How Does Zucchini Grow

Due to its rapid production rate and large crop yield, zucchini is a common plant for both home gardens and larger commercial endeavors. Considered a summer squash, zucchini is the perfect plant for most gardeners. It reaches maturity in about 60 days and then produces ripe zucchini for a 3-4 week period and on average around 8 lbs. per plant by the time it’s done.

Zucchini produces so quickly most gardeners will be able to grow zucchini plants twice in one growing season.

Do Zucchini Grow on Vines, Underground, or on Trees?

Zucchinis grow above ground with a bush like growth habit. Some varieties sprawl a little more and could be considered to have a semi-vining growth habit but that’s rare.

Botanically, zucchini is classified as a fruit, a pepo berry, and part of the gourd family. Under federal regulations and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), zucchini is classified as a vegetable product. For the sake of this article, zucchini will be referred to as a fruit honoring its botanical classification.

If you want to see a more in depth conversation on whether zucchini is a fruit or a vegetable, and who wouldn’t, check out “Is Zucchini a Fruit or Vegetable?

Though called a “vine crop”, most zucchini varieties grow in small bushes with limited vining. The bush variety is most common and used both in home gardens and commercial production.

Zucchinis grow above ground meaning gardeners must consider their garden space when planting zucchini. This fruit grows rapidly– reaching maturity within 40 to 60 days–and due to their size and prolific production will quickly take up any free real estate in the garden!

Harvest happens when a zucchini reaches a length between five to seven inches. Harvesting at this size allows the plant to produce more zucchini and also provides a more tender fruit.

Zucchini matures quickly with only three to four days between pollination and maturity. This speed allows zucchini crops to yield a large amount of crop in one season when tended properly.

There are other zucchini varieties that are considered winter squash, these are more prone to vining and creeping across garden spaces than the summer squash varieties.

However, these types of zucchini are less common both in commercial and home gardening as the marketable fruit yield is less than the summer varieties.

How Is Zucchini Grown Commercially

Commercial production begins during the summer since zucchini is a warm weather crop. Planted in raised garden beds – about six inches tall – farmers plant the crop in bunches, just as you would in a smaller garden.

Plant zucchini in waves as the crop grows quickly and needs to be harvested within two to three weeks. The next wave is planted as the first is harvested during week three.

Parthenocarpic zucchini varieties, varieties that can produce fruit without pollination, are the best for commercial growth as they produce higher crop yields due to their resilience in different climates. Parthenocarpic varieties also have a longer shelf life allowing for an easier redistribution of the crop to commercial sellers and are seedless which appeals to consumers.

Harvesting needs to happen every 2-3 days, when the zucchini’s skin is shiny, and the plant’s flowers have fully opened. Larger fruits, or any over eight inches in length, are deemed “unmarketable” and not considered part of the overall crop yield.

Any delays, whether weather or business related, can cause the zucchini to become overripe and oversized therefore creating an overall smaller marketable yield.

Zucchini fruit is required to meet two criteria in order to be marketable according to the USDA guidelines. First, the fruit must still have some of its stem or the whole stem attached to its body.

Second, the fruit must be of a reasonable maturity with a firmness to its shaft. The zucchini also must be free of any decay or discoloration. Basically, the fruit needs to be able to sell within the free market, or grocery store.

Does Zucchini Grow on a Trellis?

For smaller gardens, or on a farm with limited space, zucchini can be trained to grow on a trellis. However, this is better for winter squash zucchini varieties that have a more vine like growth habit.

A trellis is a vertical plant support used in gardening to save space and produce more attractive and straighter crop yields.

Vine crops can climb the trellis as they grow rather than spreading across the garden floor. This prevents one crop type from taking over limited space. Another perk of trellis growth is that the crop is cleaner as it is not growing in the dirt and less prone to decay or other imperfections.

For zucchini, a metal or wood trellis works best because a zucchini crop can produce fruits weighing a total of eight to ten pounds. This means the trellis needs to be able to hold and support this heavy crop.

An A frame trellis or a fence trellis are commonly used for zucchini crop as they are better anchored and more stable.

Other positive aspects of a trellis include their ability to expose the crop to more consistent sunshine and air circulation. This allows the zucchini to grow straighter with less imperfections. However, if the garden has other plants, make sure the trellis doesn’t block the sun for them.

How Does Zucchini Grow Step by Step

  1. Plant zucchini seeds in raised garden bed 24-36″ apart in all directions.
  2. The zucchini plant should have direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.
  3. The male flowers will grow first and are characterized by a longer stem.
  4. The female flowers will appear approximately one to two weeks after the male flowers. These are characterized by the smallish immature fruit at their base. Check out “Zucchini Flower Blossoms & Pollination” for more information about zucchinis flowering and pollination process.
  5. The male flower’s pollen needs to be moved to the female flower’s flower. This naturally happens with the help of bees, but humans can also manually assist by pollinating the female flower in the morning before the flower closes. This can be done using a small paintbrush to pick up the pollen from the center of the male flower and painting it onto the female. The bee pollinator can also be used.
  6. After pollination, the fruit begins to grow and mature.
  7. About four days after pollination, when the zucchini reaches a length of six to eight inches, it is ready to harvest.

Check out “Zucchini Plant Growth Stages” for a more in-depth and scientific look at how the zucchini plant grows step by step. Please comment below!

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