How to Grow Zucchinis from Seed to Harvest
You consider growing your own zucchinis? Great! It is not that difficult and can be quite a lot of fun.
However, before you start, you definitely need some information on how exactly to grow your zucchinis from seed to harvest step-by-step.
I not only show you every step you need to take, but I also show you what equipment you need and give you some general tips at the end to make your zucchini growing experience even more enjoyable.
Let’s get started!
Zucchini Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.|
|Climate||Zucchinis grow well in moderate – warm climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Zucchinis like the sun but you can also grow them in half-shady places.|
|Soil Requirements||Zucchini plants grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.5 and 6.8.|
|Country of Origin||Central America.|
|Perennial?||No, zucchinis are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||In spring and definitely not later than May.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can expect to harvest 2 – 4 zucchinis per plant as a beginner. Experts can harvest much more.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||90 to 130 days to grow zucchinis from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Aphids, Beetles, Leafminers, Squash Bugs, Leaf Blight, Leaf Spot, Blossom End Rot, Downy Mildew.|
|Use||You can use zucchinis for salads, bake them or for many other dishes you like.|
What Types and Varieties of Zucchinis can you grow?
If you want to grow zucchinis, you first have to decide which zucchini variety you want to grow.
While there are numerous different zucchini varieties out there, I listed the most popular for planting purposes below:
- Black Beauty zucchini
- Fordhook zucchini
- Raven zucchini
- Gadzukes zucchini
- Dunja zucchini
- Summer Green Tiger zucchini
- Gourmet Gold zucchini
While I prefer to grow Black Beauty zucchinis since their fruits become quite big and they also have a fantastic taste, everyone is different and if you have never grown your own zucchinis before, I highly recommend you try out different zucchini varieties so that you can decide for yourself what varieties you want to grow in the next years.
You can also go for a zucchini seed mix in order to grow many different zucchini plants and you are good to go.
In fact, if you use such a seed mix, you will be surprised regarding how many different types of zucchinis actually exist and you may not even have seen many of them before in our stores.
Hence, if you go for growing different varieties of zucchinis, chances are that you will never get bored and will really enjoy your zucchini growing experience.
When should you start to grow Zucchinis?
This greatly depends on whether you want to start your growing experience by seed or whether you want to grow your zucchinis with seedlings from the store instead.
I give you more detailed information on this topic below. However, in short, I highly recommend you to grow your zucchinis from seed to harvest in order to get the full growing experience.
If you do so, I suggest you start not later than at the end of Mai. In fact, I would not recommend you to start that late.
The sooner you start growing your seeds, the more time they will have to develop and the bigger your zucchini plants, the higher the yields on average.
Therefore, I suggest you plant your seeds as early as mid of March in order to make the most out of your growing experience.
As I said before, if this should not be possible for you due to conflicts with your schedule or your vacation plans, fine! You can also start a month later.
However, keep in mind that if you start too late, chances are that your zucchinis will not get ripe in time and that you will do plenty of work for no yield at the end.
Long story short: Starting in mid of March is the optimal time to start growing your zucchinis if you want to get the optimal end result.
How long does it take to grow Zucchinis from Seed to Harvest?
Depending on the zucchini variety and on the overall growing conditions, it will take between 90 and 130 days until your zucchinis will finally be ready to be harvested.
I know this is a big time span, but honestly, there is no better answer to this question.
It simply depends on too many different factors.
This includes the quality of the soil, the climatic conditions, your skill level and many more.
However, if you are still a beginner and have never grown zucchinis before in your life, I would expect that you will need more than 100 days for sure to grow your zucchini plant from seed to harvest.
And that’s perfectly fine! I personally love to see my zucchinis growing and I don’t do it for the end result or for quick wins, I do it for the process.
Hence, I am actually happy when my growing experience lasts longer than what is estimated by many experts or by seed companies.
However, as mentioned before, make sure that you start your growing process early in the year so that you will not get into time trouble later on.
What is the best Climate to grow Zucchinis?
In order to grow zucchinis in an optimal manner, you should live in a moderate climatic zone with decent hours of sun.
However, seed companies did a great job in developing zucchini varieties that are suitable to grow in many different climatic zones and which are quite robust to outside conditions.
Consequently, even if you can’t provide optimal climatic conditions for your zucchini plants, chances are that you will still be able to grow your zucchinis in a decent manner.
Thus, don’t worry too much about whether the climate in your home region is suitable for growing zucchinis. As long as conditions are not too extreme, you will be good to go!
What Temperatures do Zucchinis like?
Zucchini plants generally prefer temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
However, please note that these are just numbers that indicate a rough range. In practice, most people will not be able to provide those optimal temperatures all day long and this doesn’t matter too much anyway.
As mentioned before, seed companies did a great job regarding the development of robust zucchini varieties and even if you can’t provide your zucchini plants with optimal growing temperatures, they will likely adapt to hotter or colder climates.
Thus, as long as you live in a region where temperatures don’t drop below the freezing mark in summer and autumn, you should be just fine.
What do you need to grow Zucchinis?
Now that you know that the outside conditions in your region are suitable to grow zucchinis, it is time to worry about getting the proper equipment.
While you don’t need too many things to grow zucchinis, I give you a list what I recommend you to get below:
- Zucchini seeds (you can either extract your own seeds from zucchinis or buy them online)
- Growing bed (to grow your zucchini seedlings)
- Big flower pots (the bigger, the better; only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your zucchinis)
- Fertilizer (I recommend natural fertilizer; alternatively, you can also make your own fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Earthworm castings
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Patience and interest for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Zucchinis?
What yield you can expect from your zucchini plants greatly depends on the zucchini variety you choose to grow and also on many other factors, including your own skill level in growing vegetables.
In fact, if you are still a beginner, I would expect you will be able to harvest an average of 5 zucchinis per plant if you follow all the steps in this article.
However, once you get better over time, one plant may even be able to produce up to 10 zucchinis.
As you can see, your yield is greatly dependent on your skill level and on how many mistakes you will make during the growth process.
And believe me. You will make mistakes. However, mistakes are not bad at all.
In fact, everyone of us started out as a beginner and made mistakes. By making mistakes, you will learn and grow.
Thus, don’t be discouraged if your first zucchini yield will not be that big.
If you stick to it and learn from your mistakes, you will become a real expert over time and will also be able to optimize your yield.
What should you grow with Zucchinis?
If you want to learn more about what to grow with zucchini, make sure to check out the best and worst zucchini companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Zucchinis?
This is a good question indeed. Sure, you could just get your zucchinis from your local store and you are good to go.
However, in my opinion, this is not the same experience as growing your own zucchinis from scratch.
In fact, for me, growing zucchinis is not just about the yield. If you just want to grow your own zucchinis in order to save money, I have to disappoint you.
You will not save any money. In fact, chances are that you will have to spend more on your zucchinis when you grow them yourself compared to just getting them from the store since you need some growing equipment.
Thus, don’t do it for the money, do it for the process! In fact, I really love growing my own vegetables since I really love seeing the process.
I am fascinated that you can grow such big plants out of just a small seed. Indeed, I am not in the growing game for the end result.
I am in this game to see the progress my plants make every week.
Moreover, apart from that, growing your own zucchinis can also greatly lower your overall stress level.
If you work in a demanding job for long hours every day, chances are that you will often be stressed and exhausted when you come back home late.
In such a case, it can be quite nice to just sit in your garden next to your vegetables in order to relax.
Indeed, many people get a feeling of peace when they grow their own crops in their garden or on their balcony and if you search for ways to reduce your overall stress level, I definitely recommend you to grow your own zucchinis or other vegetables in order to unplug from your stressful daily life once in a while.
Growing Zucchinis: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Zucchini Plants
Now that you know why it can make quite a lot of sense to grow your own zucchinis, it is now time to select the optimal site for your zucchini plants.
In fact, this step is crucial for the success of your zucchini growing project.
Do Zucchinis like Sun?
Like many other plants, zucchinis definitely like the sun.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to provide your zucchini plants with sun all day long.
In fact, a few hours of sunlight each day are enough to grow your zucchini plants in an optimal manner.
Hence, the optimal location for your zucchini plants should be where your plants get a solid mix between sun and shadow.
What are the Soil Requirements of Zucchinis?
Zucchini plants usually like rather loose soil in order to grow in an optimal manner.
In fact, you should make sure that the soil you want to plant your zucchinis in is not too compact so that the roots of your zucchini plants can develop in a proper manner and can get sufficient nutrients in order to grow really big.
Thus, before transplanting your zucchinis outdoors, you should loosen up the soil in your garden and you should also add additional potting soil from the store as well as some additional compost and worm castings to the soil to provide the best growing experience possible.
I describe how you optimally prepare your site for transplanting your zucchini seedlings in more detail in the actual planting chapter of this article.
How much Space do Zucchinis need?
To be able to plan your zucchini growth project in a proper manner, you also need to know how much space each zucchini plant needs to grow in an optimal manner.
In general, the more space, the better your plants can develop.
Thus, if you have a big garden, you can give your zucchinis as much space as you want.
However, at least make sure that you plan around 10 square feet for each zucchini plant so that your zucchinis will get enough sunlight and also don’t have to compete for nutrients with other plants.
As mentioned before, 10 square feet are just the minimum space I would recommend you plan for each plant.
Since zucchini plants can get quite big, 20 square feet would actually be much better.
Should you plant Zucchinis in the Garden or in a Pot?
As we have seen before, zucchini plants need quite a lot of space to develop and grow in a healthy manner.
Thus, I would not recommend you to grow your zucchini plants in a pot.
In fact, most pots would simply be far too small and your zucchini yields would be quite limited.
Therefore, if you have a garden, I definitely recommend you to plant your zucchinis in your garden instead of using a pot.
If you don’t have a garden, growing your zucchinis in a big pot on your balcony may be possible.
However, since your zucchini plants will get quite big, your whole balcony may be eventually covered by leaves and other plant materials and this may be quite unpleasant since you will no longer be able to use your balcony for other things.
Hence, I honestly would not suggest you grow your zucchinis on a balcony unless it is really big.
2. Plant Zucchini Seeds
Once you figured out the optimal site for growing your zucchinis through all the information I provided you above, it is now time to move on to the actual planting process.
Should you buy Zucchini Seeds or Seedlings?
Many people are rather convenient and lazy and don’t want to put in too much effort into their zucchini growing project.
Thus, many people rely on seedlings from their store instead of growing their own seedlings and starting from scratch.
However, in my opinion, you should grow your zucchinis from seed to harvest since you will only get the full growing experience if you start out right at the beginning of the natural growing process.
Moreover, growing your zucchinis from seed to harvest is also much more interesting in my opinion than just getting your seedlings from the store.
In addition, you will also learn quite a lot regarding who to grow seedlings and you can transfer this knowledge to many other growing projects you might want to do in the future.
And don’t be intimidated!
Growing your own zucchini seedlings is not difficult at all.
In fact, I give you detailed step-by-step information on how to grow your zucchini seedlings in the following.
Should you buy Zucchini Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
I hope I convinced you that growing your own zucchini seedlings is in fact a good idea.
If so, you still have to decide whether you want to produce your own zucchini seeds or whether you just want to get them online or from your local store.
While you can get a variety of different zucchini seeds online, I still recommend you to produce your own seeds.
You just have to go to your local grocery store, get your favorite zucchini variety and cut it into half.
Now, you just have to extract the small seeds in the inside of your zucchinis and you are good to go.
Make sure that you also use the rest of your zucchini for cooking in order to avoid any food waste.
How to plant Zucchini Seeds
Now that you either extracted your own seeds or just bought them from a vendor, it is now time to plant those seeds.
For planting your seeds, you need to fill your growing bed with potting soil from the store.
Make sure that you leave a few inches of space in height left and that you don’t fill your growing bed with soil up to the top.
After you filled your growing bed, you can just place your zucchini seedlings right onto the soil.
Make sure that your seeds have sufficient space between each other.
I recommend you to leave at least 5 inches of space between your seeds into each direction so that your seedlings can grow in a proper manner.
After you placed all of your seeds, it is now time to cover your seeds with some additional soil. I recommend you to put an additional soil layer of about 2 inches in height on your seeds.
Finally, you just have to water your seeds on a regular basis and you are good to go.
Make sure that you place your growing bed on a bright and warm location inside your home so that your seedlings will be able to develop as best as possible.
Also make sure that your soil will never dry out during this period since this could cause your seedlings to die off before you even see them reaching the soil surface.
Please also note that not all seeds will turn into seedlings. Thus, if you want to produce a certain minimum number of seedlings, make sure that you grow enough seeds.
I suggest you use a ratio of 3:1 between seeds and the required number of seedlings you want to get so that you can be sure that you reach your goal.
In fact, if you produce more seedlings than expected, you can just give them away to other people who may be quite happy about it.
How long does it take to see the first Zucchini Seedlings?
Now that you planted your zucchini seeds, it is time to be a little bit patient and wait.
While you will likely see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface after just one week, it can take several weeks or even months until you see all the seedlings.
Hence, don’t worry if it takes a little bit longer until you see results.
Always remember, gardening is about patience and about enjoying the process, not about short-term gains.
How to protect your Zucchini Seedlings
Once you have grown a decent number of seedlings out of your zucchini seeds, it is now time to spend some thoughts on how to protect your zucchini seedlings.
Since you will grow your seedlings inside your home for the first weeks, you don’t have to worry about protection too much since your seedlings will not be accessible by snails or by other animals that might harm them.
However, if you have pets, make sure that your seedlings will not be accessible to them and also that your pets will not knock over your growing bed.
When should you transplant your Zucchini Seedlings?
Your zucchini seedlings will become bigger over the following weeks.
In fact, at some point in time, they will be ready to be transplanted outside.
However, when exactly is the optimal time to transplant your zucchini seedlings into your garden?
There are two main criteria that have to be met.
First, you have to make sure that your zucchini plants have a certain minimum height before you plant them outside.
Only if they have a certain height, your seedlings will have the necessary resistance that is required to survive outdoors.
Second, outside temperatures also have to be suitable.
This means that temperatures should not drop below the freezing mark at nighttime anymore.
If both criteria are met, you are just good to go.
To give you a rough indication, if you started your growing efforts in mid of March, chances are that you will be ready to transplant your seedlings outside in mid of May in most regions with moderate climate of our planet.
Hence, if you finally decide that the time has come, you first have to prepare your growing site in your garden.
For each zucchini seedling, you have to dig a hole of about 4 feet in length, 3 feet in width and 2 feet in height.
This means that you will use 12 square feet of space for each zucchini plant.
Please note that this is just a rough indication and the more space you give your plants, the better they will grow.
However, make sure that you give each plant at least 10 square feet of space so that your zucchinis have sufficient space to develop in a decent manner.
After you dug all those holes, it is now time to mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store and also with the earthworm castings to provide the optimal nutrient mix for your zucchinis.
Also make sure that the soil will be as loose as possible.
After you prepared your site in an optimal manner, you just have to transplant your zucchini seedlings to your garden and you are good to go.
What kind of Protection do Zucchini Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your zucchinis are no longer protected inside your home, you have to worry a lot more about how to protect them.
In fact, snails are always hungry and are a real danger for your seedlings, especially when they are still quite small.
Thus, make sure that you use a slug fence or other measures to keep slugs away from your zucchini seedlings.
However, don’t use any chemical substances for it since those chemicals are quite bad for our environment.
3. The Zucchini Growth Process
After you protected your seedlings in your garden from slugs, the hardest part is already done.
In fact, your zucchini plants will get bigger and stronger every day and will also become more resistant against several sorts of pests and other attackers.
Therefore, after a while, you don’t have to worry about them too much anymore. However, there are still some things to do at this stage.
Should you prune your Zucchini Plants?
For instance, many experts claim that you should prune your zucchini plants.
In my opinion, while it can make sense to remove yellow leaves and other smaller parts from your zucchini plants, I would not recommend you to prune your zucchini plants too much.
In fact, just let nature do its work and you will be surprised how good your zucchinis will grow if you just leave them alone for a while.
Do you have to pollinate your Zucchini Plants by Hand?
While it doesn’t make sense to prune your zucchinis in an excessive manner, it will still be necessary to pollinate your zucchini plants by hand.
In fact, zucchini flowers only open for a rather limited amount of time and if they are not pollinated during this time, there will also not be any fruits later on.
Thus, if you want to increase your chances to harvest zucchinis, you should pollinate your zucchini plants by hand.
Just use a cotton swab or another soft stick and carefully distribute the plant pollen onto the zucchini flowers.
Pollinating your zucchini plants by hand is not difficult.
However, it still requires quite a lot of attention from your part since you will only be able to do so when zucchini flowers are still open.
Hence, whenever, you see an open zucchini flower in your garden, it is time to take action and to pollinate it in order to maximize your yields.
How to stake your Zucchini Plants
Depending on the zucchini variety you want to grow, it may not even be necessary to stake your zucchini plants.
However, if you still want to do so to stabilize your plants and to protect them against winds and other extreme weather conditions, you can just place a bamboo stick right next to each plant and tie the plant to the stick by using cord.
This is a rather easy way to make sure that your plants have a maximum level of stabilization.
Yet, as mentioned before, you can also just leave your zucchini plants grow as they are and nature will find its way to still produce decent yields.
4. The Zucchini Harvest
If you followed all the steps I showed you before, you should be able to harvest the fruits of your labor in autumn.
When should you harvest your Zucchinis?
In general, it is rather simple to determine the optimal harvesting time for zucchinis.
If you know how zucchinis look like in the store, you will have a pretty good intuition regarding when you can harvest them from your plant.
In fact, if they look like they are ripe, they probably are.
If you are not sure whether your zucchinis are already ripe or not, just harvest one zucchini and taste it.
If it tastes as it should, you can also harvest the other ones. If not, you may want to leave your other zucchinis grow for a little bit longer.
After a while, you will really get a pretty good feeling regarding when it is the right time to harvest your zucchinis.
Hence, don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the optimal harvesting time if you have never grown zucchinis before.
It is all about experience. You just have to learn from it and do better the next year.
How to store your Zucchinis?
Zucchinis are rather robust vegetables and you can store them for many days or sometimes even weeks.
However, also note that they taste best right after the harvest and also contain the most precious vitamins right after the harvest.
Thus, instead of storing your zucchinis, make sure to consume them shortly after the harvest.
What should you do with your Zucchinis?
You can cook many different dishes with your zucchinis. In fact, opportunities are almost endless.
For instance, you can use your zucchinis for salads, you can make a zucchini omelet or make many other dishes.
Just experiment a little bit with your zucchinis in the kitchen and create your own dishes instead of just copying recipes.
By doing so, you can learn quite a lot about cooking and you can also impress your family and friends quite a lot.
Zucchini Plant Care Tips
Now that we learned how to grow zucchinis step-by-step, I give you some further general information to optimize your zucchini growing experience even further.
How often should you irrigate Zucchinis?
Watering zucchini plants in your garden is not difficult at all. In fact, in case it rains, you don’t have to water your plants at all.
In times of good weather and hot temperatures, you may have to water your zucchini plants on a daily basis.
In general, you can’t do too much wrong by watering your plants quite a lot since all the redundant water will vanish into the groundwater anyway.
Hence, it is better to water your zucchini plants more than less. If you are not sure whether you should water your zucchini plants, you can use the following trick.
Just dig a small hole with your finger into the ground next to your zucchini.
If the soil sticks to your finger, it is still wet enough and you don’t have to water your plants.
If it doesn’t stick to your finger, it is time to water your plants.
With this trick, you can make sure that you water your zucchinis in a proper manner and over time, you will also get a natural feeling regarding when it is time to water your plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Zucchini Plants?
While many growing experts claim that the best time to water your zucchini plants is the early morning, I honestly haven’t seen any impact on the growth behavior of my plants.
Thus, just water your plants whenever you feel that your plants actually need water and you are good to go.
How often should you fertilize your Zucchini Plants?
Since you already prepared the soil in your garden in an optimal manner by adding earthworm castings and potting soil, you will no longer have to worry too much about adding additional fertilizer.
However, if you further want to promote the growth of your zucchini plants, you can produce your own natural fertilizer instead of using chemical fertilizer that may hurt our natural environment quite a lot in the long run.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Zucchini Plants?
One way to make natural fertilizer is just to collect some stinging nettles and put them in a bucket of cold water for a few days.
During this time, plenty of nitrogen and other beneficial components will end up in the water.
After a few days, just remove the stinging nettle plant material and you will have decent natural fertilizer which you can just use to fertilize your zucchini plants on a continuous basis.
Compared to using chemical fertilizer, using stinging nettle liquid will not hurt our environment at all and can also save you plenty of money.
However, make sure that you don’t leave your stinging nettles in the water for too long since they will start to smell quite a lot after a week.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Zucchinis?
The short answer is: No! You should definitely not use chemical pesticides or herbicides in your garden since those substances can be extremely harmful to our local flora and fauna and may also decrease populations of beneficial insects like bees.
Instead of using herbicides, just remove weeds by hand.
Moreover, instead of using chemical pesticides, you can just use some of your stinging nettle liquid and spray it onto your plants.
Many pests don’t like the taste of stinging nettles at all and chances are that using your natural stinging nettle liquid will be enough to treat most of the pests.
Thus, stinging nettle liquid is not only a good fertilizer, it can also be used as effective pesticide and can make your life much easier in general. Just try it, you will be surprised how good it actually works!
What’s left to say?
Wow, this was a long ride! In fact, I am always surprised when I finally wrote my growing guides and have a look at the number of words of those articles.
However, I still tried to make this growing guide as short and compact as possible while giving you all the necessary information on how to grow your zucchinis in an optimal manner at the same time.
I hope you get plenty of value out of this article. If so, make sure to also share it with your family and friends.
If you liked this growing guide, also have a look at my other articles in order to further increase your knowledge of growing plants of several sorts.
Anyway, thanks for reading my zucchini growing guide! Now it’s time to take action on your side! 😉
If you want to know even more about growing zucchinis, also make sure to check out my growing zucchini FAQ section.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.