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Aug 18, 2009 09:24 AM

Zucchini Flower withdrawl

My DH and I, along with my extended family LOVE zucchini flowers. Next year, I plan to buy a variety of zucchini that is grown for the abundance of flowers it produces, since the actual zucchini are readily available even organically. I am planning for next year and wondering if anyone has had any experience with training zucchini to grow up a trellis in order to save room for the rest of my items that need to be in the soil. OR, is it that they need to trail on the soil as well?

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  1. We find they grow better on a trellis. The fruit stays cleaner and less subject to rot, the foliage seems more resistant to mildew and blight (probably because of better air circulation). The vines have a tendency to send off side shoots and you can opt to either cut these off or send them up their own supports. We cut them off because we find we have more than enough production out of two or three vines. If you're going for flowers you may want to train the extra shoots. The other advantage is more room to garden. Anything that twines and vines we send up a trellis.

    6 Replies
    1. re: morwen

      Do you do a straight trellis or one of those tent ones?

      1. re: itryalot

        We use trellises made from 3 sticks of 1" metal conduit cut to about 8' high x 10' wide joined at each top corner with a conduit elbow. We drive 4' rods of rebar 2' into the ground and then slide the trellis over that (pushing the ends into the ground a little) to hold them upright. Very sturdy, wind resistant, light weight, easily movable, and most of all, cheap. Our trellises have traveled with us through many moves to different states (easy to disassemble and pack) and after 20 years we still have the first one we put together.

        Don't know if we have ever had squash borers or not but we've been growing everything that vines in this manner for years in 4 different states (NY, PA, VA, NC) with great success. Zucchini and other summer/winter squash, cucumbers, cantalope, watermelon, tomatoes, peas, green beans, if it vines at all, up it goes. Larger heavier fruits and veg get supported with slings made from old pantyhose. In our present and (hopefully) last location we've made conduit tipis draped with netting to protect our baby fruit trees and smaller trellises with netting to cover the berry hedges, but in the garden we prefer trellises to tipis because it frees up space for other crops at the base and in front of the trellised plants.

        1. re: morwen

          This sounds great. Just to make sure I understand, your uprights are cut to 8 foot lengths, and your "crossbar" is 10 feet (or whatever length would work for the space, I realize), and then a couple of elbows to assemble? The rebar as a base sounds perfect.
          Do you hang netting on your trellis? If not, what do you use for the plants to grab onto?
          Do you use the trellises for your tomatoes? Mine are staked, and leaning heavily to the south/sun.
          Thanks, p.j.

          1. re: p.j.

            We cut them to 8' because that's the very max I can reach. If you're tall you might want to just leave them long. They're 10' wide because that's the length of a stick of conduit. You could make them longer by joining 2 sticks with a conduit "T" and another stick for a leg. The elbows connect the crosspiece and the legs at the upper corners. In our new garden we'll be adding an "L" shaped trellis next year to take advantage of our garden's orientation on the far end. If you need odd shaped connectors to accommodate an odd shaped garden or spot you can find them at They're a little pricey but a great source if you need them.

            We do net those crops that the deer and rabbits seem to favor (most everything) for protection. We don't net peas and green beans. But the vines climb up, or are tied to, nylon rope. We tie a rope at the base of the trellis from one leg to the other and then tie ropes vertically from this to the top of the trellis. If you want to get fancy and invest more money you could use wire or plastic fencing attached to the trellis for the plants to climb. But the rope is cheap and lasts years.

            Yep, we grow our tomatoes upwards and purposely pick indeterminate types.

            1. re: morwen

              Thanks for your detailed reply, morwen.
              I am actually pretty short, so 6 feet is probably my maximum height for comfortable harvesting.
              Take care, p.j.

      2. re: morwen

        Trellising zucchini is dangerous if you are in an area where there are squash vine borers. They are larvae of a moth which lays eggs on squash and some other cucurbit stems. The larva then grows inside the stem and can easily kill the plant unless there are nodes on the soil further along the vine. Many squashes including zucchini will send out roots from each node where it contacts the soil and are quite capable of growing well when the base of the vine is dead. The only treatment is too slit open the stem and destroy the little pest with your knife providing you notice symptoms early enough. Chemical treatment would require a systemic insecticide, which is a big no no for anything you plan to eat. Covering the young vines with floating row cover can prevent the moths from laying eggs but also prevent the entrance of any pollinating insects. The row cover also keeps out beetles that carry cucumber wilt.

        I wouldn't even think of trellising zucchini in the Chicago area. Trellising cucumbers works great because there is something about their vines that squash borers don't like.