Zucchini plants do not need support to grow big and strong, but they definitely appreciate it. In fact, you can easily double your harvests by staking each plant and encouraging their vertical growth. If you don’t support your zucchini, you can gently guide the plants to grow into open areas along the ground in your garden space. Your zucchini plants will not always cooperate though, and they will produce less fruit than a supported vine.
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Should You Support Zucchini Plants?
Aim to support all your zucchini plants each year for the biggest harvests and healthiest plants. Zucchinis take up a lot less room when they can grow vertically.
Without the support, they just tend to sprawl out in every direction and claim all the extra space, beyond your zucchini patch, as their own. They often end up crowding out other plants as they spread out and reduce your overall yields for the growing season. Zucchini plants that are too heavy without support could also split at the stem.
Supporting your zucchini allows you to grow one plant per square foot. Plants left without support take up three feet of space or more. So, by staking or otherwise supporting your plants, you can expect to get up to nine pounds of zucchini per square foot.
Growing your zucchini vertically helps increase air circulation and improve their health as well, especially if growing your fruit in pots. Common zucchini pests will become a lot less common, resulting in fewer common diseases, like:
- Bacterial wilt
- Powdery mildew
- Cucumber mosaic virus
- Septoria leaf spot
- Alternaria leaf blight
So, in the end, you’ll lose far fewer plants as a result of giving your zucchini plant support. Plus, you’ll grow the biggest zucchini fruits and get a better return on investment through each growing season.
What Kind of Support Does Zucchini Need?
Zucchini plants need a sturdy source of support, like garden stakes, tomato cages, trellises, or chain-link fences. Just make sure that your supports of choice allow for good airflow and don’t take up much space in your zucchini patch.
- This foldable trellis makes an excellent support for zucchini.
- You can repurpose a tomato cage to support zucchini grown in a container.
- Plan supports at the same time you plant your zucchini.
Support for zucchinis cannot be an afterthought. Their shallow root system becomes quite robust rather quickly and often blocks attempts to drive stakes into the ground. To avoid that, put your support system in place as soon as your seedlings come up or at the time of planting.
How Do You Support a Zucchini Plant?
Zucchini plants grow fast, so get prepared to provide support before putting your seeds in the ground. To start, decide what support material you will use and gather your supplies ahead of time.
If you will use a chain-link fence or trellis for support, plant zucchini seedlings along the base of the structure. Otherwise, just follow your garden map and get your seeds in the ground to start the germination process.
As soon as you see the seedlings make their appearance, you will need to:
- Drive the wood stakes or tomato cage into the ground about two inches from each seedling.
- Make ties from twine or soft strips of cloth from an old t-shirt.
- Let the plant grow naturally until it reaches about 6 inches (15 cm) in height and tie it to the support.
- Add another tie for every 3 inches (7.5 cm) of growth to keep your plant well supported.
- Put even more ties in between if it seems like the vine’s struggling to stay upright.
Zucchini plants waste energy growing their lower plant leaves. So, as it grows onwards and upwards, snip off the lower zucchini leaves, especially if they’re starting to turn yellow. Harvest your zucchini as soon as they get about six to eight inches long. Letting them go longer than that can cause the vine to break.
Can You Use a Tomato Cage for Zucchini?
This tomato cage works great for supporting zucchini plants as they grow. Instead of growing up through the center of the cage, like tomatoes do, the zucchini will climb up the side. You just need to place the cage over the seedlings once they come up and push its spikes deep into the ground.
If the cage still feels wobbly:
- Tap the cage down further with a rubber mallet.
- Drive a stake down into the ground and zip tie the cage to it.
- Use a different type of support that anchors into your soil better.
Once the cage is in place, guide the vine from the center of the cage to its outer support structure. Secure the vine to the pole running vertically up the hoops on the cage. Encourage the zucchini plant to climb up the cage supports and secure the vine in place as it does.
If you want to get creative, you can even have the zucchini crawl along the outside of the cage in a circular pattern. The weight of the heavy fruit plant will have even distribution and reduce the risk of the cage falling over. Just be sure to tie the vine to the cage every two inches or so to prevent the plant from moving off course.
How Do You Keep Zucchini Plants from Falling Over?
Zucchini plants have a relatively low risk of falling over when properly secured to a sturdy support. The stakes, tomato cages, or other structures must sit securely in the ground to provide a strong base. Then, you must use enough ties to help support the weight of the vine, leaves, and veggies. It’s really as simple as that.
- Use a trellis, fence, or tomato cage to support your zucchini plant.
- Tie the zucchini plant to its support with twine or soft cloth strips.
- A supported zucchini plant will produce a bigger harvest than an unsupported plant.
Support for zucchinis is vital if you want an abundant harvest out of a limited amount of space. It also helps reduce the risk of diseases like powdery mildew. If you have endless room in your garden beds, then it might not be worth all the trouble, however. So, reflect on your gardening needs to find your ideal solution, and then try both methods to see what works best.