Asked on Jul 05, 2014

Squash Plants Large and Healthy and no Squash Growing?

Jim Ginas
by Jim Ginas
2nd Season in a ROW! Squash plants growing large and healthy leaves and the stems near the roots are looking healthy and turning dark green, getting flowers that grow and open, then die and NO SQUASH. ** This year, I even self pollinated the flowers, which was hard as the flowers apparently would ONLY be open in the morning! Need help understanding why I can't get squash to grow and only the plant does.
2 large plants growing
NOTE the STEM looks like it is DARK Green and has a squash like color and texture itself!
  32 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 05, 2014
    Maybe your self-pollinating efforts aren't working? Have you tried planting plants that attract bees and other pollinators nearby?
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    • Judy Judy on Jul 24, 2014
      @Jim G Doug Hunt & Catherine are both extremely knowledgeable. So is Donna Dixson. As far as the rest are concerned, there is a LOT of misinformation out there so be very careful about implementing any of their ideas without doing a lot of research first. Some local resources are: your county extension office, Master Gardener's Club & local or State college agriculture dept. Be more cautious with advice from local nurseries...after all, their prime consideration may be selling their products....
  • Donna J Donna J on Jul 05, 2014
    Every year someone on Hometalk encounters this problem and ask for help. I had this problem in the past. You have gotten good advice from Doug. Also, be mindful of sprays and insecticides used around your garden. Even something as mild as Sevin dust can kill off the pollinating bees. Be patient and wait for the bees to do their work. Happy gardening!
    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 05, 2014
      @Donna J thank you, Sevin COULD be the issue I have a rose bush approx 15-20 feet from the Squash that had Japanese Beetles and I do spray Bug spray into the woods and into the flower garden. (Cukes and Squash are in their own raised garden, and Tomatoes in a separate raised garden. Flower garden is behind pool and 10ft from Tomatoes.)
  • Pat Gordon Pat Gordon on Jul 05, 2014
    Jim,Squash need plenty of sun and good drainage, and they love bits of decomposing leaves or other compost. You might try mixing in a 3-inch layer of compost along with a timed-release or organic fertilizer . Maybe that will help.
    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 05, 2014
      @Pat Gordon Cool! I use last fall/winter compost, which includes leaves! and well drained in a raised garden! Sunlight...... they get pretty good sunlight, but direct sunlight is blocked by Tomatoes! MAYBE switch the gardens next season so Tomatoes are on left side (more shade) and Cukes and Squash are on right side with a little more sun (so the tomato plants don't block direct sunlight ?) ** Thank you.
  • Fenya Kashergen Fenya Kashergen on Jul 05, 2014
    try planting in another location or hand pollinating the female flowers
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    • Dorothy Dorothy on Jul 06, 2014
      @Carole Squash have male and female flowers on the same plant. Usually male flowers come into bloom first...they can be distinguished by thin, narrow stem below the flower. Female flowers come along a week to several weeks (depending on weather mostly I think....especially like heat) and can be seen with thicker, stubbier stems below the flower that actually looks like a tiny squash. Hand pollination (pollen from the male plants brushed onto the center of the female flower with a soft bristle brush...artists paint brushes work well) may be needed if pollinator species are not present in the area....bees mostly but other flying insects as well).
  • Hilary Korn Hilary Korn on Jul 05, 2014
    Thank you I have had this problem in the past and did not understand it at all.
  • Sally Roesner Fuhr Sally Roesner Fuhr on Jul 05, 2014
    Your squash might be overfertilized and putting all its growth into stems and leaves. You might also try planting a slightly different variety of squash next to them. Sometimes cross pollination does the trick. There are male and female blossoms. If your squash runs to all male or female, you get nothing. You won't notice the blend unless you plant those seeds in a second generation.
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    • John Reilly John Reilly on Jul 06, 2014
      Sally - did you read the Q C Times this morning ? In your neck of the woods - Their house burned and then some low life went in and stole her canned foods !! Considering her family's almost-total loss of possessions, Tammie Holland was most depressed about one category: 700 jars of carefully canned foods, such as fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies.
  • Donna Foster Donna Foster on Jul 05, 2014
    all squash, melons, cucumbers, all have female and male flowers. when they first start blooming you will only have flowers with nothing behind them. Watch for the flower that has a small bump behind it, and when the flower first opens, pick the flower with nothing behind it and rub the stamens together. this works on everything I listed. I have an apple tree and had to pick flowers off of a wild apple that was 20miles away and did the same thing, and this year I finally have apples. I have 25 and last year I had none. Tomatoes have male and female parts in the same flower, so you can tap the flower and you will get a tomato. well I wish you luck and hope all goes well!
  • Bonnie Bassett Bonnie Bassett on Jul 05, 2014
    could be to much nitrogen, makes leaves healthy and dark green but to much is not good for the veggies, check the amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer if high get one with lower amount
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Jul 06, 2014
    I had the same problem last year. Beautiful plant of Jurassic proportions but no zucchini. This year I planted a different species. We got zucchini, but did not like the texture. So I got the seeds I still had left from last year and planted them in a different spot. I finally have zucchini. I have read about the manual pollination method; but I have never tried it. I do tend to be a little lazy about things like that. Good luck.
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    • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Jul 07, 2014
      @Jim G I wish I knew more about this stuff. But I read Judy's post and she gave a lot of descriptions that may help you. Good luck
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 06, 2014
    im having the same thing going on great big plants & only 6 zucchinis & a couple yellow squash so far this year ... but my Acron has tons of squash set and already softball size
  • Katie Katie on Jul 06, 2014
    Hi Jim, Squash and tomatoes are both heavy feeders so perhaps they don't like to be close together. They both also like a lot of sun. You might try planing them in separate beds next year and in different beds from the one they are in currently. I find rotating the veggies usually produces a better crop as they aren't depleting the soil of the same nutrients year after year. You might also mix compost into the bed in the fall and put in a cover crop.
    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 07, 2014
      @Katie Hi Katie. Yes, these THIS year are planted in separate beds. Tomatoes by themselves (with Marigolds and Radishes) and Squash with Cukes (also with marigolds and Radishes) Thank you!
  • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Jul 06, 2014
    Be sure you are not watering too often. Squash should be allowed to dry a little between watering, even to the extent of letting the plant stress a little for water. To the plant, it is in danger of dying and will usually set fruit in response to the stress. Then you water and start the cycle over again. Also, too much nitrogen fertilizer promotes growth without setting fruit (fertilize after you harvest some produce). Good luck.
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    • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Jul 25, 2014
      Yes, the stress factor is usually used to make many plants set fruit. The best example I know are cotton have to actually see the leaves wilted before you apply water or the bolls don't set. You mentioned the corn...did he plant multiple rows or just one? My son planted just one row and couldn't figure out why he didn't get very many cobs of corn...corn needs to be planted in multiple rows at right angles to the prevailing breezes so it will be pollinated by the wind.
  • Jan318895 Jan318895 on Jul 06, 2014
    They need lots of water feeding at least once a week. 2 years ago I had over 200 squashes on one plant & had to keep removing them, I only left about 5/6 on the plant. I did use organic manure & fish blood & bone when planting, & thick layer of newspaper to hold moisture. Hope this helps for another year.
    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 07, 2014
      @Jani ! Thank you! I have been watering almost DAILY! Thinking Cukes and Squash needed LOTS of water! could be my problem!
  • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jul 06, 2014
    I noticed that you planted marigolds next to your squash plants. Marigolds are fine along the perimeter or near plants that do not require pollination.. but next to plants such as squash, cucumbers etc... the marigold inhibits pollination due to it's insect deterrent properties.. Pull up the marigolds and move them elsewhere in the garden. If you find few pollinators around you can hand pollinate at any time of the day, (Morning is best, but it can be done at anytime)
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    • Linda Mil Linda Mil on Jul 07, 2014
      @James Bryan C Thanks for your comments about Marigolds. Never had heard that! It will help me in the future!! I appreciate it!
  • Judy Judy on Jul 06, 2014
    I have had this problem in the past & it has always been due to lack of pollination. Douglas Hunt always gives good advice, listen to him! Are you aware that there are 2 types of squash blossom, male & female? The male has a long, skinny stem & the female stem is much shorter & thicker just below the blossom where the ovary is. Mine always have a lot more male blossoms than female & judging by your pictures your plant does also. Maybe this will help:
  • Kathy C Kathy C on Jul 06, 2014
    Too much nitrogen.
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    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 27, 2014
      @Judy what a great reply! Thank you. I had a discussion with someone today about getting the soil tested. Agree... also, thank you for the info for nitrogen and calcium...
  • Msb199072 Msb199072 on Jul 06, 2014
    Donna is right. Melons, squash and cucumbers have seperate male and female flowers. The male flowers appear first. In all your pictures I see only male flowers. Be patient and the female flowers will appear.
  • Anne Fitzpatrick Anne Fitzpatrick on Jul 06, 2014
    I have a question about scented geraniums...just bought one, should I use a plastic or clay pot & does it need a lot of water?
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    • Anne Fitzpatrick Anne Fitzpatrick on Jul 16, 2014
      I know how to post questions now, thank you all for your advice.
  • Debra D Debra D on Jul 07, 2014
    Last year I had the same problem, and it turned out my soil was still missing some nutrients, even with what I thought was a good balanced fertilizer. Have you had your soil tested? I had to add extra calcium here in south Texas, and make some ph adjustments. Good luck! They sure do look pretty! but you can't eat pretty...
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    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 25, 2014
      Ok, think I might just pull up the Zuchini plants, full, lots of roots, LESS Male flowers now, and just frustrating! I understand the if I pull the Zuchini, the room may let the cukes grow more???
  • Chris J Chris J on Jul 07, 2014
    You have all male flowers. My yellow squash are huge and green with lots of flowers. They are all male. The female flowers develop nearer the roots of the plants and look similar to the fruits that will develop later. The female flowers also develop later than the males. I went out and hand pollinated and all I was doing was polinating males with males. LOL. I learned my lesson and am now waiting for the female flowers to bloom. Mother Earth News was a big help too.
  • Jennifer Jennifer on Jul 08, 2014
    I have to agree with those that said to be patient. Male flowers always appear before the female flowers. I also water mine just about every day, especially if it's been really hot and dry like it is here in central Texas this summer. They DO love lots of water. General rule of thumb is the larger the leaf, the more water it likes/needs. Squash plants actually LOVE nitrogen. The only fertilizer I used in my squash garden is aged horse manure and organic compost tea that I make myself and they absolutely love it. I've had my plants produce HUGE zucchini this year...quite honestly, I don't know what I'll do with all these large zucchini's. LOL
    • See 1 previous
    • Judy Judy on Jul 16, 2014
      @Jim G Yes, the female flowers open up just like the male flowers. The males grow on a long, slender stalk, the females grow on a thicker, shorter, tiny zucchini looking base. Didn't I already give you a link showing the difference between male & female zucchini blossoms? If not here's another one with really good pictures:
  • Debbie Luttrell Debbie Luttrell on Jul 09, 2014
    The great thing about getting all those male blossoms is that they are entirely edible, too! So find yourself a good recipe for stuffed squash blossoms and waiting for the females won't be so hard.
  • Charlene Lovelace Charlene Lovelace on Jul 10, 2014
    If you have cucumbers growing nearby that's a no-no. Last year I did this and had a few squash and almost no cucumbers. Neighbor saw it and said that's a no-no but I didn't pull one up so both did poorly.
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    • Judy Judy on Jul 24, 2014
      @Jim G Several things come to mind. 1) inadequate pollination 2) inadequate nutrients or a poor balance of nutrients 3) planted too close together..... in that order. You said they get plenty of sunlight & you're giving them plenty of water. You were having problems with the zucchini not setting fruit. Has that improved? Have you had your soil tested? Perhaps a light application of phosphorus might help. It increases fruit development & strengthens the root system but test your soil first. A friend who lived on a horse ranch grew the most incredible gardens. Her husband would clean out stalls & spread the manure on her garden space all winter long. Someone else I know moved into a place that had had a rabbitry. He piled the well rotted rabbit poop in the area where he wanted the garden & in the spring spread it, tilled it in & planted. I have never seen such an abundance of produce come out of such a small space. He was giving it away to everyone he knew, handing it out at his church & leaving it in boxes by his sidewalk. If you can find a supply of horse, goat or rabbit manure I would highly recommend it!
  • Lisa Cuddy Lisa Cuddy on Jul 12, 2014
    When you have a lot of foliage and no fruit, it usually means too much nitrogen. I don't know what you should add to correct the problem but you can probably find out on a gardening site. More detailed than this one. One by experts. Or ask someone at your local garden centre. Not Lowes or Home Depot. Those people are just minimum wage workers, no offense meant here. I just haven't had much luck asking folks at those stores.
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    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on May 26, 2016
      @Anna M.S. yup, our's doesn't and worse, it's awful hard to get someone to even come over and help to tell you they don't know! our local "Smithfield Gardens" closed, so now I'm really in a jam with no local expertise I know of!
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 13, 2014
    Let’s start with the whole basis of this idea that squash plants and cucumber plants can cross pollinate. This is absolutely, without a doubt, undeniable not true. Squash and cucumbers can’t cross pollinate. This is because the genetic structure of the two plants is so different; there is no chance, short of laboratory intervention, that they can interbreed. Yes, the plants may look somewhat similar, but they are not all that similar really. Think of it like trying to breed a dog and a cat. They both have four legs, a tail and they both are house pets, but try as you might, you just won’t get a cat-dog.
    • Judy Judy on Jul 16, 2014
      @Cheryl Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been trying to get this point across with little success. You explain it better than I do. Maybe now people will "get it" & I won't end up running naked down the road, babbling & tearing my hair out in frustration. Also, lots of folks believe that if 2 plants cross pollinate the results will be seen in the fruit that same year. One person claimed to have bought zucchini seed from the store that produced a yellow/green squash cross because it was planted next to a yellow squash. ARGH!
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 16, 2014
    lol i know people believe lots of strange things ...getting to plants to cross takes a lot of work
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    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jul 27, 2014
      @Judy Judy, I understand the plants can't cross pollinate, but I wonder if the Squash plants right next to the cukes is blocking the sun or pulling nutrients from the cukes. As the squash are now in year 2 of now squash growing (again, LOTS of big leaves, lots of male flowers, lots of females flowers AND bees!), so because no squash, I figure we may as well pull them and let the cukes grow.
  • Jenny Cox Jenny Cox on Aug 19, 2014
    Jim is hot!
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    • Anna M.S. Anna M.S. on May 30, 2016
      @Anna M.S. I forgot watering in the list of "you have taken care of."
  • Rodrigo Sebidos Rodrigo Sebidos on Jun 07, 2016
    Probably you put an excessive amount of fertilizers especially Nitrogen in the plot, at this stage, the plants are undergoing luxury consumption that leads to high vegetative growth at the expense of reproductive structures eg. flowers. Squash is a cross- pollinated crop, the male, and the female structures are found in different flowers on the same plant i.e. staminate(Male) and pistillate flowers (Female) flowers respectively. One of the effects of high dose of nutrients is sterility. the anthers (male organ) does not produce enough viable pollen grains or the pistil (female reproductive organ) have under developed ovules (egg cell), or the style, the slender organ that connects the stigma and the ovary ( contain the ovule) is incapable of transporting the pollen tube (Sperm cells inside) to the ovule to fertilized the egg and consequently lead to sterility even if you have lots of pollinators, no fruit or if developed they are aborted. My advice is regulated or follows fertilizer recommendation for squash.
    • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jun 07, 2016
      @Rodrigo Sebidos Thank you, this is great information! I've not tried in the last two years to grow squash, though may again if I can find a good area with lots of sun and make sure I don't over-fertilize!
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 30, 2023

    Cut back some of the leaves to allow the insects to see the flowers.

  • Waltonbruc Waltonbruc on Sep 21, 2023

    Hello fella! I understand your frustration with those lush squash plants not bearing fruit. Here's some tailored advice:

    1. Hand-Pollination: Gently transfer pollen from male to female flowers in the morning.
    2. Ideal Conditions: Ensure your squash enjoys 6-8 hours of sunlight, well-draining soil, and consistent watering.
    3. Balanced Fertilizing: Use a fertilizer with less nitrogen but more phosphorus and potassium.
    4. Spacing Matters: Give your plants room to breathe and pollinators access.
    5. Disease Vigilance: Keep an eye out for pests and diseases.

    And here's the solution to consider: Try using grow bags! They offer controlled soil quality, excellent drainage, optimal spacing, and mobility. These advantages can make a world of difference for your squash plants.

  • Annie Annie on Sep 22, 2023

    There's a video here with some potential solutions:

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Sep 22, 2023

    Too many leaves ( Propagators can't find the flowers?