Caring for, planting and harvesting zucchini

Zucchini belong to the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae). They were created by breeding from the garden pumpkin. The fruit vegetable has corresponding demands on the soil, the temperature and the water supply. In a sunny location and with good care, one or two plants are sufficient to be able to harvest young fruit throughout the summer. If planted in mid-May, depending on the climatic conditions, the first fruits can be harvested from the end of June. Zucchini fruits, which are elongated and green, are particularly well known. Breeding has resulted in a large number of zucchini varieties in recent years. In addition to the green variants, there are also bright yellow ones. In addition to fruit shape and colour, properties such as tolerance to powdery mildew and viral diseases are important aspects when selecting zucchini varieties.

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Things to know about zucchini

Botanical name: Cucurbita pepo var. giromontiina
Other names: vegetable squash, garden squash, small squash, courgettes
Use: fruit for roasting, cooking, for soups, stews, cakes, flowers for deep-frying, for fillings
Origin: Europe
Growing season: May to October
Fruit colors: dark green, light green, yellow, green striped
Harvest: July to October
Special features:In addition to varieties with cucumber-like, elongated fruits, there are round-fruited varieties with a good taste. Regular harvesting is important, too large fruits can be bitter. Zucchini are monoecious, meaning male and female reproductive organs are in separate flowers but on one plant.

In which location does the zucchini plant feel most comfortable?

A sunny, warm and wind-protected place on the bed in the garden is ideal for the zucchini plant. As with pumpkins, you can achieve the best yield in loose, fresh, moist soil with a high proportion of humus. Even without a garden, you can grow the vegetables on the balcony and terrace. The warmth-loving plants grow best in raised beds or tubs. In climatically unfavorable regions, cultivation in a polytunnel or greenhouse is recommended. Make sure you use the right type of zucchini.
Our gardening tip: On light soils, you should spread well-rotted compost before planting or work with sufficient potting soil. A pH of 6.5 to 7.5 is ideal. Waterlogging will not be tolerated. On sandy soil, the zucchini plant bears little fruit.

How is zucchini grown?

In addition to buying young plants, growing them yourself is an option for culture in your own garden. Direct sowing in the bed takes place from the end of April or the beginning of May, depending on the region. Since the seedlings are sensitive to frost, sowing earlier is risky and you should have fleece ready to protect. Pre — cultivation indoors is possible from mid-April. Sow the seed in well-drained soil and cover only lightly with soil. After 7 to 14 days the zucchini seeds will have germinated and the young plants can be planted in larger pots after another 7 to 10 days. Through this so-called pricking out, the young plants develop into strong plants. Outdoor cultivation, as with many other plants, should firsttake place after the ice saints.

Know -it-all: Seed 2.5 cm deep and plant 80 to 100 cm apart. Each copy requires around 1 to 1.5 m² of space.

How do I plant my zucchini in the garden?

Zucchini love warmth and can be planted directly outdoors from the end of May. Earlier planting is possible, but should be done in a greenhouse or protected with a polytunnel until mid-May. At constant temperatures below 10 °C, growth stops. The optimal temperature for growth is between 18 and 24 °C. The presence of nutrients is important for growth and fruit set. Therefore, a dose of organic garden fertilizer is recommended at the start. In addition, the humus content of the soil can be improved with tomato and vegetable soil.

planting steps

  • Water the zucchini plants thoroughly.
  • Dig a planting hole 20 cm deep and 20 cm in diameter.
  • Repot the young plant and place it in the prepared planting hole.
  • Put high-quality potting soil between the root ball and the planting hole.
  • Press the earth firmly.
  • Finally, pour in order to achieve the so-called ground contact.
  • To protect against evaporation, you can cover the soil around the vegetable plant with a layer of mulch.

Care tip: To protect against night frosts, the use of foil hoods is recommended for early planting outdoors. It is important that you remove these protective covers again in the morning to avoid the formation of condensation. Note that a zucchini plant needs sufficient space.

How do I properly care for my zucchini?

Zucchini is easy to grow in the garden and often more fruit is produced than can be used. After careful planting, only warmth and even soil moisture are important. In cold years, like pumpkin or eggplant, it is difficult to harvest fruit. If the temperatures are right, the pumpkin plants grow into stately specimens and the large leaves evaporate a lot of water. Regular watering is therefore essential. In contrast to tomato cultivation, no further care steps are necessary for the zucchini plant. With optimal conditions, high yields are possible. As soon as the fruits are 12 to 15 cm long, they should be harvested. Then the pulp is tender and the plant quickly forms new flowers. If zucchini are left on the stick for too long, they can grow up to 40 cm long. These XXL specimens are fibrous and sometimes bitter.

Zucchini blossoms are ideal for stuffing or deep-frying. Harvesting is particularly useful when there are a large number of flowers. However, if you want to harvest new fruit, it is important that there is enough pollen for fertilization and that you only harvest a few flowers.

Tip for zucchini harvest: use a sharp knife to harvest or turn the fruit off with a jerk.

How do I water my zucchini properly?

When cultivating zucchini, ensure an even water supply. Sufficient water is needed, especially in hot phases and when growth is good. In the event of water stress, the zucchini plant may not flower and/or fruit. Basically, it is better to water sufficiently every 2 days than small amounts every day. How often you have to water depends largely on the soil conditions, rainfall and temperature. However, waterlogging should be avoided because the plants react to this with root damage. Water in the morning if possible and make sure that the water comes directly to the root area. Avoid getting the leaves wet, because excessive heat can damage the zucchini plant. Watering in the evening hours can lead to powdery mildew.

How do I fertilize my zucchini plant properly?

Like other cucurbits, Cucurbita pepo are heavy feeders, i. h, fruit set is only good if there is a sufficient supply of nutrients. Zucchini need fertilizer for flowering and fruit set. It is optimal if you supply the vegetables with organic fertilizer directly when planting. This works slowly and sustainably. Possible fertilizers are tomato and vegetable fertilizers or organic natural fertilizers. Some zucchini plants have blossomed, but no fruit is formed. Again, this can be a lack of nutrients.

How do I plant zucchini in a bucket?

Zucchini plants are ideal for cultivation in pots and can therefore be left on balconies and terraces from May to October. The walls of the houses store the heat rays of the sun and it is warmer here at night, which helps to get a good harvest. Use the largest possible containers with good quality soil. In order to avoid stagnant moisture, a drainage hole in the bucket is essential. With a drainage layer, you improve water drainage significantly.

Gardener’s tip : make sure that the container for zucchini has a volume of at least 15 liters.

What types of zucchini are there?

round, yellow fruit

Varieties with elongated, dark green fruits and yellow flowers have been cultivated for decades. All varieties have male flowers and female flowers on one plant. Both sexes are necessary for fertilization. If only male flowers are formed, there may be no fruit, because fruit only forms on the stems with female flowers.

In addition to the dark green courgettes, there are varieties with yellow fruits. These can be found more and more often in the home garden. They are identical in care to the other varieties. The difference is only in the color, they are identical in taste and in the possibilities of use in the kitchen. The spherical fruit is popular for stuffing. They are visually appealing and taste delicious. As a special feature, there are white zucchini of the ‘Custard White’ variety. This particular squash develops flat, plate-shaped fruits with tender flesh.

What pests and diseases can occur when growing zucchini?

With the right site conditions and optimal care, the vegetable plants are robust and easy to care for. Malnourished or weakened plants are susceptible to diseases and pests. Mixed cultures reduce pest infestation. Savory, sage, thyme, garlic or lavender help to prevent unwanted pests with their smell.


Young plants are a treat for snails. Once large leaves have formed, snails are no longer a problem. It is therefore important to pay particular attention to snail damage at the beginning of the culture and to protect the seedlings with mulch and other materials.


Aphids often attack shoot tips and flowers. Once you’ve identified the aphid infestation, it ‘s a good idea to shower the plants with a jet of water. Strengthen the plants with organic active agents and ensure optimal site conditions. These measures often help to prevent the aphids from spreading further.

powdery mildew

Especially after a long period of drought, powdery mildew can attack in late summer. The surface of the leaves and stems are covered with white flour-like spots. Remove the affected parts of the plant, improve the conditions and use Organic Plant Treatment to strengthen. With a bit of luck, the fungal disease can be stopped. Susceptibility is highly dependent on the variety.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about zucchini

left: male flower, right: female flower Why are there flowers but no fruit?

Especially in cold phases, there may be more male flowers or fertilization may not work well. When wet, the pollen sticks together and does not reach the female flower. You can help with a brush to bring the pollen from the male to the female flower. Furthermore, a mixed culture with insect-friendly plants is a measure to settle the pollinating insects.

Why are there bitter zucchini?

The bitter taste is due to deposited cucurbitacins. These bitter substances are also produced by pumpkin and cucumber and serve as protection against predators. Especially after stressful situations, the content of cucurbitacins is higher. Destroy the fruits, they are not suitable for consumption. Especially when harvesting seeds, this problem can occur in the following year. Cultivars (F1 hybrids) are rarely affected.

Mixed culture — what are good neighbors?

Onions, peas, beans or chard are good partners for annual plants. Tomatoes, potatoes or cucumbers in the immediate vicinity are less suitable.

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