Air circulation and light exposure are critical when growing zucchini, and the best way to meet these needs is to grow them vertically instead of horizontally. Let’s learn how to grow Zucchini Vertically!
Why Grow Zucchini Vertically?
- To save space: zucchini vines take up a lot of room in your vegetable garden and we don’t all have enough space to support a huge vining plant.
- To increase airflow: moisture on the leaves will cause powdery mildew to form, which is a common problem with zucchini.
- Harvesting: your fruits will be hanging in plain sight rather than lying hidden underneath the plant’s foliage.
- Light exposure: using a trellis allows the plants to gather more sunlight without being shadowed as much by shelterbelts or other garden vegetables. Plus, vegetables that grow better in shade will benefit from the shadow cast by your zucchini.
- Pollinating: putting the flowers up high makes it more likely that bees will find them.
- Direct-sow the seeds after your local frost date. Zucchini is a warm-weather crop and does not tolerate any frost. You may choose to wait even later until the soil warms up to increase the likelihood of germination.
- Starting seeds in pots is not recommended. Like pumpkins and cucumbers, zucchini does not transplant well. Only start in pots to protect your seedlings if you have a cucumber beetle problem, and only use peat pots to avoid disturbing the roots.
- Space your seeds 18 to 24 inches apart and your rows 3 feet apart.
- If your seeds are already planted and there is a frost warning, you can use row covers to protect them.
- Your seeds should germinate in about 1 to 2 weeks. They typically have an 80% germination rate.
Hanging the Vines
Can you grow zucchini on a trellis? Absolutely! Does zucchini need a trellis? Not necessarily – you can also use a tomato cage or a stake in the ground.
- Zucchini plants don’t have tendrils to grab onto a support with. If using a stake then tie the vine on with some twine or wire. Drill a screw into the stake so the knot doesn’t slip down. Continue tying the vine down every few inches to keep it growing in the right direction.
- Place the support into the ground before planting, since doing so after the roots have formed will damage the fragile root system.
- Your trellis or other support systems should be up to 6 feet tall, depending on the zucchini variety.
- You have to train the vines where to grow since they don’t grow vertically naturally. Place the stake or trellis about a foot away from the base of the plant and put the vine into place as it spreads out.
How to Grow Zucchini Vertically
- Water the ground in a 2-foot diameter around the stalk. Be careful not to water the leaves, since moisture on the leaves can easily cause mildew to form.
- Full sun is ideal since zucchinis are a summer squash variety.
- Fertilize the plants when blooms first start to show up.
- Male flowers will appear on the plant first. They need to transfer pollen to the female flowers which appear later. This transfer can be done either by bees or the gardener using a cotton swab. Remember that unpollinated female flowers will not produce fruit.
- You can use raised beds if your garden soil has a problem with diseases, as well as to make it easier to spot pests.
- As you harvest each fruit, remove the leaves from the bottom of the plant up to the fruit stem using a sharp knife – this will encourage the vine to continue growing upwards and try to get more sunlight.
- Harvest your zucchinis frequently to encourage more fruits to grow.
One zucchini plant will produce multiple fruits during the growing season.
- Harvest when your zucchini grows to about 6 to 8 inches long.
- Don’t break them off the plant! It’s better to make a clean cut using a knife.
- Zucchinis grow quickly and are ready for harvest in around 60 days after germination.
- Fruit that is left on the plant growing too long can lose its flavor and turn hard, making it inedible. Plus, the weight of a hanging fruit may damage the vines if it becomes too heavy. Zucchinis can drastically increase in size over the course of a day so keep an eye on them!
- Harvest all your zucchinis before the first fall frost, since any frost will severely damage the fruit.
Be sure to select a vining variety of zucchini, since some varieties have been bred to be bush-like to save space, and these aren’t ideal for climbing a trellis.
Varieties ideal for vertical growing include Dark Start, Zucchini Round, Zucchini Golden, Zucchini Cocozelle, and Black Beauty Zucchini.
- Cucumber Beetles: these beetles are yellow with either black stripes or spots. They like to eat plant seedlings as they come up and their larvae will feed on root systems. The adult bugs eat the leaves off the plant – keep an eye out for holes and leaf yellowing. They also carry bacterial infections that kill the plants.
- Squash Vine Borers: these are bugs that burrow into the stalks, which cause that part of the plant to rot. Remove these bugs by cutting into the stalk. You can then bury the cut portion into the soil so that roots will grow from it. Also, check around the base of the plant for eggs.
- Powdery Mildew: this fungus is easily caused by moisture on the leaves. If you find a white powdery coating on any leaves, remove them immediately and put them in the garbage, not the compost.
Give it a read
Can You Grow Zucchini in a Pot?
You certainly can! For people who have limited gardening space or no garden at all, you can grow zucchinis on your balcony or patio.
- Choose a pot at least 24 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep.
- Your pot should have at least one drainage hole in the bottom.
- Use lightweight, well-draining potting soil that contains helpful ingredients such as peat moss.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does zucchini grow on a vine?
Most zucchini varieties grow on vines, with the exception being varieties that have been bred to be bush-like so that they’re smaller and save space.
How tall do zucchini plants grow?
When growing horizontally along the ground, zucchini plants make it up to 2.5 to 3 feet tall. However, when grown vertically as a vine they can grow up to 6 feet tall!
When does zucchini grow?
Zucchini only grows during the warm season, which is longer or shorter depending on where you live. It does not tolerate frost and therefore can’t be grown between your local fall and spring frost dates.
Can you grow zucchini in a 5-gallon bucket?
Yes, a 5-gallon bucket is suitable for growing zucchini, as long as it has drainage holes drilled into the bottom.