Hand Pollinating Squash

Sometimes it takes the bees and such a little while to find your garden.
If that’s the case your plants that need some extra help in the love department might not set fruit. Never fear, with squash this is something you can take into your own hands.
Literally.
I’m talking about hand pollinating squash.

It’s actually a very easy process, you just need to find a male flower and a female flower.

Hand Pollinating Squash: Male flower

Here’s a male one; notice it has a normal stem and one big fused anther covered in powdery pollen granules.

Hand Pollinating Squash: one big fused anther covered in powdery pollen granules

 

Here’s a female one. The immature fruit on the base of the flower is a sure sign you have the lady parts in hand.
Hey now, this is a family show. Don’t be thinking like that!

Hand Pollinating Squash: female flower
Hand Pollinating Squash: Female Flower

 

Now peel back the petals from the male flower so you are left with a little wand.
 Be careful not to knock the pollen off.
 Now gently twirl and rub the pollen off in the center of and all over the stigma in the other flower, that sectioned sticky looking protuberance in the center of the female flower.

Hand Pollinating Squash: removing petals from male flower

Congratulations, you just made a baby!
bahahah! Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that!

Now there are a few things to keep in mind. You don’t need to pollinate with a flower from the same plant. You do however need to make sure that you are pollinating two flowers from varieties within the same species because generally, the different species can’t hybridize. 
Sometimes even if you do it right a female flower will still shrivel up and fall off. Don’t sweat it, at least you tried!

Hand Pollinating Squash: squash bed in May
 Look how much they have grown!
Not just the weeds, the squash too.
Hand Pollinating Squash: squash bed in early June

Now, if you want to save seed that will breed true you can use this technique to control which plant cross to prevent different varieties within the same species from cross pollinating.

A few days or the night before flowers open you can put mesh bags, such as these that are intended for produce ( I actually have these bags by the way) over the flowers to prevent insects from pollinating the flower before you have a chance to. You can also tape them shut or use clips.

Then proceed to hand pollinate; when you are finished cover or close the female flower again to prevent any other pollen from fertilizing it. You can remove the cover in a couple days. 

If you find you have an excess of male flowers you can make delicious stuffed squash blossoms, you really should try them!

For your further reference here’s a short list of varieties; in case you need to know who can make babies with you, yikes! I meant with who! 
Who can make babies with who.
Well, that doesn’t sound great either…
…anyway!

List of Cucubit Varieties Organized By Species:

~ like I said, this is a short list. If you are looking for something and don’t find it here I highly recommend visiting Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds~

 
Citrullus lanatus
Verona watermelon
 moon and star watermelon
 crimson sweet
 
Cucumis melo
var. inodorus Crenshaw,
 banana melon,
 early silver line melon 
 
Cantaloupensis (true cantaloupe)   
Prescott,
  var. flexuosus  Armenian cucumber
hales best
 
Cucurbita pepo
 acorn squash
spaghetti squash
 Delicata
sunny delight
 yellow crockneck
 patisson panache juane et vert scallop
 
Cucurbita moschata
 butternut squash
Kikuza
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
 
Cucurbita maxima
Casper pumpkin
 sweetmeat 
Hubbard
buttercup
Lakota
Red Kuri (Hokkaido)
 

Lagenaria siceraria

 long snake dancer gourd
 
Cucumis sativis  
  lemon cucumber
 tendergreen,
 straight 8
 
 
Hand Pollinating Squash {Life From Scratch}
 

This post is participating in Share Your Cup Thursday, Green Thumb Thursday, From The Farm, Inspired Weekends, The Homestead Barn, Homemade Mondays, Totally Talented Tuesday and The HomeAcre blog hops, check them out to find other blogs like ours!

I hope you found information and inspiration, come back soon!
Kindest regards,
Emily

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11 thoughts on “Hand Pollinating Squash

  1. Very interesting! Never thought to check the sex of my squash blossoms! Luckily I have had a ton of bees. Hope they do the trick. At one local gardening class the instructor told us to walk past our tomatoes and brush the blossoms with our hands. That would help to pollinate them. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  2. That is so good to know. I think you may have solved my ever-present squash problem. I’m gonna go out and make me some squash babies today 🙂 Thank you for sharing on Green Thumb Thursday. I hope we see you again today!

    1. I hope this is your problem! It might also be that your plants are calcium deficient, they will get blossom end rot which looks a whole lot like an unfertilized flower. You can water them with milk or whey and it should help. Good luck!

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