En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Shrubs for Birds and Bees in North Texas
December 17, 2015 - I have a small backyard and would love to grow native plants for North Texas. I don't think I can grow trees, but for sure can do 1-2 crape myrtle-size shrubs. I have some rose of Sharon's going on ...
view the full question and answer

Is Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin tree) a major honeybee nectar source?
January 31, 2015 - Is the Franklinia tree a major nectar source for honeybees?
view the full question and answer

Identification of evergreen bush with red berries
March 17, 2016 - I am a beekeeper and today I took some pictures of a bush about 8 ft. tall in my neighbors yard. My bees are all over the tiny white flowers. It appears to be an evergreen bush because it has foliag...
view the full question and answer

Bee-friendly bush with small yellow flowers in Minnesota
August 04, 2015 - I was up north in Minnesota and saw a bee friendly bush with small yellow flowers clustered so they looked like small (4"-6") flocked Christmas trees. Any ideas? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
April 02, 2014 - I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center