You have worked hard and nurtured your little squash plants. Mother Nature herself could not have done a better job. One morning, you check on your precious plants and find some big beautiful squash blossoms! Horray! You start planning your menu for when your prized squash will be ready for harvest.
The next day, you go outside to discover the flowers have shriveled and gone all sticky. Egads! Some squash blossoms fell off the plant! What the heck? This spells disaster for your carefully planned menu and you begin to wonder where you failed your little plants.
Never fear. This is completely normal for all squash plants, container garden or in the ground. Those big showy blossoms are indeed short lived and don’t have long for pollinators to find them. But there’s more to the story.
You see, Mother Nature is clever. She puts both male and female flowers on the same plant. Only the female flowers will become squash. These little gems tend to emerge a bit later than the males and are usually closer to the center of the plant. Why? Because as the squash develops, there are more leaves in the canopy to shield it from sunburn and other dangers. Male flowers tend to be greater in number and often more on the outside of the plant. This makes the plant irresistible to pollinators. When our little friends buzz from male to female, they pollinate and a squash is born.
Male flowers have some quirks. One, they are disposable. Meaning once they have bloomed and attracted bees, they aren’t needed and fall off to make room for others. So the squash blossoms falling off of your plant are completely normal. They are just males that are no longer needed. Others have likely bloomed in their place with fresh pollen. Two, they are delicious. Yes, you can eat them. Pull a few off and fry them or stuff them.
But, wait, how do you know the difference between male and female squash blossoms? You don’t want to harvest one that has potential to be a veggie (fruit really. A berry to be specific.).
Let’s talk anatomy. On the left is a male squash flower. It has a long stalk and is thin and straight all the way to the flower base. On the right is a female squash flower. It is closer to the center of the plant, doesn’t have the long stalk, but more importantly, it has a bulge at the base of the flower. Once pollinated, this bulge is what becomes the squash. Like males, the females will only bloom for a day and then close up, but they will hang on as the baby squash develops while the males drop off.
So, your squash blossoms dropping off the plant is sad, but normal. Don’t worry, a healthy plant will produce lots of blossoms to enjoy through the season.
Squash varieties, including zucchini, are easy to grow and usually prolific producers of fruit. The large showy blooms are an added bonus.
So, rest easy and know that Mother Nature has this well in hand.
Are there other container garden questions you have had as you start out with your garden? Post them in the comments!
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Much love and light!