When growing acorn squash in containers, choose a large container. The ideal container is at least 24 inches (60 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep. Make sure to fill the container with high-quality dirt or potting soil before planting seedlings. Position the squash container so it receives 6–8 hours of sun per day and water twice per day to prevent the squash plant from drying out. To increase crop yield, it’s a good idea to fertilize your squash and encourage pollination of the flowers. You can also plant companion plants in the container alongside your squash to ward off pest insects.
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How Many Acorn Squash Can You Plant in a Container?
Provide 24–36 inches of space for each acorn squash you plant in a container. Squash are fast-growing, large vines. Unless you are using an exceptionally large container, it’s best to plant only one squash vine per container. Those tiny seedlings will soon grow too large for a small pot.
Can You Plant Acorn Squash in a 5 Gallon Bucket?
A 5-gallon bucket can make a suitable container for a single acorn squash plant. However, there are better options. Squash roots are relatively shallow and like to spread wide. So, choose a wide planter that is about 12 (30 cm) deep. Your acorn squash will thrive in this environment.
How to Grow Acorn Squash in a Container: 10 Tips
If you don’t have the garden space for acorn squash plants, you may be considering growing these delicious squash in containers. Rest assured, with these tips you can grow an amazing crop of this winter squash in a planter.
Choose the Right Container
Acorn squash develops shallow, far-flung roots. The squash seedling you plant now will need more space than you may first guess. Choose a large, relatively shallow planter for squash. At a minimum, acorn squash needs a 24-inch (60 cm) square planter that is 12 inches (30 cm) deep.
- Use a large container for each individual acorn squash plant.
- Minimum size of a container for acorn squash is 24 inches (60cm) square.
- Minimum depth for an acorn squash planter is 12 inches (30 cm).
- Planting acorn squash in a small container will cause the plant to struggle.
You won’t go wrong by choosing a larger planter. A box 36 by 18 inches (90 by 45 cm) is great for a single acorn squash plant. Don’t make the mistake of planting in a small container. Acorn squash planted in a small space will struggle and will not produce much harvest.
When it comes to planting acorn squash in a container, make sure to first fill the container with good soil. Consider a potting mix with perlite. This will help the soil drain and prevent your squash from developing root rot.
- Use high-quality, dark, rich earth to fill your container.
- You may use a potting mix with added perlite to assist container drainage.
- Mix compost into the soil to add organic fertilizers and boost squash growth.
It’s also essential to make sure the soil has enough nutrients. Choose soil with high levels of organic matter. Squash plants are heavy feeders, meaning they need a lot of nutrients. Blend 1 part compost, 1 part perlite, and 3 parts garden soil to make your own acorn squash potting mix.
Plant Seeds and Seedlings Together
Whether you are planting seeds or squash seedlings that have developed their first true leaves, plant 3 per container. Water twice per day until you identify the strongest of the 3 plants. Cut the 2 weaker plants off at ground level with scissors. Do not pull out the weak plants by the roots, as this may damage the roots of the desirable seedling.
- Plant 3 seeds or seedlings per squash container.
- Once one plant looks stronger than the others, cut the 2 underperforming plants off at soil level.
- Cultivate only 1 squash plant per-container.
Winter squash grows best with a lot of space. Do not try to grow several squash plants in a single container. The acorn squash vines will compete for water and nutrients, leading to 3 sickly plants in a container instead of 1 strong vine.
Give Them Full Sun
Position your acorn squash container where it will receive 6–8 hours of sun per day. Acorn squash is a sun-loving plant that does not tolerate shade well. If it is in shade from a tree, fence, or building, move the container so it can receive afternoon sunlight.
- Make sure your squash container receives 6–8 hours of sun daily.
- Keep squash containers out of shade.
- Position squash containers on the south side of your home.
South-facing windows and gardens make the best place to position acorn squash containers. This orientation ensures full sun. East- and west-facing gardens often do not receive as much sun or are partially shaded.
Because acorn squash loves the sun so much, it often is stricken with dryness. Combat this with frequent watering. Ideally, your squash should be watered twice per day. Water first in the morning, then again in the late afternoon.
- Water acorn squash two times per day in summer—once in the morning, once in the late afternoon.
- Make sure the soil in the container is continually moist (not wet) to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm).
- If temperatures are cool, reduce watering to once per day.
If your summer is especially hot and dry, keep an eye on your squash to make sure it is getting enough water. Test the soil in your squash container. It should be moist down to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm)
To feed your acorn squash, fertilize it twice. The first time you fertilize should be when seedlings appear and grow their first true leaves. If you are planting seedlings, fertilize at the time of planting. Then, fertilize a second time when the first squash flowers bloom. This will ensure a great harvest.
- Use this organic fertilizer twice during the growing season for great squash.
- Apply fertilizer when seedlings develop their first true leaves.
- If you are planting store-bought seedlings, fertilize when you plant.
- Apply fertilizer a second time when the first squash flowers bloom.
We recommend using organic fertilizer for your container squash. You’ll get a great-tasting, nutritious squash without any chemicals. Plus, fertilizing container squash is simple and quick.
In order to grow squash fruit, squash flowers must be pollinated. Don’t worry, acron squash makes this easy because both male flowers and female flowers grow on the same vine. If you are growing acorn squash outdoors in an area with natural pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, then nature will take care of this step for you.
- Acorn squash only grow from female flowers. These must be pollinated by male flowers.
- If your squash container is outdoors you can rely on natural pollinators to move pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.
- For squash grown indoors, pollinate it yourself by using a Q-Tip.
If you are growing your container squash indoors or do not have natural pollinators in your area, you’ll need to pollinate the squash flowers yourself. Pollinate squash with a simple Q-Tip. Locate a male flower (on a long stem) and swab some pollen on it. Then, find a female squash flower by looking for flowers with the small bulge of a mini-squash beneath the flower on the stem. Touch the pollinated Q-tip to the interior of the female flower to complete pollination.
Use a Trellis
Squash vines grow to be extremely long and sprawling. In order to keep the vine from spilling out of the container, use a trellis. Squash will readily grow up a trellis that is staked in the soil of the container.
- Use this trellis to allow your squash vine to climb upwards as it grows.
- Without a trellis, your squash will spill over your container and grow on the ground.
- Train squash to grow up a trellis by loosely tying the vine to the trellis.
If your squash does not naturally grow up the trellis, begin by loosely tying the squash vine to the trellis with string. As the squash grows and wraps around the trellis, you can cut the string away to prevent damaging the vine.
Vining varieties of acorn squash are beset by many pests. From cucumber beetles to squash vine borers, there are a lot of insects that will attack your squash. In order to keep pests at bay, plant insect-deterring companion plants alongside the squash. Plant herbs such as mint, dill, catnip, and parsley near squash, or in the same container!
- Plant insect-deterring herbs alongside squash to keep bugs away from your acorn squash.
- Mint, parsley, oregano, catnip, and lemon balm all grow well with squash and ward off pests.
- You can plant these herbs in nearby pots or in the same container as your squash.
Several common species of herbs naturally deter insects. By keeping them nearby, you can grow pest-free squash without spending money on pesticides. The herbs will contribute to your harvest and keep your container garden bug-free.
Give Squash Time to Ripen
Acorn squash takes up to 60 days to ripen. In fact, knowing when an acorn squash is ripe is a bit of an art. Don’t rely on size alone. Acorn squash grows to full size quickly, but often the squash itself is far from ripe.
- Don’t pick early—acorn squash reach full size well before they are ripe.
- Typically, an acorn squash is ready for harvest 50–60 days after it appears on the plant.
- If you harvest acorn squash too soon it will have a bitter flavor.
Remain patient with your acorn squash. Wait for the underside of the squash to turn orange, well after the squash has reached mature size. Your patience and care can yield an impressive acorn squash crop.
How Many Acorn Squash Do You Get Per Plant?
Container-grown squash can produce up to 5 squash per plant—the same number you’d get from growing them in the ground in your garden. Container planting really is just as effective as in-ground growing. Although yield varies by plant, you can expect 3 or more squash on average per vine.
Can You Plant Acorn Squash in Containers?
It is entirely possible to plant acorn squash in containers and get excellent results. In order to maximize the success of your squash plants, you should:
- Choose a large growing container for each squash vine.
- Fill the container with soil containing perlite and compost.
- Plant 3 squash seeds or seedlings per container, then cull the 2 weakest ones.
- Provide 6–8 hours of sun to your squash plants.
- Water squash 2 times per day through the summer.
- Fertilize squash seedlings with organic fertilizer.
- Pollinate squash flowers yourself if there are no natural pollinators in the growing area.
- Stake a trellis in the container so squash grows up instead of over the sides of the container.
- Deter pest insects by planting companion herbs along with squash.
- Allow squash to ripen 50–60 days on the vine before harvesting.
By following these tips, you will have great success at container gardening. Although these tips are specific to acorn squash, many of these concepts can be applied to other vining squash plants, such as yellow squash, zucchini, and butternut squash.