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Zucchini Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Squash yellow with blossom

Zucchini in North America and Australia; courgette in France, England, Ireland, and New Zealand; zucchini in Italy: it’s the summer squash with the shape of a cucumber. Yellow, green, or light green, it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow–all it needs is warm weather.

There are at least 50 popular varieties of zucchini. If you have bees to take care of the pollination, you are likely to have a bumper crop.

That is not to say zucchini is problem free: there are a few. For zucchini growing tips see Zucchini Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.

Here are common zucchini growing problems with cures and controls:

Seed fails to germinate. Some squash seeds are “hard”–that is naturally resistant to uptake of water which results in sprouting. To overcome “hard” seed, increase germination, and slightly decrease germination time, soak seed in tepid water for 24 hours before sowing. Dry the seed on a paper towel before planting.

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 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.

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.

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 leafhoppers. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir.

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.

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.

Few fruits form even though plants are flowering. Not enough bees. The more bees the more flowers that will be pollinated and likely to set fruit. The average size of a squash is increased when the vine is pollinated by many bees. Use chemical sprays sparingly being careful that pollinators are not harmed.

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.

Water-soaked spots on leaves; spot become circular with gray centers. Leaf spot or Septoria leaf spot is a fungus disease. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Keep garden free of plant debris. Apply copper dust or liquid copper spray every 7 to 10 days.

Water soaked spots on leaves, stems and fruits become covered with cottony mold. Bacterial wilt clogs the circulatory system of plants. It is spread by cucumber beetles and is seen often where the soil stays moist. Remove and destroy infected plants before the disease spreads. Make sure soil is well drained. Control cucumber beetles with rotenone or sabadilla. Rotate crops.

Round to angular spots on leaves, reddish brown to black; sunken water-soaked areas on fruit; fruit shrivels and become watery. 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.

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.

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.

Dark, leathery areas appear on the blossom end of fruit. Blossom end rot is caused when there is too little moisture in the soil, particularly when temperatures are greater than 90°F. Sometimes there is a calcium deficiency in the soil which keeps roots from taking up water. Mulch planting beds to keep soil moisture even; water regularly. Test soil for calcium deficiency.

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.

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.

Zucchini Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow squash in full sun. Squash prefers well-drained soil. Sow squash in hills or raised beds; this will ensure good drainage and a warm growing bed. Add aged compost to the planting hole before sowing. Give squash plenty of space; be sure to set plants at least 3 feet apart and more depending upon the variety.

Planting time. Sow squash in the garden as early as 2 weeks after the last average frost date in spring. To get a head start on the season sow squash indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant it into the garden. Sow succession crops every 2 to 4 weeks to extend the harvest and to protect against crops loss to insects or disease. Time all plantings so that squash comes to harvest before the first frost in fall.

Care. Squash is often attacked early by cucumber beetles. Protect seedlings with floating row covers until they begin to flower. Squash grows on short vines; to improve air circulation and keep fruit clean, train vines to stakes using horticultural tape or cloth ties.

Harvest. Pick zucchini and all summer squash when it is young and tender. Don’t wait for squash to get big; it will be woody and tasteless. Use a knife or garden shear to cut zucchini from the vine.

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221 Comments

  1. my squash are beautiful plants that are producing great. several of the small squash start rotting from the flower end . it starts right at the flower and rot the whole squash . Help!!

    • You describe blossom end rot. There can be several causes: usually lack of soil moisture, but it also could be caused by too much moisture, cultivation that injured or destroyed the plant roots, and soil too cold. Also the soil could be too acidic or too alkaline–and thus the plant is unable to draw up calcium which make for strong plant cell walls. When there is too little calcium in young fruits the cell walls collapse and rot. The supply of water and calcium must be consistent–all of the above can interfere with calcium getting to plant cells. Keep your soil moisture even–not too wet, not too dry. Cover the planting bed with plastic if you are getting too much rain, organic mulch if the weather is dry; black plastic will also warm the soil–if you have planted very early in the season and the soil has not warmed. Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers; look for a vegetable fertilizer that includes calcium. Check your soil pH, 6.5 to 6.8 is best. Add aged compost to your planting beds twice a year–to make sure the soil is well drained and contains all of the necessary minerals for growing squash and other vegetables.

      • Like the picture shows, my zucchini are literally growing blossoms on the end that’s not attached to the plant, and I have several plants that are doing this, theres literally a new bloom growing on the end of my fruit, I have looked on Google and all I found was the picture on this site but says nothing that helps me out. If you could let me know what is going on or what it’s called I would be greatly appreciative for all your input, thanks in advance.

        • Zucchini and squash plants produce both male and female flowers. Between the female flower and the stem is an unfertilized fruit–an ovary; when pollination occurs–when bees carry pollen from male flowers to the female flowers–the ovary will begin to grow and the zucchini fruit will take mature form. The flower at the end of the fruit will dry up and fall off.

  2. I have nice leaves dark green and very large but my fruit is small and most have black mold like on the bottom where the bloom is. My plants are in a raised bed. Raised squash is this bed last year with no problems. The weather here has not been overly wet this spring. How do you check the ph in soil?

    • Mold on squash blossoms and fruit is caused by a fungal disease called wet rot. You will see the mold and little black dots developing. The best course of action is to remove and destroy any blossoms or fruit that develop mold. Wet rot commonly develops during wet weather. A second possibility resulting in mold is poor pollination. Try hand pollinating the female flowers and see if the mold then disappears from the plant.

    • Sounds like blossom end rot. Work a little calcium into your soil. Like oyster shell. If that doesn’t do it, work in a small amount if Mason sakt.

  3. I was researching how to prune zucchini and well…I cut stem and all off…then “water” came out…I then put soil in the hollow stem area…I don’t know why…my question is…Will this hurt/kill my plant. I have been getting good zucchini off it so far…Help…I am a first time gardener….lol

    • Cutting back your zucchini will probably not kill the plant, unless you have pruned all the way back leaving no leaves for photosynthesis. A severe pruning may set the plant back–and you may have pruned away flowers which produce fruit, but it will likely produce new stems and continue to grow. If you were pruning to contain the plant in a smaller space, you might want to train the vine to grow in a large circle. Use garden staples to train the vine in arcs instead of allowing it to creep across the garden.

      A damaged vine stem can be buried and will often root at a node creating a new plant.

      • Denise, the same thing happened to me. It was my first time removing zucchini and I thought I could just snap it off (hehe silly me). How did your plant hold up afterwards? My zucchini plant is massive but it looks like like someone took a little bite out of the zucchini stem. Should I be worried Mr. Albert?

        • Often critters will visit the garden for a snack. If you have enough to share with critter visitors, I would not be too worried about a nibble here and a nibble there. Zucchini is great producer–so there is probably enough to share. When critter visitors take more than you can give, you might throw a length of bird-netting or a light weight floating row cover over the crop to keep the nibblers at bay. Use row covers only after flowers have been pollinated.

  4. Hi, I am a first time gardener in the high desert of so. ca. and have been gone for 3 days and have come back to aphid type bugs all over my zucchini. Trying to grow organically so of course don’t know what to do since I’m new at this. Looks as though I have lost both plants. What do I do? Can they be salvaged?

    • Aphids can be easily rinsed off of your plants with a moderate stream of water. If the infestation returns you can use something a bit more harsh such as insecticidal soap–which is organic and will not harm you or the plants, but will dispatch the aphids. When possible check your crops every day or so to see if pests have taken up residence–try to stop infestations quickly. Your plants may bounce back, give them a week or so; make sure they have deep watering and give them a boost by spreading compost around the base of each plant and then water the compost in–it’s a slow way to feed crops, but very organic.

  5. What insect is eating the blooms off my squash and zucchini plants. First it was the smal blooms that appeared first, now I have big blooms. Something also picked one of my pole beans and ate through the middle but left the rest. My area is loaded with deer so I have a complete hard netting around and over my 6×9 garden. So whatever it is cannot be bigger than a nickel in diameter.

    • You might have a case of pickleworms. These are the larvae of night-flying moths. Pickleworms are caterpillars that like to feed on the flowers and young fruit of summer squash, cucumbers, and muskmelons. Look at the growing tips of your plants for the caterpillars–they will be pale or yellowish white when young and green or copper-colored when mature. You can use floral lure moth traps to stop the female moths from laying eggs; you can hand pick the caterpillars and crush them; you can spray the caterpillars with neem oil. You can also cover your crops with row covers of horticultural cloth to keep the moths out; be sure to seal the edges so they don’t get in. If you have a small critter such as a vole at work, the row cover will also exclude him.

      • This is my first time planting zucchini. I have one plant that has 3 stalks. The outer stalks have been producing fruit very well. But this morning on the middle stalk several fruit were brown despite some appearing to be new. One fruit was brown and flower was still green. 3 others, the fruit and flower were brown. I removed them. The 3 brown ones couldnt be more than a couple days old. I checked for a vine borer but didnt see anything. What could this be?

        • Young squash fruits that die back soon after they appear may have been insufficiently pollinated; they may also suffer if the soil has gone dry. Keep the soil evenly moist. Attract pollinators to the garden by planting flowers herbs nearby. If pollinators are not visiting the garden you can hand pollinate squash by rubbing male flowers against female flowers.

  6. The leaves on my zucchini plants are from a light green to yellow. Other than that they seem to be healthy. They are young, about 6 inches tall. What could be the problem?

    • Young plants including zucchini will have yellowing leaves if the nighttime temperature is chilly, cooler than 60F. If the temperature is cool at night, protect your young plants with a light frost blanket or a cloche–a gallon milk jug with its bottom cut out (to form a mini-greenhouse). If temperatures are warm, give your plant a sidedressing of well-rotted compost, which will give it a good all-around feeding and a slight nitrogen boost. Older plants with yellowing leaves may be under attack from spider mites or aphids, but that doesn’t sound like the case with your young plant.

  7. My zucchini have what appears to be blossom end rot,, beautiful plants but the blossom end starts to shrivel up and turn yellow after they get about 6 inches long,,, my soil test says my calcium content is high, (6565 lbs per acre) done by the University of MO. Columbia, I have not put nitrogen on them only organic fish fertilizer, and my water conditions this year are pretty much what I consider ideal,,,just enough moisture when we need it and a light watering when needed, all my plants in the garden look wonderful, am getting frustrated, happens every year and all anybody can tell me is calcium deficiency,, but soil tests show it to be high,,whats wrong..

    • The most common causes of blossom-end rot are: (1) water stress due to lack of soil moisture; (2) poor root function due to too much moisture; (3) rough cultivation that harms roots; (4) cold soil; (5) soil pH that is too acidic or too alkaline–that interferes with root function; (6) too much nitrogen fertilizer that stimulates leaf growth resulting in too much competition for calcium; (7) calcium deficiency–usually not the case when the garden is enriched organically with aged compost; (8) soil too dry, followed by heavy rain or over-irrigation.

      Ways to overcome blossom-end rot: (a) periodically inspect fruit for symptoms then remove fruit that show symptoms so that plants can put their energy into new, healthy fruit; (b) keep soil evenly moist by mulching to conserve soil moisture; (c) early in the season make sure the soil is sufficiently warm before planting–plant in raised beds or use plastic mulch before planting; (d) harden off transplants to ensure good root development; (e) plant in loose, organically amended soil to encourage large root systems; (f) cultivate carefully to remove weeds–avoid damaging roots; (g) avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers; (h) shade plants during the hottest part of the day; (i) check soil pH, adjust to below 6.5; (j) choose varieties that are resistant to blossom-end rot; (k) balance soil nutrients by rotating crops–roots-shoots-leaves rotation.

  8. my zuchini plants are beautiful with multiple blooms. There is no vegetable forming yet, but all of a sudden something has popped off several of the blooms, leaving them lying under the plant. The bloom is not eaten or chewed and the whole rest of the plant stem is intact???? Any idea what could be doing that?

    • Blossom drop can happen for a couple of reason: (1) the first flowers on the zucchini and squash plant are male flowers, which produce pollen and no fruit, after these blossoms have been around several days their time will be done and they will drop; the second set of blossoms to appear will be female–they will await the delivery of pollen from the male flowers via the work of bees. If female flowers are not pollinated in due time, they too will drop. Make sure bees are at work in your garden and that male and female blossoms are both in bloom at the same time (the female blossoms have small immature fruits at the stem end); (2) Cool, cloudy, and wet weather can also cause blossoms to drop–not much you can do about this; be patient and new blossoms will come; (3) dry conditions when soil moisture is low, or with a quick change from hot to cool, wet weather can also cause blossom drop; be sure to water plants in hot, dry weather. If the weather is very hot in very dry regions give blossoms some shade–erect a shade cloth cover over the plants; (4) over-fertilizing plants can also cause plant stress and blossom drop; use an even fertilizer, or better yet feed plants with well-rotted compost.

    • Generally when the fruit of zucchini and other summer squash is malformed it is due to stress–water stress or temperature stress. Could there have been a few days or more when the soil went dry and the plant roots were unable to take up moisture? Try to keep the soil evenly moist–not overly wet or dry–at all times. Unexpected cool temperatures could also stress fruit when it is forming.

        • Check the description of the zucchini variety you are growing to know the expected size at maturity. If you suspect the fruit is not growing to size, be sure the soil is staying evenly moist from the time fruit sets until just a day or two before harvest. Also feed the plant a dilute fish emulsion solution or compost tea every 10 to 14 days.

  9. The deer got into my enclosure and ate almost all the leaves on my zucchini plants, they appear to have stopped growing completely, is there anything I can do to get them to “reboot”?

    • If all of the leaves have been eaten by deer it will be difficult for the plant to conduct photosynthesis which supports growth. If you do not see new growth in a week or two, pull up the plants and use the space to get a second crop in the garden.

  10. Hi Steve,
    I live in Northern Ca. and this is the first time I’ve ever grown zucchini – also my garden is in pots. I didn’t plant the zuch seeds until late Sept. I’ve gotten several fruits from each plant so far.

    Now that the nights are getting cold the fruits are not growing as much or as quickly. Today I manually pollinated a few since I haven’t seen any bees lately. I cannot bring the plants inside and I’m concerned about the cold at night. I was wondering if you had any simple suggestions to keep the plants warm at night.

    btw: I have to compliment you on your site. Its very well organized, good navigation, good info and excellent usability. No flash junk causing hangs or interruptions in navigation. I wish more site owners would use this style Its so rare these days to see all of these qualities in one site.

    • Hi Joni, You are growing zucchini on the edge of its season; it is a warm-weather crop. If it is not protected from chilly temperatures–much below 60F, you will lose it. Without taking your plants into a greenhouse or a hot bed (a mini greenhouse), you can try to protect the plants from cold with a plastic tunnel or cover. On the Topics Index, go to the Season Extension Category for tips on how to protect warm-weather crops from cold. Thanks for reading Harvest to Table!

  11. The zucchini i plant is yellow type…
    When start harvest, the zucchini is in yellow color…
    But now it started turn in to green, or got green spot on the zucchini…
    What happen on my plant???

    • Check the number of days to harvest for the variety of zucchini you are growing. Harvest close to the expected date of harvest; it’s best to harvest a few days early than late. You may be growing a variety that has some green in it at maturity or optimal harvest; if that is the case the fruit is maturing to its harvest color. If the variety is supposed to be all yellow at harvest and has begun to spot, two possibilities may be at play: (1) cold temperatures may have caused a chilling injury; temperatures around 40F will do this; (2) the fruit may have remained on the vine past its maturity and begun to spoil or rot or mold.

  12. Based on your descriptions (and some images on google), I suspect my plants are infested by cucumber beetles. I have not seen any beetles on the plant, but I see the effect of them chewing the leaves. Is there a time of day the beetles would likely be on there? I have seen advice about using row covers to protect the plant (currently my plants are only a couple weeks old, so there is no need for pollination). Is there a particular time of day that may be best to do this?

    • Cucumber beetles may be hiding and lurking in the shade of leaves–under leaves. It only take a couple to wreak havoc on your crop. Row covers are exclusionary and will keep pollinators out as well. Use row covers before flowering–and after pollination. Seek out and simply crush cucumber beetles as you find them.

  13. My zucchini plants are blooming like crazy, but there is no squash. Don’t see any bees. How do I identify the male blooms, so I can pollinate them?

    • Lots of flowers and no fruit–sounds like lack of pollination. Encourage bees in your garden; bees and insects will visit the male flower and then the female. Hand pollination is another alternative.

        • A self pollinating plant is one that has both male and female parts within the same flower–the male part is called the stamen and the female part is called the pistil. Pollen dropping from the stamen onto the pistil results in fertilization and the development of a fruit. Some plants have separate male and female flowers; they are not self-pollinating. Pollen from the male flower must be transferred to the female flower by bees or insects or by the help of a human who can hand transfer pollen from the male flower to the female flower.

  14. I have Astia zucchini in the ground(it’s advertised as a container zucchini). Lots of new squash, but several are wrinkling and shrinking from the middle to the end of the squash. When this happens squash are 5-8″. No discoloration. Any comments?
    Thanks

    • There are several possible causes for your plant to wilt mid vine: squash vine borers, nematode injury or bacterial wilt. Borer holes can be seen as the base of the plant–you can slit the vine to see if the borer is inside, remove the borer, close the tissue, and bury the injury under an inch of soil to encourage healing. There is no quick cure for nematode injury: you can solarize the soil, rotate crops, and try to build up the number of beneficial organisms in your soil by adding compost. Bacterial wilt : try a copper dust or foliar spray; better yet, plant disease resistant varieties.

  15. in the past two days zucchini leaves wilted and yellowed . there are stink bug looking insect under leaves. it appears there are bug eggs on leaves. i noticed one worm in the main stem of 1 plant. i have had same problem in the past . plants did look very healthy large stems and massive leaves then they yellow wilt and die. fruit not deformed leaves not deformed. wat do i do

    • Squash vine borer can cause vines to wilt–also nematode injury and bacterial wilt. You’ve seen a worm, so let’s assume a borer is at work. To get ahead of vine borers, set a yellow pan filled with water near the base of the plant. Moths that lay the borer eggs will be attracted to the yellow and drown. Crush egg clusters and look for entry holes in the vines. Slit the vines near the hole and expose the tissue to remove the borer and crush it. Close the tissue and place an inch of moist soil over the slit and allow it to heal–and form roots at the injury. (You can also stick a pin through the vine to impale the borer.) Keep at this for several days until no more borers are found.

  16. For the first time I have been able to harvest zucchini and I am quite thrilled, but something wierd is happening. We could have 6 perfect zucchini and then 2 or 3 that ate really almost a ball shape on the stem end and a hollow squishy mess on the flower end. When I have cute these there will be a yellow center part way into the round end, but some small part of it will be useable – the rest is garbage. Is it a water problem? I live in Vancouver Canada and we have had quite a hot summer with little rain (which is somewhat unusual), but I have been watering every few days.

    • Your description sounds like a problem with water uptake; could it be that watering has been sporadic and that the soil has dried out before you watered again. For consistent fruit growth, the soil should be just moist at all times. Periods of too much water followed by not enough can cause cell wall damage in fruits and result in uneven growth. Make sure your planting beds contain lots of well-aged compost which can hold moisture for plant roots.

  17. I have plenty of male blooms on my zucchini plants but almost no females (I’ve gotten only two zucchini this year! Both were delicious, but I wanted a lot more!) I have never had this happen before; is there anything I can do to encourage more female blooms, or am I out of luck? Thank you.

    • Unless the weather is growing chilly where you live, you are not out of luck. 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.

  18. hai steve i am from india tempareture is 35 to38 oc is it sutable for cultivetian of zuccini what care will be reqvaire for cultivate

    • Your temperature (35C-38C/95-101F) is very much on the high side for even warm-season crops including zucchini. Shield your crops from high temperatures by shading the garden with shade cloth, as well, extra water may slightly lower the temperature at soil level.

      -is very much on the high end

  19. Hi Steve,

    My zuccs have been growing well in a raised garden bed for the past few months. (Live in Texas, with the crazy wet weather lately.) Walked outside today to find that two zuccs on the same plant are thick at the stem side of the fruit, but thin and ribbed at the blossom end of the fruit. These are ~6-8in long, and were nearly ready to harvest, but now I’m concerned that there’s something wrong with the fruit. Do you have any advice as to what is going on with my plant? Please help!

    • Dry weather followed by heavy rain–repeat etc. The plant may have experienced an uneven uptake of moisture resulting in uneven growth and uneven development of the fruit. If that is the case, as the weather stabilizes future fruits should appear normal. The abnormal shaped fruit should be edible though it may be bitter in part. Uneven squash fruit development might also result from pickleworms at work–they feed on blossoms and fruit. You will see tunneling in fruits if they are present. Those fruits will not be edible.

  20. i only planted two zucchini plants in my small square foot garden, and they started out going great. but in the last few weeks, most of the leaves turned yellow, then brown and curled up. i took those off, so there were only green leaves, and then it happened again. i took all the new ones off, but now there are more brown leaves. any hope for my zucchinis this far into the growing season (zone 6a)?

    • If it’s a very small garden, one zucchini plant may be enough. Two plants may be competing for soil moisture and nutrients leaving both weak. Curled leave can also be caused by aphids which suck sap from the plant. Check the undersides of leaves; if you find aphids or other insects spray them away with a strong steam of water. Disease can also cause zucchini leaves to brown and curl; if you suspect disease, remove the plants and replant in another part of the garden.

    • When small squash soften and rot or drop off if can be a sign of overwatering. Very large, lush leaves is also a sign of overwatering. Let your plants dry out until the leaves just begin to droop. You should see improvement in a week to 10 days.

  21. My Zucchini dies after reaching about 2-3 inches in length and will never fully develop. It is in a full sun spot and gets watered daily in the morning. Suggestions?

    • Fruit that fails to fully develop could be a sign of partial or poor pollination. Fruit dying or dropping could also be the sign of insects at work; inspect the undersides of leaves carefully for insects or holes in stems or at the base of fruits. Neem oil can smother many insects pests; that may be a treatment–though horticultural oils also kill beneficial insects. Check also to make sure that the soil is staying evenly moist and not drying out between waterings. If the soil goes dry, the uptake of moisture can interrupt the development of fruit.

  22. Im a beginning gardener and am struggling with the white fuzzy mold with black spots on my squash and zucchini blossoms and also with powdery mildew. What should I do to get the fuzzy mold to go away!!

    • Molds and mildews on vegetables are fungal diseases. Fungi thrive in dark and wet places. Water at the base of the plants and avoid getting any water on plant leaves. Water early in the day so that moisture that does land on plant parts has plenty of time to dry during the day. You can control–but not cure–fungal diseases with neem oil. Compost tea also is said to protect plant foliage from fungal diseases. If the leaves are severely compromised by mold and mildew trim them off the plant, put them in a plastic bag and into the trash. Your plant can live with some fungal disease–but if it spreads, the plant will suffer and could die.

  23. My zucchini has produced only small white flowers (3 inch diameter of open flower?). Really hard to tell the male from female flowers. Tried hand pollinating but am only getting 3 inch dried withered fruit. Leaves look full and healthy. ????

    • The female zucchini flower will have a small swelling–the undeveloped fruit–at the stem end of the flower. It is subtle but you will see that it is different than the male flower. The first flowers to form will be male–they produce pollen but no fruit. The flowers are likely withering because of lack of pollination–despite your best efforts. The best time to hand pollinate is in the morning when the flowers are widest open. You can also try attracting more bees and pollinators to the garden by plant lavender or other bee attractors nearby.

    • Did the plants go without water? Soil too dry can cause leaves to turn yellow or white and flowers to drop. Add aged compost to the planting bed to hold soil moisture between waterings. If soil too dry is not the problem, then the problem may be more dire. Squash bugs and spider mites can attack leaves and suck the sap from them leaving the leaves papery white. Spray the plants with an insecticidal soap. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can leave foliage white; pick off infected leaves and spray the leaves with 1 part milk mixed with 9 parts water.

  24. I had beautiful huge zucchini plants. They had beautiful flowers, but then it appeared that something CUT the flower from the stem and NO fruit was set?????? Can someone advise?

    • Cucumber beetles may be eating your cucumber blossoms. Cucumber beetles hide under leaves and inside blossoms–they prefer shaded spots. Check under leaves to see if you spot them. You can set sticky traps near your plants to trap them. Slugs and snails can also severe blossoms–you spread coffee grounds around plants to act as a barrier or use baits containing iron phosphate.

    • The small fruit that withers is likely a case of poor pollination. The male fruits appear first followed by the female fruits with their immature fruits. Hand pollination would be one solution–taking a male flower and rubbing it against the female flower.You can use a Q-tip to take pollen from the male and bring it to the female also. Attracting bees to the garden is the natural route; flowers that attract bees include borage, calendula, cosmos, lavender, marigold, nasturtium, sunflowers, and zinnias.

  25. My golden zucchini are getting large but they’re only gold on the upper surface. The sides touching the soil are dark green. Did I get an odd hybrid (I bought them as starter plants) or is this caused by something else? They a good 8 -9″ long, so they should be more than ready to pick, but with the green undersides it makes me wonder if they’re ready.

    • Your zucchini fruit is more than larger enough for harvest, so pick one and give it a try–steam zucchini is tasty. The color variation could be a sign of a hybrid’s reversion to the parent, but since the underside of the fruit is not coloring, it may be simply a function of sunlight not reaching the underside of the fruit. Again, pick one and try it for tasty. At worst it may be bitter or woody.

      • Hi Steve,
        Thanks. I finally picked them the other day — they tasted great grilled with a little olive oil. The skin was a little tough, so I definitely waited too long. The plants are finally producing more fruit that is upright and off the ground. They’re not gold yet but do look to have a more even color, so I think the bicolor might be as you said from not getting enough sunlight.

        On another note, my yellow crook neck squash have stopped producing male flowers but are finally producing females again (I think it’s been too up ’til now, temp has been > 100 deg F.). Rather than losing the fruit, I’ve hand pollinated using the golden zucchini pollen. I don’t know if this will work since I can’t find ready information on the karyotypes of the two plants. If the chromosome complement is close enough I might get an interesting hybrid. At worst, I’ll get nothing, but then I wouldn’t get anything if the flowers weren’t pollinated at all, anyway. I’ll let you know what happens in a few days.

          • Last year nearly all of my squash were cross-pollinated between zucchini and spaghetti squash. The zucchini was producing only female flowers, and the spaghetti squash produced only male. The squash came out perfectly fine. The only way it should make a difference is if you are intending to reserve seeds for next year. In that case you are likely to have a hybrid between a zucchini and winter squash. I doubt that would come out to anything you want.

    • Make sure your zucchini is getting enough sunlight–at least 8 hours a day–and enough moisture; keep the soil just moist don’t let it dry out. Zucchini requires consistent moisture to mature. If sunlight and moisture are in place and the problem persists–weather too hot (greater than 90F/32C) or too cold (below 40F/9.5C) could be the problem. A pest that could result in your zucchini dying is the squash vine borer–these insects chew their way inside the squash vine and feed causing the plant’s vascular system to fail–which could lead to the damage you have seen. You can exclude the borer from your garden by covering your plants with row covers (the borer is the larvae of a moth). Another trick is to encourage secondary rooting of your vines by burying the vine at points along the stem or vine (the buried stem will put down new roots). That way your plant will grow on even as parts are attacked.

  26. Wow, so much to read lol. My zuchini and squash have exploded and have looked very healthy. Then thunder storm broke allot of stems. Does not seem to be anything to do for them. Also have a few yellow leaves that I believe are affids or what i call stink bugs lol. I don’t see evidence of mites. In southern louisiana but we did have a couple cool nights early in spring but i kinda think it is the bugs. Over all they still seem healthy, i don’t know if I should bother or let the bugs have their share. Leary of putting pesticides on. Someone told me to mix some dish soap and water and spray on them. Is this true… also at what point do i feed them, grow stuff or do i bother. my tomatoes don’t seem to be doing real well this year and something is eating the peppers leaves badly. is it the same bugs or something different. thanks so much for help, new to this but so excited by little garden and having some of my own food lol

    • Pest insects love tender plants. Protect your plants by excluding the insects–a light weight poly floating row cover might work. Be sure to allow bees in to pollinate during the afternoons. Plant blankets suspended over a wire frame will also help protect crops from heavy rains. Dish soap–not detergent– a few drops mixed with water in a spray bottle will kill many insects on contact–so apply that when you see the pests.

  27. My squash plants flower and small fruit become visible, but at about an inch or so in length, the fruit turn yellow and drop off. Any suggestions?

    • Small squash fruits that yellow and fall off are suffering from lack of pollination. Insects–commonly bees–pollinate squash flowers, if the weather is cool or cloudy, insects will not be busy in the garden. You can improve pollination by hand pollinating–use a cotton swab to transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers, or pick off the male flower, pull off the petals, and rub the pollen directly on the stigma of the female flower. The best time to pollinate is in the morning.

  28. Hello well I have a very large Zucchini plant with female flowers blossoming like crazy but my male flower are not opening can you tell me why pls.

    • Male squash flowers commonly appear and open before female flowers, however, there are some hybridized squashes that produce female flowers first followed by males. Male and female flowers on the same plant often do not blossom in sync–so simply waiting may be the answer to your question. Environmental factors can affect blossoming–too much or too little water, chilly days or nights, wind can be factors.

  29. I planted my Astia zuke into an 18″container from the seedling container and after doing so the stems and leaves began to yellow and wilt. As well as the fruit. It has started to shrivel up. They are in a mixture of soil and organic compost, get full sun and I water every other day. Any suggestions on why my stems and fruit are shriveling up is appreciated.

    • The roots of the plants may have been damaged during transplants–leaving them unable to take up moisture and nutrients. During the first couple of weeks after transplanting it’s important to protect young plants from too much sun and heat, and to be sure the soil stays just moist, does not dry out or become too wet.

  30. Zucchini are growing but the leaves have white color along the veins old and new leaves both it almost seems like. A fungus some of the zucchini get soft and yellow at the blossom end. Help

    • Apart from varietal differences, zucchini fruit size and shape on the same plant can be affected by pollination and by water and nutrient uptake. Fruits on the same plant can be in competition for water and nutrients. Make every effort to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season for optimal fruit growth.

    • Zucchini that is soft in the center may have suffered from a sudden uptake of moisture–a heavy rain or heavy irrigation following a dry period. The plant cells likely took up a lot of water and the cell walls burst. Keep the soil evenly moist–not too wet, never let it dry out during the fruiting period. Adding lots of aged compost to your garden regularly will keep the soil well draining. Covering the crops with a plastic sheet when a downpour is expected may help also.

  31. If zucchini hasn’t pollinated and is already growing yellow zucchini, can these be eaten? I have hand pollinated additional female blossoms but I’d like to know what I should do with the unpollinated ones that are already growing. Thank you.

    • Unpollinated zucchini can be eaten. If the fruits are growing–growing to larger than a few inches–chances are the fruits were pollinated and will grow to full size.

  32. My zucchini leaves are turning yellow and dying at the ends. It’s mostly on the mature leaves but even my newly growing plants and growing yellow. I’m still getting zucchini growing or coming in on some of my plants. Do you think it can be with all the rocks I put at the bottom of my planter box? Or maybe not enough water to the roots? The ph of the soil is 7

    • Growing zucchini in a container can be difficult–you must keep the soil just moist, never dry, not too wet. You might get a moisture meter to check the soil moisture at 6 to 8 inches down. Too much or too little water can cause yellowing of leaves, but so can not enough or too much sun–8 hours per day is optimal. Too much nitrogen in the soil (and not enough) can cause leaves to yellow as well. Use a low nitrogen, high phosphorus and potassium fertilizer, being careful to follow the directions.

    • The female flowers will follow the male flowers; the delay in flowering could be due to unseasonable cool or hot weather, but it may be that the soil is overly rich in nitrogen. Visit the garden center and get a 5-10-10 fertilizer or a bloom booster and feed the plants phosphorus and potassium.

  33. I was weeding my zucchini and found rotting at the end of the stem and I accidentally pulled off a whole chunk of the plant that has tons of good leaves and some flower buds in it, what can i do? Please help!!!

    • Stem rot is not a good sign–it may be the precursor of a fungal disease which could kill the plant. You can bury the vine further along from the stem and the vine may set out roots and create a new plant. If the vine withers, there isn’t much you can do besides planting a new plant.

  34. “fruit” begins but then with a length of about 5 inches and diameter of maybe 1/2 inch, the “fruit” begins to wither and turn yellow. eventually shrivels up and disappears. Have had this problem in past years. Not enough water? Too hot? the first zucchini came out perfect about 2 weeks ago when the weather was a bit cooler.

    • If temperatures are much above the mid 80sF–or lots above–then your plants will suffer. Zucchini will grow in the 90sF, but you must keep the soil evenly moist for consistent fruit development–you can’t let the soil dry out and over-watering will not make up for dry soil–over-watering will simply cause the cells in the fruit to grow soggy and even burst. If the weather is very hot, protect soil moisture by adding an inch or two of mulch–such as aged compost.

    • The cause of small zucchini that dies on the vine may be (1) incomplete or no pollination–encourage pollinators or hand pollinate; (2) too much or too little moisture–keep the soil evenly moist; (3) too much nitrogen in the soil; (4) weather too hot or too cold or too cloudy.

    • Jackpot zucchini should be green at maturity. Yellowing of fruit–depending upon how long the fruit has been on the plant–could be a sign of insufficient nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium. Side-dress the plants with an organic fertilizer 5-10-10 with calcium and magnesium added. Keep the soil evenly moist–do not over-water and do not let the soil go dry. If the weather has been extra hot, protect the plants with shade cloth to avoid sunburn–until temps drop into the 80sF.

  35. My zucchini grow to about 3 inches. Then dies. I gave them lots of shake & grow full sunlight, water every 2 days, and still they dies. Help.

    • Zucchini fruit dying off could be caused by stress–heat or water stress. If it is very hot, simply wait for temperatures to return to normal. Keep the soil evenly moist; do not over-water and do not let the soil go dry. Do not use a fertilizer high in nitrogen; use an organic 5-10-10 or a fertilizer low in nitrogen.

  36. My cucumber have lots of yellow flowers. But nothing is coming to full term. And the leaves are turning yellow, i also give them shake and grow.

    • It sounds like a pollination problem: male flowers appear on the cucumber plant first followed by female flowers–with a very small fruit at the stem end of the blossom. You can hand pollinate by rubbing a male flower against a female flower. If the weather has been very hot, simply wait for temperatures to moderate; heat and water stress can cause cucumber fruit to abort.

  37. My zucchini had no blossoms at all for weeks, and I was about ready to take them out and toss them when all of a sudden I found lots of female blossoms forming. Now for some reason a portion of the female blossoms (which are nowhere near ready to open, just pencil-thin baby fruits at the bottom of the bud) have started to go yellow and wither. Any idea what could be causing this? It is not happening to all of them, even on one plant. It is maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the blossoms on each of the 4 plants.

    • Female flowers will wither if not pollinated. You may want to hand pollinate–rub a male flower against the female flower. Heat and water stress can also cause female flowers to abort.

      • As I said in the original comment, this is happening long before the blossoms open. There are only tiny little buds on the end. I have been hand-pollinating since I originally planted my squash

  38. I’m also a new gardener and added zucchini this year. Great success!! We really enjoyed a continuous supply from July 1; almost 4 per day from two plants. Then, we took a trip for eight days in the beginning of August. Upon our return, we had several very large fruit, which we picked. And, since then, nothing…. Is there anything we can do to restart the production? It’s like the plants took a signal that the season was over. Thanks,

    • While you were away, fruits on the vine went to seed (those are the large fruits you found when you returned). Very often when a plant goes to seed, there is a genetic signal to the plant that it’s life has come to a close–it has born fruit, produce offspring, and now can die. That is the way of life. Try rooting a section of the vine still viable and see if you can start a new plant–if you have enough frost free season left.

      • Thanks. We are in Vermont, so season is short. However, I also noted that things were very dry, so I put the water heavily on the plants. One is now beginning again, has 4 developing fruit, and many new flowers. Bees are busy, so signs are positive for now. We’ll see.

  39. I’ve been googling and can’t find my problem even mentioned. The plants did great at the beginning. Had some squash bugs like every year but kept them under control. About a month ago the fruit started turning hard. It looked just fine but when I tried to cut it I could barely get a knife through it. A few I couldn’t cut at all. This happened on all 3 plants and both small and large fruit. Any ideas?

    • What you describe is called “woody zucchini.” Zucchini fruits can become woody or corky when they are past maturity. Harvest your fruit early–when fruits are just 6 inches long or so. Only let zucchini grow on if you want to save the seed. If small fruits are becoming woody, then I would suspect a failure or glitch in the plant’s ability to take up moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist, do not let it dry out completely. Protect the base and roots with compost mulch.

  40. My container zuchinni plants sprouted nicely, however when they goabout 3 – 4 inches tall, they stopped growing. Leaves yellowing. Not growing any bigger but now starting to blossom. They have composted manure in with the potting mix. Watered regularly as it has rained a lot here in S FL. Any help or suggestions very appreciated!!

    • Yellowing leaves on zucchini can be indicate: (1) soil is too wet–let it dry; (2) soil is too dry–keep it just moist; (3) soil is too rich–perhaps too much nitrogen (the manure may be too rich). You can re-transplant the plants to another pot with just potting soil. Keep the soil just moist–not too wet.

  41. I have three Lebanese zucchinis plants in my back yard. One is two weeks older then the others. I am now harvesting my two younger plants, while the oldest plant only have male flowers that won’t open and the outer leaf part of the flowers are growing past the actual flower(that still haven’t open) look like little zucchini leaves. I’ve grown-up on a farm and worked on zucchini farms for nearly ten years, and have never seen this. Could you help?

    • The plant that has not produced female flowers–and male flowers that have not opened–has likely experienced some sort of environmental stress. The plant is reacting. Perhaps it soil, water, nutrients, temperature, or insect interference in the natural process.

  42. I have squash and zucchini plants that are loosing the young vegetables shortly after the blooms begin to whither. The vegetables are on the soil and look like they have been cut with a knife. The young vegetables are about 1 – 1.5 inches and length. I have noticed more pill bugs this year in the garden as well as very small black ants. I can not seem to find any information on this.

    • There are several insect pests capable of severing the stem of a small squash fruit; pill bugs are among them. Generally pill bugs are good for the garden since they eat decaying organic matter and assist general decomposition. But in large number they can be destructive eating seedlings and young fruits that lay on the ground. Control pill bugs by wetting and rolling newspaper then placing it in the garden in the evening; in the morning pill bugs who have retreated to the shelter can be dropped into soapy water. As for your young squash fruits; elevate them above the soil; place them on blocks of wood or overturned butter cups or yogurt cups–get them out of the reach of the sow bugs. Around the elevated squash you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth as a barrier (this will control the ants as well). These suggestions will work against other soil crawling insect pests as well. The trap and barrier may help you identify pests other than the visible pill bugs.

    • A female zucchini flower will have a small undeveloped fruit at between the flower and the stem; a male flower will not. Male flowers appear on the plant first; a week or two later, the female flowers appear. Once both male and female flowers are in bloom, pollination can occur if bees are busy in the garden. Of course, there will be no baby flowers unless the female flowers are pollinated.

  43. I think i may have nematodes, none of the fungal diseases quite look like the leaf symptoms i have. The leaves start to yellow, them brown between the veins and dry up becoming very crunch. I saw a few spider mites with my hand lens but not a tremendous amount of them. I had antracnose in another plot last year and i have not seen any of the setae characteristic of acervuli on these plants. It doesn’t look like erwinia that i have had with cucumbers (stopped growing them all together) so my last guess is nematodes due to the angular lesions. Are there any other nutrient deficiencies that could cause this? I have had choanephora and some blossom end rot on most of the fruit as they reach about 4 inches long.

    • If you suspect nematode problems you can bury a section of stem and allow it to root in a couple of weeks; then take the newly rooted plant and transplant it to a container or another part of the garden. You can then dig up the mother plant and check the roots for swollen knots–a sign or pest nematodes. Yellowing and browning between veins could be lack of water but also spider mites or squash bugs. If you suspect a nutrient deficiency–or to test for a nutrient deficiency–start watering the plant with compost tea; old dry leaves will not come back, but existing leaves will turn dark green and yellowing should stop.

  44. I live in SC now, this is my first year here. I bought nice healthy plants. Planted with some planting soil as the soil is basically sand. I have beautiful leaves. Blossoms appear, drop off. I do not see the blossoms ever opening!! I used a vegetable plant fertilizer . they are planted were they get shade noon to 2 pm. approx. and then get westerly sun. watering is consistent. I have grown veggies since I was a kid and never had this happen. I do not however see many bees.

    • Blossom drop can be the result of environmental stress or by lack of pollination. If the soil is evenly moist and you have not used a fertilizer too rich in nitrogen (both of these can cause plant stress), then it may be that the female flowers are not being pollination. You can hand pollinate the female flowers with a male flower stripped of its petals–just rub the two together to transfer the pollen.

  45. Great source of information here. Unfortunately, none of these seem to address our problem. We have a great zucchini plant that grows fruit to about 5″-6″ then they disappear. Not rotting, nothing on the ground, no plant damage or tracks from foraging critters, they simply disappear and really no chance someone poached them. We’re thinking a possum or skunk that is big enough to haul them off without leaving a trace?

    • Yes, it is likely some critter–four or two legged–is making off with your zucchini. Sprinkle a commercial hot pepper repellent on the soil around your plants. Or you can make your own repellent combining hot peppers and garlic in a blender with water; strain away the solid materials and put the liquid in a spray bottle to spray the leaves around the fruit. An alternative would be to cover the plants with bird netting or a row cover to exclude the critters from the plants and fruit.

  46. I have no bees, therefore I have to pollinate my zucchini myself. No big deal. But the fruit is growing short and fat and somewhat hollow. What could be causing this?

    • The likely cause of the hollow squash–and short and fat–is insufficient pollination. Be sure that many grains of pollen are transferred to the female flower during your hand pollination procedure. You may want to repeat the procedure several times–over a few days–to ensure complete pollination. As well, carry out the pollination during a cool time of the day. Hot, dry weather can make it difficult for pollen to stick to the anthers inside the female flower.

  47. Hi Steve, thanks for your article. My zucchini plants are looking good but it seems the animals have moved in on them. We have chipmunks, rabbits, groundhogs. Blossoms have disappeared, chewed neatly off. Plus male blossoms are naturally falling, so I’m concerned about pollination and survival. If I can find a remaining male to hand pollinate, is it possible to then cut back all the blossoms, leaving the pollenated area in the midddle to form the fruit, so that animals are not attracted to the plant? Or is the full blossom necessary for the growth of the zucchini? Thanks.

    • A good dusting of pollen from the female flower must land on the stigma of the female flower for pollination to occur. The petals do not play a role in pollination apart from attracting pollinators with their color and perhaps protecting the stigma from wind. When hand pollinating be sure as much pollen as possible is transferred. You may want to set out some new plants to ensure future male flowers bloom in the garden. You may be able to repel the four-legged critters by sprinkling pepper powder around the plants and on the leaves. You might also place bird netting over the plants to exclude the critters.

  48. My zucchini plants have leaves that look as if they are breaking off at the main stem. Once they start to break loose, then the leaves wither. I can’t find any bugs or any sign of worms of any type. The leaves are large and I have been getting zucchini. Not as many as I used to get but enough for me. I also don’t see any bites in the leaf stem. I have had black birds or starlings in the garden eating a few yellow flowers off my marigolds and a few off the squash also. Can you please tell me what the leaf problem might be?

    • If insects or disease are causing the leaves to separate from the stem you should see some sign–frass from boring insects, holes where borers are entering the plant, and if disease a change in stem or leaf color–usually a darkening of plant cells. Next consider mechanical injury–animals, humans, wind–knocking against the leaves and causing them to break away; you can cover the plants with bird netting to keep birds and critters from disturbing the plants; some critters in warm weather will look to vegetable leaves and stems for moisture. Finally, leaves will wither and separate if the soil is not kept moist; try to avoid letting the soil completely dry out between waterings.

      • I have this problem as well. It seems that the leaves are just too heavy and because they’re so tender they break off. There is no insect damage and there are mini zucchini forming but as soon as the leaves get heavy they break and then the fruit wilts as well. I’ve never had this happen in over 20 years. Any suggestions? I did support the leaves with sticks but this is not too practical in the long term…should I build up the soil, try to get the plant to lay farther down?(It’s growing vertically)

        • Dropping leaves may indicate the soil is going dry between waterings; keep the soil evenly moist. Feed the plant a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days to 2 weeks–that is half the amount recommended on the container.

    • The spots may be a fungal infection. Spray the plants with compost tea to control fungal disease. Remove the skin before eating the zucchini. If you find the fruit has been affected, then don’t eat the fruit. If the spots are corky it may be plant edema. Edema spots are raised up from the fruit like a wart and turn cork-like and cork color. Plant edema tends to occur in cool, wet weather; plant cells fill with moisture and burst leaving the scar tissue behind. Plant edema will pass with warm dry weather; but only the flesh, not the skin, of affected fruit should be used.

  49. I didn’t plant any zucchini this year, but I did let my last one rot in my raised garden bed. it is really healthy looking, but zucchini’s are huge,,, and yellow? Last year’s was green. i know that can’t get to big so I picked them, will they go green? Last year was my first time having a garden.

    • If the fruit you see this year is different that the fruit last year, it is likely that the seed/zucchini you planted last year was a hybrid. The seed from last year’s plant is not growing true–that is it is producing a fruit that is similar to the one of the parent plants. Check the seed packet from last year or your planting records to see what seed you planted last year. It was likely a hybrid.

  50. My squash plants are overrun by ants. I don’t see any sign of aphids or aphid damage. Just ants all over the plants, and they especially seem to love inside the blossoms in the morning. Any suggestions

    • Try spraying the plants and ants with a solution one part vinegar and one part water. Avoid spraying midday. Diatomaeceous earth sprinkled around the plants and the ant trail may help as well.

  51. Hi,
    I wish I’d found this page earlier. Lots of useful information!
    My Zucchini’s are growing well and appear very healthy. However, they are only producing female flowers. I had one male at the start of the season but then there was a week between it and the others and no sign of a male to come. The fruit gets to about 10-15cm long and then shrivels up and goes from dark green to yellow and eventually falls off. I hadn’t heard the calcium issue and our summer season has been erratic. It gets a decent water every second evening so maybe that’s to inconsistent?
    I have plenty of bees in the garden but wonder if it’s the lack of male flowers? Is there a way to encourage them to come on?

    • One way to ensure that male flowers and female flowers are blooming at the same time is to stagger the planting of squash. Don’t sow all of the seed at the same time; stagger the sowing–a few seeds this week, a few next week, and a few the third week. That way male and female flowers will be in bloom at the same time (males usually appear a week before the females). Later after fruits have set you can thin the garden of some of the plants if you are afraid the harvest will be too big. You can also plant dill or chervil nearby–the flowers of those herbs will attract pollinators to the garden.

  52. Hi,

    Thank you for your great article!

    I have a question which I have had trouble finding answers to – I grew several zucchini plants this season and while most of them are bushy and are producing flowers of both sexes, one plant seems to be growing in a vine-like segmental fashion and keeps creeping over more space along the ground. It’s started producing male flowers about 2-3 weeks ago but there are still no signs of any female flowers at all. Is this a different species or is it lacking something? Its neighbors in the same plot aren’t doing that!

    • Male zucchini flowers commonly appear in advance of female flowers so it may be a matter of time before you see female flowers. As for the difference in growing habit (vine vs. bush form). that may have to do with the seed and the seed source. Is it possible the vining plant is not the same variety as the bush plants? Could seed have been mixed? If the seed is hybrid, it may be that the seed for the vining plant has reverted to characteristics of one of its parents.

    • Almost all varieties of zucchini are best flavored when 4 to 6 inches long. If the zucchini simply quit growing in length at 4 inches double check the variety you are growing–that may be the mature size. For best, uninterrupted growth keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season and give the plants a boost by feeding them compost tea or dilute fish emulsion every two weeks.

  53. I planted a supposedly a green zucchini plant, but my zucchini are yellow. No sign of blossom rot. Could It be that the plant was mislabeled, or something else is going on? Would the fruit be safe to eat? Thanks so much for your expertise!

    • The skin of a green zucchini may turn yellow once if it is overripe and well past its days to maturity; overripe fruits will be quite large. Zucchini can be harvested and eaten small–commonly about 5 to 6 inches long, but usually not longer than 10 inches. Check the days to maturity for the variety you planted and also check the description at maturity; if your zucchini is within the number of days to maturity and it’s yellow (not the green as you expected) then chances are the seed or seedling you purchased was mislabelled.

  54. I have one plant that has 2 leaves turning yellow to brown and appears to wilt, The other leaves on plant appear ok. I have a history of that bug appearing in my plant, loo,ks like a stink bug too.

    • Stink bug adults and nymphs suck sap from stems, buds, and leaves; as a result, leaves can yellow, wilt, and turn brown. But other insects can cause yellowing leaves and wilt as well. Spray the top and undersides of leaves with insecticidal soap; if that does not control the insects spray with an. Y insecticide that contains spinosad. You can also simply handpick the insects (use gloves) and crush them.

    • Zucchini that is hard-skinned may be reacting to lack of soil moisture at the roots. All summer vegetables require soil that evenly moist for the quickest growth and maturation. Zucchini can be shallowly rooted so be sure the soil is staying moist. Hot summer sun can also take a toll on the outer skin of vegetables–hardening of the skin will be a defensive mechanism against evaporation. If the sun is intense where you live, place a frame and shade cloth over the planting to keep mid-day sun off of the developing fruits.

  55. I would like to fertilize my zucchini with worm castings. Will that provide the right nutrients? You have recommended low nitrogen fertilizers.

    • Worm castings are an excellent slow-release organic fertilizer. The NPK is 1-0-0 so you won’t stress the plants at all. Worm casting help feed important beneficial organisms in the soil and actually attract worms to the garden.

  56. Hi! It’s the beginning of August and we have had a great zuchinni harvest thus far. We do have an issue with the borers typically now. The last few zuchinni my husband picked were medium in size. The skin is a bit tough and the inside yellowish. Will they be okay to cook?

    • Zucchini with a tough skin and yellowing flesh is likely overripe. These fruits will be bitter and could cause an upset stomach. Try to get all fruits off the plant before they grow much larger than 6 inches long; they will be the most tender and tasty.

  57. This was awesome information!! First time growing zucchini for me, just brought one In today and was just a hint of yellow. Left it probably 2 days too long on the plant measured around 8-10”
    After reading the comments above I learned that my watering skills have been all wrong. 😂 I’ve just put my finger over the end of the hose and spray away. I’m going to lift the monster leaves tomorrow when I go out there BUT there is like a dusty looking chalky type covering on the leaves, is that from my crazy momma water ways?

    • The chalky white on the leaves is a fungal disease called powdery mildew. The white you see are fungal spores; as they multiply the leaves will become increasing chalky white, Apply a fungicide to control powdery mildew. Two fungicides are (1) compost tea–compost brewed like sun tea in water; (2) or a milk spray: 1 part milk and 9 parts water. Both of these will suppress powdery mildew. Also water at the base of the plants, not overhead.

  58. Hi there. I’m sad that I might have to give up on my zucchini adventures, as it’s probably just too hot here in California for them. With summer temps ranging around 100F, it’s even too hot for the peppers sometimes. But I’m hoping you can give me advice to solve my problems.

    I have two zucchini planted, one in a container and another on top of a hill. I looked through your troubleshooting list and didn’t see my problem. My mother’s zucchini plants up in Washington state are always big-leafed, dark green, and heavy yielders. Mine here in Cali are a much lighter green, and the leaves are so skinny (thin?) that they remind me of tomato plant leaves. And they yield maybe three zucchini in a season.

    I’m not sure if all of it is just too much sun, as the one on top of the hill gets only about 5-6 hours a day of full sun and it’s just as awful looking as the potted one. They both have compost mixed into the soil, and both are on drippers that give them roughly a gallon a day. I appreciate any insight shared. Thank you!

    • Most vegetables become stressed when temperatures grow warmer than 90F. Cooling down the air around your plants may help relieve some of the stress. Place a frame with shade cloth directly over the plants so that the plants and the soil around them are shaded at midday when the sun is most intense. Rather than use drip irrigation, create basins around each plant and fill the basin with water and let it soak into the ground–some of the water in the basin will evaporate, but this will create a more humid microclimate around the plants–which will lessen transpiration, which is the evaporation of water through plant pores. Check soil moisture 4 inches below the surface; if the soil is not moist between waterings plant roots may not be getting enough moisture. Give plants nutrient boost in late summer by feeding them a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal. Next season, create larger planting holes and fill them with aged compost which will help retain moisture and feed plants through the season.

  59. I am a first time gardener! I have tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini currently growing in a smaller area of my backyard. My tomatoes are thriving, cucumber is doing well, but my zucchini is a problem. My plants are in the ground and I water once a day in the shade (tips from my Italian grandmother who has the most beautiful lush garden). The stem (at the base) of my zucchini plant has split, and is a brownish yellow color, but I have a small zucchini growing and the leaves are nice and green. What could this be and what can I do to resolve this?

    • There are three likely reasons for the split at the base of the zucchini stem: (1) the soil went try and then extra wet and the plant cells burst with the influx of moisture; in this case, the plant may heal itself; keep the soil evenly moist at all times; (2) a vine borer has entered the stem; if this is the case you will see frass, a sawdust-like dust at near the entry hole; you can make a vertical slit along the stem and remove the borer; (3) a disease has entered the water-conducting capillaries of the plant; if this is the case, the stem will turn brownish and then black and the plant will die; there is no cure for bacterial or viral diseases; plant should be removed if infected. These are the likely causes; keep an eye on the plant; if the plant wilts and begins to fade, it is best to remove it from the garden. If it is simply a watering issue, the plant will likely survive and be productive.

    • To determine what went wrong with your zucchini plants, you will need to be a bit of a detective. Here are a few possible reasons the plants died: (1) air temperatures dropped into the 50sF or rose above 95F for extended days leaving the plant stressed; (2) too much or too little soil moisture–again the plant was stressed; keep the soil just moist; (3) too much nitrogen or another nutrient that may have stressed or killed the roots; (4) an insect attack–such a squash borer–that entered the plant and interrupted the uptake of moisture and nutrients; (5) disease that interrupted the plants growth or uptake of nutrients and moisture; (6) environmental disturbance–a chemical sprayed or dumped near the plant; an animal that attacked the roots or foliage. Make a checklist of these possible causes and begin the investigation.

  60. hi good morning. my zuchinni plants look beautiful but heres the thing the female flowers do not open. I repeat are not opening. the fruit turns yellow and falls off. temps are in the 80s and low 90s .. been getting plenty of rain. been watering and using fish emulsion every other week sometimes every 3rd week. plants look beautiful. not understanding. I appreciate your time. flowers not opening.

    • First, be certain that the flowers not opening are female; female flowers will have a bulge or miniature fruit between the stem and the flower. Early in the season male flowers–they have long stems with not miniature fruit– often appear before females. (This, as follows, is not true of some hybrids.) Second, female flowers commonly do not open, unless male flowers are present; check to be sure you have both male and female flowers. Next, check the variety you are growing; some hybrid squashes produce only or mostly female flowers early in the season; if you have a hybrid and mostly female flowers, wait until male flowers appear; at that point, the females will open and with the help of bees, pollination will occur. Now, and finally, if males are present and the weather is warm and the female flowers are not opening, you can hand pollinate the females using a Q-tip—transfer pollen from the males to the female flowers. If you suspect the soil is nutrient deficient, side-dress the plants with a 5-10-10 fertilizer; extra phosphorus will help the blossoms.

  61. Some of my plants are doing great and others are not. The leaves are light green and mostly yellow. Some leaves have a little white in the middle. They are stunted and border lines dying. I need help I have no idea what it is.

    • Leaves that are light green and mostly yellow early in the season may be either sitting in soil that is too wet or soil that is too dry. Let the soil almost dry at the surface before watering again. Do not let the plants go dry, but don’t let them sit in soggy soil either. Two other possible reasons are (1) night temperatures are still cold; the white may be cold or frost burn; (2) too much nitrogen in the soil–this will burn the roots.

  62. Hi, I am a first time zucchini and cucumber Gardener and they are now almost 1 month old. I placed them in a larger planter yet forgot the planter did not have drainage. It rained 2 days in a row and was filled with water in the 3rd day. The result after pouring out the water were these whitish grayish worms in the planters. I fear they are the squash borer. So, I removed the soil, on the ground and allowed it to dry while treating it with Sevin dust. Then cut holes in the planter and refilled it with new soil, added fertilizer and sevin dust to the soil and top of replanted plants. 2 days later I have noticed a couple of my plants leaves turning fully yellow while the stems are still green. I have not watered the soil yet our Texas summers are hot at 103 degrees so the plants wilt in the day time. Now I have placed them in shade to help with the wilting. My concern is could the worms be in the new soul at the root causing the yellowing and if I should remove the stems causing the yellow leaves thus exposing the stems to possible pest or allow the plant to grow before doing so? Thank you.

    • The leaves are likely yellow as a result of the roots having been soaked. The season is young, you may want to replace the soil and re-sow seed in the pots that now have better drainage. Be sure to place small blocks under the pots so that water drains freely.

  63. First time gardener with a problem. I planted several young zucchini plants and a friend told me the leaves at the bottoms of the plants might be turning yellow because I spaced them too closely together. I decided to create more space in my garden for them and transplant some to the new area so they would have more room. It has been several days and some of the plants look very droopy. I’m worried that the soil might not be as good in the new area and the plants are in shock. Is there anything I can do to help them get over the shock of moving?

    • Transplants commonly suffer shock. Shield them from direct sunlight for several days, keep the soil just moist, feed the plants B1 plant vitamins. If you suspect they will not recover, create a new planting area and amend the soil with commercial organic planting mix before planting again.

  64. Having some trouble here my Zucchini leave are turning yellow then brown and crunchy. It’s only on 2 leaves or so but it seems to be spreading. I have squash planted beside it and they seem unfazed and healthy. What’s happening??

    • Young plants are susceptible to many environmental problems; soil too dry, temperatures too hot during the day or too chilly at night, too much nitrogen in the soil. Amend the soil in the problem spot with organic planting mix and replant.

  65. I have 4 zucchini plants that I grow in containers here in Canada. Earlier in the season, I had lots of healthy male flowers and am just starting to get some female flowers as well. The male flowers that my plants produce now have no pollen in them, just a little yellow (or sometimes black) stamen with no pollen on it. There is no chance that pollinators are getting the pollen really because there aren’t many bees where I live and I bring the plants inside at night. I know for sure that I am identifying the males and females correctly. Why isn’t there any pollen on my males?

    • Stress may cause the male flower to produce little or no pollen. High and low temperatures are stressors; too little or too much water and too much nitrogen can cause stress. Add a few more plants of the same variety to the garden; the new plants may help with pollination.

  66. Hi,

    My zuc leaves look like spikey and don’t open up. They are green but literally look like someone took a torch to them. I haven’t seen any bugs on the plant. Is this a virus or fungus?

    • Look carefully for spider mites. Second, if the weather is very hot, place shade cloth directly over the plants on a frame; leaves sometimes fold when they are trying to slow transpiration–loss of water. If they persist, remove the plants and plant in a new spot; it could be a viral infection.

  67. Hi Steve.
    This My first attempt at growing zucchini. I planted 2 Heirloom Black Beauty plants in April. My main problem is The largest/top leaves of the larger plant (gets 1 hr less direct sun per day than the smaller/no squash yet plant) look like they are being slowly eaten away and just the veins remain, Jut the crisp skeletons of the leaves. I cannot spot any bugs or egg clusters nor find pictures that match on any websites. What is happening and can I still save the plant? It does have 2-3 small Finger-sized squash beginning to grow….thank you!

    • There are a variety of insects that can skeletonize leaves. Since you cannot spot the insects, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the plants, and on the leaves. Diatomaceous earth acts as a desiccant when insects come in contact with it; you will have to reapply it when it gets wet.

  68. Is there a resource where I can send pictures of my zucchini plant and have someone tell me why its wilting? It doesnt fit these profiles specifically, I’ve done a lot of searching online.

    • Because of site security reasons, we do not accept photos. You can take photos into the nearby Cooperative Extension Service or a Master Gardener Office for help identifying the problem; you can also take the photo to a nearby garden center for help.

  69. I bought a 4 pack of Zucchini plants. The tag said they were Spineless Beauty. They have grown healthy from the start and still look healthy; however, the big yellow blooms produced yellow zucchini instead of green. Now I’m not sure what to do. The zucchini are long and straight as they should be and some have been on the vine to long and should have been picked, but I’ve been in a confused state because I don’t understand why everything is so healthy yet the plants are producing yellow zucchini rather than green. So, I don’t know if they are OK to pick and use or if something is completely wrong with them and I should pull them up. Except for a couple of leaves on one plant that look grayish and spotty all the rest are health and flourishing with big yellow blossoms still appearing to start new fruit. Please advise.

    • Grayish spots on the leaves could simply be powdery miles; a fungal disease that can be controlled with a fungicide. Zucchini is edible at any stage that it is large enough to eat; letting it grow large will increase the seediness and can result in a fibrous texture and leave it inedible. As for the plant not being what you expected, mass grown plants can be incorrectly tagged or tags can be mixed up at the garden center.

  70. I have two issues. One zucchini is suddenly growing fine root tendrils out of the middle of the vine, which I’m growing vertically. Does this mean it’s not getting enough of something? Plant is producing zucchini, but slowly. And two, if a groundhog eats the growing tip, despite leaving 4-5 leaves, and no new growth appears, it’s done right? Happened on two other plants. Thank you for any advice.

    • The tendrils are natural and expected. If you are concerned about the plant’s health feed it a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days; see the label for instructions. If the growing tip was removed, the stems will not continue to grow long, the plant may become grow compact and bushy.

  71. I rotate my crops. This year I have zucs in a large raised bed. They were growing well, are now full sized, then the leaves began to have a sort of whitish line all the way around. This quickly turns into spotty yellow blotches. On the underside, the leave is dry as a bone, but has an almost stippled texture with white tiny dots. Eventually, the leaves slowly turn from green, to yellow, to brown and crunchy and completely die. It was on only one leaf, now it’s slowly spreading to the entire plant.
    I am stumped: it’s how now, like 80s to 90s heat wise. No powdery mildew look to it (seen that before). So far, it’s only on my 3 zucs I planted in the middle, my plants on the side don’t have the issue.
    Ive never seen leaves, HUGE leaves, go yellow/brown and crunchy so quickly. They dry up and curl on the ends. Wish I could show you a photo.
    Been going back and forth on pulling them; if it’s a mineral deficiency or something I can treat that’d be great…but worried it might be a mosaic virus? Nothing looks exactly right via google. Wish I could show you a photo…
    NOTE: I had tomato spotted wilt virus on one of my tomato plants last year NEAR this bed. It doesn’t look the same as the leaves from the tomato, and the zucchini from the plant don’t look odd (though they’re young, I haven’t harvested yet)

    • If the plants are in the same bed as the virus-infected tomatoes, it is likely the virus has now struck your zucchini; viral diseases will live in the soil or 3 to 5 years and it is best to avoid planting in that bed for that period. Initially, plant viruses are spread by aphids, cucumber beetles, and other insects; it is spread as the pests move from one plant to the next to feed. It is best to pull and destroy the plants. Leaves that are mottled yellow and distorted are signs of mosaic virus.

  72. Hi – i’ve only tried growing zucchini a few times. I planted 1 cucumber and 1 zucchini plant this year. i had 2 volunteer zucchini plants pop up. They were growing huge and healthy, but they were right beside 2 tomato plants and would make it difficult to pick any upcoming tomatoes. i transplanted the 2 plants this pats Saturday. I wish I hadn’t. They look awful and are very droopy. (They were larger than the original zucchini plant) it’s super hot and humid right now (92 degrees; 90% humidity). when i give them extra water they perk up for a few hours and then droop again. i don’t want to give them too much water. i had not previously watered the area where i transplanted them since i had no plants there. the ground is probably pretty dry right there. i don’t know whether to leave them droopy; keep watering them; or not do anything. I know they are volunteer plants but i would hate for them to die. Thx !!

    • They are suffering from transplant shock; get a B-1 Transplant Vitamin at the garden center and give them a dose every 5 days until they perk up.

  73. Hello!

    I have a zucchini plant that is full grown, started producing squash (has one that is medium in size now that got pollinated), but this morning I went out and all of the rest of the still-closed female flowers (basically, all of the growing female flowers that haven’t yet opened for pollination, even the ones on the tiniest fruits) look burnt / brown (instead of green / yellow). Any idea what’s causing this? I’ve had blossom end rot problems before, and I treat with calcium for that, but this looks different…is this also blossom end rot, or something else? Any tips would be appreciated!

    • If there is insufficient pollination the female flowers will fail and dry up. If the weather is hot, be sure the soil is staying evenly moist and not drying out; feed the plants with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or a 5-10-10 fertiliser that includes calcium and magnesium — such as Lily Mille Mor Crop.

  74. I have grown zucchini for many years, and occasionally a zucchini will grow in such a way that one end is normal and the other end is shriveled/not properly developed. I never really thought much about it before, since I’ve always had plenty that grows normally. However, I heard recently that this phenomena is caused by a flower that is only partially pollinated. I noticed in your comments, this was mentioned a couple of times. Can you tell me what “partially pollinated” actually means and why it affects fruit in the way that it does?

    If you know of any articles that address this phenomena, I would love to get a link. (I’m just having a hard time believing it’s true because I’ve never heard of it before and am having trouble wrapping my mind around it. I am interested to know the science behind it, if it is indeed true.)

  75. My green griller zucchini are growing, look great until you harvest them and cut them open. They are either brown right in the middle or one was even mushy like they are rotting from the inside out or something. There are no holes or marks on them. In fact they appear perfect and I found no bugs inside. What could be wrong?

    • Watering may have been erratic–the soil when dry then wet–this would cause uneven growth of plant cells. Feed the plant with an all-purpose fertilizer that contains magnesium and calcium such as Lily Miller Mor-Crop 5-10-10. Pick off fruits when they are between 4 and 6 inches long; do not let them linger longer on the plant. Feeding and consistent watering should produce better fruits as the season continues.

  76. New container gardener here, I had a beautiful zucchini plant thriving in my container— then the llarger leaves began turning yellow and dying off and this has continued until now it looks like 4 small plants smaller than when I first transplanted it to the pot. It’s been hot here in Northern California. Also one of the plant’s leaves are looking less flat and broad and more like a taco. Cupped? I also had several zucchini grow beautifully and then all of a sudden the fruit stopped growing and the one squash left is small and just started yellowing then has turned brown starting at the distal end. Any suggestions?

    • The cupped leaves indicate the plant is unable to take up soil moisture; leaves fold to slow transpiration and conserve moisture. The fruit failing is also an indication soil moisture is lacking. It may be too late to save the plants. You can place a saucer under the pots and fill it with water; the soil will wick up the moisture it needs. Do this for 15 minutes. If the water is gone in 15 minutes, add some more until the soil has reached its capacity. A moisture meter is a good investment if you are going to be growing in containers.

  77. I have not had any Zucchinis fruit for 2/3 weeks, can I pull the plant out so I can plant something else in it’s place? The plant does not look healthy anymore, the roots are coming out to the top of the soil.

    • Yes. If the plant is failing or finished for the season, pull it out and start a new cool-season crop if you are expecting cool weather in the next 8 weeks.

  78. I watered diluted worm tea to my zucchini plant because it looked like it needed some fertilising. It has about three young zucchini on it and the roots are starting to come out of soil. In less than half a day, almost all the leave droop down to my horror. What do you think could have happened? Does worm wee burn plants?

    • Worm tea would commonly contain about 5 percent nitrogen. If the seedlings were very, very young that might burn the roots, but typically that is a low amount of nitrogen. The roots that were not covered by soil may have dried when exposed to the air; that might account for the seedlings’ failure.

  79. i have about 4 yellow squash plants that i am having issues with. the plants start growing the blossoms but end up turning brown and falling off before it even has a chance to bloom. this also happening to the blossoms that have a baby squash….none get a chance to open up and bloom..much less get a chance to get pollinated…is there a solution? thank you

    • Chilly night temperatures may be causing the blossoms to fail; when days and nights warm more of the blossoms will survive. Lack of water or too much water can also cause plants to abort blossoms–the plant wants to survive and so sacrifices the next generation. Lack of pollination will cause blossoms to dry and drop; attract pollinators to the garden or hand pollinate the flowers.

  80. Hi!
    I have been having good luck with getting fruits from my zucchini, but when I got back from a week vacation, I found a fruit that is huge, but still has a flower on the end. The flower is not wilted. Any ideas what is going on?

    • Zucchini flowers can persist for some time; at some point, the fruit will shed the flower. Female flowers will persist on a plant after females have been pollinated. Flowers at the end of fruits are female.

  81. The zucchini plants are big and robust, but no zucchini has showed up. What’s wrong? Is there something a can put on them to produce fruit?

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