The Q&A Archives: Squash not Forming

Question: I have yellow squash that grows an inch or so then the fruit dies, instead of maturing. What is my problem?

Answer: It sounds like your squash are not being pollinated. Pollination occurs when pollen is transfered from stamens to pistils in the flower.

Stamens contain the male reproductive parts of the flower. A stamen has a slender stalk called a filament, topped by an anther, which is often yellow. The anther contains pollen.

Pistils, in the center of the flower, is the female part of the flower. A pistil consists of an ovary at the base where seeds form and a stalklike tube called a style. The style has the stigma on top, which receives the pollen.

Most flowers contain both male and female parts. Some plants have male (without a small fruit behind the flower) and female flowers (with a small fruit behind the flower)., in particular the vining crops such as cukes, squash, and melons.

Pollination usually occurs naturally, e.g., wind, bees, etc., but gardeners can also pollinate by hand. Use a small artist?s paint brush or Q-tip and rub the pollen from the male onto the female. Unfortunately, bee populations are in severe decline, which can cause great hardship to crop production. You can also intermingle plantings of flowers among your vegetables to encourage bees and other pollinators. Good luck!

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