The Q&A Archives: Thinning Squash Leaves

Question: We have planted squash for the first time and we were wondering if we should thin out the leaves. We feel that it might help the plants if we do this so they can receive more sun and help the squash grow a little bit bigger. Should we thin or leave well enough alone and let nature take its course so to speak?

Answer: Leaves manufacture food for plant roots, so removing leaves will reduce the plant's ability to convert sunlight to carbohydrates, thereby reducing the amount of energy transported to the roots of the plants. If you cut or break leaves off the stems you'll leave a wound, which may invite insect or disease problems. I'd leave well enough alone. The fewer the fruits on the plants, the larger those fruits can become. To direct the plant's energy into maturing just a few fruits, pinch the tips of the stems out as soon as the vine begins to develop 2 or 3 fruits. Since squash is mostly water, be sure to provide adequate water during development of the fruits.

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