Why Is My Squash Not Fruiting?

How to Self Pollinate Your Squash

September 4, 2019
Squash Flowers

“What’s wrong with my squash?” and “Why isn’t my squash fruiting?” are two common squash questions. Often, these squash problems are related to lack of pollinators. Here are the short answers, as well as a video to show you HOW to hand pollinate a squash.

Why is My Squash Not Fruiting?

If your squash blooms flowers but never bears actual fruit, or it bears fruit that stops growing when it’s very small, then it’s a pollination issue.

Most squashes have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.  Male blossoms are borne on a straight green stem, while female blossoms sit atop a tiny squash. Only female blossoms set fruit.

To produce fruit, pollen from male flowers must be physically transferred to the female flowers by bees. If you do not have enough bees, you can manually pollinate with a Q-tip—or, add nearby plants that attract bees!

How to Hand Pollinate Squash

See our video demonstrating how to hand pollinate your squash.

What usually happens is: You’ll see male blossoms first, and you’ll wonder where the female flowers are! Be patient. If there is rain or cold weather, the pollinating bees may not come out which might delay the emergence of the female blossom. 

This is another reason to self-pollinate squash. Using a small artist’s paintbrush, just dab pollen from the inside of male flowers on open females.

If you’re seeing fruit, but they are shriveling up and/or rotting, this may also be a pollinator issue. This can also happen because the conditions are so damp that the squash gets a fungus. 

Squash can also have pests problems, but that’s another story. See our Squash and Zucchini Growing Guide to learn more.


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