I love fried squash, so much that I could eat my weight in it. Which would then no longer be my weight at all, but some higher number. The trouble is that I have always thought squash was one plant that required an actual yard to grow it. After all, it is a plant that can become rather large under the right conditions. When I found a seed packet (Pic-N-Pic Hybrid) that claimed these plants could be grown in a 12 inch pot, I was understandably intrigued. It turns out that growing squash in containers really isn’t that difficult.
- Squash Basics
- Starting Squash
- Other Squash Related Tips
- Problems Growing Squash in Containers
- Will Squash Grow In Pots: How To Grow Squash In Containers
- Will Squash Grow in Pots?
- Squash Varieties for Container Gardening
- Planting Squash in Pots
- Caring for Container Squash
- How to Grow Butternut Squash
- The Garden of Eaden
- Watering and Fertilizing Butternut Squash
Although there are other varieties of squash, our family is partial to the yellow, crookneck kind, so that’s specifically what I’m going to be talking about in this article. However, these tips should work for other kinds too.
One container grown plant.
Squash is a vegetable, so it naturally needs plenty of sun. One plant is currently in bright shade part of the day. But it gets a great deal of evening sun so it’s currently doing okay. You’ll need to water the plant regularly to make sure it stays healthy and produces decent-sized fruits. Just don’t get the leaves wet when you’re watering it, because that tends to encourage problems like powdery mildew. The Burpee Guide to Growing Squash is an even more in-depth guide, which might also come in handy.
Recently transplanted squash seedlings. You definitely shouldn’t plant them this close together. But in my defense, like Katy Perry, they were born that way.
I started almost all my seedlings this year in starter pots made from toilet paper rolls. They’re a handy, economical option that generally works pretty well, especially if you find yourself with dozens of plants to pot and not enough time to go to the store. However, I did have some mold problems with the potting soil and occasionally the starter pots were lopsided and would fall over. I switched to Jiffy pots for the last batch, but these didn’t include any squash. I’d also recommend buying soil mix that’s specifically for starting seeds because of the strange mold problems that I had earlier this year.
I started the first batch of squash directly in the container I’d chosen because the weather here has been warm enough to do so for some time. But I opted to start the second batch of seedlings in smaller pots. This is because I planned on putting them in a round terracotta pot once I had finished pulling up the radishes that were previously living there. I started the first set of squash in March and it took about two weeks to germinate. However, the second set sprouted about a week faster because of the warmer weather. This may have also been because they were in a spot that was getting a tad more sunlight. The first plant took about two months from being planted to produce fruit. It may a bit longer before it’s actually big enough to eat.
Other Squash Related Tips
One blossom turned fruit.
According to Grow Great Grub, a great resource for container gardeners, Gayla Trail recommends growing summer squash in pots that are 10 to 12 inches deep. However, the seed package directions said that the squash plants would be alright in 12 inch containers. But those instructions seemed to be referring to diameter rather than depth and I’d used up all of the bigger pots for the tomatoes. I went a bit smaller than that, with a 10 inch container that’s probably too shallow as well. I may have to eventually transplant them to a bigger container so you’d be better off to start with one in the 12″ plus size.
The larger squash is covered in blooms and currently has two tiny fruits. I may have to eventually stake it because it keeps flopping over on the side. I don’t foresee this being a problem with the seedlings I just transplanted, because they have enough room to spread out. However, the pot depth might be an issue once they get a little bigger. I’ll keep you posted. Just remember that when you’re using plastic containers, you need to be sure they’re made of food grade material so that you can keep any harmful substances out of your food. As always, happy gardening!
Problems Growing Squash in Containers
Question from Martha:
I have 2 squash plants planted in containers, side by side. They started out beautiful. I got 2 nice squash so far. Lately, the tiny squash have been drying up before they get very big, and also the leaves are turning brown underneath the plant. Help! Thank you.
Answer from Pat:
Yellow and browning leaves and shriveled fruit can often mean lack of nutrients, especially nitrogen, or can mean overwatering. Squash plants are also subject to several diseases, such as blight, bacterial wilt, and mildew. You do not mention white on top of the leaves, but mildew causes whiteness on top and browning beneath and finally browning of whole leaves. (See my video on what to do about mildew. One cure for plant diseases such as mildew is to spray the plant with an organic product called ‘Serenade’ which contains a beneficial fungus which attacks and kills the fungus disease.)
You do not describe the type of browning, whether spots or all over. The various diseases of squash have a variety of symptoms and browning can be in spots and in some cases lead to holes through the leaf. To avoid disease problems altogether, always begin squash from seeds of a good disease-resistant variety, not from a plant you buy in a nursery container because when you purchase a container-grown squash plant it will usually be a cheap variety, not disease resistant variety, and also is most likely to be infected with a disease already when you buy it. I have seen very sorry looking squash plants in nurseries and I always wonder why folks don’t plant squash from seeds when the seeds sprout so quickly and easily.
Now to discuss nutrition: Plants growing in containers are dependent on the gardener to give them the soil mix and food they need for healthy growth. However, I am taking it for granted that you filled your container with a good quality potting soil, not garden soil. Filling containers with garden soil is a recipe for disaster. I also imagine that you have fertilized, according to package directions, with a balanced organic fertilizer appropriate for vegetables. Diluted fish emulsion can work well for vegetables in containers, since it does not burn. Plants that are not fed will go yellow or brown and the fruit will abort and fall off, as you have described.
Squash needs plenty of room and a large container. A half barrel size is about the smallest one can go. Early in the season before the sun is so hot it is possible perhaps to get some fruit, as you did, but once the weather warms up and the roots inside the container wind around the inside of the container where the sun hits, those roots will fry from heat and they literally burn. It is natural that some early leaves might go brown and shrivel up, but in a really healthy plant most of the leaves will be large and stand up high to shade the fruit. Next time plant squash in a large container, or begin by planting one of the miniature varieties especially designed for growing in containers. Even a raised bed is sometimes not big enough for an ordinary squash plant, since one squash plant needs all the space in the bed.
Sometimes people overwater their vegetables. If the soil mix is soggy wet, as can happen in containers, or if it is uneven in moisture this can result in problems. Squash like best to be grown in the ground and to be watered deeply and infrequently instead of shallowly and often. Soil mix in containers dries out quickly and this forces gardeners to water the plants more often than optimum conditions require.
As far as the drying up of little fruits, this too can be a result of root burn. Another possibility is that there were no bumble bees in your garden so they never got pollinated. Try hand-pollinating the flowers as demonstrated in my video on the subject. (Click on “videos” in the right hand column and then click on “See all 24 videos”.)
Will Squash Grow In Pots: How To Grow Squash In Containers
When garden space is scarce, it’s good to know that a number of plants will happily thrive in containers. This is good news for apartment dwellers that may have only a small balcony or patio space. Many herbs, vegetables, flowers and even small trees are quite happy in a container as long as the size is adequate, proper drainage is provided, and they receive the care that they need. Vegetables grown in pots often require more frequent watering than plants in the ground, so close attention must be given, especially during times of extreme heat.
Will Squash Grow in Pots?
Many cultivars of cucumbers, peppers, peas, leaf crops, tomatoes and squash can be grown in pots. Contrary to what you might think, these plants will produce just as much fruit in a container as they do in the ground, as long as you pick a suitable variety and provide the care that they need.
Squash Varieties for Container Gardening
There are a number of varieties of squash that are appropriate for container gardening. Some varieties to consider include:
- Bush Acorn
- Black Magic Zucchini
- Bushkin Pumpkin
- Bush Crookneck
Planting Squash in Pots
Two important components to successful container gardening are container size and soil type. Although it may not seem like it, one squash plant will fill a 24-inch pot in no time. Do not overcrowd squash plants.
A couple of things can be done to promote drainage; drill several holes in the bottom of the container and place some fine gravel covered by a piece of wire mesh in the bottom of the container. This will keep the soil from clogging up the drainage holes.
The best soil mixture is loose, well-drained and loaded with organic matter. Mix together one part each perlite, sphagnum, potting soil, peat moss and compost for a well draining and highly fertile soil.
Caring for Container Squash
- Place your squash container in a location where it will receive at least seven hours of full daily.
- Provide a trellis or stake for your plant to help support the weight of the fruit. Squash is quite happy to grow vertically, and this is good for the plant. Vertical growing allows light and air to circulate and often reduces pest problems.
- Plant a few marigolds and nasturtiums with the squash to keep pests at bay.
- Keep an eye on the moisture. Water when the soil is dry a couple inches down.
- Provide an organic fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
How to Grow Butternut Squash
Days to germination: 5 to 10 days
Days to harvest: 90 to 100 days
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Regular watering
Soil: Fertile and well-drained
Container: Possible in large containers
Butternut is one of many different kinds of winter squash, with a distinctive pale yellow and pear-shaped fruit. Inside, the firm flesh is orange and distinctly sweet.
It’s never eaten raw, but the the flesh can be cooked in a variety of ways once the seeds have been scooped out. Baked or roasted is the most common. Being orange inside, its no surprise that butternut squash is very high in vitamin A. You will also get potassium, vitamin C, manganese and a large dose of fiber.
Starting from Seed
Butternut squash need warm soil to germinate so you are better off starting seeds indoors, though you can also direct seed outside once the weather warms up.
Plant your seeds in larger (3″) seed pots rather than flats, with the seeds about an inch under the soil. You can plant 2 or 3 in each pot, to transplant together in hills. Keep your pots somewhere sunny and warm or they may take a long time to sprout. Get them started around 3 weeks before your last frost date.
Each butternut squash plant will produce several large squash, so you won’t likely need more than 3 or 4 plants.
Your seedlings should go out about 2 weeks after your last frost has passed.
Dig your soil to prepare for planting and add fertilizer or compost. Choose a location that will have full sun and allow a lot of space for the vines. Each hill should have 3 feet of space around it.
If you are putting seeds straight into the garden, you’ll be planting them at the same time as you would put out the transplants. They will not germinate or sprout in cold soils. Plant 4 or 5 seeds in a small hill, and thin down to 2 or 3 after they have sprouted.
Butternut can be grown upward on a fence or trellis if you don’t want to have vines all through your garden. If you plan on training them up this way, you can plant your seedlings just 2 feet apart. In this case, don’t plant them in little groups, but rather just one plant every 2 feet. Be prepared to add extra support when those large fruits start to grow.
Like cucumbers, squash vines will first have a round of male-only flowers come to bloom before the female ones do. So don’t be alarmed if none of the first blossoms set any fruit. They aren’t supposed to.
For plants growing on a trellis, you will have to take care to protect the squash as they get larger. The plant won’t be able to support them up in the air on its own. Various slings or nets can be fashioned by the creative gardener. Pantyhose, old t-shirts, mesh produce bags can all be used to make a squash hammock. Just tie them to the trellis, not the vines.
As the season comes to a close, pinch off any new flowers and remove very young squash. You can help the plant divert its resources to finishing off the larger squash before winter by not letting any new ones get started.
Butternut is one of the larger winter squashes and not really ideal for container gardening. A container that is 5 gallons in size or larger would be adequate for 1 plant, though the vines will take up quite a bit more space beyond that. You can trellis container squash, but will have to make sure it is secure as the top-heavy trellis can topple over if it’s just anchored by a pot of soil.
Pests and Diseases
Healthy butternut squash plants can produce many pounds of food for you, but you will need to take care of them first. They are unfortunately susceptible to a number of potential problems.
The broad leaves can be attacked by squash bugs or striped cucumber beetles. Check your plants frequently and pick them off as you find them. They can hide in the blossoms, so look there too. Insecticide sprays can usually help keep them to a minimum. A tent of mesh over your young plants can protect them, just make sure you remove it when the flowers start to bloom.
Vine borers aren’t as obvious and they will eat into the stalks of the plants where you can’t see them. If your plants wilt even thought they are well watered, this is likely the problem. You can use some pesticides before they strike but once they are in your squash plants there is little you can do to save the plants.
Bacterial wilt is another possible cause for wilting plants, and it spread by the cucumber beetle. The leaves closest to the infection point will start to wilt first, and the it will spread through the plant. The vines will start to get misshapen and then die outright. You can’t treat wilt so pay close attention to the cucumber beetles in your garden.
One last threat is the common powdery mildew. You can get a white “powder” coating on the leaves if you get water on them every time you water the plants. Direct the water at the soil and it should prevent this from developing.
Harvest and Storage
On average, each squash will weight around 1 pound and each plant should produce 3 or 4 of them in a season.
As a winter squash, you don’t generally pick butternut until it has fully matured. Summer squash like zucchini are different as they can be picked and eaten while young. Watch for your maturity date, and check the fruits with a fingernail. The skin should be tough enough that a nail won’t cut into it.
A mature squash will be fine after a light frost, but its best if you can get your harvest in before your frost date. After a frost they won’t store as long though they will still cook up just fine.
For squash you are using right away, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Cooked squash can be frozen but it will lose its firm texture after you thaw it out.
To store for a longer period of time, let your squash “cure” out in the sun for a couple of dry afternoons before putting them into storage. You should be able to keep them for a few months in a cool dry place.
- charles Says:
September 28th, 2012 at 2:16 am
can i grow butternut using chicken manure?
- charles Says:
September 28th, 2012 at 2:17 am
can i grow butternuts using chicken manure?
- Herman Smith Says:
December 10th, 2012 at 2:48 am
Why so many unanswered questions. Is there any kind of spraying program for pumpkin fly ets.
Regards Herman Smith, Louis Trichardt, South Africa
- kevincarruthers Says:
January 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm
I planted 5 seeds butternut early Nov2012. They are now rampaging thru my garden…I gave up counting the baby ones at seventy odd and plants are still advanceing throwing out beautiful rich yellow dinnerplate sized flowers.Shall I cut the leaders to stop the advance or should I not and allow the entire heighbourhood enjoy to there largesse?
- Teboho Says:
June 27th, 2013 at 4:45 am
Did you know that in Africa and in a small country called Lesotho, we plant butternut squash? We usually have good harvest if we plant in time and water properly.. 8-10 mature butternuts per plant in one season…
I am personally a big fan and consumer…
- Gene lamita Says:
June 27th, 2013 at 2:59 pm
Should I cut the extra runners off for larger butternut squash?
- Marleen Martin Says:
June 28th, 2013 at 8:38 pm
I am growing butternut squash for the first time this summer. I appreciate the info that I received by reading several statements. But some questions that people asked, don’t have responses under them. How come? I have one plant in a 20 gallon bucket. I noticed runner beginning to grow. Should I move over by fencing. Do I need hay. Are there other options? Is there a difference in male/female blossoms coloring? Thank you Marleen
- Gina Says:
July 5th, 2013 at 2:47 pm
A lot of people asked the question why a young squash will start to yellow of and die. It just means the female squash blossom was not pollinated. You can avoid this by pollinating the flower yourself with one of the male flowers. Hope that helped:)
- Victoria Johnston Says:
August 4th, 2013 at 1:38 pm
What are some good ways to store seeds for next year? And do I need to soak them or what? Thank you!!!
- susan Says:
August 9th, 2013 at 2:37 am
For anybody starting out for the first time I thought a few tips might be helpful? The way to differentiate between male and female flowers is that the male is on a long stalk and the female has an embryonic butternut squash attached behind the flower. The way to pollinate by hand is to use the male flower like a paint brush right inside the middle of the female or use a baby bud (Q tip). Alternatively, leave it to Mother Nature.
If the butternuts are not pollinated the flower just dies off, along with the little butternut. Sometimes I find it helpful to pollinate by hand those flowers which don’t have so much access to bees because they are hidden. I try to ease the foliage back, tucking large leaves under others, when there is a flower requiring pollinating. It pays to give them all the help in the world!
Remove the dead flowers and any rotting foliage promptly to avoid disease.
I grow organically and make an organic fertiliser by mixing compost and water in a bucket and then diluting it with water in a watering can. You could use chicken pellet fertiliser or phostrogen/miracle geo also.
I just put plenty of my rotted horse muck/compost into the beds but you can make ‘hills’ by digging a hole a foot deep and two feet wide and mixing in compost with the soil removed.
I start my seeds indoors in little pots covered in cling film plastic. When the seed emerges, remove the plastic. Grow on in the greenhouse but don’t allow the plants to get cold or wet. They hate their leaves getting wet. This summer the weather in England is hot and sunny and the plants are romping away.
I was surprised to find that I had dozens of female flowers and no males for a long time but I have ended up with so many butternuts growing it would be difficult to count. I have seventeen plants so I think we will be eating butternuts all winter.
When they are fully mature (leave on the vine for as long as possible) cut leaving a long length of stalk as they rot from the end of the stalk. Don’t carry by this end or they will suffer. They can be left to ripen in the sun but it is safer in this climate to put in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill for ten days to two weeks.
Store in a frost free place, on loft insulation in the loft space is perfect if a bit tricky to access.
- Liz Says:
August 10th, 2013 at 10:46 am
I would like to know the answer asked above as to whether if picked green they will ripen off the vine.
Also someone asked what could be used as a trellis. We use cattle panels. They are 16×4 ft and very sturdy. You can bend them into an arch and then plant on both sides and the fruits hang down inside. Amazing. We put 3 up in a row and attached them together with zipties, with 16 ft 2×4 attached with zip ties across the bottom edge of each. Have all my vining fruit growing on this.
- Administrator Says:
August 11th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
Nice trellis idea Liz, but no, they will not ripen off the vine.
- Ernie Says:
September 4th, 2013 at 7:10 am
I have 2 plants in one container though I have small aquashes on them I have trail vines which look out of control can I cut these back to helpon the squash coming through.
- dan Says:
September 24th, 2013 at 5:55 am
the fellow from england is reguarding summer asjuly 17 18 not along groing period but anyway i m in florida where it is totaly opposite with what i seem to see that poor polination can lead to dead new squash thankyou and sept.1 is a good time i have found to plant squash ha ve had very good reoults… much better than my spelling dan
- Susanes Says:
October 7th, 2013 at 2:07 am
Iam starting up a small scale commercial farm in Uganda, growing a variety of vegetables. Any ideas how I can be successful?
- nita dreyer Says:
October 19th, 2013 at 10:56 pm
We live in South Africa. If anybody has any advise on growing butternut here please advice.
- Andy Fu Says:
October 24th, 2013 at 9:41 am
I’m lucky this year that a butternut squash grow in my garden (Maybe birds planted it).
We can’t believe that this one plant produced more than 10 squashes! Now it is end of Oct in Northern CA, it is still blooming and growing more fruits!
So one happy plant is enough to make you happy!
- shirley dickson Says:
November 3rd, 2013 at 9:45 am
We have 8-10 lb. butternut squash. They’re light brown with some stripes on them. Any way to let them mature? The weather is getting colder. Our largest is 11 lbs. Is this normal?
- Gladman Says:
January 13th, 2014 at 9:39 pm
I have also planted squash butternuts and now they are beginning to germinate,please may you help me with the kind of pesticides I should use now just as they germinate and also when they begin to flower.
- Gladman Says:
January 13th, 2014 at 9:44 pm
Well said.What insecticides and pesticides can we use at germination and flowering.
- ERNEST DANSO Says:
January 17th, 2014 at 3:12 pm
what causes butternut not to change colour. 2 how can i prevent the fangue on the butternut. fanguel like dot dot on the butternut
- David St.Laurent Says:
February 16th, 2014 at 9:54 pm
I have tried growing cucumbers with no success because of, of all things, the birds. They don’t care about the cucumbers, but they will pick the vines clean of all the leaves, I have seen them do it. Does this ever happen with butternut squash? I don’t even want to try growing it if the birds are going to win again.
- Chavah Says:
April 11th, 2014 at 1:49 pm
Hi, I notice lots of questions. I am learning as well, and I came across a website that was helpful:
Hope this helps!
- Colleen Says:
July 16th, 2014 at 8:32 pm
I have several squash growing on about 4 plants, but my butternut squash are very small, less than the length of my hand. Is there any reason mine are so small? They have only started growing about 8 weeks ago, how long should it be until they are ready to harvest?
- Sandra Wales Says:
September 14th, 2014 at 10:46 am
I pick mine green and they ripen off the vine
- Mike Fish Hoek Says:
December 16th, 2014 at 7:56 am
Is it ok to trim off some of the leaves, as it will poss11ibly then send more goodness to the fruit. Do not think trimming off more thad aprox 25% would be good.
- Mike Fish Hoek Says:
December 16th, 2014 at 7:57 am
want to trim off 25% of leaves. Is this OK.
- Emmanuel Hayford Says:
May 28th, 2015 at 6:27 am
Want to grow butternut squash in Ghana for export to Saudi Arabia and UK.
- davojimbo Says:
January 4th, 2016 at 11:06 pm
if you have fruit that sets, then turns yellow and falls off while very small, it may be that they are not getting pollinated….
the male flowers are on long stems – the female flowers (that set the fruit) are close to the vine,not sticking way out on a stem- I just pull off a male flower, remove most of the yellow petals leaving just the pollen coated stem and hand pollinate the female flower – I usually have a lot of male flowers so just stick it in the female flower and leave it, and as soon as I can easily get them female flower to open… I have really good success this way, as the bees don’t seem to care much for hunting out the flowers that are usually hidden under big leaves….
- Robert Says:
February 25th, 2016 at 8:50 am
I’ve been growing butternuts for years and looked for information on increasing yields. I found good tips here on natural and chemical fertilization.
I didn’t see any mention of the problem of cross-pollination. I’ve learned to keep my squash as segregated as possible. My zucchini and butternut once did this. The zucs did ok, but some of the butternuts had greenish stripes and their flavor suffered.
- Administrator Says:
March 5th, 2016 at 5:46 pm
Underripe butternut have stripes and poor flavor, might it have just been that? Pollination generally will not affect fruit yield of the current plant – it’ll only muck things up if you save seeds.
- Carol Chin Says:
December 21st, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Can butternut squash grow in the Caribbean with tropical climate year round?and if so how long from planting will it take to harvest your squash.
- Administrator Says:
January 5th, 2017 at 4:28 pm
120 days for harvest, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t grow for you.
- Kim Says:
February 14th, 2017 at 12:46 am
I grow butternut squash here in Hawaii, and it grows fine, so maybe that is help to the person in the Caribbean. I have a couple of plants just making flowers here now and first fruit is set. I can plant them year round here. Sometimes they do best if planted dead of winter or late/summer fall, as it seems that cucumber beetles are worse around late spring. By then, these plants I have growing will have produced already. Have fun.
- mike powell Says:
March 4th, 2017 at 2:01 am
can i use chicken manure to fertilise butternuts and is that sufficient fertiliser
- raincrow Says:
March 12th, 2017 at 2:41 pm
I’ve grown Butternut squash several times, but the vines are always killed by Borers and Squash Bugs about the time the first fruits are maturing, despite daily bug-picking and use of pesticides. One early October, about 8 years ago, I was on a beach at the Mississippi River and a couple of dozen of the biggest Butternuts I ever saw came floating down the river and stranded on the beach. Needless to say, I ate my fill of Butternut squash for a year.
- Robert Fordham Says:
July 24th, 2017 at 10:02 am
I have planted a Butternut squash for the first time here in the UK. The flowers come and a yellow tubar starts to grow to the size of a cricket ball then they just die. Any advice please
- Lorii Says:
August 19th, 2017 at 9:08 pm
To combat borer dont plant squash of any kind until July. To combat squash bugs, seek and destroy. I use duct tape to nab them and their eggs. To make it easier on yourself and minimize the population only plant squash every other year. They hide out over winter and start infecting your new squash plants in the spring. If there are no squash they will die out or go elsewhere. This is difficult if you are in. Community garden. I grow zucchini type squash in a tomato cage and butternut vines up a trellis. It make it easier to inspect the underside of leaves for bugs I or eggs. Good luck. Diligence pays off.
Top of page…
The Garden of Eaden
Butternut squash are vigorous plants and to get the most out of a container grown crop you will need to make sure that there is plenty of nutrition available to it. Unless you are going to apply liquid or granular feeds – or are going to periodically top dress your container with an appropriate mulch – the only nutrients that are going to be available to your growing squash are those found within the container. If these vital nutrients become used before the end of the growing season then your plant will weaken and your crop can become stunted and lose considerable quality. In addition, you are likely to see an increased incidence in pests and diseases.
Butternut squash seedlings
Of course it’s all in the preparation – what you put in is what you get out. So if your are unsure as to what compost blend to start them off with, consider creating a 50:50 mix of topsoil and well rotted farm manures as this will easily help to get your crop off to a good, nutrient rich start. Additional fertilisers and/or mulches can be added as and when needed
Each squash seedling will need to be planted approximately 3ft from its nearest neighbour, so unless you are using something the size of half-barrels you are likely to be use only one plant per container. If you have plenty of seedlings then plant 2-3 seedlings per container with the view to removing the weakest two a week or so after germination.
Having been started off inside under protection, the young squash plants will need to be hardened off for a week or two before they are permanently left outside. If your container is too large or heavy to move then ensure that the seedlings are protected at night by a bell cloche or something similar.
Butternut squash fruits
Small green fruits will appear shortly after flowering, and as they grow bigger remove some of the leaves so that the fruits can be exposed to the sun.
Butternut squash are vigorous plants, and once they start growing, they can spread rapidly. While the plants are still young, you can choose to control the foliage by either growing them vertically up a wigwam or trellis or allowing them to trail naturally along the ground.
Your squash plants will require plenty of water during the growing season – especially in hot weather – so keep an eye on them so that they don’t dry out. If the plant does dry out when there is fruit on the vine then there will be a strong chance that it will shed its fruit as a way of protecting the plant. Be careful too about over-watering too as this can also increase the incidence of fungal rots.
Your butternut squash should be ready to pick in the autumn but remove the fruits before the weather turns cold and definitely before the first frost. Timing is important because if you pick them before they are properly ripe then they can end up lacking in flavour.
HOW TO COLLECT AND PREPARE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SEEDS FOR PROPAGATION
HOW TO GROW BUTTERNUT SQUASH
HOW TO GROW BUTTERNUT SQUASH FROM SEED
How to Grow Butternut Squash in Boxes
WHEN DO YOU HARVEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Watering and Fertilizing Butternut Squash
It’s important to begin watering and fertilizing butternut squash plants when the seedlings are a few inches tall. These steps will help your plants to produce lots of high quality squash later in the growing season.
Watering Butternut Squash Plants
You want your squash plants to get large enough to produce and support several nice size squash. They can’t accomplish this feat without adequate water.
Butternut squash plants need about an inch of rain per week for best results. If you don’t get any rain in your area for 7-10 days, you’ll need to provide the water yourself.
A long, slow soak is best when watering squash plants. You want the water to slowly permeate the soil and eventually reach the root system. Your butternut squash plant will then absorb the water from the soil, along with all the nutrients it can get. This energy is stored up until fruit production begins. Avoid using high water pressure as it may erode away the soil that covers the roots. Concentrate the water at the base of the plant. Try not to water the tops of the plants as this may encourage disease and pest problems. Wet leaves are a breeding ground for fungal infections. It’s best to water in the early morning hours. This way, any excess water will be evaporated by the afternoon sun.
To determine if your plants need watering, dig down a few inches into the soil next to your squash plants. If the dirt is moist at this depth, you’re probably in fine shape. If the dirt is dry, it’s probably time to water.
To keep the soil moist, a layer of mulch can be applied around your butternut squash plants. Grass clippings, chopped up leaves or straw work well as mulch. These organic materials can be tilled under at the end of the growing season, adding nutrients to the soil for next year.
Fertilizing Butternut Squash Plants
Butternut squash plants feed heavily to produce lots of high quality squash. Fertilizer can be applied to the plants to give them the nutrients they need. You can use a granule type fertilizer or a water soluble type, whichever is easiest for you.
The first time for fertilizing butternut squash plants is when the seedlings are a few inches tall. A dose of fertilizer at this stage will help the plant to get as large as possible. Larger plants mean bigger, more well formed squash. Once the plants begin to take off and get big, avoid adding more fertilizer until after the blossoms appear. This will encourage the plant to focus its energy on producing squash. After the blossoms appear, another dose of fertilizer can be applied to maximize fruit production.
When using a granular type, choose a well balanced one such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. These numbers indicate the percentages of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate in the fertilizer mixture. Equal percentages of these 3 key ingredients will help the plant to grow large and produce high quality squash. Just scatter the granules on the ground around the plant and water them in well. Try not to let the granules touch the plants as it may cause them to burn. Apply the granules at the rate recommended by the manufacturer – usually 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet.
If you use a water soluble fertilizer, mix it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Apply it when you would normally water your plants. Again, a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer will work nicely.
We apply a balanced granular fertilizer to our squash patch about a week before we plant. We water it in well and then till one last time before planting. After that, we switch to a water-soluble fertilizer product and apply it when we water our plants.
Now that you’ve learned about watering and fertilizing butternut squash plants, the next step is to harvest your crop.