Zucchini is one of the easier vegetables for the home gardener to grow. The plants can grow in almost any soil with proper drainage. While zucchini is easy to grow, it does take maintenance to get the most out of your plants. Pruning your zucchini plant is an easy task if you know what to do and when to do it.
Wait for the plant to set fruit. Look for your zucchini plant to have five or six actual zucchinis on it before pruning. This shows that the plant has reached maturity and can sustain itself without help. Keep an eye out for browning at this stage, as this may warrant pruning leaves early.
Nip tips off with garden scissors to conserve energy for growing fruit. Look for multiple tips or new growth along the stems near each other, and nip off any new tips near growing fruit. This will allow the zucchini you already have to grow larger and faster because the plant will have fewer directions to send nutrients and resources.
Trim the large leaves from the plant as they become too large for sun to reach the growing zucchini. Don't cut all the leaves--just the ones that have become too large to be of use. Watch the plant and prune away old growth for the duration of the growing season.
Pick zucchini as it matures to redirect the plant energy to newer growth. Grab the end of the fruit and twist until it snaps off the vine. As you prune your plants, you will notice more tips growing farther up the vine. Continue pruning tips which lie close together to allow new fruit to set faster. When the zucchini ripens, picking the mature fruit which will allow new fruit to set all along the vine.
Avoid cutting the stems. Like cucumbers and peas, zucchini produce multiple root stems which will produce their own fruit. Keep as many of the stems as possible to gain the most production. Direct the stems from each plant along the same general path by placing them along side each other as they grow so that pruning one plant takes less movement and is more organized. This also helps keep any potential mildew or disease from spreading should it occur.