The Q&A Archives: I am having trouble with my Zucchini

Question: For the past two years I have been having trouble growing my zucchini. It starts out fine, has some flowers, then the flowers disappear and the plant starts to die off. I used to get great zucchini. We put eggshells around the plants to prevent squirrels from eating the plants. What can I do?

Answer: Lack of fruit set on squash is most likely due to lack of male or female blooms or lack of pollinator insect activity. When squash begins to bloom, it produces only male blossoms. There may be 3 to 4 male blossoms opening for several days to a week before the first female blossoms open. If you have both male and female blooms, the problem may be lack of pollination. Check to see if bees, the top pollinators for squash, are out there working the blooms. If not, you can take over the task by transferring pollen from the male blossoms (attached to the vine by a thin stalk) to the female blossoms (they have a miniature squash behind the bloom) with a Q-tip or an artist's paintbrush. This must be done daily for best results. If the plants are dying, look for insect activity at the base of the plant and the undersides of the vines. Squash vine borers can cause entire vines to wilt and die off. You'll see what looks like sawdust beneath the vines if borers are present. Hope this information helps you determine just what the problem might be.

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