I live in New Jersey and have a problem with Zucchini plants. The plants are huge and healthy and producing an enormous amount of flowers, but no Zucchini. The flowers fall off and no fruit is produced. I don't see any female flowers forming. What can I do to help the plants produce fruit. I have never experienced this problem before with the Zucchini plants. Please help.
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Dennis G. from Saddle Brook, NJ
If this is the first flush of flowers on your Zucchini plants, don't worry. What you're seeing is normal. Zucchini plants, like all members of the Cucurbitaceae family of vine crops (melons, cucumbers, squash, etc.) produce male and female flowers on the same plant. During the initial first flush of flower production, usually only one gender of flower (usually the male flowers are first) is produced for the first few weeks. These flowers naturally shed their pollen and drop off. After this initial flush of flowers, a second wave of flowers develops that will contain both male and female blooms. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but some scientists think it's nature's way of "luring" in the bees, sort of giving them time to catch up and discover the flowers. Successful pollination requires proper timing and this first flush of "bait" flowers may be the plant's way of making sure there are bees at the ready when both genders of flower emerge. If the female flowers on your plants (the flowers with the slight swelling below the back of their petals) continue to drop off once both types of flowers are being produced, it's an indicator of pollination problems (the female flowers will abort if not pollinated). Then you may need to consider hand pollinating your plants.
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This is a common problem with Zucchini. The flowers need to cross pollinate themselves for the fruit to grow and mature. Sometimes you may even notice the Zucchini growing and rotting at like 4 inches long. Bees are essential to cross pollinating and if there are none around or not enough, you can help the plants along. Take a Q-Tip and rub some of the pollen from one flower and then rub it into the next flower and so on. This will ensure proper pollination and should help produce plenty of Zucchini. (07/12/2006)
I don't think that everyone knows how important bees, the black bumblebee, wasps, and the wood bores are to pollinating fruit trees, vegetables and berries. Some of my neighbors use insecticides and other sprays for their lawns. These are so harmful to the pollinating creatures. My one neighbor had used weed killer on their lawn and we were finding dead robins. I called our local bird watching group and they said that the weed killer poisoned the worms and bugs, and the birds eat these, which kills the birds. Please, everyone, try and use environmentally safe products. (07/13/2006)
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