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University of Minnesota Extension

Growing summer squash and zucchini in home gardens

A quick guide to summer squash and zucchini

  • Some varieties form long, rambling vines.
  • Bush types fit more easily into a small garden.
  • Sow seed directly in the garden after the soil has warmed, in late May to early June.
  • Plastic mulch and row covers allow earlier planting.

Warm weather vine crops 

Green zucchini growing on plant

Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), including zucchini, crookneck, straightneck, patty pan and other similar types, is common in Minnesota vegetable gardens. You can eat squash fruits cooked, raw, and shredded or grated in baked goods. Squash flowers are edible, as well.

Like other “vine crops,” summer squash plants grow best and produce the most fruit in warm weather. Some varieties form long vines. Others are bush types that fit more easily into a small garden.

Squash plants have separate male and female flowers. A slender stem attaches male flowers to the plant. Female flowers grow close to the main vine. Between the flower and the vine is a small round ovary, the unfertilized fruit.

An insect must move the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. Bees are common squash pollinators.

Soil pH and fertility




How to keep your summer squash and zucchini healthy and productive


Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect summer squash and zucchini crowns, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis. 

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems. Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.

Even though you may see damage to some plants doesn’t mean all hope is lost. One plant can produce a lot of fruit, so your garden should be able to tolerate a little disease or insect feeding.


Authors: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator, Vincent A. Fritz and Carl J. Rosen

Reviewed in 2023

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