How to Pollinate a Zucchini Plant

Zucchini are one type of produce that depend heavily on pollinators in order to create fruit. If a female zucchini flower doesn’t get enough pollen from a male flower, it will dry up and fall off the vine.

This is because without the pollen, the seeds in that zucchini won’t be viable to create new plants–which is why the zucchini produce in the first place.

Pollination problems are common place for a number of reasons. Insect populations are in decline, and that includes bees and other pollinating insects as well. You may not have a bee garden to attract those that remain, or you may simply have had bad luck.

On top of needing over a dozen bees to visit the flower in order for it to get enough pollen, pollination needs to happen in a 4-5 hour window. That’s a very short time for bees to find the flowers and transfer the pollen.

Zucchini plants typically get around this by starting with a flush of male flowers before the female flowers open. This helps attract bees and other pollinators before that important window opens.

Although it’s likely that your zucchini will do just fine, you can help the process along (and insure a good harvest!) by pollinating the plants yourself. If you plan to save seed from your zucchini, pollinating a flower yourself and then banding it shut so no bees can visit will ensure pollen from other varieties don’t mix in.

Pollinating your flowers is actually pretty easy. Start by identifying your male:

A male zucchini flower, note the stamen in the center

And your female zucchini flower

A female zucchini flower, note the pistil in the center

If you’re not sure, the female is sitting on the zucchini fruit, there is no fruit under the male. It’s just a flower. If you see dead flowers around the zucchini plant, these are usually the males that are no longer viable for pollen, and is normal.

Stamen stripped of petals

Pick the male zucchini flower, and strip or fold the petals back so you just have the stamen. Rub the stamen all over the pistil.

Applying pollen

That’s all there is to it. The zucchini is now pollinated, and has a good chance of producing a good zucchini from this flower.

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