How to Plant Butternut Squash


Butternut squash has a mildly sweet flesh eaten on its own or when it's used as a replacement for pumpkin in pies and other recipes. Butternut squash often is roasted and served as a side dish or pureed into a soup that is eaten warm or cold. Butternut squash is one of the easiest of the winter squashes, making it suitable for novice gardeners or those wanting a low maintenance garden. Starting the seeds indoors in late spring ensures that the plants have enough time to reach maturity before fall frost.

Step 1

Fill peat pots with potting mix. Plant one seed per pot to a 1-inch depth. Firm the soil lightly over the seed and water until the excess moisture begins dripping from the bottom of the pot.

Step 2

Place the pots in a warm room for the butternut squash to germinate, which takes approximately one week. Keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times.

Step 3

Move the pots to a sunny window once the seeds sprout. Continue to water as needed.

Step 4

Prepare a full-sun garden bed for planting once soil temperatures are above 60 degrees F. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to a 10-inch depth to add soil nutrition and to ensure that the bed drains well.

Step 5

Tear the top rim off of each peat pot before planting. Dig the planting hole ½-inch deeper than the peat pot, then set the pot inside so the rim is just beneath the soil surface. Refill the hole with soil and firm it around the squash with your hands. Space butternut squash 2 feet apart in rows that are spaced 3 feet apart.

Step 6

Water with a starter fertilizer immediately after planting, following fertilizer label instructions for application. Water the squash once a week, providing about 2 inches of water at a single irrigation.

Step 7

Fertilize butternut squash a second time when they begin forming fruit. Apply ½ cup of super-nitrate fertilizer per 25-foot row. Work the fertilizer into the soil 6 inches away from the plant so the fertilizer doesn't damage the root systems.

Tips and Warnings

  • Butternut squash cannot tolerate frosts. Protect maturing fruit in the case of early fall frost by covering them with blankets.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat pots
  • Potting mix
  • Seeds
  • Compost
  • Starter fertilizer
  • Super-nitrate


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Keywords: planting butternut squash, winter squash, vegetable garden

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.