How to Prune Summer Squash


Summer squash is a genus of prolific fruiting plants that grow in bush form and bloom in the late spring and summer, producing fruit for harvest in the summer and early fall. Summer squash are fast growing plants typically require some in season pruning in addition to harvest. The fading plant tops can be pruned away in the late fall or early winter after the first frost according to your local climate.

Step 1

Harvest summer squash by cutting of the ripe fruit with clean sharp secateurs throughout the growing season, never pulling or breaking them off of the plant. Harvest long form summer squash when they reach one to two inches in diameter. Cut off round summer squash when they are an inch in diameter but no larger than 4 inches in diameter.

Step 2

Remove any damaged vines, canes or foliage as you see it throughout the growing season. Cut back any diseased plant parts back to healthy flesh and determine if treatment is required.

Step 3

Prune away all summer squash that grows too large before harvest and has thickened skin. Prevent the squash from maturing and developing seed while on the plant, as they will sap the energy from new tender production. Cut off all unharvested squash and compost them throughout the growing season. Be vigilant in harvesting and pruning away older squash, visiting the patch every 2 to 3 days.

Step 4

Cut away the dead squash plant's top foliage in the late fall or winter after the first hard frost has hit. Shear down to the soil and compost the clippings and any remaining squash fruit on the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Secateurs


  • University of Illinois
  • Alabana A&M and Auburn University
Keywords: summer squash, garden fruits vegetables, when to prune cut back trim

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.