Zucchini flowers falling off

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Spotted Crow, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Spotted Crow

    Spotted Crow Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    The flowers on my zucchini are falling off. I don't have any fruit yet. Is there something that I need to do?
     
  2. dlangland

    dlangland dlangland

    Messages:
    827
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    Location:
    NW Iowa
    Do you live in town or the country, I would ask. I worked for several yrs as a professional gardener for rich bankers...and I did farmer's marketing for yrs. I would often get asked that even at the markets. In the city I am about to be leaving, that is a common problem. The city sprays the alleys regularily for mosquitos, and even thought the mosquitos seem to be growing larger and more immune to the poison, it kills the pollinators. People would often complain of the same thing. Part of why I left our last acreage...crop dusters to the north. People don't realize it an happen even if they live in the country. Just something to think about. Yes, i admit to being anti-chemical...Heat, drought. That could do it, too.
     

  3. LaDonna

    LaDonna Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
    Don't worry the male flowers will follow and produce the fruit.Early zucchini are produced from unpollinated female flowers. Most hybrid zucchini have all female blossoms when they first flower. Pick some of the first tender young ones as soon as they form. This will encourage male flowers to develop and will pollinate the female blossoms. Let later developing zucchini grow, and your crop's total production will increase.
     
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    This is certainly a mixed up thread!

    LaDonna, I don't where you came up with such a reply but zero zucchini will ever be produced from un-pollinated flowers. If so, one would have the only known seedless zucchini! Also, I have yet to ever come across a variety of zucchini which produces female flowers before male flowers, hybrids or otherwise. I am involved in a rather large community garden complex. Right now, one of the many questions asked is when there will be fruit on zukes and cukes despite so many blossoms. In every case, it's due to all of the early blossoms being male.

    Spotted Crow, you didn't elaborate as to if those falling flowers were males or females. I'm betting that they were all males or you would have been asking why the small fruit was falling off. Female blossoms form on the end of a tiny fruit. If pollinated, seeds develop and the fruit grows to store those seeds. If not, the fruit is aborted by the plant.

    Martin
     
  5. LaDonna

    LaDonna Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
  6. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    LaDonna, that site is one more example of tons of misinformation that's out there in the Internet. It happens when someone writes the material based on having remembered only half of what someone else told them rather than actual knowledge or experience. I'll challenge you to find the name of some Cucurbita pepo varieties which produce a number of female flowers before male flowers. 5 will be enough. Tell us the variety which you are growing, or have grown, which does that. If so, for starters, I can tell you where to find a list of 107 which don't! There indeed is fruit formed before pollination and that is the case in every squash and cucumber family plus most fruiting trees. If not pollinated, they simply rot and fall off. In the animal kingdom, those would be simple wombs. They serve no natural purpose when empty.

    Challenge these folks:

    http://www.seedsavers.org

    Then make that claim here:

    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/#title

    Martin
     
  7. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    West River SD
    I'm not any kind of an expert that's for sure, but I've grown a lot of vegetables. I have to agree with Paquebot. Male flowers come first and then the female. Look and see if there is tiny fruit or not.
     
  8. luvrulz

    luvrulz Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,232
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Boy oh boy, Spotted Crow, seems like that was the start of something, eh?

    Where are you and did you spray anything? That might have some bearing and is there anything else in your garden that's struggling...? I have plenty of zucchini and would be happy to share! :eek:
     
  9. Spotted Crow

    Spotted Crow Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I don't spray because of my hens. How can you tell female and male flowers? I'm a newbie at having my own veggie garden... :(
     
  10. Ardie/WI

    Ardie/WI Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,516
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    First, I have to agree with Paquebot on this one.

    Also, I'm wondering if the blossoms might be dropping cause of drought- just a thought.
     
  11. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    West River SD
    Male and female flowers are easiest to see in plants that bear large fruit/vegetables. At the bottom of the blossom of a female is a tiny vegetable or fruit. If it is male there is nothing there. Male squash blossoms are usually (in my garden at least :p ) on much straighter and taller stems. The females hug closer to the vine.

    Okay, a little simple birds and bees ;) This isn't scientific but my observations. Plants like the squash produce a lot of male blossoms first to attract the bees and other pollinating insects and also so there is more male pollen to insure the females get "pregant". If those little insects fail to place some male pollen in the female blossom you get an unfertilized "egg". Those eggs may grow a little but then rot and fall off the vine. It's called " failure to set fruit".It's very frustrating but happens in adverse weather conditions (i.e. too cold for the bees) or a lack of insects (spraying).

    Feel free to correct me anyone - always willing to learn.
     
  12. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    From a technical aspect, the staminate flowers are produced at least 2 days prior to pistillate flowers. That is virtually without exception throughout the cucurbit species. There is a very good reason why there are an abundance of staminate flowers as their effective life is not even a full day. They will open early in the morning and most are dead by noon of the same day.

    There is one many factors which may extend that 2 day period to as much as a week or more. The primary one is heat. The secondary one is soil moisture. In our local situation, the problem was due to excessive heat. Several cooler days triggered every single cucurbit into massive female flower production.

    Combining the facts in those two paragraphs, the time and method of watering is also a factor. If the plants are watered from overhead, even as in a nice early-morning shower, that may prevent all further pollination for that day. Everything gets washed off of the short-lived male flowers. Replacement flowers do not open then until the following morning. If watering can only be done in the early morning hours, it should be done by irrigating only the soil rather than the plants.

    For all you wish to know about all squash, the site below covers just about everything possible that I can think of. It may not be American but is widely accepted as an information source for worldwide seed savers. And I'll have some of their seeds in October when a gardening friend returns home!

    http://www.kokopelli-seed-foundation.com/squashes.html

    Martin
     
  13. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    West River SD
    Martin

    Oh okay, did I read this right? My problem is I have to water from overhead. My house water is too alkaline and I can't use it on the garden so no soaker hose. I'm dependant on rain water collected barrels and I hand water. So maybe my poor setting of fruit is caused by me watering from above and washing the pollen off? I do almost all my watering at night. Does that help? Does the pollen factor also apply to things like beans or are the blossoms longer lived for a better chance after I water?

    I'm going to water at least the squash now with the houseplant waterer with a spout and avoid the blossoms. Thanks for the imformation :bow:
     
  14. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    Barb, night watering of squash would only be a problem if the force of the water was such that the female flowers were damaged in some manner. It's highly unlikely but such a statement must be made in the interest of accuracy since almost anything IS possible! At home, I also rely first on my rain barrels and then from a goldfish pond where the water is replaced by a slow but effective sump pump set down into a shallow well. The only time any of my vegetable plant leaves become wet is either from rain or dew! The water only goes where it is needed most, to the roots.

    Most bean blossoms are an entirely different story. They are nearly perfect in that they do not have to be pollinated by insects or whatever. However, they are not so perfect as to prevent outside factors such as bees and beetles from getting in. With a total of 10 different regular bean varieties between two garden sites, I've maintained a minimum 10 feet between them for reasonable purity. However, I will only grow one lima variety per year due to their free-wheeling sexual life! Nor will I ever grow scarlet runners for the same reason.

    Martin
     
  15. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    West River SD
    Martin, now I have to know how you are watering from rain barrels so the water only gets to the roots. Until I moved here I either had enough rain or I used the soaker hoses. Here I"m now going into the 5th year of drought. I'm at the point I have to decide what to try and save and what to let go. My barrels are now only 1/4 full. I've been using a large sprinkling can for things like the squash so I don't get much run off. Tomatoes were planted on their side so I can avoid the plant itself. Everything is straw in. How are you doing it?
     
  16. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    Barb, although we've wandered a bit from the original topic, how something is watered does apply in this case! At home, all watering is done with a 5-gallon pail or regular watering can. Depending upon what is being watered, the watering can is used with or without the rose. (Examples: Without the rose when watering narrow rows of something, with the rose when I was soaking down the 65 shallots which I planted Sunday.) With large plants such as tomatoes, the pail is used and I figure just under 2 gallons per plant when I water. Squash also gets about 2 gallons dumped only where the vines come out of the ground.

    In the community gardens, a water hose is used but no nozzle or sprinkler. The flow of water is directed only at the base of the plants. With block plantings, the flow is horizontal at just above ground level. An example there is a 4x18 block of Belizean red beans, 140 plants. They are very happy and the leaves have only been rained on twice. Besides, the foliage is sprayed with garlic hot sauce to keep deer away and I don't want to wash it off!

    Also, all watering is on a 4 or 5 day schedule for me. Thus the "drinks" are heavy in almost all cases. If I am hoeing and find moisture just over an inch below the surface, no additional water is needed. If the moisture doesn't start until two inches down, then water is needed.

    Martin
     
  17. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    West River SD
    I guess I did hock the thread didn't I :rolleyes: Well, we do it about the same except I need to take the end (rose - never knew the name for it) off the watering can if it will come off. I also water the tomatoes with the bucket going down the rows twice so it sinks in and doesn't run off. My barrels are quite a distance so I water a few things heavy every night. My squash are bush so it is harder to water just the roots but I will try watering with the end off so I don't get the leaves so much. I used to try and make a ridge around the plants to hold in water but the wind here just blew it away. It's been extremely hot and windy here for a couple of weeks now with no rain in sight. It's 103 right now and still rising. My corn is curled and dying but I don't have enough water to save it. Rural water is coming and is past my place now and I have the pipe in the yard sticking above ground but we are not hooked. They turned it on yesterday to flush the line a little and I looked out and saw this unexpected good water spilling all over the lawn. I charged outside with buckets but he shut it off before I could get much. He thought I was funny but I was near tears to see the water wasted and I need it so bad. It's been a rough 4 years here and even when we get the line hooked I won't be using it to water the garden much - too expensive. I'll still be hauling it. :mad: Anyway I thought maybe you have some fancy system I could dream about. Sigh, it builds muscles I guess. Thanks!!
     
  18. Spotted Crow

    Spotted Crow Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    According to what you've all told me, I have gay plants lol
    I have 3 female flowers and about 30 male flowers...
    Should I try pollinating the females myself? Hubby's waiting impatiently for fried zucchini.
     
  19. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    Spotted Crow, you may indeed pollinate the female blossoms is you think that there is a chance that no insects will do the job. Be merciless in your actions. Remove 3 male blossoms entirely. Peal away the petals until only the center portion remains. Place each inside one of the female blossoms and close their petals back, leaving the male flowers inside. Squeeze the petals closed enough to slightly damage them. The damage should be sufficient to not allow them to open again. 100% guaranteed to work!

    Also, this method guarantees pure seed if one can undertake that process before the female blossom has a chance to open.

    Martin
     
  20. Spotted Crow

    Spotted Crow Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Oh boy my garden's going to have more sex than me!! :rolleyes: thank you, Martin.