no female squash flowers

MiaOKCJuly 26, 2013

Hello all! I planted a mixed "gourmet squash" bunch of seeds way back in the beginning/middle of May after losing a few of my transplants to cutworms. My plants are huge, about waist high and probably four or five feet across. They have been flowering since early June, but I have not gotten a single squash set. In the early days, I know I saw a few female flowers and thought the ants and bees would work for pollination, as I saw ants all over garden. Well, a few weeks later, no luck, so I finally decide to hand pollinate with a q-tip but lo and behold, I went out first thing in the morning and cannot find a single female flower. I've been going out every other day for a week and still no females, but tons and tons of male flowers.

These plants got a Bloom Booster feed back before that June "cold" front and I've only watered probably three times this summer. Mother Nature has provided the rest of the irrigation. In all other respects, the plants are hugely vigorous and healthy, but I live in terror of squash bugs or SVBs coming and taking them out before I've grown a single squash.

Is there anything I can do to encourage female flowers? The plants seem old enough to be producing them, and I am certain I have seen a few in the last six weeks. Thanks!

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Mia, I can relate to your problem because I am having the same problem on some of my squash. My Brazilian squash seems very lazy. It has started blooming, nearly all are male blooms. I have one fruit, and maybe 1 or 2 I cant see. It seems as though the very few female blooms I get drop off.

I am having some other problems that I will post on another thread to keep from getting off topic. I hope some one can give some pointers, my squash have had two shots of bloom booster.


Brazilian Squash.

This post was edited by slowpoke_gardener on Fri, Jul 26, 13 at 17:48

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mia, This is a fairly common phenomenon and there's nothing you can do except wait it out. Many varieties of squash only produce male flowers when they are stressed. Unfortunately, excessive rainfall (and I feel safe in saying your area has had excessive rainfall this summer) is a form of stress, even though we gardeners prefer too much rain to too little.

Often, heavy rainfall pushes the plants to grow and grow and grow (as your description of big, healthy plants indicates) and while they are doing that, they don't seem to form many female flowers.

If it will stop raining for a week or two and your plants can slow down their vegetative growth, they then should start setting female flowers.

One way to think of it is that the plants flower and produce fruit for one reason only---to set seeds to guarantee the preservation of their species. As long as life is nice and wonderful and the plants do not experience the sort of stress that threatens their life, they don't necessarily get in a hurry to set seeds. I suspect if y'all suddenly got hot and dry, they might get in more of a hurry to produce seeds via the lovely squash fruit. In this case, patience is required....and hopefully the SVBs won't find your plants while you are being patient.

For what it is worth, this is a problem in many gardens this year in areas of the USA where rainfall and cloudiness have been plentiful. It happens every year wherever there is excessive summer rainfall, and the gardeners just have to wait it out. Eventually the plants will produce female flowers and fruit.

Larry, Sometimes with some varieties you have to wait up to about 3 weeks from the first appearance of male flowers before the females show up. If you've been getting recent rainfall in decent amounts, that could slow down the process even more.

If you have male and female flowers but the females are falling off, then maybe there is a lack of pollinator activity and you need to hand-pollinate the squash.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Dawn, thanks. It has been dry here and the bees are really working the flowers. We don't have many flowers in the flower beds and the bees seem very happy with the squash blooms.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Well, then, Larry, if you have a lot of bees, I don't know why your female flowers aren't getting pollinated. You still could hand pollinate by using a Q-tip, a small paint brush, etc. to transfer pollen from the male flower to the female flower if you want to ensure that fertilization occurs. Or, just remove a male flower and 'dab' the female flower with it to transfer the pollen. We have had oodles of bees in the garden, but they seem like they've been really distracted by all the flowers on the cucumbers and Armenian cukes, but have not been so entranced by the flowers on the watermelons and winter squash. It makes me think the bees play favorites perhaps. I've seen more winter squash set fruit in the last week than in the entire previous two months so maybe it is just that the timing is finally right for whatever reason, and it wasn't before. Our rainfall has been more like yours, Larry, in that it hasn't fallen that much....a little over an inch last week and then again today. That sounds like a lot, but it isn't much compare to parts of OK who keep getting 2 or 3 or 4" every week or two. Our rainfall now is slightly above our usual year-to-date rainfall for this point in the calendar year, but not significantly so. The heavy rainfall since mid-May has gone a long way toward making up for the lack of rain prior to mid-May, but the part of our county that we live in still remains in moderate drought. I'm not having to water all that much though, at least not the last 2 weeks, and the plants look really great for late-July.

I like the rain, but am relieved (in an odd way) that we are only getting smaller amounts here. We don't need the flooding and we don't need for anything to send the snakes up out of the woods into the garden....and we don't need for excess rain to ruin what has been a great summer so far. Too much rain right now could simply ruin the texture and flavor of all the watermelons and muskmelons that are nearly ripe, so I'd just as soon have the rain stay a little on the skimpy side.

I was thinking about your Brazilian squash. Often, squash (and beans and maybe some other things as well) from that part of the world are day-length sensitive and won't set fruit until late in the summer or even early autumn as the number of hours of sunlight per day decreases. George could tell you more about that than I could, because he has lived and gardened outside the USA whereas I've always lived and gardened within 100 miles of where I live now.

I grow a scarlet runner bean, mostly just to have the gorgeous red flowers for the hummingbirds, that is called Insuk's Wang Kong, and it never flowers until a couple of months after the regular scarlet runner beans have begun flowering. It sometimes doesn't even set beans and mature them for me, because it is just so late that an early first frost gets the beans before they mature. For that reason, I grow it more as a novelty or curiosity and never really expect a harvest from it. I'm sure in some climates it sets great, but ours isn't warm enough deep enough into fall for it to be a big producer here. You may find that your Brazilian squash is a really late producer in the same way.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:03PM
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