En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
9 ratings

Tuesday - August 26, 2008

From: Blackstone, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pollinators
Title: Zucchini blooms but no fruit
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My zuchinni has lots of flowers, but they seem to fall and I am getting no fruit.. WHY

ANSWER:

First of all, squash plants are monoecious (male and female reproductive parts on the same plant but in separate flowers).  The male flowers tend to occur near the center of the plant and the female flowers usually occur nearer the outside.  You can see in the photograph that the female flower has a swelling at the bottom, the ovary, that will become the squash fruit if it is pollinated.  The male flowers tend to appear and open earlier than (sometimes several days before) the female flowers.  They open early in the morning and then die and fall off.  More male blossoms will replace them and female flowers will also eventually bloom.  In order for there to be a fruit, the female flower has to be pollinated by the pollen from a male flower.  This is normally accomplished by an insect first visiting a male flower for its nectar, collecting pollen on its body, and then visiting the female flower for its nectar and shedding the pollen on the pistil of the female flower.  So, your lack of fruit may be that: 1) all the flowers so far have been male flowers and you should soon get female flowers as well; or 2) the pollinator population in your area is reduced (see the information on honeybee decline).  If you see that your plant has both male and female flowers but you're still not getting fruit, you can assume that for some reason your female flowers are not getting pollinated.  You can do the pollinating yourself by taking a small artist's brush and collecting pollen from the stamens of male blossoms and then brushing it onto the pistils of female flowers.  Brushing the pistils with pollen from several male flowers should do the trick.

 

More Pollinators Questions

Alternative for Pittosporum limelight
March 22, 2012 - Is it ok to plant a Pittosporum limelight by pool? Don't want bees! Needs to be 6 feet. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Making a pollinator garden
August 11, 2014 - Hello, I have a ditch right by my house and I want to turn it into a pollinator garden using native plants. My problem is, right now it's so full of weeds that we have to mow those down so soon. For ...
view the full question and answer

Failure of tall garden phlox buds to open in St. Louis MO
July 30, 2009 - Why won't the buds of my tall garden phlox open? Plants are apparently healthy, no powdery mildew or visible insects, foliage looks great and buds are profuse but they don't open. I have two clumps ...
view the full question and answer

Berries on cultivars of Ilex verticillata from Oak Park, IL
February 19, 2014 - I have three ilex verticillata cultivars (2 Nana, 1 Jim Dandy) planted on the west side of my house in a very shady site (there's a mature over-spreading hackberry on the parkway just to the west and...
view the full question and answer

Bee Plants for Victoria Texas
March 09, 2013 - I live in Victoria south Texas and want to plant bee beneficial native wildflowers, could you provide advice or contact
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center