Zucchini plants, also known as courgettes, have many different growth stages, from when you first plant the seeds until harvesting and then storing your zucchinis.
In this article I’ve listed the 7 stages of zucchini growth, along with some tips to help you to grow a successful crop of zucchinis in your vegetable garden.
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ZUCCHINI PLANT GROWTH STAGES
Stage 1 – Planting the seeds
The seeds can be planted directly in the garden about two weeks after the last frost of the season.
Choose a spot in the garden that receives full sun and sow the seeds about 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep.
Leave at least 2 feet (60 cm) in between each seed to give the plants space to spread out as they grow.
You can also start zucchini seeds indoors if you have a short growing season.
Plant the seeds in a seed starting tray at the start of spring and transplant them outdoors when the risk of frost has passed.
Stage 2 – Germination
Zucchini seeds usually take about 7 to 10 days to germinate in warm weather but it may take longer if the temperature of the soil is still cool.
The seedling will emerge from the soil with the seed shell still attached to the tip of the seed leaves, which are also known as cotyledons.
After about a week the first true leaves of the plant will emerge.
Stage 3 – Plant growth
Zucchini plants spread out from the base of the plant and grow rapidly.
The plants can reach 2 feet (60 cm) in height and 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) wide depending on the variety.
Some vining varieties can spread out 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 metres) wide.
Keep the soil moist but try to keep the leaves dry when you’re watering to avoid fungal infections like powdery mildew.
If the temperature is very hot you may need to water your zucchini plants every day.
Stage 4 – Flower development
Zucchini flowers will start to bloom about six weeks after planting.
The large flowers are bright yellow and look similar to pumpkin flowers.
The male flowers bloom first followed by the female flowers a few days later.
You can harvest a few of the male flowers to make delicious stuffed zucchini flowers, but make sure you leave enough of the male flowers on the vine for the bees to pollinate.
It’s a good idea to start feeding your plants with a liquid plant food at this stage for a bumper crop of zucchinis.
Stage 5 – Pollination
Zucchini flowers are highly attractive to bees because of their pollen and nectar.
After visiting the male flowers, the bees move on to the female flowers where some of the pollen is transferred and the process of pollination is completed.
If you don’t have many bees in your garden you can pollinate the flowers yourself using a small paintbrush to transfer some of the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.
After pollination is completed the plant will start producing fruit.
Stage 6 – Fruit development
As the female flowers close, small green fruits will start growing at the base of the flower.
Zucchinis grow very fast so you won’t have to wait long to harvest your crop of zucchinis.
It only takes about a week for zucchinis to grow to full size after pollination is complete.
Stage 7 – Harvesting
Zucchinis are ready to harvest about 45 to 50 days after planting.
They can easily grow an inch or more each day so you’ll need to check the plants each day and pick them before they get too big.
It’s best to harvest zucchinis when they’re about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long for the best flavor and texture.
Large zucchinis are called marrows and they can easily grow 15 inches (38 cm) or longer but they have large seeds and a tougher texture than small zucchinis.
Use a sharp knife to cut the zucchinis from the vine, leaving at least 1/2 an inch (1 cm) of the stem attached to each zucchini.
Zucchinis will last for about a week after harvesting if they’re stored correctly.
Place the unwashed zucchinis in a paper bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
Try to keep them as dry as possible to prevent them from going moldy.
You can also slice or grate zucchini, place it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it or make zucchini relish or pickles.
Zucchini is delicious roasted, steamed or fried in frying pan with butter and herbs for an easy side dish.
So there are the different stages of zucchini growth that you’ll see when growing zucchinis in your garden.
Watching the zucchini growth cycle is interesting and it’s very easy to grow zucchinis, even if you’re not an experienced gardener.
Have you tried growing zucchinis at home? Let me know in the comments below.