Farmers and gardeners are never promised bountiful produce; sometimes, there are a lot of budding flowers but never any fruit. At times like this, you have to step up with some solutions and put your green fingers to use.
The technique is simple: knowing the problem can direct you to a straight answer. And if you’re unsure of what the problem might be with your butternut squash, you’ll find out here!
The 5 Major Reasons Why Your Butternut Squash Isn’t Producing Fruit
Some reasons your butternut squash remains stubborn may seem downright plain, while some may find you rushing to the garden center. So lets’ look at each.
- Your vines have more male flowers: There are many instances when a butternut squash vine can have many healthy blossoms but not proceed to give fruit. If you check them, they might be just male ones with no or very few female flowers. You can identify a male flower by checking its stalk. The squash blossom is male if the stalk is directly connected to the flower. Female blossoms have a bulbous ovary right at the base of the flower and are very easy to notice.
- Very little or no pollinators: Bees and other insects love squash blossoms. But there may be occasions when these natural pollinators remain out of sight in your garden. And their absence will greatly diminish the instances of cross-pollination in the unisexual butternut squash flowers.
- The climatic conditions may be unfavorable: Squashes don’t grow well in places with heavy rains and hot and humid weather. You might notice the fruit forming, but they’ll eventually wither or get spoiled by fungus before maturing. There is another nasty thing that rains do to these squashes– mildew!
- Infestation by pests: Slugs, borers, bugs, and snails like feeding off the sweet-tasting butternut squash blossoms. They can make a flower sterile forever or cause premature flowers to drop. And they’re quick to act in the summer months and rainy days.
- Too much or too little fertilizer: If your butternut squash has too many leaves but very few flowers, it could be because of excess nitrogen in the manure. On the contrary, too little potassium content in the soil can lead to a lessened number of flowers. This nutrient imbalance could be why your flowers are healthy but sparse.
How To Care For Your Butternut Squash In The Summer & Prevent Fruit From Spoiling
The summertime (and also a rainy season) is a challenging time for butternut squash farmers. You’re trying to work with winter squash in summer, so you’ll have some not-so-happy gardening moments with reduced flowering, fruit rotting, and fungus growth. But not anymore; you can hack your summer worries with these handy tips:
- Maintain good garden soil moisture: If summers are hot and dry, your plants need to stay hydrated as you. And butternut squash (or any other squash) is quite a thirsty plant. So, always water your vines and ensure that the soil has enough moisture but is not soaking wet.
- The leaves are better dry: When watering your butternut squash, only water around the base. If the leaves get too wet, the plant will be prone to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. And if you already notice some of these in your vines, discard them and change your watering method.
- Give them enough sunlight: Butternut squash need an average of 6 hours of full sunlight daily, especially during their growing season. So try repositioning anything that is blocking the sunlight. Also, too much heat will destabilize the maturation process, so stick to the ideal time limit.
- Elevate the squashes from the soil during the growing stage: Place some stones or a thick layer of pine straw on the ground where your squashes are growing. This is a necessary step for geographic regions that witness frequent rains. Letting the fruit rest on these objects can prevent rotting. This can be a bit of work, but it’s better than waking up to fruit rot.
- Keep ample space between the vines: Summers are humid, and when air traps between the vines, you’ll have to deal with fungal growth. To solve this, you can use a trellis or maintain separate sections in the garden to improve airflow and keep the squashes free of infestations.
How To Help Your Butternut Squash Plant Produce
You cannot just give up on your butternut squash after all the time you’ve invested in it. Now that you know the reasons, the solutions are pretty simple, and you can definitely save your plants.
- Stop using toxic pesticides: Toxic pesticides or chemicals will result in a lack of natural pollinators. You can try changing your toxic pesticides to milder ones or not using them at all.
- Keep an eye out for pests: When you limit the chemicals you add to your garden, it is sure that snails and slugs will hunt the blossoms. So, make daily checks in your garden and remove any visible pests. They’ll most likely be around the flowers and not the vines.
- Attract natural pollinators with flowers: If you find bees and beetles don’t like to visit your butternut squash vines, you can set a safe trap for them. Simply plant some colorful and fragrant flowers around the garden, and they’ll do the squash pollination for you.
- Try hand pollination: If you cannot wait for the bees to do the job, you can become a pollinator yourself. For this, you need to manually transfer the pollen from the stamen of male flowers to the stigma of the female flowers. You can accomplish this by using a cotton swab as the transfer medium or directly brushing the pollen from a male flower after removing the petals.
- Balance the nutrients in fertilizer: To induce more flowering, try increasing the potassium content in the soil and limiting the nitrogen (which increases the growth of leaves). In addition, a spray of liquid fertilizer every two weeks is beneficial during their growing season.
Once you’ve tried all these, the only thing left is to wait and let nature transform the flowering blossoms into sweet and moist fruits!