How to Grow Zucchini From Seed: The Ultimate Guide

How to Grow Zucchini From Seed

If you have wanted to grow zucchini in your garden but weren’t quite sure how to get started, then you are in the right place. In this blog post, I will share my proven method of growing some of the best zucchini and squash and explore how to grow zucchini from seed.

What are Zucchini?

When most people think of zucchini, they usually are referring to the larger squash that’s mild green in color and is eaten when it is young. That’s what I will be talking about here today. The smaller ones you’ll see with dark green skin and darker flesh are actually summer squash. They can be used in many of the same ways as zucchini, but are typically harvested a little earlier.

When to Plant Zucchini?

Whatever zucchini variety you decide to grow, they should be planted after the last frost date. In my area, that is usually around April 1st or depending on when Easter Sunday is.

If you wait until then or a little later, you have an excellent chance at success with growing zucchini from seed. There isn’t any better feeling than seeing your first crop of zucchini that you grew from seed. Just knowing that it was your care and hard work that made those little plants produce big squash brings a warm feeling to my heart.

How Many Plants Do You Need?

The size of your garden and how you decide to grow zucchini from seed will determine how many plants you need. You can start them indoors or directly on the ground. If you decide to start them inside, then I’d recommend at least 3 seeds per pot. However, if you are going to directly plant the seeds outside after all danger of frost has passed, then I’d recommend 1 zucchini plant per 3 to 4 feet.

How to Grow Zucchini from Seed Indoors

For starting zucchini seeds indoors, you’ll need a growing medium such as soil or potting mix, seed trays or other containers, water, and of course a great source of light.

Start by getting your potting mix ready for planting. If you want to add some slow-release organic fertilizer to the mix, now is the time. Next, pre-moistened your potting mix.

Fill up your seed trays or containers so that you can plant. Plant 2 seeds in each container or cell of your seed tray about one 1/2 inch deep and cover with soil. Gently water the container with a light stream of water from the top or by sitting the container into a tray of water.

How to Grow Zucchini From Seed, Backyard Eden, www.backyard-eden.com

Make sure to label the containers or trays with the name of the seed variety and date so that you can keep track of what you have planted. You should see sprouts in 3-7 days. Once they have sprouted make sure to keep them watered.

Tip: One tip I will give you when it comes to planting zucchini seeds indoors is to make sure you plant the seeds in a large enough container to support the plant for a few weeks. These plants get big fast. I just skip the seed trays and go straight to at least a four-inch pot or repurposed yogurt container.

How To Direct Sow Zucchini Seed

Sowing the seeds directly in the ground is a great way to get some zucchini growing. I’d recommend spacing them about 3 to 4 feet apart. The reason for this recommendation is that once they start growing and getting larger, they can become very bushy and will need some extra room around them to grow properly.

I have very good success growing them in clumps of 2 plants or even in hills in our garden.

How to Plant Zucchini in Hills

If you want to plant your zucchini in mounds or hills in your garden then you will want to mound up the soil to form your hills or mounds. Then you will want to plant 2-3 seeds in each hill and water them in.

Once the seeds sprout you want to at least 2 plants per mound. I have grown zucchini and squash in clumps for years now with great success. Just make sure as the plant grows to keep an eye out for the zucchini fruit as they will blend into the leaves and get absolutely huge.

Succession Plant for the Longest Harvest

In order to harvest zucchini for a longer period of time, you will want to plant seeds or starter plants in 2-week intervals. So, plant your initial seeds and wait two weeks and then plant seeds again. What this will do is give you a bit of time in between mature plants that will be producing a harvest.

Once you have 2-3 plants producing be sure to keep an eye on them to notice when a plant is about to stop producing and a couple of weeks before it is finished you can start seeds in a small pot.

How to Grow Zucchini From Seed, Backyard Eden, www.backyard-eden.com

Those new seeds will sprout in as little as 7 days and grow into a plant to replace the mature plant that will be coming out.

This will keep you harvesting delicious zucchini for longer periods of time to feed your family.

Growing Round Varieties of Zucchini

Most garden centers offer plant varieties that differ in the color and shape of the squash. You’ll see yellow, green, white or maybe even striped zucchini. There are round varieties such as eight ball, some just named round, lemon squash are just some of the ones you can grow.

There are literally thousands of varieties and new being bred every year that you could plant new varieties in your garden every year and not plant the same ones in consecutive years. They are all good to eat.

Best Varieties of Round Zucchini to Grow

While round zucchini are some of the most popular to grow, it can be hard to find varieties of round zucchini in your local stores. This is because round zucchini have a shorter shelf life than their long or summer squash counterparts. It’s best to grow round zucchini at home for fresh eating and longer storage times. Here are some round zucchini varieties to try from seed.

Round Zucchini from Botanical Interests. Discover this tasty and versatile summer squash. Harvest at 3″ to 4″ wide, or use the round zucchini to make delicious julienned pasta salad or sliced stuffed zucchini.

How to Grow Zucchini From Seed, Backyard Eden, www.backyard-eden.com

Buy Round Zucchini From Botanical Interests

Ronde de Nice. A French squash loved by many generations for its nutty flavor and soft flesh. Harvest when fruits are young, at a size of 2-3 inches. Ready within 45-52 days.

How to Pollinate Summer Squash or Zucchini

Summer Squash and Zucchini plants are monoecious which means that the plant produces both male and female flowers on the same plant. These flowers will need to be pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects that can visit these plants to where they are planted.

The plant will not produce fruit without being pollinated. Luckily, it is easy enough for you to pollinate these plants yourself.

Early in the season, zucchini will produce a dozen or more male blooms. These male flowers are usually responsible for spreading pollen all around themselves and their neighboring female flowers to produce new fruit.

How Can You Tell If a Squash Flower is Male or Female?

You can tell if a squash flower is male or female by the look of the flower and stem. The male flower will just be a long thin stem with a blossom on the very end of it whereas a female flower will have a little baby squash or zucchini right behind the flower.

How to Grow Zucchini From Seed, Backyard Eden, www.backyard-eden.com

How it works:

The male flower opens and the bees get busy doing what bees do by collecting pollen on their hairy little legs. The bees then buzz over to the female flower, fertilizing it with a drop of collected pollen from they leave on each visit. After some time, the little fruit that is just behind the female flower will grow into a mature fruit ready to eat.

What Month Do You Plant Zucchini?

Zucchini is a warm-season crop that should be planted and grown in the spring and summer months. Plant zucchini in your garden when the climate temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it won’t be as challenging to grow. Zucchini does not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures.

Should You Soak Zucchini Seeds Before Planting?

You do not have to soak zucchini seeds before planting. Zucchini seeds sprout fairly easily as long as you keep the soil moist. If you choose to soak, fill a bowl with tepid water. Soak the zucchini seeds for 24 hours before planting.

How Do You Germinate Zucchini Seeds Indoors?

In order to germinate zucchini seeds indoors, you will need some potting soil or seed starting soil, zucchini seeds, and a good source of light.

Start by filling up a small container such as a yogurt cup or a seed starting tray with moist potting soil. You want the soil to be moist to the point that it will clump in your hand when you squeeze but water does not squeeze out.

If water pours out when you squeeze, then your potting soil is too wet.

Once you have the soil in the container, then place two zucchini seeds in each container and press them into the soil about 1/2 inch. Cover them with soil and gently mist the top of the soil with a spray bottle.

Place the containers in a warm location such as on top of a heating pad or on top of the fridge until they germinate. Once they germinate, make sure to put them under a good source of light so that the seedlings grow strong and don’t too leggy.

Do Zucchini Seeds Need Light to Germinate?

Zucchini seeds do not need light to germinate. They need warmth like many other seeds to germinate. You should put them under a good source of artificial light in order for the plants to grow strong.

How to Plant Zucchini Seeds Outdoors

  1. Plant zucchini seeds in soil that has warmed up and is consistently 70 degrees. Planting zucchini seeds gives the soil time to warm up and improves drainage. Plant zucchini seeds about one inch deep and three per hill. Make sure to space the bush plants out enough to give them room to grow and vine variety plants plenty of space to sprawl along the ground.
  2. Carefully thin out seedlings when they show their first true leaf. Simply use a spoon to dig the excess plants out of the soil, separated from the roots; or clip off weak-looking ones with garden shears.
  3. Place a shallow layer of straw mulch around the plant to retain soil moisture and control weeds. Make sure to water your plants regularly with at least one inch of water each week during the development phase as to grow large healthy plants.

Best & Worst Companion Plants For Zucchini

Zucchini is a great addition to any garden, but if you want to get the best production from your harvest, you should plant zucchini with companion plants.

Good CompanionBad Companion
BeansPotatoes
PeasPumpkins
RadishesFennel
Garlic
Corn
Borage
Nasturtiums
Mint
Dill
Marigolds

Can Zucchini Be Grown in Pots?

Yes, the zucchini plant can be grown in pots when you can find the right-sized pots. You can plant zucchini in a pot as you can any other type of vegetable plant, but growing zucchini in a pot can be more difficult than planting it directly into the soil.

Be sure to use a large enough container to accommodate all of the roots and the mature size plant. The soil should be rich, full of nutrients, and should drain well.

You can start your own plants from seeds either in small containers and transplant them into their final pot or direct sow the seeds straight into the large pot.

The size of the pot will depend on a couple of things such as the variety of zucchini you plan to grow and how many plants you want in each container. I recommend just one plant in at least a 5-gallon pot. You want to use as large of a pot as you can manage because this will make watering and feeding easier.

The biggest issue with growing zucchini in pots is the size of them can be difficult to manage. When they are small, watering can be a challenge unless you can find tiny little pots. They can grow pretty quickly and can get quite large. A smaller pot can become too small for the expanding roots in a short amount of time.

Can I Grow Zucchini in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

Yes, you can grow zucchini in a 5-gallon bucket with pretty good success. You will want to fill your bucket with nutrient-dense potting mix that drains well and be prepared to water it and fertilize it regularly. I recommend watering your bucket almost on a daily schedule and fertilizing it every 7-10 days with a water-soluble organic fertilizer such as compost tea or fish emulsion.

How Many Zucchini Plants Can I Put In a 5 Gallon Bucket?

You can plant 1 zucchini plant in a 5-gallon bucket. Zucchini plants get quite large even if planted in a container and they can grow very quickly. You should plant two seeds if direct sowing into your bucket and remove one if they both sprout. Be sure to use good quality, nutrient-dense soil when planting.

Do You Need 2 Zucchini Plants to Get Fruit?

No, you do not need 2 zucchini plants to get fruit because zucchini and squash plants produce both male and female flowers. Your zucchini plant will most likely produce male flowers first to see if there are pollinators present and then start producing female flowers. In order to get fruit, the female flowers must be pollinated by the male flower which can be done by either insects or hand pollination by you.

Does Zucchini Need Full Sun?

Yes, zucchini plants need full sun in order to be the most productive plant. Full sun usually consists of at least 6 hours of sun each day. If you are in an area that gets extreme heat during the afternoon, try to plant your zucchini in an area that gets its 6 hours of sun in the morning and then gets shade in the afternoon.

This will give your plants a break during the hottest parts of the day. You can also set up a temporary shade structure as I do for my tomatoes during the hottest parts of the summer using shade cloth and some star pickets (T-posts). It works great and it is relatively inexpensive.

Does Zucchini Need A Trellis?

The answer depends on what type of zucchini you are growing and the overall size of the plant. If you are growing bush varieties such as 8 ball or Cocozelle then you do not need a trellis in order for it to grow and produce. If you are growing varieties such as Tromboncino which is a vining type then a trellis will be needed so that you can keep the vines in check and the fruit from rotting on the ground.

How Often Should Zucchini Be Watered?

Zucchini can be water every day if needed. If you can avoid overwatering then that is your best bet since it can lead to root rot and can end up killing the plant. It is always better to underwater than overwater.

The best way to check to see if a plant needs watering is by doing a quick soil test with the tip of your finger. Just push your finger into the soil to about your second knuckle and if the soil is dry – then it is time to water. The other way to check is with a moisture meter as it will tell you on a scale if the soil needs water.

How Often Should Zucchini Be Fertilized?

Zucchini plants can be fertilized every 7-10 days with a water-soluble fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea. I recommend using these as they will not burn your plants and are great for the plant’s health.

How Can Zucchini Be Prevented From Getting Diseases?

Zucchini can get several different types of diseases but the most common are powdery mildew and squash bugs. Powdery mildew can be treated with a spray made from one tablespoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of dormant oil, and one teaspoon of insecticidal or liquid soap (not detergent) to a gallon of water. We use Dr. Bronners Castile Soap in our mix. Make sure to spray the leaves and undersides of leaves once every one or two weeks.

How Many Zucchini Seeds Are In A Hole?

You should always plant at least 2 zucchini seeds in each hole which will increase your chances of having a zucchini plant sprout. If more than one seed sprouts in each spot you can always pluck one of the seedlings out, you can transplant them when they are small or just grow both in the same spot making sure to give them plenty of nutrients and water.

How Many Zucchini Do You Get From One Plant?

You can get several zucchini from a single plant if you make sure to keep your plant fed and give it plenty of water during the growing season. I have harvested between 15-20 decent size zucchini from a plant during the season. You want to make sure to keep your zucchini harvested and not let any of them get too large because this will encourage the plant to put its energy into one fruit to produce seeds.

How Long Does It Take To Grow A Zucchini?

Zucchini fruits usually take 1-3 days to grow to a decent size to harvest from the time that the flower is pollinated. You want to make sure to keep an eye on them because they grow rather quickly and can reach monster sizes in what seems like overnight. You want to harvest them at the size of a water bottle as fruits that get as large as a 2-liter soda bottle can be tough and unpalatable.

When Can You Tell If A Zucchini Is Ripe? How Do You Harvest A Zucchini?

You can tell if zucchini is ripe based on the color of the fruit. You want to harvest zucchini when they have reached the color on the seed package. For example, a dark green zucchini variety will be ready to eat when it gets to be dark green and a yellow 49er zucchini will be ripe when it reaches a bright yellow.

When these go past this stage they are really only good for collecting seeds.

In Conclusion

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this article on how to grow zucchini from seed and can use the information in your own garden. If you have any other zucchini information or questions please feel free to email me at john@backyard-eden.com and I will be happy to answer them.

If you like this post on how to grow zucchini from seed, please consider sharing it on social media and check out another article on how to grow zucchini vertically.