Get more female flowers on squash and improve its pollination using seven of our most trusted methods. The squash plant producing only male flowers is a problem that a lot of gardeners out there can relate to.
We reached out to squash farmers all over the country to find out how they encourage the growth of more female flowers. Continue reading to discover what they have to say.
- The Squash Plant: How It Pollinates
- Why Do My Squash Plants Only Have Male Flowers?
- How To Get More Female Flowers on Squash
The Squash Plant: How It Pollinates
The squash plant produces separate male and female flowers. Male flowers appear on tall, slender stems at least one to two weeks before the appearance of female ones. Their primary objective is to attract pollinators such as bees towards the plant.
The female flowers appear later on, near the base of the plant stem. They are bulkier in appearance due to the presence of immature fruits on their back surface. The pollinators are then responsible for carrying pollen from male flowers to female flowers and thus fertilizing them.
In the absence of female flowers, there would be no fertilization. Consequently, no fruit would be produced. This is why it is very essential that your squash plant produces enough female flowers so that pollination can occur.
Why Do My Squash Plants Only Have Male Flowers?
There are several possible reasons why your squash plants are only producing male flowers such as the time of year, wrong temperatures or too much nitrogen in the soil. One of the major concerns you might face as a beginner squash gardener is having only male flowers grow on your plant, so we have collated the following prime reasons why this might be happening.
– It Might Be Too Early in Season
In pure varieties of squash, when the pollination period starts, the male flowers tend to appear earlier than the female flowers. They appear at least 10 days before their female counterparts and serve to attract bees and other pollinators to the plant.
Some hybrid varieties of squash, on the other hand, produce female flowers first. You should ask your nursery provider to always specify what type of squash plant they are selling you.
This is one of the biggest reasons why your squash might be producing only male flowers.
Very often when squash is planted late in the warmer summer months, you will notice an abundance of only male flowers. This happens when the average daytime temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reason why high temperatures might be causing your squash to produce only male flowers is that under stressful conditions, the plant tends to conserve energy for the time when it can actually start pollinating.
– Nitrogen Levels
Fertilizer is very important for your squash plants. It adds beneficial nutrients to the soil and leads to healthy, vigorous growth. However, excessive fertilizer use could be causing your female squash flowers production to be suppressed.
Over-fertilizing causes the soil to have higher than normal nitrogen levels. High nitrogen levels often lead to the production of only male flowers in the squash plant. Your plant will appear to have dark green healthy foliage but female flowers will not bloom.
How To Get More Female Flowers on Squash
You can solve the problem of female squash flowers not opening by following these time-tested methods by our experts:
You can allow your plant to produce more female squash flowers by providing it with the right temperatures. If the daytime temperatures are below 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime temperatures dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it will cause your squash plant to produce more female flowers than male ones.
Maintaining adequate temperatures is easy enough in a thermostat-controlled greenhouse. When grown outdoors where temperature control isn’t always possible, we suggest you start planting squash early in the spring. This way, you will get enough female flowers to bloom before temperatures rise in the hot summer months.
– Spacing Between Squash Plants
This is an often overlooked aspect of growing squash plants, but adequate spacing between these plants definitely encourages the production of more female flowers. You should always space your squash plants at a distance of at least 24 to 30 inches apart.
Male flowers appear on the end of long, slender stalks and can easily survive being overcrowded. The female flowers, on the other hand, die easily and wither off in closed conditions.
Remember that female flowers need more space and good air circulation because they carry ovaries and are potential bearers of fruits.
Worried about your female squash flowers not opening despite low temperatures? Watering could be the key here. Female squash flowers tend to grow more in number when the soil conditions are kept moist. On the other hand, keeping your soil mostly dry has been seen to encourage the growth of more male flowers.
Make sure you are giving your plant at least 2 inches of water twice a week during the summer. Try to use clean distilled or filtered water for this purpose. We also love the results that reverse osmosis water produces in our plants.
Common tap water is often laden with toxic chemicals, and its pH levels are also not very ideal. This can affect the growth of female flowers on your squash. It would be best to have your municipal water checked by a lab to determine how safe it is.
As you have learned above, keeping the soil moist will cause more female flowers to grow. However, we generally do not recommend overwatering the plant to keep the soil moist most of the time, since overwatering will almost always lead to nasty root rot that will destroy your entire plant. So what can you do to make sure your soil retains moisture for long periods?
The answer is simple: mulching!
Mulching is when you add a layer of biodegradable material as the top layer of the soil to slow down the evaporation of water from it. You can use bark, fallen leaves, wood chips or newspaper, etc to be used as mulching material for your squash plant.
– Remove Weeds Regularly
Remove weeds from the base of your squash plants regularly, especially during the growing season. Taking out these weeds will encourage the growth of more female flowers on your plant. This is because female flowers tend to be more sensitive and often unable to withstand the stresses produced by weeds.
Weeds absorb essential nutrients as well as moisture from your soil. Excessive production of weeds often stunts the growth of the entire plant.
– Nitrogen Levels
Did you know that high levels of nitrogen in the soil lead to the production of only male flowers in the squash plant? If you see only male flowers on your plant, then maybe it’s time for you to check your soil for nitrogen.
Perform a soil test using a home testing kit readily available in the market, and send this kit to a reliable lab for check-ups to see if your plant is growing in soil with higher than normal levels of nitrogen.
One of the main causes of high nitrogen levels in the soil is using too much fertilizer. Stop using fertilizers with very high nitrogen content. Also, decrease the frequency of fertilizing your squash plant to appropriate levels.
Mulching is another effective method to reduce nitrogen from the soil. This is because mulching materials consume nitrogen from the soil. Covering your soil with a layer of bark, sawdust or wood chips would be beneficial to your squash plant.
– Feed Your Plant Adequately
You need to provide your plant with loads of feed if you want more female flowers. Female flowers are supposed to turn into the delicious fruit you consume, so obviously they will not grow unless your soil is well fed.
Don’t forget to add compost and manure to the soil before planting your squash plants. When flowering begins, continue adding more compost by mixing it with water. This way, you can provide nutrients via watering regularly.
How do I fertilize only female Squash flowers?
To fertilize only female Squash flowers, collect pollen from male flowers using a brush or cotton swab and transfer it to the stigma of female flowers.
How big should I let my Squash get to produce female flowers?
Squash plants typically produce female flowers once they reach a size of about 6-8 inches in height or when they have multiple leaves.
Why are the female flowers not opening on my Squash plant?
Female flowers may fail to open due to inadequate pollination, high temperatures, or insufficient sunlight. Ensure proper pollination and provide optimal growing conditions.
Let’s go through our top techniques of growing more female flowers on the squash plant one more time in this brief summary.
- Squash plants have separate male and female flowers. In the absence of female flowers, no pollination will occur.
- The main reasons why your squash plant has only male flowers are high temperatures and high nitrogen levels in the soil.
- It could also be simply too early in the season for female flowers to emerge.
- If the nighttime temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and daytime temperature dip below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, more female flowers will emerge.
- Spacing your squash plants at a distance of at least 24 to 30 inches from each other will promote more female flowers to grow.
- Increase the frequency of watering your plant if you want more female flowers to grow.
- Pour at least 2 inches of water twice a week during the spring and summer months.
- Mulching is a great way to retain moisture in the soil and encourage more female squash flowering. Use bark, wood chips or compost as mulching material.
- We also suggest removing weeds regularly.
We have great confidence that with this newfound information, you are definitely ready to grow more female flowers on your precious squash plants!
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