The Q&A Archives: Growing Vegtables in containers

Question: I am growing zucchini in a large glaced terra cota pot. Doing well, except, The zucchini are rotting after only getting about 3 to 4 inches long. The cucumber plant is flowering. The flowers are drying up and not producing. Help... to much water, not enough ???? Thank you for your help. Helen St.Clair

Answer: It may be a combination of excessive water and lack of pollination. Is the zucchini rotting from the blossom ends? When young fruit on healthy plants begin to rot from the blossom end, they are usually not getting pollinated properly. This can be due to a lack of bees in the area, or a result of adverse weather conditions that may be keeping the bees away. To get a successful zucchini crop, you may have to pollinate the fruit yourself. Pull off the male flower and pull the petals back to expose the pollen-laden stamen. Then carefully rub the male flower on the center stigma of the female flower making sure that the pollen makes good contact. The female flowers have a distinct enlargement directly behind their petals (this is actually the immature zucchini), while the male flowers are often smaller and attached to the vine by just a long, slender stem. Another method is to use a cotton swab to transfer the pollen between flowers. This way is more efficient because you can pollinate up to three female flowers with the pollen from one male. If the rot is starting on the underside of the fruit where it's coming into contact with wet soil or the rim of the pot, raise the zucchini off the ground with a sling made from pantyhose or prop them up in some way.

Hope this helps!

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