“Why do the zucchinis fall off my plants?”


This is a common question I hear as a Master Gardener each year. A gardener will discover small zucchinis on their plants and excitedly start looking at recipes to use for their coming garden bounty. But then, the worst thing happens: those little zucchinis fall off the plant and shrivel up. What the hey?

Well, you can usually blame one of two things for this problem and they are very interrelated: cool weather and a lack of pollinators.

Each squash plant has male and female flowers. You can easily tell the difference between them because the female flowers have a swelling at the base and the male flowers don’t.

zucchinisThe amazing thing about these plants is that they’ll start growing a small squash, but if the attached flower isn’t pollinated, the squash will meet with the above fate.

If you live in the Inland Northwest, you know we have been experiencing huge temperature extremes this season. I halfway expect many of my plants to just give up and die because it’s got to be hard on them to have an unpleasantly hot day followed by a huge temperature drop the next.

Oftentimes, pollinators (primarily bees) won’t be out and about in the chilly and/or rainy weather. If the plant starts blooming and no pollinators are around to work their magic, you won’t get any squash.

Fortunately, this problem resolves itself as the season progresses because the weather tends to be more stable. So if you’ve been experiencing this problem, hang in there! It will get better.