Like many of you, we’ve tried our hand (again) at creating a successful home vegetable garden. This year, however, we’ve struggled with having a lot of zucchini flowers blooming but not producing fruit. Frustrating, although a relatively easy fix if you understand what signs to look for early on and have a basic understanding of how your zucchini plant works. We’ve moved to using the below method of hand pollinating our zucchini plants and I’m sharing it with you in hopes that it brings you the same home garden success.
Why Aren’t My Zucchini Plants Producing Fruit?
There could be several reasons your zucchini plants aren’t producing fruit. However, ours boiled down to a lack of pollinators. I’ll show you how this issue can be easily identifiable by looking at your plant’s symptoms.
We realized we had a lack of pollinators because:
- Our zucchini plants had several “baby zucchini,” but they did not grow, instead they turned yellow and fell off the plant early on
- We had plenty of healthy flowers on the plant
- There were no other signs of disease or adverse weather conditions (too hot/too dry/etc.)
How to Easily Hand Pollinate Zucchini Plants
After identifying why our zucchini plant was producing flowers but no fruit, we realized that we would need to start hand pollinating the open flowers in order to create our ideal harvest. Here’s how this is done:
- Identify the male and female open flowers.
- The female flowers are the ones attached to the “baby zucchini” and they have a multi-stemmed stigma (see the image below)
- The male flowers have a thin stem (much like a typical flower) and have a single, pollen-covered stamen.
- Using a cotton swab, collect pollen from any open male flowers (alternatively, you can pick one of the male flowers and remove the petals to create a “paintbrush”).
- Gently coat the female stigma of any open female flowers with the pollen collected from the open male flowers. Each male flower should be able to pollinate 2-3 female flowers.
Need some extra help? Here is a helpful Youtube video tutorial from Rob Bob’s Aquaponics & Backyard Farm.
Helpful Tips for Hand Pollinating Zucchini Plants
There are three easy steps to hand pollinating zucchini, but there are several other things to also keep in mind. Here are a few helpful tips you need to know in order to create the best possible outcome.
- Hand pollination ideally should happen each morning. This is the time of day when you will find the flowers open and easy to access. The flowers only open for a short period, so daily checking is important.
- If you miss the early hours when your flowers are open, you can gently pull open any missed flowers to hand pollinate them.
- What do you do if you only have male or female flowers on a plant? It’s a great idea to plant several zucchini plants and use the pollen from one plant to pollinate another, if needed.
- Planting pollinator-attracting flowers near your vegetable garden may help to attract more pollinators to the area. This may reduce your need to hand pollinate daily.
As we grow our garden, we will be sure to share more tips and tricks as we experience them. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to follow our stories and be the first to know when something new posts.
If you’re looking for a tasty way to use your fresh zucchini, try our Frosted Zucchini Cupcakes recipe! It’s a family favorite.