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How to Self-Pollinate Zucchini Flowers

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How to Self-Pollinate Zucchini Flowers

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Overview

Zucchini plants are a great addition to the home garden, and one plant can produce a large harvest. However, these plants take up a lot of space in a garden area, and it can be a disappointment if you have a poor harvest. It's useful to know how to self-pollinate your own zucchini plants when it doesn't seem like a lot of insects are around, in order to ensure your crop. Zucchini can cross-pollinate with other squash varieties, so hand-pollination is also crucial to producing a pure seed if you intend on saving your own seeds to grow next year.

Step 1

Identify the male and female flowers on your zucchini plants. The male flowers can be found on a thinner straight stem, with an anther in the center of the flower. The anther contains the pollen that will be used to pollinate the female flower. The female flowers are on the shorter stems and will have the ovary present, which will form into the zucchini.

Step 2

Select one male and one female flower that is close to opening if you plan to save your own seeds for next year. Use a piece of masking tape to gently secure the ends of each flower so that they do not open. Zucchini can cross pollinate with other squash varieties. This will ensure that the seeds you save remain true to the plant type.

Step 3

Begin to pollinate your zucchini in the early morning hours while the flowers are open. Remove the tape from your male flower and cut it from the stem. Gently remove the flower so that the anther in the center is exposed.

Step 4

Remove the tape from your female flower. Brush the anther over the stigma in the center of the female flower to release the pollen. Tape the female flower shut again to prevent any cross-pollination from happening. Tie the red ribbon loosely to the stem of the flower so that you can easily identify which zucchini you will be getting seeds from later. This plant will primarily work to provide seeds for your garden next year, and may not produce much zucchini otherwise. Use your other plants for this year's harvest.

Step 5

Remove a male flower from another zucchini plant, and remove the petals to reveal the stamen. Rub the stamen in the center of the female flowers to ensure that your plants pollinate and produce fruit. Strengthen the chance of the female flowers producing zucchini by pollinating each flower with several male flowers. Repeat for as many female flowers as you would like to hand-pollinate.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Red ribbon

References

  • Eco Yard Farming: Hand Pollination
  • Subsistence Pattern: Hand Pollination
  • University of Florida: Home Vegetable Gardening
Keywords: hand pollination, seed saving, self pollination

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.