How to Increase the Number of Female Flowers in Squash Plants


Some squash varieties bloom only during one two- or three-week period in the plant's lifetime. Growing conditions over the first part of the plant's lifetime determine whether those blooms will be a perfect blend of male and female or a fruitless display of unisex flowers. By the time plants do blossom, the pattern has already set. Prepare the garden for a good squash harvest by beginning the year with the right plan.

Step 1

Choose the right squash variety for the garden space. Crowded conditions cause squash plants to produce more male flowers. Extreme stress may result in only male blossoms. Select bush varieties of squash for gardens with limited space.

Step 2

Plant a full row rather than two or three plants, especially when growing hybrids. Hybrid squash produce larger numbers of female blossoms than do open-pollinated squash. As many as half the plants may be totally female. Increase the number of plants to increase pollination chances.

Step 3

Fertilize the squash with 1 or 2 tbsp. 6-10-10 NPK fertilizer tilled into the hill before planting. Scatter 1 tbsp. ammonium nitrate (33-0-0) fertilizer per hill to the sides of the plants above the root zone when plants first bloom. Repeat the side dressing three weeks later for vining squash, but not bush varieties.

Step 4

Plant squash at the proper spacing. In intensive plantings, reduce the width of walkways between rows but don't completely eliminate them. Squash need abundant light and good ventilation.

Step 5

Thin squash plants mercilessly. Hybrid plantings normally producing 50 percent all-female plants revert entirely to monoecious (male and female blossoms on the same plant) in crowded conditions with four to five plants in one hill.

Step 6

Weed squash plants regularly. Competition from weeds reduces soil nutrition and light. Shade and crowding reduce the numbers of female blossoms squash plants produce.

Tips and Warnings

  • Choose open-pollinated squash for small gardens or container plantings since these old varieties produce both male and female blossoms. Individual hybrid squash plants may be gynoecious--all female. If a small planting accidentally produces only female plants, the yield equals zero.

Things You'll Need

  • Squash seed
  • 6-10-10 NPK fertilizer
  • 33-0-0 ammonium nitrate fertilizer
  • Tbsp. measure
  • Hoe
  • Yardstick


  • Cucurbits Genetic Cooperative: Sex Expression of F1 Hybrids
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Growing Cucumbers, Melons, Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds
  • Arizona Cooperative Extension: Vegetable Garden Intensive Gardening Methods

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M AgriLife: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: female squash flower, hybrid squash, open-pollinated squash

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."