zucchini squash female flower

Zucchini Flowers | The Birds and Bees, Plant Anatomy and How it Works

When I learned there’s anatomy to a zucchini plant my head nearly exploded. It’s not the same anatomy as people, but the concept of zucchini flowers is very similar.

Zucchini and other squash plants have male and female flowers. Male flowers produce pollen, female flowers produce the “baby” which in this case is zucchini.

Zucchini Flower, Male
Male Flower

The male flower has a very small stem all the way from the base of the plant up to the flower. It looks like a regular flower.

Zucchini flower, Female
Female Flower with Squash

The female flower grows the baby squash! The plant will produce a very small zucchini with a flower at the end. The flower will open up for a few hours on a sunny day and hope that a pollinator will pass through. If it gets pollinated, the squash will continue to grow and the flower will eventually fall off. If it does not get pollinated, the squash will shrivel, die, and eventually fall off the plant. If you see a dead squash, you should pick it off to prevent mildew from spreading across the plant.

Zucchini Flower with Pollinator
Female Flower with Pollinator

If you’re struggling to see pollinators in your garden you can hand pollinate! It’s very simple. I used a small paint brush to scoop some pollen off the male flower anthers and paint the pollen onto the stigma of the female flowers. The stigma is that part in the middle that the bee is depositing pollen on. These plants instinctively produce more male flowers than females to increase their chances of reproduction. So you should have an abundance of males to choose from.

Summer Squash

Last summer I planted zucchini and yellow squash in the same raised bed. I ended up with a number of hybrids. Squash are the most promiscuous of all the garden vegetables and will mate with basically any other squash. Next year I’m planning to plant these further apart so I get true zucchini and yellow squash. They tasted just fine, but I really enjoy seeing the deep green or bright yellow colors on my plate.

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