How to Tell a Male From a Female Bud Plant


New gardeners often lament that their plants are blooming but failing to set fruit and worry that something is wrong with their plants. They are surprised to discover that many plants, like cucumbers, squash and pumpkin, produce both male and female blooms. Male blooms may appear a week or more before female blooms, attracting flying insects that carry pollen to the female blooms once they open. Those fallen blooms that fail to set fruit are performing as they were designed and do not pose a risk of delayed fruit.

Step 1

Examine the blooms to determine if they are male or female.

Step 2

Look at the base of the blossom to determine if the blossom appears on a short slender stem held away from the plant. These are male blooms and typically develop before female blooms appear.

Step 3

Check for the presence of a tiny swollen ovary that looks like a miniature fruit. This is the female bloom. When bees or flying insects carry pollen from the male bloom the flower is pollinated. The fruit begins to swell and the petals drop or shrivel.


  • Oregon State University Extension: garden Hints
  • Washington State University Extension: Why Blossoms of Some Vegetbles Fail to Set Fruit
Keywords: male blossoms, female blossoms, plant blossoms

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.