gets it. It's a slow death though.

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              I agree, by the time the plants succumb to the powdery mildew, I'm sick of zucchini anyhow. This year it could come early, for all I care. Too productive!

                          2. I have 70 zucchini plants in 1 gallon grow bags as my first try. So far, all of very many blossoms are male on all plants. Keeping my fingers crossed for some females later.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: AlOlmstead

                              Wow, that is a lot of plants! The last year I had zucchini, I had three plants and they produced more than two of us could eat. I hope your friends like zucchini!

                              1. re: gmm

                                I'm going on 80 and am growing dehydrated zucchini powder for the rest of my life. Peel and julienne the zucchini before dehydrating; then grind to powder in a pepper mill. Store in half-pint Kerr jars with one O2 absorber per jar. Good for 25 years. Add zucchini powder to plain yogurt, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, pinch of salt and garlic powder (and/or other spices) to taste. Refrigerate overnight and use wherever you would use sour cream sauce (e.g., baked potatoes, fish, etc).

                              2. re: AlOlmstead

                                Italian saying: How can there be hunger in a world with one zucchini plant? (translated, of course)