Female squash flowers dying BEFORE opening

haplo_wm(7)July 5, 2009

First, I want to thank everyone on this forum that has been helping me out with every little problem I've had! You've all been very helpful. As a first time gardener, your advice (and that which I could find in searches) has been amazingly accurate.

I'm having a problem with my squash plant. My female flowers and fruit are now dying and dropping off BEFORE opening. I have a butternut squash vine (two, actually) with 4 growing squashes between the two of them. I hand-pollinated these in the early mornings and they took. Since then, though, all other female flowers are dying off. Is there anything I can do to get more of them to flower and grow? I'd like to get more squash, but this is a winter squash vine and it'll take a while for the 4 growing fruit to mature and ripen.


The picture I'm attaching has an early female flower at the top left. The other three are in various stages of dying off. I check early in the morning and frequently look in on my garden during the day as well. None of them even opened.

Thanks for looking.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Those flowers a dying and falling off because of lack of pollination. What has been the bee activity around you?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 7:51AM
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Well, I'll concede that bee activity has been low, which is why I've been pollinating by hand. However, my concern is that now the flowers aren't even opening at all! Kind of makes it hard to pollinate! They're dying off BEFORE opening, which is why I'm at a loss.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 8:41AM
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I have the same problem. The flowers are not opening to get pollinated. Today I pried an almost open flower the rest of the way open and pollinated it myself. I'll see how that works out.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 7:04PM
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Let me know how that goes for you. Mine are dropping off before they are even an inch long. :-(

There isn't enough there to pry open!

The other odd thing is that the male flowers are unaffected - they are opening just fine and are easily 4-6 inches across.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 9:02AM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

Having this same problem a month later in central Ohio. I just did a search hoping to find an answer here in GW and found your post. I agree, it cannot be lack of pollination because the flower buds do not een open before the tiny fruit (sometimes less than an inch) yellows & drops when touched. I, too, have 4-5 nice fruits getting big, 5" to 10" long, but it is really getting late for more to set on and hope to ripen. Since the vines are trellised, I have supported the squash with slings they are so heavy! And, yes, no problem with the male flowers... Grrr...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 4:31PM
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As an update, I've determined that it's probably due to one of two causes. The least likely of the two is simply watering. If the plant is not getting enough water, it may be conserving it's resources for the existing fruit and not starting any new ones.

Like I said, I think this is the lesser option.

The more likely option, is just that the plant doesn't want too many fruit at any given time, period. More of that resource conservation issue. I still have the original four squashes on my vine (and man are they big!), but now that they are almost mature, my vine has started putting out new female fruit!

I have three new squashes starting to develop now, so I think that I just needed to wait for the first few fruit to mature and then the vine started picking up again.

Good luck with yours!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 8:50PM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

I read of another possibility a couple of days ago and tried to add a post but was having some kind of computer problem and could not--and now I cannot remember where I found the info! But it suggested that the plant may exhibit the symptoms we are seeing when there are temperature extremes, and here in central OH we have been experiencing hot days (mid 80s or more) followed by unseasonably cool nighttime temps (drops of 25-30 degrees)--wonderful for sleeping but horribly conducive to powdery mildew and perhaps also the squash plant's inability to set fruit.
And then we had a terrific wind/rain storm (not enough rain, sadly) Tuesday and one of my nice, full-size-but-still-immature butternuts broke off the vine and fell to the ground even though I had had it supported in a sling because of its size/weight. I need to add a separate post in the forums or someplace to see if there is a way to prepare "green" squash to make it edible. I just hate to see it go into the compost bin!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:11AM
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