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

Bees knees squeezing
May 28, 2010 - Barbara, Do the knees of bees help them squeeze if they please their wobbly, bobbly, knobbly balls of pollen?
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

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
July 30, 2012 - I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with...
view the full question and answer

Blue-green bees
April 30, 2008 - Over a month ago I sent this query to the AAS Garden Editor. What a waste of time since she exhibited no knowledge and no interest. Finally, she told me to ask you about the green bees that came by in...
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