Zucchinis are fast-growing summer plants that often oversupply us with their delicious and versatile fruits. But, if left to grow along the ground, they can soon take up a lot of space and leave little room for growing other types of vegetables. But, there is a solution. By staking zucchinis, we can save on space, plus there are other advantages.
You can stake your zucchinis simply by using a few wooden garden stakes and some twine. Zucchini plants can get quite heavy, so more than one stake per plant may be required once the plant gets larger.
Here’s how to stake your zucchini.
Gather your Supplies
To stake your zucchini plants, you’ll need:
- At least one wooden stake per plant
- Some garden twine or zip ties
Start Staking your Plants when they’re Young
- Once your plants are around 6 inches high (15 cm), drive a stake into the ground next to the plant. Make sure that the stake is around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) away from the stem of your plant. Also, try not to disturb the roots of the plant if you can.
- Tie the stem of the plant onto the stake using garden twine or a loose zip tie. Position the stem of the plant in such a way that it’s leaning on the stake and will grow upward.
- Continue to tie your plant further up the stake as it continues to grow. If you do this regularly, the stem can be trained to grow straight upward.
Add more Support if Needed
- Some zucchini plants will send out more than one main stem. If this happens, you’ll need a second stake to tie the extra stem to.
- If the plant starts to get too heavy, it might be wise to add one or two more stakes for added support. You can place these on either side of the plant and run the twine around all three stakes to form a kind of supportive enclosure for the plant.
- As the plant continues to grow upwards, start to remove some of the lower leaves. Concentrate on dead or dying leaves below the first set of flower buds or those that are starting to turn yellow. By doing this, it forces the plant to grow newer leaves as well as healthy flowers and fruits. This is also a way to discourage powdery mildew from forming on your plant.
- To cut off the lower leaves, just use a sharp pair of secateurs or garden shear and cut the leaf and its stem right at where it meets the main stem of the plant. You’ll find this quite easy because the leaf stems are hollow.
- Keep a constant eye on your plants to ensure that there is no powdery mildew forming on the leaves. If you do start to see this, remove the affected leaves immediately and throw them into the trash. Never throw diseased foliage into the compost bin because the compost does not get hot enough to kill all those fungal spores.
What are the Benefits of Staking Zucchini?
Savvy gardeners have realized that there are plenty of benefits to staking zucchinis rather than letting them grow on the ground. Here are just some of them:
- It saves space. By growing your zucchinis vertically, you’re saving valuable garden space that you can use to grow a variety of other vegetables.
- It protects the plant from powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a real problem for people who grow zucchini. And, once your plant succumbs to it, it’s very difficult to eradicate it altogether. The fungal spores responsible for powdery mildew live in the soil. So, if you keep your plant off the ground and remove the lower leaves, it’s less likely that these spores will be splashed onto the plant when it rains or when you water.
- Pollination is easier. We all know that zucchinis have both male and female flowers and that pollen needs to be transferred between the two if we want the fruits to grow. By staking your zucchinis, you’re making it easier for pollinators such as bees to find the flowers. This means more fruit production for you.
- It keeps the fruit clean and protected from pests. When zucchinis are allowed to grow along the ground, not only can the fruit get dirty and bruised, but it’s also susceptible to being nibbled on by snails, slugs, mice, and other rodents. Growing your zucchinis vertically helps to protect the fruit from all of this damage.
- The fruit is easier to see. If you have a dense zucchini plant growing along the ground, you might not see the fruits growing among all those huge leaves. And, by the time you do spot them, it’s likely that they’re going to be huge. You won’t have this problem when you grow your plants vertically, as the fruit will be much easier to see.
- The fruit is easier to pick. If you’ve ever reached through a mass of huge zucchini leaves to harvest a few fruits, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Zucchini leaves and stems can be a little prickly, depending on the variety, and harvesting the fruits can become a chore. However, when you grow your plants vertically, the fruits are easy to access, making your job much easier.
- It allows you to grow more zucchini plants. If you really love zucchinis or you have a neighborhood vegetable swap group, you can grow more than one plant in a much smaller space. By growing your plants vertically up a stake, you can plant them relatively close together without comprising all the space in your vegetable patch.
- This also works when growing zucchinis in pots. In fact, this is really the only way you should be growing your zucchinis if you’ve planted them in large pots.
Frequently Asked Questions
What stakes are best for zucchinis?
You can use either sturdy wooden stakes or plastic-coated metal stakes. Each stake should be around 4 to 5 feet (120 to 150 cm) tall.
Can you use a trellis to grow zucchinis vertically?
It is possible to grow your zucchinis up a trellis, but it’s far easier just to use strong stakes to support the stem as the plant grows.
Can you use tomato cages for zucchini?
Yes, you can use tomato cages, but you will still need to tie the zucchini stem onto the sides of the cage if you want to train it to grow upward. It’s also more difficult to prune your plant when it’s grown in a cage.
Can you plant zucchinis and tomatoes together?
Zucchinis and tomatoes make excellent companion plants, especially when they’re correctly staked and regularly pruned. Both plants enjoy the same growing conditions, and you can easily tend to them at the same time.
Do zucchini plants climb?
Unlike other vine plants such as cucumbers, zucchinis are not naturally climbers. They don’t have the long tendrils that lets vine plants cling onto the supports that they’re growing over. That’s why zucchini plants are best grown with stakes and tied at regular intervals to the stake to train them to grow upwards.