Q: My zucchini plants are producing plenty of flowers, but no squash. Sometimes they start to grow little squashes but then the babies turn yellow to brown, get all wrinkled, and fall off. What’s wrong?

A: It’s highly likely the problem involves zucchini sex.

All squash plants (and related crops such as cucumbers) produce two kinds of flowers, male and female. Here’s how to tell them apart:

The male flower has a long stem, while the female flower has a tiny squash at its base, and a shorter stem.

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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.

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th_DSC_0280-1[1]It is not an alien spaceship, but a wonderful new squash I decided to try this year.  The squash is actually called “Flying Saucer Summer Squash (F1 Hybrid)”.  It is a compact bush variety with intense color patterns.  You can either wait until the soil warms up and plant the seed 1/2″ deep or do what I did and start the plants from seed.  They are ready to harvest in 50 days.

The Flying Saucer Squash is related to the zucchini and patty pan squash.  So if you have grown zucchini before you know once they start maturing you need to check the plant daily for new “aliens”.  They basically need the same requirements as zucchini does, full sun, well prepared planting bed and regular watering. 

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