How to Prune Summer Squash

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Because summer squash is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, it is a good choice for beginning gardeners. Summer squash varieties include zucchini, yellow squash and pattypans. Squash plants are prolific and grow well with basic care. Pruning is not essential for summer squash but can be done to control the size of the plants and to encourage them to bear more and larger fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or sharp knife

Prune for Health and Size

  • Remove dead or diseased leaves by cutting the base of the stem with a sharp knife or pruning shears. This will help to keep the rest of the plant healthy.

  • Pinch off new growth at the ends of the vine to encourage the plant to focus its energy on growing fruit. Summer squash blossoms bloom at the center of the plant, so do not prune new growth there.

  • Prune back as much as one third of the vine at a time to control the overall spread of the plant and promote larger fruit.

Prune to Increase Fruit Production

  • Identify male and female blossoms. Male blossoms have a thin, straight stem below the bud. Female blossoms have a bulge in the stem below the bud. This bulge will grow into a squash if the female blossom is pollinated. Only female blossoms produce fruit.

  • Pick some of the male blossoms. Summer squash plants typically produce more male blossoms than female blossoms. Removing some of them will encourage the plant to produce more female blossoms and thus more fruit.

  • Save the male blossoms and eat them. Squash blossoms are considered a delicacy and can be eaten raw or cooked. Remove the stamen before eating. See the resource section below for recipes.

  • Leave a few male blossoms on the plant at all times to ensure that female blossoms become pollinated.

References

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