Roses, petunias, and… zucchini? Why not? While traditionally grown in a vegetable garden, summer squash’s striking appearance can provide a focal point for an ornamental border as well.

Zucchini and its relatives have large lobed leaves, blotched with white, supported by thick prickly stems. Big yellow flowers produce squash in an amazing variety of colors and shapes. Of course they’re edible—but they’re eye-catching as well. Just make sure you leave plenty of room. “Bush” squash plants grow four feet wide and two feet high.

All squashes are heavy feeders requiring fertile soil. Once all danger of frost is past, choose a spot in full sun and dig in three inches of compost. Plant three or four seeds together in a clump (often called a “hill”). You can also buy started seedlings, but take care when transplanting as the roots are delicate. Apply sufficient water to keep soil damp. A layer of mulch helps prevent drying.

Plants take about two months to start producing squash. The male flowers (which will not produce squash) appear first, so pick some and stuff them for dinner. Female flowers appear about a week later. Look for a baby squash at the flower base, ready to grow once  pollination occurs. Picking squash while small and tender keeps plants producing until they are killed by frost.

Article and photos by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener

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