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Squash Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Squash plant large leaves1
Squash plant large leaves
Squash Growing Problems are often avoided if you grow squash when temperatures are warm at night. Plant in compost rich, well-drained soil.

Squash growing success will come with a few simple growing strategies:

Plant several squash plants. This will ensure at least one is successful and survives pests and diseases. Stagger planting times or plant seed and transplants at the same time for continuous harvest.

Give squash the space recommended. Check spacing requirements for each variety you grow. If the garden is tight, contain the plant by pinching out the growing tips after a vine has set a few fruits. Don’t grow squash too close together; this will help deter pests and diseases.

Pick squash at the right time. Pick summer squashes when they are young and tender. Let winter squashes and pumpkins mature until their rinds are dull and hard. Pick and toss any fruit that is discolored or rotting before other plants or fruits are affected.

Time to plant. Sow squash or set out transplants about 2 weeks after the last expected frost in spring. Sow or plant successive crops 4 weeks later.

How to plant. Sow seed or set transplants in raised mounds at least 1 foot across. Place a generous amount of aged compost into each planting hill before planting.

Outwit pests. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and squash vine borers must be controlled to successfully grow squash. Place floating row covers over young squash plants until they start to bloom. This will exclude attacking insects until plants are strong enough to withstand pest damage.

Train plants up stakes or trellises. Training summer squash up stakes or trellises will increase air circulation and keep plants off the ground and clean and away from pests and diseases.

Keep ahead of squash problems, pests and diseases. Here is a troubleshooting list of possible squash problems with brief control suggestions. For a full description of pests and diseases and prevention and controls click over to the Pest Problem Solver of the Disease Problem Solver. For squash growing details click to How to Grow Summer Squash and How to Grow Winter Squash.

Here are squash problems described and suggested controls and prevention:

• Plants are eaten or cut off near soil level. Cutworms are gray grubs ½- to ¾-inch long that can be found curled under the soil. They chew stems, roots, and leaves. Place a 3-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant. Keep the garden free of weeds; sprinkle wood ash around base of plants.

• Leaves curl under and become deformed and yellowish. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Use insecticidal soap.

• Leaves turn pale green, yellow, or brown; dusty silver webs on undersides of leaves and between vines. Spider mites suck plant juices causing stippling. Spray with water or use insecticidal soap or rotenone. Ladybugs and lacewings eat mites.

• Leaves yellow; tiny white winged insects around plants. Whiteflies will congregate on the undersides of leaves and fly up when disturbed. Remove infested leaves and the whole plant if infestation is serious. Introduce beneficial insects into the garden.

• Holes chewed in leaves, leaves skeletonized; runners and young fruit scarred. Spotted cucumber beetle is greenish, yellowish, ¼ inch (7mm) long with black spots and black head. Striped cucumber beetle has wide black stripes on wing covers. Hand pick; mulch around plants; plant resistant varieties; dust with wood ashes. Cultivate before planting to disrupt insect life cycle.

• Holes in leaves and flowers; tunnels in vines and fruits. Pickle worms are the larvae of night-flying moths. Moths lay eggs on squash plants. Caterpillars feed on leaves and inside vines and fruits. Pupae may be found inside rolled leaves. Exclude moths with floating row covers. Plant fast-maturing varieties to promote strong growth before pickleworms attack. Plant a few squash as trap crops. Keep garden clean.

• Leaves have yellow specks that turn brown, then black and crisp; vines wilt from point of attack. Squash bug is a flat, shield-shaped black or brownish bug with a triangle on its back; it sucks juices from plants. Trap adults beneath boards in spring, hand pick and destroy. Look under leaves for bugs.

• Runners wilt suddenly; holes in stems near base of plant. Squash vine borer is a fat, white caterpillar with a brown head that emerges in late spring. It bores into stems to feed causing plants to wilt. Look for entrance holes where frass may accumulate; slit vine with knife and remove borer; bury runner at that point to re-root. Exclude adult moth with floating row covers. Time planting to avoid insect growth cycle. Plant resistant varieties.

• Round to angular spots on leaves, reddish brown to black. Anthracnose is a fungus disease that spreads in high humidity and rainfall. Leaves may wither and fall. Plant may die back. Generally found in eastern North America. Spray or dust with a fixed copper- or sulfur-based fungicide every 7 to 10 days. Remove and discard infected plants. Avoid working in the garden when it is wet which can result in spread of spores. Keep tools clean.

• Water-soaked blotches on leaves–not enlarging past leaf veins; water-soaked spot can appear on fruits Angular leaf spot or bacterial spot is a waterborne bacterium which causes irregular geometric patterns on leaves. Spots may turn yellow and crisp. Avoid wetting foliage with irrigation. Prune off infected leaves and stems. Clean up garden. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Rotate crops up to 2 years.

• Round white powdery spots and coating on leaves. Powdery mildew is caused by fungal spores. Spores germinate on dry leaf surfaces when the humidity is high; spores do not germinate on wet leaves. Common in late summer or fall but does not result in loss of plant. Avoid water stress. Pick off infected leaves.

• Irregular yellowish to brownish spots on upper leaf surfaces; grayish powder or mold on undersides. Downy mildew is caused by a fungus. Improve air circulation. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Keep garden free of plant debris.

• Mottled, distorted leaves. Mosaic virus causes leaves to become thickened, brittle, easily broken from plant; plants are stunted and yields are poor. The virus is spread from plant to plant by aphids and cucumber beetles. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir.

• Vines wilt suddenly and die starting with one or two leaves. Bacterial wilt clogs the circulatory system of plants. It is caused by bacteria that live in cucumber beetles and is seen often where the soil stays moist. Remove and destroy infected plants before the disease spreads. Control cucumber beetles with rotenone or sabadilla. Wash hands and clean tools with a bleach solution.

• Plants are stunted and yellow; runners gradually die. Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease which infects plant vascular tissues. Fungal spores live in the soil and can be carried by cucumber beetles. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Remove and destroy infected plants. Fungicides are not effective.

• Water-soaked or pale green spot on leaves that turn white; fruit cracks. Scab is caused by soilborne bacterium. Disease can be cosmetic. Plant resistant varieties. If scab occurs, change varieties next year. Sulfur may be worked into soil to make it slightly acid and reduce disease.

• Stems on older plants appear water soaked and turn into cracked brown cankers; fruits become water soaked. Gummy stem blight and black rot are fungus diseases. Infections can girdle stems can cause collapse. Remove and destroy infected vines. Rotate crops where fungus can persist. Grow powdery mildew resistant plants.

• Some seeds fail to germinate and come up. Some squash seed are “hard” and resistant to water uptake necessary for sprouting. Soak seed in tepid water for 24 hours before planting; this will increase germination and decrease sprouting time slightly. Dry seed before planting.

• Early flowers don’t set fruit. A couple of possible reasons: (1) the first flowers to appear are male; female flower appear next. Fruit is produced by female flowers. Wait until female flowers appear and are pollinated. (2) There may not be enough pollinators, mostly bees, to carry the pollen from male to female flowers. Pick off male flowers and dust the pollen into the female flowers.

• Few fruits form even though plants are flowering. Not enough bees. The more bees the more flowers that are likely to set fruit. The average size of a squash is increased when the vine is pollinated by many bees.

• Small fruits form then dry up. Female flowers may have blossomed before the male flowers so the female flowers went unpollinated. When female and male flowers blossom at the same time pollination will occur and fruit will grow.

• Dense white mold on blossoms or small fruits. Choanephora fruit rot is a fungus that grows on blossoms and developing fruit. Remove and destroy infected blossoms and fruits. Keep the garden clean of debris that can harbor fungus. Rotate crops.

• Too many fruits on the plant. Keep fruit picked from summer squash. When fruits are picked, new fruits will form. Winter squash is picked when the shell hardens.

Growing Tips at How to Grow Squash.



Comments are closed.
  1. My squash plants are putting on lots of blooms but they are falling off the stem at the base of the bloom. What is the problem and solution to this problem. The plants look healthy and growing.
    Thanks for your help.

    • It’s likely it is the male flowers blooming then falling off. The female fruit baringb flower you’ll likely see a little tiny squash behind it as it prepares to flower. If they drop off it’ll be because they weren’t fertilised when it was flowering.

  2. I am having a bit of problem, my squash is forming just fine but, where the bloom is at the end stays on and the squash begins to rot and mold. I decided to go and get Dawn dish washing liquid and dilute it and spray all over the squash plants. I then rinced the soap off and am hoping this will remedy the few I have got left. I dont want to put poisons on any of my plants. However I also have sugar ants all over them so when I sprayed the Dawn all the ants were gone. Do you have any suggestions?

    • I suspect that your flowers are not getting pollinated. You can overcome this by hand-pollinating manually. Just take a male flower, carefully cut off the yellow part, and gently rub it on the reproductive part of a female flower early in the morning when they are both fully opened. Don’t try this in the rain; it usually won’t work. This method is necessary if there are not enough bees to do the pollinating for you. I find it necessary to hand pollinate all my plants in the squash/pumpkin family, especially in early spring before the bees are active and abundant. CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) has wiped out most of the bees in many areas. If you hand pollinate flowers of the same variety of plant and want to save seeds for future planting, make sure to place a mesh bag over the pollinated flowers before any stray bees can get to them. This is not necessary with butternut squash, but it is with most other varieties.

  3. Blossom drop happens when plants are stressed. Stress can be caused by temperature, soil moisture, nutrient imbalance, and disease. A plant will drop its blossoms to save itself and avoid the work of setting fruit–fruiting requires the right temperatures, the right soil moisture, and the right nutrients. Temperatures below 55F at night can cause squash and other warm-season plants to drop blossoms. Radical changes in temperature from warm to cool can cause blossom drop. Low soil moisture at the same time there is hot or cool weather can cause blossom drop–and so can hot, dry winds. Too much nitrogen, especially early in the season may cause blossom drop. Too little phosphorus and potassium can cause blossom drop. Diseases such as verticillium and fusarium wilts can cause blossom drop.
    Generally, blossom drop will become less of a problem as the season progresses and temperatures even out. Keep your plants evenly moist–not to little and not too much water. Side dress plants with aged compost–a good even delivery of major nutrients. Simple things will cure blossom drop.
    One more thing, flowers that are not pollinated will also drop. If you have few bees or insects at work in the garden and pollination is not taking place, blossoms will drop. To cure this problems, introduce male flowers to female flowers and give them a shake.

  4. I’ve got a zucchini plant that grew quite healthy with large leaves. A few blossoms produced small fruit, then the fruit turned yellow and is dying. In addition, the leaves are now looking wilted, have slivery blotches and are drying out on the edges, dying and turning under at the edges… What’s going on? I’ve not found anything that describes this condition…

    • That sounds like the fruit did not get pollinated enough. Basically it will start to form a fruit, and when it gets to about 1/2 size, the tip where the flower was, starts to turn yellow and the fruit stops growing and dies off.

      You can take a Q-tip or paint brush and pollinate the female flowers from the male flowers to keep this from happening. Also, a lot of times this happens because there is too much “foliage” and the bees cannot get to the flowers.

      I’d check out MI Gardener on youtube, he’s very helpful!

      Hope that helps

  5. Squash fruit rot can be caused by fungal organisms; they start on blossoms and then grow into the fruits as the fruits develop. Your plants may have what is called wet rot which develops during wet weather. There is no cure for this fungal problem. You should remove and destroy the infected blossoms and fruits. Going forward be sure to remove all plant debris from the garden on a regular basis–this is where fungal organisms overwinter. Good drainage is important to avoid rots; add plenty of aged compost to the garden on a regular basis. Look for disease resistant varieties when ever possible and avoid planting crops form the same plant family in the same spot from year to year. Compost tea can be watered onto leaves to help slow fungal organisms; your use of the dish washing soap may have done the same.

  6. I have four yellow squash plants in large containers (2 plants per 30″ x 48″ x 24″ deep) They are companion planted with
    radish that have bolted and bloomed (several weeks ago).
    They were doing fine except for the lack of bees. I hand pollinated and they did well, but in the last week, or so, the male blooms have disapeared and they are setting 2 to 3 inch long beautiful females that bloom and shrivel and end rot because of no pollination. All four plants are loaded with at least 20 female blooms.
    We had had nearly zero rain and the plants had been watered since germination with city water. Now it has started raining often.
    Something else I have been doing is polinating by snipping or pinching the male bloom off the plant, pealing the petals and using the blossom itself to pollinate the female bloom.
    I am in North Florida, so the plants are several months old.
    I have also picked up lots of the small german roaches.

  7. I am having a problem with the flowers falling off before they become squash. How do you tell the difference between male and female flowers? I live in Louisiana and days are 100 degrees and nights 75 degrees. Will that make a difference>

  8. Mr. Albert
    For many years I grew a squash from Park Seed Co. — KUTA Squash — that was by far the best tasting squash I ever had. Park discontinued the seeds a few years ago and I cannot find them anywhere.
    That squash can be eaten raw with a dip, baked, boiled, grilled, fried, etc. — it has a slightly almond taste rather than the “green” taste of zucchini.
    Have you had Kuta squash? Do you have any suggestions where the seeds can be purchased?
    Dick Gordon

  9. Blossoms are falling off my straight neck squash plants – no sign of aphids, rot, or bugs in general – looks like they were cut off…good size blossoms that appeared pollinated. What could be doing that?

  10. Female flowers will have a little bump at the stem end of the blossom. Male flowers appear first, followed by female flower. Both male and female flowers much be present for insects to transfer pollen from the male to the female. You can save the pollen from males and shake them over the female flowers appearing a few days later. One male blossom will pollinate several female flowers. Yes, temperature can cause blossoms to drop. Shade your plants when the temperatures are over 95F.

  11. Blossom drop is usually an environmental disorder. It can commonly occur during hot, dry conditions when the soil moisture is low; plants become stressed and the blossoms are sacrificed to keep the plant alive. Sometime blossom drop can occur when the weather goes from hot to cool and wet. Keep fruiting vegetables well watered in hot, dry weather; that is keep the soil moist 3 to 4 inches below the soil surface–use your finger to judge the soil moisture content. You can also spray your plants with seaweed extract–this often helps, making plants less susceptible to disease. Shade cloth over a frame or over hoops can shade blossoms and keep plants cooler. Too much fertilizer–especially nitrogen–can add to plant stress in hot weather.

  12. Zucchini with silvery blotched and leaves drying and turning under: suspect a melon aphid or sucking insect at work. Spray the top and undersides of leaves with a strong stream of water to dislodge aphids. A reflective mulch will confuse and repel flying insects. A garlic spray will deter many sucking or rasping insects (rasping insects strip away the green chlorophyll of a leaf leaving it silvery and see-through). Keep plants evenly moist to avoid stress; stressed plants are most susceptible to insects and disease. Avoid using fertilizers high in nitrogen; this too can stress vegetables, especially in warm and hot weather.

  13. Kuta squash–which many consider a gourmet squash–does not seem to be offered by any seed companies currently. Kuta (Cucurbita pepo) is a F-1 hybrid; it is unlikely any seed savers will have this seed. Kuta takes 48 days to harvest; when young it has a light green fruit. It has a crisp and smooth, sweet and nutty flavor. Young it can be eaten raw in salads or dips. As Kuta matures it can be prepared like eggplant. Fully mature, Kuta turns dark green and can be baked or stuffed like a winter squash. It has good keeping qualities. Park Seeds in Greenwood, South Carolina (find them online) was the last seed company to offer Kuta. That would be a good place to send your first inquiry. In the past, Kuta was offered by Lagomarsino Seeds in Sacramento (last address 5675-A Power Inn Rd. Sacramento, 95824), California and by Porter & Sons, Seedsmen in Stephenville, Texas (last address PO Box 104, Stephenville TX, 76401).

  14. My zucchine plants have many male flowers but no female. I have see bees around them so I think they are getting pollinated. What can I do?

    • Male flowers appear first on squash plants followed by female flowers in 5 or so days. You can improve pollination by hand-pollinating; save the male flowers and as soon as the females appear use a cotton swab to transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female blossoms. Or pick the male flower, remove the petals and rub pollen directly on the stigma of the female flowers.

  15. my squash are drying up at the ends when about 3 to 4 inch long real soft and puffy and a pale white color i did get a lot of good veg i have five plants i received 50 squash at the same time i didn’t know if that might the problem or if was even adnormal to get that many on the plat on first harvest, thank you for your help

    • The description of your squash sounds like moldy and dry rotten spots on the fruits. Many diseases can cause this–both wet and dry rots. The fruits will not be usable so remove them and discard them in the trash. To prevent rots, improve air circulation around vines–50 vines is quite a few, particularly if the garden is not large. Use a half cylinder of construction mesh or fencing to get the vines up off the ground improve air circulation or place empty cans or butter dishes under individual fruits. If mold is not involved, it may be dry rot at the blossom end of the fruits. Dry rot is usually caused by water stress–the plant does not take up enough water because watering is erratic and, as well, calcium, important to fruit formation, is not being drawn up along with the water. Keep the soil evenly moist, not wet then dry then wet–evenly moist.

  16. I have a zucchini plant that has had leaves turning yellow recently, but it only seems to happen to one or two leaves. The weather over here has been hot (90s) off and on in the last month or two. Could this be just from it being hot, or would a virus cause it?

    • Pale and yellowing leaves can be associated with virus diseases–but if a virus is at work often the plant will be stunted as well. If just one or two leaves are yellowing and the plant generally is continuing to thrive then I suspect the yellowing is simply some die back in the course of growth. Zucchini and other squashes that are perfectly healthy will drop a few leaves after they have turned yellow–sometime the leaves are shaded by other leaves, sometimes these are older leaves. Temperature could cause some leaf drop, especially if your temps in the 90s are sustained.

      • You can place a frame above the plants and stretch clear plastic over the frame so that rain water runs off to the sides of the planting bed. If the plants are growing on mounds you can also cover the mounds with plastic–again so that the water runs away from the plants. Green butternut squashes are botanically still immature, however, they can be cooked and eaten just like mature squashes. You can ripen green squash off the vine. Cut them from the plant leaving about 2 inches to stem attached to the squash. Place the squash in a warm, sunny spot; turn the squash every day or two so that it ripens evenly.

        • Thanks for that info re ripening off the vine. First time growing butternut squash and one was just about ready (stem just starting to turn but the squash has changed color) and went out today and it’s got small holes in it where the insides are leaking out. Just had that start happening with my cucumbers as well. So I guess cucumber worms will also eat butternut squash? We did have such a long stretch of rain a lot of the garden is shot.

  17. I have a spaghetti squash plant with damage that looks like that of squash bugs. I have boards next to the bed but see no sign of insects of any kind. Is there something else that would cause this damage? Or is there something else I can do?

    • Squash bugs are sucking insects; after sucking out plant juices plant leaves will be yellow flecked. There are many insects that feed by sucking plant juices. Place a yellow sticky traps near your squash plants and you may catch and be able to identify the pest at work.

  18. I have yellow squash that looks great other than a couple leaves turned white. Skeleton like, now it appears to be spreading to other squash and water mellons.

    • If the leaves look like a skeleton, you may have cucumber beetles eating your squash. These beetles are greenish yellow with black stripes or spots. They eat young leaves leaves–chewing holes in the leaves until they finish off a leaf and move on. You can control adult cucumber beetles by spraying with an insecticide that contains pyrethrin. You can exclude beetles from the crop by covering plants with floating row cover.

  19. if a wood chuck ate all the large leaves off the summer squash and only a few small ones are left in the center . .will the plant survive to produce fruit?

    • Chances are the plant will grow on and produce fruit–assuming you have enough growing season left in your region. Place a wire cage over your plant or build a small frame and drape bird netting across it to exclude the woodchuck from further visits.

    • Male flowers appear first on the squash plant followed a few days to a week later by female blossoms. Female blossoms are swollen at the stem end–that is the unpollinated fruit to be; male flowers do not have swollen stem end. Blossoms will fall off if the go unpollinated. Either bees or insects must transfer the pollen from the male to the female flower, or you can do it with a small paintbrush.

  20. My daughter has 3 yellow squash plants that she planted from seedlings and 1 that came up in her compost heap. The yellow squash has been producing quite well with large yellow squash. The unknown one has just started producing green small squash. She thought it was a zucchini. Now all her yellow squash are still producing nice big squashes but they are bright green instead of yellow! What’s up! I thought they might have pollinated with the green one? She’s Had lots of rain and warm weather this summer.

    • The female flowers of squashes can be fertilized only by pollen from male flowers of the same species. That means cross pollination can occur between varieties within a species. Thus cross pollination can be seen in squashes and pumpkins because summer squash, pumpkins, gourds, and some types of winter squash belong to the same plant species Cucurbita pepo. All species members may cross with one another. Thus, an acorn squash can cross pollinate with a zucchini. However, when crosses occur between members of the same species, the effect will not be seen in the first year. If the seeds are saved, or if they fall into the compost pile and survive, the plants will produce fruit that will be different from either of the parents the following year. The fruit that sets may appear quite unusual and certainly not what you expected. This may explain what is happening in your daughter’s garden.

    • Stunted growth may be the result of cool soil temperature–60F or so. Cool night time temperatures can slow or stunt growth. If the temperatures are above 70F, add plenty of well-aged compost to your planting bed and then keep the soil must moist–not wet and never dry.

    • Look at the stem end of the flower. If it is female there will be a slight bulge–where the fruit will form. The male flower will have a slim stem end.

  21. I have three zucchini plants in my backyard. I noticed the last couple days that the blossoms have been covered in insects. The insects are beige, and look a little bit like winged aphids except about 1 1/2 to 2 times the length. They haven’t seemed to do significant damage to the plant that I can see, and are only in the blossoms. I had some damage on the plants a few weeks ago (when the buds were first starting to appear) that looked like the damage from squash bugs, but I never found any bugs when I looked for them. After I got rid of the mulch the damage seemed to slow and nearly stop. Any idea what could be in the blossoms now?

    • Your description sounds like lacewings; the nymphs are fast-moving, wingless tan or grey; the adults slim, pale green with transparent wings. Lacewings feed mainly on nectar and so are attracted to flowers. Lacewings are beneficial insects; they will eat aphids and insect eggs.

  22. My zucchini plants have been growing and producing fruit just fine but in the last two days the leaves have wilted, the plants have turned brown and they will eventually die. This has happened for the last THREE YEARS! PLEASE HELP!

    • Squash vine wilt can be caused by squash vine borer injury, nematode injury, or bacterial wilt. Since this has happened three years in a row, I suspect nematode injury or bacterial wilt. Don’t plant squash family crops in this location for the next three years. Nematodes can be thwarted by encouraging beneficial microscopic organisms in your garden–do this by adding aged compost to the garden twice a year. Bacterial wilt can be spread by insects or the wind carrying bacterial spores. Keep the garden clean of plant debris–it is difficult for bacteria to live outside of its host. Choose disease and nematode resistant crop varieties when you plant again.

  23. This is the second year in a row this has happened. My squash and zucchini plants have plenty of male flowers but no female flowers. We planted the seed in the early spring and the male flowers keep blooming, but the female doesn’t. I have been patiently waiting for the females to flower so I could hand pollinate – just in case the bees don’t do it. The plants are pretty healthy. What is wrong here?

    • Encourage more blossoms by making sure the soil is rich in phosphorus–which supports blossom growth and set. Choose an organic fertilizer that is high in phosphorus; water in the fertilizer so that it reaches the roots quickly. In general, give your planting beds plenty of aged compost–which is high in all nutrients–to encourage strong root growth, and, in turn, blossom set.

    • Green streaks may not be a problem at all. First check the variety you are growing–does it have green streaks? Next, is the squash an heirloom or open-pollinated–many such varieties may have green streaks in their parental heritage? If so you might be seeing the past in the present (so to speak). Next, are there differing varieties of squash planted close together? You might have a case of cross pollination. Finally, at the expected time of maturity, pick and taste one of your striped squashes–if it tastes good, embrace your special squash. If it’s a new hybrid or a new open-pollinated variety, you get to name it!!

  24. I grew squash (all kinds) for years with no problems but since moving to Georgia I have had no luck at all. First I was getting huge plants that would bloom but never bear fruit. I was told this was due to too much nitrogen.
    Now I am getting large vines for spaghetti and butternut squash, but now the leaves look skeletonized and blotched and the baby squashes are virtually vanishing with the stems cut as though someone used scissors.
    I have sprayed the surviving plants with Triazinon, but wonder whether to remove the diseased leaves or simply dig up the garden and try again next year.

    • Sounds like your plant have been attacked by squash bugs. Once the fruit at the base of the female flowers begin to enlargen–after pollination, cover your crop with a light poly plant cloth to exclude the insects.

  25. Park Seed Co. used to sell Kuta Squash seeds — I raised them for many years until Park no longer offered them. Kuta is by far the best tasting squash — raw, grilled, baked, and stir fried — does anyone know where I can buy Kuta squash seeds?

  26. Squashes form and then disappear. What can be happening to them? I’ve seen several small squashes form and when I looked for them again, they were gone. Will birds steal them or what else might be happening to them

    • A variety of critters and birds might be interested in small, tender, tasty squashes. Try placing bird netting over your squash patch to exclude critters and birds.

      • I have yellow straight neck squash that did great, but now the squash are smaller and have green stripes or green spots on them. What cause these green colors on the yellow squash?

        • Green spots and stripes may simply be the result of cross-pollination between yellow squash and zucchini varieties. Unless the squashes turn watery or moldy, I would not be too worried. When the fruits get to about 4 inches long–young and tender, try cooking and eating one.

    • Squash vine borer, nematodes, and bacterial wilt can cause squash vines to die. Vine borers will leave holes in the stems. Nematodes are not detectable until the plant is uprooted and swollen roots are found. Cucumber beetles can spread bacterial wilt.

  27. Planted seeds of variety of winter squash. Poor germination and those that came up were stunted. Same location did well last year. Watering consistently. Any suggestions?

    • Poor germination and stunted plants–I would look first to soil quality. Make sure the soil is well drained and nutrient rich. You can do this easily by adding plenty of aged compost to your planting beds. It make simply be that the soil is nutrient poor–after last year’s good crops–and needs a boost. Germination problems can also be attributed to nutrient and organic matter poor soil. But poor germination also can be cause by old seed or poor seed quality, seeds planted too deep, lack of soil moisture to support germination, soil too hot or too cold. As well, check to make sure pests are coming in and chopping off seedlings at night–check for snails, slugs, and earwigs.

  28. I have a yellow zucchini plant with a white stippling pattern on the leaves. I originally thought it might be powdery mildew, but it does not seem to be in patches or on the leaves. My spaghetti squash had powdery mildew at one point, but it is now gone, and it did not look like what is currently on the zucchini plant 10 feet away. It seems to have a preference for the young leaves. The blossoms and fruit are perfectly fine, except that it only seems to produce about 2 female flowers a week and almost no male blossoms.

    For some reason my zucchini seems to have only female blossoms and the two spaghetti squash have exclusively male blossoms. Any idea what might cause this

    • Stippling or mottled effect on squash leaves could be caused by cucumber mosaic virus–which can infect and ruin the fruits. However, since the blossoms and fruit do not seem to be effected, perhaps squash bugs or spider mites could be the culprits. Check the undersides of leaves–if pest insects are found spray with insecticidal soap. As for the male and female blossoms–if your plants are producing fruits, then there must be male and female blossoms present and pollination is occurring.

  29. Hi all: I have a baby blue hubbard that has formed and is about the size of two fists. It seems to have stayed the same size for weeks. Is there anything I can do to encourage it to grow bigger? I forgot to mention that it has been planted with our aged compost and it has an irrigation drip hose within the compost pile to keep the roots moist.

    • The baby blue Hubbard squash will be in the 5 to 7 pound range at maturity–is your squash close at the size of two fists? If the moisture is consistent–no drying of the soil, and you are feeding it well with aged compost, here is one more suggestion: place some black plastic sheeting under your squash. The black plastic sheeting or rubber sheeting will absorb solar heat and should speed the growth of your squash.

  30. Squash died while on the vine along with the stem that was attached to it. It was about 2 or 3 lbs when it started to yellow and get soft. I cut it out and tossed it. The vines themselves still look healthy except for some that are yellowish brown on edges, but its been very hot and smoky here from nearby fires so am thinking the leaves may be suffering from that. Any ideas?

    • Certainly air pollution from smoke can affect crop growth–particularly if you notice ash or other pollutants settling on leaves and disrupting photosynthesis. However, mid-summer is the time when squash vine borers are at work and the damage you describe could be the result of this pest. The borer tunnels through squash vine stems disrupting the flow of water and nutrients. Vines suddenly collapse even though everything else seems normal. Look carefully at the stems of the affected plants; the borer will leave bubbly, greenish yellow frass, and you will see tiny holes in the stems.

      Once the borer is inside the stem, there is nothing you can do except to cut away the affected stems and fruit to save the remaining crop. If you do see the frass, you can cut slit along the stem, find the borer, and destroy it. Early in the season you can protect your crop with floating row covers so that the adult female moth does not lay eggs on the vines–in May and June.

  31. Hi we are in South Africa and we are getting something boring into the squash and producing maggots is there anothing we can do to prevent this?

    • The squash vine borer is a caterpillar that bores into the stem of squash plants–leaving a hole with yellowish sawdust like material around the opening. Row covers can be used to exclude the wasplike moth that lays the caterpillar eggs. The caterpillars can be controlled with insecticidal soap, neem oil, and horticultural oil, or dust the plants with sulfur. Beyond the borer entrance you can bury the vine stem and encourage secondary rooting–essentially growing new plants.

  32. Since moving to Zone 7 I am having problems with squash that I never experienced in N. Fla. First, I planted Butternut and Acorn Squash, the vines were huge and robust, but no fruit. Then I found borers , so I moved the garden, replaced the topsoil, but my new plants developed puffy fruit that burst like water balloons. What fertilizers/pesticides should I use?

    • Green robust growth and no fruit is likely a sign that your soil is too rich in nitrogen. Use a 5-10-10 fertilizer around your summer crops. The puffy fruit is likely a sign that you have overwatered. Once plants are established, give them a deep watering only once or twice a week–allowing the soil to dry down two or three inches before watering again.

  33. I planted spaghetti squash in the garden and thought the last frost was over. I cover the plant, but not well apparently. It appears to have 2-3 flowers and those look good but the leaves are mostly dead. Should I give up on this plant?

    • It is early enough in the season that you may want to plant another summer squash–as a insurance policy against further damage. If the plant that was damaged by frost is still viable, it will begin to grow new leaves in about 10 days.

  34. I have tons of small fruits on my squash plant but they never get big. They are staying about an 2-3 inches long. Can you help me with this?

    • Make sure you are attracting pollinators to your garden–bees and other insects; plant daisies, zinnias, asters and Queen Anne’s lace. also nepeta, salvia, oregano, mint and lavender.

  35. We have many different winter squash plants—all healthy, but most have male flowers. There are very few female flowers. Can we do anything? Or, what have we done wrong to begin with? Thanks for any suggestions. Judy

    • Female squash flowers are the most susceptible to stress–temperatures too hot (90sF) and drought or lack of soil moisture will cause them to drop or abort. As well be sure not to use fertilizer too rich in nitrogen–phosphorus encourages blooming and fruit set.

      • Can you tell me what would be a good fertilizer for the crookneck squash? And straight squash? I forgot to put some in when planting. Also, I made a HUGE mistake and planted too many squash in one 5 gallon container. How can I fix this problem without ruining the roots? My spouse said to cut the plant into quarters, then divide the plants into other containers with 2-3 plants. I mentioned to him that I needed bigger containers because the ones I currently have are too small. So we got a few more 5 gallon containers. So can I save any of this other squash? I need to thin it out but the plants are doing so good. However, I know they are crowded. Thanks in advance for your help.

        • You dig up all of your seedlings and then replant them; this will likely set back all of them by a week or two–assuming they all survive transplanting. You can choose the most vigorous seedling in each container and then cut the others off at the soil level. Doing this, you will avoid disturbing the roots of the plant you want to grow on. A five gallon container should be big enough to support one squash.

  36. will cutting ends of squash vines promote more squash production ? Got lots of vines lots of male flowers an no female.

    • Trimming the length of vines will concentrate the plant’s efforts on the vines that remain. Water your plants with compost tea–or sidedress with a phosphorus rich fertilizer to encourage blooming.

  37. I have damage on my squash plants with yellow edges that later turn brown. I was suspecting squash bugs, but never saw any eggs or bugs hiding under wood. My zucchini blossoms started having ants crawl on them last week, but I didn’t (and still haven’t) see any aphids. The last week and a half I’ve only had 2 blossoms on my previously prolific zucchini plants. I also have butternut squash plants at the other end of the garden, but I started noticing similar damage yesterday and ants on the blossoms today. Any idea what it might be? Also, neem oil seems to have no effect on these or on the leafminers that recently started attacking my squash plants. I have always had trouble with them on my pepper plants, but this year they seem to have a preference for squash

    • Ants active on squash plants is commonly a sign that another insect pest is at work–and the ants are farming the pests for their honeydew. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the plants with ants or around the base of the plants to see if you can control both the ants and the other pests at work. You can also try to track the ants back to their colony and then place a sugar-based ant bait nearby the colony or along the ant trail. Baits take time to work–maybe a week or more.

  38. I have zucchini plants that seemed to be doing well except for a few leaves with yellow on the edges, with the edges turning brown afterward. I thought it may have been caused by squash bugs, but saw no sign of eggs or squash bugs under wood placed there. Last week I saw anto in the flowers, but no sign of aphids. Suddenly the last few days they are having almost no blossoms, and the couple they did have were unusually small. I am also starting to see similar yellow-edged leaves on the butternut squash plants at the other end of the yard. Any idea what this could be and what I can do for it? Neem oil has made no difference for this or the leafminers that are attacking my squash plants. Every year before they have gone after pepper plants, but now the pepper plants are fine and they are attacking the squash and potato plants

    • Squash plants are very shallow rooted so be sure the plants are getting consistent, even moisture–never drying out. Very hot weather can burn leaf tips–but so can too much or too little water. Blossoming and blossom drop are also often environmental–temperature, water, nutrients. As for the ants, place a sugar-based ant bait at the side of ant trails.

  39. My pumpkin plant and my spaghetti squash plant have one fruit that is getting really large but all the others are still tiny. Is it true that all the energy is going into those large fruits which is keeping the other from growing? Is it okay to harvest them even though it may not be the exact right time?

    • Yes, the plants will direct nutrients and moisture to fruits commonly most mature to finish ripening. There is no flavor advantage to the fruit–pumpkin or squash–growing extra large. It’s best to harvest near maturity not past the days to maturity. Go ahead and pick these fruits and let the other pumpkins and squash grow larger–but not too large. Keep a calendar of when you plant and the number of days to maturity so that you can begin harvest at about the right and expected time for each variety you grow.

      • I have a butternut squash plant with 5 squash all healthy and nearly mature, but it hasn’t produced female flowers in over a month (it is producing about 4-5 male flowers per day). If I harvest a couple of the mature squash will it put out more female flowers? We have no frost here so growing season will probably last into November

        • Hot weather can cause squash blossoms to abort–and female flowers will be the first to do so. If it has been hot or you have had periods of hot weather, wait and be patient–as the temperatures moderate into the 80sF, female flowers should appear again. Sidedress the plants with 5-10-10 organic fertilizer to encourage blossoms.

  40. Problem with taste. I have BOTTLE gourds. Nice flowers and big fruits. But i tried cooking the first harvest and it is bitter. How could this be? What did indo wrong?

    • Do not eat bottle gourd that is bitter tasting; it can be toxic. Bottle gourds belong to the cucumber, Cucurbitaceae. Cucumber family plants contain complex compounds called tetracyclic triterpenoid Cucurbitacin. High levels of these compounds can be caused by
      high temperature, wide temperature swings, low pH, too little water, low soil fertility, improper storage of vegetables, or fruits that are too mature. These compounds are highly toxic to mammals and can result in death when absorbed into the blood stream.

  41. I had to give up on pest control because I live in zone 9 where it began raining daily/ bidaily about 2 weeks ago. I’ve been fighting wet rot just fine but, now there are little beetle larvae drilling into the fruits via eggs hatched within the flowers. I have found eggs in male flowers that have not even bloomed yet! It’s a clearish gel that builds up around the holes in the fruits. I find them in fruits not formed either.

    I finally have a massive bunch of female buds appearing and, I’d like to get one last good harvest in before destroying the plant… if it’s even possible. I’ve been considering pulling it since the rain got heavy and fungus/mold/bacteria/whiteflies etc have moved in hard. Same goes for my cucumbers… These are NOT vine borers. I fought those just fine the last 2 months as well with manual picking and egg killings. These are smaller, spotted light/tan caterpillars inside the fruits? Night moths or beetles I assume…

    I’m going to be hard headed and compost the plant but, plan on sterilizing my compost next year with a combination of heat, insecticide, antifungical/antibacterial so, hopefully nothing will carry over. What to use to keep earthworms alive/carrying over bacteria? I’ll likely pull them out manually. Soil is expensive and, my yield hasn’t been worth the cost this year… would have been if I hadn’t lost a ton of fruits in the past few weeks.

    • Other caterpillars that attack squash plants besides squash vine borers are armyworms, cabbage loopers, tobacco budworms, melonworms, and corn earworms. Solarizing your compost–placing clear or black plastic over the compost pile–can kill fungi and bacteria (if the weather cooperates); if the compost pile is open to the soil below, earthworms will burrow deep to avoid the heat.

    • Could the soil in the planting bed have gone dry; moisture is essential for steady, full growth of squash. If you find the squash fruit is turning black, then a fungal disease may have attacked the plant.

  42. Oh, nevermind that last unapproved comment. I found the little vine boring jerks at the top cluster of buds today. Too many eggs. 2 borrers in the stem. borrers in every fruit and bud. Whiteflies everywhere. I found out today that they bite when you spray them off. My squash is done for. I guess it’s time for the fall seedlings to start. PEAS! PEAS! PEAS! Lettuce, cabbage… maybe a new fall squash.

  43. my delicata squash is beautiful when I harvest it but with in a few days (not in the refrigerator ) it begins to have soft areas. Why

    • The delicata squash is closely related to the thin skinned summer squashes; so it can be a bit more delicate. However, it should cure to a hard shell if placed in a warm, dry place for a week or so. The soft areas may be the result of bruising before the squash was cured.

  44. I have planted bottle gourd and have lots of male flowers when the male flowers withers I see couple of female flowers,but have no idea how to pollinate the female flower.any far I have harvested one bottle gourd.

    • Nip off male flowers and store them in a plastic baggie. When the female flower opens, rub the interior of the male flower against the interior of the female flower to transfer pollen. Hand pollination can be used when there are no insects about to transfer pollen.

    • You can either take a cotton swab to the male flower to collect pollen and then transfer the pollen into the female flower, or just take the male flower off and put the stamen against the inside of the female flower. I usually use a Q tip so that I can save the male flowers to eat

  45. My butternut plant looks great. However, after it has flowered and the flower does it thing and starts to form a friut, the flower is cut of straight across the little stem but the head of the flower isn’t eaten, just left. Straight like a pair of scissors would do
    Please help (I have taken a photo that I can’t attach)

    • Squash flower or stem severed in a straight but may be the result of birds. Cucumber beetles also attack cucumber flowers, but will leave ragged holes. To exclude pests from plants forming fruits, set up a tepee of stakes around each plant and wrap the tepee with spun poly row cover. Tie the cover close at the top and bury the cover in the soil at the base.

  46. My plants are doing great and look amazing but my fruit is growing to about the size of a golf ball or little bigger then turns yellow and fall off? What’s wrong? They are free of pest and are beautiful other wise.

    • There are two likely reasons the fruit is falling off: (1) incomplete pollination; if bees are not busy in your garden, you may need to hand pollinate the female flowers with male flowers. Use a cotton swab to transfer pollen from male to female flowers or pick the male flower, pull off the petals and rub the pollen directly on the stigma of the female flower (with a small fruit at the stem end). Second reason for small fruit drop: (2) nights are cold and flowers and small fruits drop because they can not withstand low temperatures.

  47. the stems of my young pattypan squash plants have split open in slits. otherwise plants are healthy and not affected. any ideas?

    • There are a few possible reasons your the stem of your squash plant has split: (1) heavy rain or heavy irrigation has resulted in the plant taking up from water than the capillary system can handle and the vine has split; a callous should form where the split occurred and the plant will heal itself; but beware of an infection getting into the would and starting the rotting process (2) the stem was moved or jostled and the stem split; again a callous should form and the plant should be good if rot infection does not set in; (3) a squash vine borer has bored into the stem and is feeding inside the stem; if this has happened you should see a sawdust like frass in the wound; you can split the fine with a knife to find the boring worm and destroy it. Then you can bury the vine at any leaf node and the plant will grow new roots at that node. You can save the plant and it should produce fruit.

  48. My butternut squash vines are growing fine and putting on lots of female flowers and I’m polinating them by hand. The problem is the fruits usually sarting growing fine then stop growing. Now I have so many small fruits and they are still putting so many female flowers. What should I do/

    • There are a few possible reasons that would cause the small fruits to stop growing. The most likely is insufficient pollination. Since you are hand pollinating, be sure the stamen of the male flower is well rubbed against the pistil of the female flower to ensure exchange of pollen. Other reasons for small fruits to stop growing would be (1) night temperatures below 60F; it is too chilly; (2) insufficient soil moisture or too much soil moisture leaving the plant stressed; (3) too much nitrogen in the soil. If any of these seems obvious, correct the problem.

    • If the squash are on the ground, the rot may be from soil too moist. Place a piece of wood or tile or a piece of roofing paper under the squash to keep them off the ground and dry. If the fruit is not yet touching the ground and the bottom is rotting, it may be blossom-end rot. Nip off the rotting fruit and let new fruits develop. Rots sometimes occur early in the season when the soil is still a bit chilly and the plant is unable to draw up enough calcium. You can also add come calcium to the planting bed–look or an organic fertilizer with calcium added. Crushed eggshells spread around the plant will add calcium to the soil

  49. I have a couple squash plants that germinate a couple weeks ago, but still only have 2 sets of leaves and the leaves look yellowish. There are no spots like I would normally see with diseases or pests, just pure yellow leaves. Is there a nutritional deficiency that could cause this?

    • Feed the plants compost tea which contains all of the major and minor nutrients. If the plant does not green up make sure the seedlings are not getting too little or too much water and are not exposed to hot, direct sun until they grow older. Yellow leaves can be a sign of too little nitrogen, but you should be very careful not to over-fertilize young plants. Compost tea or diluted kelp or fish emulsion should be sufficient.

  50. I have nice large healthy squash plants but the fruit are very small they are the crooked neck yellow, They only get about 5 inches in length and start turning orange they are not getting the larger lower end they should. Planted them about every other year no problem any ideas?

    • Slow or stunted squash growth: if there is not sign of pests or diseases, make sure the soil is staying evening moist; avoid dry then wet–squash fruits need consistent moisture to develop. Give the plants an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer or feed once a week with compost tea. The orange color may be a sign that the fruit is ripening even though it has not matured in size. If the plant is still flowering, nip off these small fruits and let the plant develop further flowers and fruits.

  51. I planted a lot of winter squash and everything was doing well, the temp here has been getting really high and i have been watering. I have been spraying and have seen no bugs, the vines seem to be dying back although the blue hubbard seems to be unaffected with large squash all over. I have sprayed a fungaside and insectacide so i am not sure if the heat is the problem. I planted early and have a lot of winter squash and wonder if i planted too early?

    • Extreme heat can stress squash plants; place a frame over the plants and drape shadecloth across the frame to shield the plants from midday sun. Spray the plants either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon; avoid spraying and wetting the leaves during the midday–that could exacerbate sunburn to the leaves. Water at the base of the vines in the morning if leaves are droopy then; otherwise water at the base of plants late in the afternoon. Give the plants a nutrient boost by watering in compost tea; you can do that once a week.

      • A canopy would be impracticable because the area is fairly large. I have soaked the area the last few days and hope it helps and wil spray again the insecticide fungicide mix, I saw sweat meat, waltham, blue hubbard, golden nugget, white patty pan, acorn, delecta, and several others and a blue pumkin hanging on the fence.

  52. I have 2 butternut squash growing, and I have the plant on a trellis. The squash started out green and was growing nicely. The last week or so I noticed the squash seemed to stop growing and now they are both turning a pale beige as if they are ripening. I am assuming this is not normal? Can you eat squash that only grew to about 4 or 5 inches?

    • Butternut squash is ready for harvest when the rind and the skin has turned a tan color. Cure the squash for about a week in a warm place out of the sun. If your squash has naturally ripened and the rind has hardened, it should be edible–even if it’s small.

    • I picked a small butternut squash (4 inches) that had the right color outside and when I cut it open, it was a nice orange everywhere except for around the seeds. The area surrounding the seeds was a dark green. The seeds were not well firmed either. Does this mean I picked it too soon? Is it OK to eat?

      • The skin of a ripe squash will turn from dull to glossy. Your squash may not have been ripe or it may have been over-ripe use the glossiness of the skin as a guide.

  53. I accidentally cut a vine of my banana squash with 2 good sized squash on it. Can it be saved? I dug a hole and put the cut end in with the loose soil and watered it well.

    • If you severed the vine with fruit at the end, it is unlikely the fruit will survive the interruption of water and nutrients; the fruit is likely a loss–if if was not close to maturity. You can remove the fruit and bury the vine and it will likely re-root. However, depending on where you live, you may not have enough season left to produce new fruits.

  54. I purchased some crooked neck squash plants recently, and while putting them in the ground, one of the plants just broke completely. All 3 stems. I figured that the broken ones wouldnt mend, so i cut them all slightly under the break. Will the leaves grow back and my plant survive, or will it die.

    • If the leaves were severed the plant may not survive. If the stems were broken by not severed you can set them either in the garden or in a growing flat and cover the break with soil. Squash can regenerate new roots at a break.

  55. Is it the part where the blossom was that roots? If so it may be blossom end rot which often comes from low calcium in the soil. If it’s not actually rotting but just becoming yellow and shriveled, it is probably due to lack of pollination.

    • Blossom-end rot is a term for the rotting of fruit at the end of the fruit opposite the stem. That end of the fruit is where the blossom was as the fruit began to swell and form. Low calcium in the soil or poor calcium uptake in soil moisture is a common cause of blossom-end rot. If the flower shrivels and dies before fruit forms that is an indication of poor pollination, weather too hot or too cold, or lack of soil moisture.

  56. Hello I need help with my butternut squash. i have never seen anything like this. I have multiple fruit on my vines but started to notice deep cuts in the fruit….almost as if the fruit is splitting…it also has a clear thick rocky substance around the cut. ( looks like rock salt ) i would like to send pictures but did not find a download button. i cut the effected fruit from the vine in case they are infected. I have many more fruit growing on the vine and will watch them closely.

    Please help and thank you for your time.

    • If the butternut squash splitting is not mechanical–hit by an object–then it is likely the result of inconsistent uptake of moisture. If the soil went dry and then was watered heavily plant cells can burst with the sudden uptake of moisture–causing the splitting. Severe heat might also cause the fruit to split. Add an ample amount of aged compost to the soil during the off season. Aged compost can hold moisture and release it slowing to plant roots. Split fruits can harbor disease, so it is best to remove those fruits from the garden.

  57. I’m having huge problems with my squashes. They grow fine but they reach a certain point and they die. The leaves are strong and healthy but can suddenly start wilting; the stem then becomes loose in the soil until I can just pull them out; the root ball is almost gone. I’ve put new compost down but this still hasn’t helped. Please help

    • Several pest insects may be attacking the squash causing sudden wilt. Pests that attack squash include squash bugs and squash vine borers. The squash vine borer is a likely culprit given the sudden wilting and death of your plants. The squash vine borer is the larva of a narrow-winged olive brown moth. The larvae are fat and white with brown heads. They chew on the base of stems causing vines to wilt and eventually to die. Look for frass on the stem; this will be the entry point. The larvae bore into the stem and then feed up the stem; leaves away from the borer will die. You can slit the stem and remove the borer. You can bury nodes around the healthy length of the remaining stem; these nodes will root an create new plants. Adding beneficial nematodes to the soil can control larvae in the future. Covering plants with floating row covers will exclude the adult moth, but you will need to hand pollinate the flowers.

    • There are a few possible reasons your squash has a hollow interior: (1) insufficient pollination (ensure bees visit the garden or hand pollinate; (2) insufficient or inconsistent soil moisture (keep the soil evenly moist); (3) too much nitrogen in the soil (do not over fertilize); (4) chilly or very hot temperatures during development. You may need to be a bit of a detective to figure out what exactly went wrong.

  58. My butternut squash plant is growing well looks healthy. My problem is it is not blooming. No flowers male or female.
    Please help if you can.

    • When squash fails to blossom the likely reason is too much nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen produces lush green leafy growth but not fruit growth. Phosphorus helps plants produce flowers and fruits. Check the fertilizer you are using or avoid adding too much nitrogen-rich manure to the soil. Get a liquid fertilizer that is low or no nitrogen and high phosphorus and side-dress your plants. The alternative to choose a different planting bed — where nitrogen has not been introduced this season — and plant again.

  59. Hey, there, I’m having some trouble with my pie pumpkin plant, specifically, its first fruit. I have the plant in a box with some marjoram and thyme, watered regularly, and I keep the base of the plant mulched with grass clippings. I tied the vines loosely onto the fence to keep them off the ground (we have dogs and misty mornings here on the Northern California coast, specifically, Eureka).

    The fruit seemed to be growing fine a few weeks ago, and grew to be about 2.5″ in diameter, until it began to bleach last week on its sun-side, and has since developed a brown, rotten spot in the middle of this bleaching (approximately half of the fruit has turned yellow, while the shaded side has remained green).

    I’m not sure how it could have gotten injured, so I’m wondering if there is too much nitrogen from the grass clippings, or if I have a borer (I can’t see an entry hole, however), that could be effecting the fruit.

    We have nighttime temperatures between 55-58°, and daytime temps between 65-68°, for clarification. However, the fence the plant hangs on is in full-sun on the northern side, facing south.

    Too much heat against the fence?
    Too much nitrogen in the clippings?
    Not enough potassium and calcium?
    A hungry visitor?

    First fruit of the season, so I’m worried about the others trying to develop…

    Any information is much appreciated! Thank you!

    • Feed the pumpkins with an organic or natural 5-10-10 fertilizer that includes calcium (such as MorCrop by Lilly Miller). Remove the grass clippings from around the base of the plants and mulch with dry straw instead. Set the fruits on pieces of clay tile or stone–these will soak up solar heat during the day and release the heat at night to keep the fruits warm; place aluminum foil or another reflective material around the fruits, again to reflect solar heat onto the fruits (your day and night temperature are not optimal for growing pumpkins). Setting the fruits up off the soil will also protect them from disease organisms in the soil.

    • There are a few possible reasons you cushaw squash has not flowered: (1) too much nitrogen in the soil; nitrogen produces green leafy growth; feed you plants an organic fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which will promote flowering; try a 0-10-10 fertilizer; (2) the air temperature is too warm (greater than 90F) or too cool (lower than 55F)–you will simply have to wait until the temperature is optimal–between 70 and 85F; (3) not enough sun; be sure your plant gets 8 hours of direct sun each day; (4) soil moisture is too dry or too wet, leaving the plant stressed; keep the soil evenly moist.

      • Thank you very much for you answer, and you recommendations I really appreciate your help.

        I would like to ask you something about my loopha plants, the fruits are not growing long enough, and I know this variety is long, I would like to help me solve this problem. thank you very much again.

        • Luffa or loofah (the botanical name is Luffa aegyptiaca) is a member of the pumpkin, squash. and gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Like other squash or gourds, luffa need consistent moisture to grow to full size and maturity. Keep the soil evenly moist; do not let the soil dry out. Be sure to feed the plant every 6 to 8 weeks; use an organic fertilizer with a ratio of about 5-10-10. And make sure the luffa is getting at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

  60. Hi, I am growing butternut squash and potimarron from seeds saved from last years successful plants. This year though all of the potimarron although large are dark green and not orange at all and the same with many of the butternut squash. Why has this happened?

    • Check the number of days to maturity for your butternut and potimarron squashes. They should turn color as they near maturity. Green butternut and potimarron squashes are botanically still immature, however, they can be cooked and eaten just like mature squashes. You can ripen green squash off the vine. Cut them from the plant leaving about 2 inches to stem attached to the squash. Place the squash in a warm, sunny spot; turn the squash every day or two so that it ripens evenly.

  61. I grew spaghetti squash for the first time this year–a hard zone 9 (over 30 days over 100 degrees). My two plants were infested with aphids and a white mildew that took a while to fight off. Even with that, they produced so many squashes that I had to start pinching off some of the new ones to enable the older fruit to mature. I ended up with over 20 squashes. About half of the squash fruits were normal oblong squashes with stringy interiors and plenty of seeds, but the other half looked like lumpy mutants (as if a sock were filled with golf and tennis balls bulging out), but otherwise they matured well. These mutant squashes had yellow interiors, but no seeds, and the cooked flavor and consistency was more like butternut than spaghetti squash. What happened to my plants? Were they cross pollinated with another neighbor’s winter squash? Or is this a common occurrence with spaghetti squash? I’m searching the web and not finding anything that seems to match these odd but delicious variations…

    • There are a few possible reasons for the odd mutations: (1) cross-pollination may have occurred; (2) insufficient pollination of the flowers that bore the odd fruit; hand pollination can ensure complete pollination; it could be that pollinators did not visit all of the numerous flowers; (3) sporadic uptake of moisture as the fruits developed leaving some of the fruits not receiving enough moisture for steady cell development.

    • Your seedlings are likely leggy because they are getting insufficient light. Place the grow lights closer to the plants or set the seedlings in a spot where they get greater sunlight. Turn the containers every day so that the seedlings do not stretch for the light. Lightly brush the tops of the seedlings with a pencil several times a day–or place a fan close by; this will helo the stems grow stout and strong.

  62. My newly growing very tiny Waltham Squash plant leaves are turning yellow, and I can’t figure out why. Other things are growing in the same soil no problem. Has it been too hot, too cold, too much water, too little water? They are just newly grown and are tiny so I’d like to figure this out soon. I’ve read everything I could online and I’m still no closer to figuring out what I could be doing wrong, or why the squash plants don’t seem happy. I’m in Northern California, Santa Rosa area. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • You are a good plant detective–it could be any of the possible reasons you have named. Keep the soil just moist, not wet, not dry. Cut the bottom out of a milk jug and place it over the seedling to protect it from cold temps or wind–until the plant is larger and stronger. Do not fertilize until the plant is 12 inches tall. Don’t hesitate to sow more seeds as a backup.

      • Thanks Steve. The water thing is puzzling as it is so hot here right now. And I did plant more seeds yesterday, also planted some seeds in separate pots. The best and only Waltham squash I’ve been able to grow was last year when I thought I was planting flower seeds and this gorgeous vining very healthy squash plant emerged and grew huge vines and I got 3 squashes from it. But that was a mistake. LOL. Right now I’m not having much luck with them. And last year all the rest of them in the raised bed looked good but died. This year we replaced the soil and all the little plants are yellow, I just can’t figure out why. Maybe because it was very hot and then it got a little cold? So much anxiety over the plants. It’s so hard to know what you could be doing wrong.

        • The yellowing is likely temperature or water-related. If the temperatures are hot during the day, place a shade cloth over the bed so that midday sun does not hit the seedlings. If the night are cold, place a floating row cover over the seedlings. Keep the soil just moist, not wet and never dry for seedlings.

  63. My leaves look good, I have blooms galore, fruit is forming, but they start getting hard and bumpy when only about 3 inches long. What could be wrong? Did I get some kind of mini-squash plant that’s not worth harvesting???

    • You can check your seed packet for the size of the squash at harvest. Assuming the seed is for a smooth-skinned squash, look carefully beneath the leaves to make sure there are no insects lurking about; insects that suck plant juices from leaves and fruit can cause leaves and fruits to become deformed or distorted. Make sure the soil is staying evenly moist; uneven water uptake can also cause fruits to become deformed. Use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen such as 5-10-10 or 0-5-5.

  64. All my sqash fruits are slowly shriveling up and turning soft and yellow. Weeks prior, they were producing fine as I have been hand pollinating them? I plant them mostly in grow bags. I water them everyday, as temperatures here in Nevada have been averaging over 100 deg. a day. Any suggestiions on what might be causing the problem?

    • Temps more than 100F on a daily basis is too much even for heat-loving summer squash. Water every day is likely too much for squash as well, even if it appears the soil is dry near the surface, it is likely wet below. Invest in a moisture meter to know for certain how moist the soil is. Replant during the time of the year when temps are more moderate– in the 80s and 90s. When temps rise about 90F, place a frame over the plants and drape shade cloth above the plants so that they do not get direct sun from 11am to 1pm; morning and afternoon sun will be enough.

  65. I have hand pollinated by delicata female squash blossoms and the fruits were growing a little and now they are just turning yellow and shriveling up.
    On some of the plants I have small fruits forming and they are about .25 inches and are growing bright yellow when I thought they should be light green. This is way before the blossom has even bloomed.

    • Fruits that began growing and then shriveled, possible causes: (1) insufficient pollination; (2) too little or too much moisture; (3) sudden change in temperatures–days too hot or nights too cold; (4) too much nitrogen in the soil. More blooms will appear; take a male flower strip away the petals and rub it to the center of the female flower.

  66. I have one straightneck squash plant and they are only growing to about 3 inches in length when fully ripe what causes this thanks in advance.

    • Assuming day and night temperatures are warmer than 65F, the plant may not be taking up enough nutrients or moisture. You have enough season left to plant again. Amend the soil with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; keep the soil evenly moist. Plant catmint, borage, or any plant that attracts pollinators nearby.

  67. Is there something wrong with my winter squash I bought 4 varieties at the same time About a month maybe more. a zucchini and summer squash and spaghetti and acorn squash the summer squash is thriving but my winter squash plants aren’t growing big should I be worried they haven’t grown any Bigger leaves The are still very small however the spaghetti one has had a few flowers

    • Winter squash is slower to mature than summer squash. Protect the plants from chilly night temperatures and wind; keep the soil just moist.

  68. This is the best article. I have read online regarding squash and problems. This is my first summer to have a vegetable garden and it has been very rewarding and challenging. My zucchini and squash plants have been gorgeous and have yielded some beautiful fruit. I live in southeast Texas with extreme temperatures and weather. We just came off of a week of rainfall and my squash look horrible now. The leaves are starting to die and turn yellow with spots. My biggest concern is that the main stem looks mushy and grainy with lots of white on it. Does it sound hopeless or is there anything I can do to save them? I cut off the sickest leave and there are still some very nice leaves on them. A few flowers are still blooming.

    • Apart from the trimming you have already done, you can simply wait for the soil to dry and the weather to moderate. If the plant is flowering, it may have the strength to overcome the weather. If rainfall is heavy at times, plant in mounded or raised beds going forward; the higher the mound the quicker it will drain. You can protect squash from burning sun and high temperatures by placing stakes at the corner of the planting bed and draping shade cloth over the top.

  69. Thank you very much again for your advice, I would like to know how long it can take for the to leave the seed ready to germinate again if I leave the fruit on the plant but I would like to know how many weeks I can cut them and use them next season.

    • Allow a few squashes to fully ripen on the vine; then harvest them and remove the seeds; dry the seeds on a plate indoors for a few weeks; store them in an envelope in the refrigerator or a cool place until you are ready to plant next season. The plant must be open-pollinated; seed from hybrid plants will not grow true.

  70. I have straight neck yellow squash, all are growing and producing. But some of the squash are blue on the bloom and. The squash are firm and look normal except for the blue color . What would cause this?

    • The blue coloring may be a precursor to blossom end rot; feed the plants an all-purpose fertilizer that includes calcium and magnesium such as Lily Miller Mor-Crop — or give them a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal.

  71. My butternut squash plant’s leaves are wrinkly. They’re a healthy green color and not wilted but just wrinkly all over. What could be the matter?

    • Check the undersides of the leaves to be sure sucking insects such as aphids or spider mites are not suckering moisture from the leaves–that would cause the leaves to be puckered. It is likely not a disease if the leaves remain green and healthy. Be sure the soil stays evenly moist; erratic watering may cause the leaves to curl.

  72. Hello. Thank you for the above tips. I am growing spaghetti squash and it is producing several fruits. I am having a hard time figuring our if the squash is ready for harvest. The color is not the typical light/golden yellow that I normally buy at the grocery stores. It is more of a bright yellow with a tinge of orange similar to a Mexican mango. Could it be orangetti? The stalk on the squash is not thick at all and it is still very close to the vine. The bottom of the squash has a little green, but the entire squash is mostly yellow/orange color with tan specks. Should I go ahead and harvest the fruits?

    • Spaghetti squash is ready for harvest when it turns golden yellow to dark yellow. The skin should be thick and hard. If you press the squash with your fingernail and your nail can not penetrate the skin, the squash is ripe.

  73. Thank you very much for this article. Between the article and all the discussion in the comments, it was very helpful. I realize now I don’t have enough bees so I’m going to try to hand pollinate to help my plant make some good squash.

  74. Hi there!

    Hope you are well in these times.
    I’m having a bit of a problem. I am growing Honey Baby Squash, a mini butternut squash, and flowers are bounty, and and so are fruits, however the fruits are turning yellow and soft, some have fallen off. Is there anyway to save my beautiful plants? I am a first time gardener and so far everything has been going great, no pests but now this. Is heart wrenching after so many months of work and dedication:.


    • Give them a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal every 10 days. Look for a 5-10-10 fertilizer with calcium and magnesium added such as Lily Miller Mor-Crop; feed them following the label directions.

  75. Thank you so much for your help. I have a bumper crop of butternut squash, but many of the squash have an uneven, bumpy surface, and they’re white and green in color. What could be the matter?

    • The likely cause of squash with bumpy skin is mosaic virus; the virus is commonly spread by aphids. There is no cure for the virus; prevention is the best control–look for varieties that are resistant to mosaic virus. A second possible cause is that the squash are past maturity and past harvest; check the number of days to maturity for the variety you are growing. If other squash are coming along be sure they are harvested on time. The texture of the affected squash will be woody and flavor bitter.

  76. I have a spaghetti squash plant that was blooming for a short period, I even have one squash that’s been growing for a couple of weeks now. As of late, it is no longer blooming at all. Any suggestions?

    • If fruits were allowed to grow past maturity on the vine, the plant will stop producing new flowers. If the fruit has been harvested at or near maturity day, water with a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salt mixed in 1 gallon of water; blooms should appear in about 10 days as long the temperature is not greater than 87F.

  77. My Hubbard squash started to blossom a few weeks ago. However, ALL of the blossoms to date have been male and I have zero fruit on the vines. I am starting to notice some other small buds forming, but they are turning brown and falling off before I can even tell if they are male or female. Some of the leaves are yellowing, but others appear green and healthy. It has been somewhat of a dry summer here, so I try to water the squash at least once per day. Could the blossom problem possibly be due to me over-watering or under-watering the plants?

    • Blossoms fail when the plant is stressed; too much or too little water, temperatures greater than 87F are common stresses. Female flowers will fail if they are not pollinated. To increase the number of flowers (both male and female) give the plant a solution of 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon water; water the plants with this solution. If temperatures are less than 90F, you should see an increase in flowers. Hand pollination is always an option if female flowers continue to fail. This link may be of help: hand pollination

  78. My spaghetti squash looked good until I picked one and found it was rotten on the bottom, sort of hollowed out. Others that looked okay I picked but they rotten in the house on my kitchen cupboard. Any ideas?

    • Soil-borne diseases can attack squash sitting on the ground; place a board or a tile under each squash to keep soil organisms from entering the fruit. Once rot sets in, insects and small animals will follow.

  79. I have small clear balls of a jelly like substance on nearly grown butternut squash from stalk to where it widens, I’ve read this comes from the squash due to injury, I am growing it hanging from a fence, is it’s neck area where the goop is harmed from growing from a fence?

    • You can fashion slings out of netting or cloth strips to support the squash. The squash may have been jostled by the wind causing the injury.

  80. I’m in Northern California and hoping to get a few more squash to grow to maturity before the weather gets too cool. Mine are in containers and continuing to produce fruit and plenty of male flowers. But the female flowers have stopped blooming, so no pollination takes place and the fruits turn yellow and fall off. Any ideas? I fertilized one last time in mid-Aug. but I guess it’s possible that after a full season growing in containers that there just aren’t enough nutrients left and the plant is tired 🙂

    • Female flowers can fail for several reasons–night temperatures too cool, too much or too little soil moisture, too much nitrogen in the soil. If any of these are factors, try to correct the growing situation. To encourage blooms, water the plant with a 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon of water. Feed the plants a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days. Keep the plants warm at night.

      • Thanks so much! I got 2 female flowers to blossom just two days after following your recommendations, seems to have worked like a charm. So here’s to a fall harvest of zucchini!

  81. This is my first time growing butternut squash( or anything for that matter). My vines are getting black around each opening to a new vine. The plants have beautiful green leaves and buds as new growth, but also has vines coming off them that are shriveling up and leaves that are getting brown spots and dying off. I’ve had a few female plants I’ve tried to hand pollinate, but the blossom falls off and the squash shrivels a few days after. I have a lot of ants and gnats on the trees. I’ve tried neem oil, soap and water, and sprinkling cinnamon to try to get rid of them. I love un Florida. I have about 5 plants in a raised garden bed.

    • If temperatures have been greater than 87F, the blossoms will be stressed and can easily drop. When temperatures moderate, the blossoms should not drop. That said, you must control the pest insects; try an insecticidal soap rather than neem (neem is stronger, but sun refracting though the oil can cause leaves to burn. Use insecticidal soap on both sides of the leaves every other day until the pests are controlled. Water the plant with a solution of 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed with a gallon of water (this should result in more blossoms). Feed the plant every 10 days with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal.

  82. I grew my squash indoors. VERY successfully. However, they are not big and it’s finally time to plant them. I have been acclimating them for the last 4 days (2 hour increments in the sun) and they just DO NOT like the sun. As soon as I put them in the sun the leaves wilt. I made sure they were well watered, but maybe it wasn’t enough? As soon as I put them in the shade they’re happy again. And I have LOTS of flowers on my plants. One in particular has a large female with the bloom starting to open up, only all the males aren’t quite ready to open up yet for me to pollinate the female with the male….. I really want these to survive as I have put a lot of time and effort growing them from seed, as well as building a really sturdy trellis for them in a sunny spot in my garden as after reading up on it, said that they love 6-8 hours of sun. HELP!!! I want to save my babies. And they’re not even in the ground yet. I’m afraid to put them in the ground if they will wilt and die… HELP HELP HELP!!!!!! (can you tell this is my first time and I’m unsure how to do this?!!!)

    • Allow the plants to harden-off/ acclimatize outdoors for a week– just as you have been doing. When you set the plants in the ground, place shade cloth over a frame directly above the plants; the plants will get morning and late afternoon sun, but will not get intense midday sun. After a week or two, the plants will gain strength and you can remove the mid-day shadecloth protection.

    • Check the number of days to maturity; squash past maturity will turn orange and become hard. It is best to harvest small and had to days to maturity; never past days to maturity. Hot weather and lack of water can also cause squash to turn orange and the skin to harden.

    • The patty pan is growing past its maturity date; as fruits mature the seeds inside grow larger and the flesh gives way. Harvest your squash young and tender; do not let it grow past the maturity date.

  83. My patty pan squash are all splitting at the flower insertion site and the flower is still attached although shriveled and brown. The only two that I’ve picked so far without the split are very tiny, 2 inch size squash. The 3-4 inch size squash are all split. Should I pick them when very tiny (2 inches) or is there something else I could do to prevent the splitting? That said, they are delicious sauteed with butter, onions and some fresh herbs. Thank you for your article and answers to questions.

    • Patty pan squash is edible at any size. The splitting could be due to an uneven uptake of water. If the soil goes dry and then is flush with water, the developing skin cells can burst like an overstretched balloon; this will happen where the skin is the thinnest first. Keep the soil evenly moist–just moist and never dry as fruits develop.

    • Check carefully for signs of insects feeding near the blooms; spray with Bt if you find insects. Other reasons blooms can abort and drop are hot weather, lack of soil moisture, smoke or air pollution, and insufficient pollination. If bees or other insects are not visiting the flowers you can hand pollinate squash. Here is a link: Hand Pollination of Vegetables

  84. What does it mean when a spaghetti squash looks completely ripe on the outside but when you cut it open, just under the yellow skin, it’s green? If you cut off the end of the squash, it looks like a thin green ring just under the outer yellow skin.

    • The green beneath the skin is likely an indication the squash has not yet reached full maturity. If you cannot puncture the skin of the squash with your thumbnail, it is ripe and ready for harvest. If you can puncture the skin with your thumbnail, wait another few weeks before you harvest.

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