Q&As/Beans, Peas and Courgettes or Other/Zucchini and Pumpkin

Question

I would like to know why the zucchini and pumpkin plants we grow produce an abundance of male flowers and very few female flowers. How can I improve this ratio?

Answer

There are often more male than female flowers on zucchini and pumpkin plants. This is nature’s way of ensuring there is sufficient pollen for pollinating insects to fertilise female flowers. Male flowers typically appear a few weeks before the female ones to attract these insects into the garden.

In some years people complain of poor ‘vegetable set’. This is either the result of a limited number of pollinating insects in the garden or insufficient male flowers. Since you have many male flowers, lack of pollinating insects may be the issue. It would be useful to plant flowering annuals or perennials near your vegetable patch to help attract pollinating insects. Try salvias or any flowering herbs (for instance rosemary is a bee’s favourite).

Nature usually achieves a balance of zucchini or pumpkin vegetables depending on the vigor and health of the plant. Zucchini and pumpkin thrive in a sunny spot in fertile, well-drained soil. Check your soil and location before planting this coming season to ensure optimum growth.

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