The Q&A Archives: Zucchini In Containers

Question: Dear Burpee:
I transplanted zucchini seedlings outdoors into containers 2 weeks ago. My terrace has an unencimbered eastern exposure and gets direct sunlight for 12 hours each day and as a result the plants are growing quite quickly. A few questions:

1. How will I know they have been pollinated and are growing properly?
2. Can I pollinate them manually?
3. As the fruit grow, should I string the vines along string net or place something under each fruit?
4. Should I run the vines above or below the container?
5. What fertilizer should I use and how often should I fertilize?
6. How often and what time of day should I water the plants?

Thank you,
Larry Maglione

Answer: To some extent the answers to your questions will depend on what type of zucchini you are growing, but in general the plants will need more water as they get larger and use more of it out of the soil. Try to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy wet. You may have to water twice a day by the end of the summer when the weather is hot and the plants are large in comparison to the size of the containers. Water early in the morning if possible. Fertilize regularly with a complete water soluble fertilizer according to the label instructions; you might also use some compost as a top dressing. Most zucchinis are less of a vine and more of a bush type plant, albeit a rather long stemmed one. The zukes will form at the base of the plant and should be picked very often to keep the plant producing. They usually taste best at a relatively small size, too. Pollination is usually accomplished by insects, but you can use a soft paintbrush, for example, to do this. The plant will first produce a number of male flowers to assure a good supply of pollen and then begin producing female flowers. If you look at the base of the flower you will see a rounded beginning of a fruit on the female blossoms. To know if your plants are on schedule, check the number of days listed on the packet; this will be the number of days to harvest from setting the plants into the containers. It is an approximation, but it will give you a rough idea of what to expect.

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