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As your zucchini plant grows, you’ll notice lovely orange and yellow flowers. These flowers are essential to produce the fruits you desire. For years, I had NO idea that each flower has a specific gender! Zucchini flowers are either male or female.
You might think this information is useless, but you’d be wrong. Pollination is ESSENTIAL for the formation of zucchini fruits. This story is the tame version of the birds and the bees.
Bees and other insects take the pollen from the male stamen and move it to the female stigma, pollinating the plant. Pollen sticks to the bees legs and, as he lands on the female flower, the pollen arrives. After pollination, the fruit starts to grow.
Aside from pollination purposes, the male serves little purpose. You can flour them up and deep fry for a delicious snack!
Distinguishing Male and Female Zucchini Flowers
The male flower has a single, long stamen in the middle of their blossom. It is covered with pollen. If you sneak up, you might find bees there. I found a bunch this morning on my zucchini plant!
The female flower is a bit different. Inside, she has multiple stigmas. The base of the blossom is wide, called the ovary. This area produces the zucchini after pollination.
The base of the male flower blossom is a long, slender stem. The long stem allows them to stand out on the plant more, attracting the bees faster.
Female zucchini flowers tend to stay closer to the base of the stem. Remember, they are going to produce the fruits soon. If they were high up in the area, the weight of the zucchini would cause the stem to break.
How to Hand Pollinate Zucchini Plants
Why does all of this information matter? It matters because you may notice that there is no fruit on your plant. If that happens, you may have a pollination issue. With the right information, you can hand pollinate zucchini flowers. Here are the simple steps.
1. Identify the male flower. You need first to find a wide open male flower. I always check in the early or mid-morning.
2. Identify the female flowers. Female flowers open for one day, so it is important for you to check daily! Once you find an open female flower, the fun needs to begin.
3. Use a Q-Tip. Your first choice is to take a q-tip or cotton swab and rub it along the stamen. Doing so will collect the pollen. Then, go over to the female blossom and gently rub the swab inside of the stigmas at the inside base of the flower.
4. Remove the Male Flower. Another choice is to cut one of the male flowers from your plant. Then, rub the male flower stamen inside of the female flower. You can see an easy video here.
Now you successfully hand pollinated a zucchini flower. For years, I had no idea that there was a gender of flowers! It wasn’t until I watched an episode of Alaska: The Last Frontier did I realize that there was something I missed. Eve, one of the main people on the show, had to hand pollinate her zucchini plants. Now, I know what to do if my plants aren’t producing the fruit needed!
Have you ever hand pollinated a zucchini plant?