Garden Gnomes: Zucchini Blossoms Wilting on the Vine

I’m starting a series on my vegetable gardening experiences here, since I’ve only been gardening for a few years.  I think blogs should be beautiful, but they shouldn’t only portray the best sides. Here I’ll definitely be sharing my stumbles and mistakes.  I might also share some triumphs if there are any.  It’s called Garden Gnomes because, well, those mythical creatures are blamed for pretty much anything that goes wrong in a garden, often when it’s not their fault at all.

Just after arriving in Oregon, I planted a zucchini plant in the side vegetable garden.  I’ve never grown zucchini myself before, and I was nervous.  It was a spindly little romanesco seedling.  I haven’t had romanesco zucchini in a long, long time and I’m looking forward to eating zucchini of a different texture, with its ridged edges.

I planted, and hoped. A couple weeks ago, I saw the first bloom.  By nightfall, it had shriveled and died. The blooms have coincided with a heat wave here in Oregon. Were my blooms shriveling in the heat? Were they suffering from some sort of rot or wilt?

Luckily, doing a little bit of research, I found out that this is really quite normal.  Zucchini plants produce male flowers first, then female flowers a week or so later.  The male flowers grow, are used by bees to pollinate the female flowers, and then die off. Side note: as the plant matures and has more female flowers, you can harvest some of the male flowers to stuff and eat.  Since the male flowers grow first, you often get a lag time between the first blooms and the first fruits.

You can also visually tell the difference between male and female flowers.  Male flowers have long stems, like the one you see above.  Female flowers have what looks like a mini zucchini growing below the flower (in fact, that’s what turns into the zucchini fruit).  I don’t have a photo of that, since my plant hasn’t produced any female flowers yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that all is well in the vegetable garden and we can proceed as usual!

2 Comments to “Garden Gnomes: Zucchini Blossoms Wilting on the Vine”

  1. One problem that we almost always have it cursed vine borers. One trick I learned to prevent them is to wrap tin foil around the base of the plants when the plants are still fairly young. This prevents vine borers from being able to lay their eggs inside the stem of the plant, which prohibits them from growing inside the plant, and killing it from the inside out. Also, rotate where you grow squash each season in order to minimize the likelihood of eggs being laid in the stems.

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