Zucchini plants are annual plants, as their life cycle usually only lasts one season. You may suspect your zucchini plant is done growing if your zucchini is growing smaller or if you do not see any zucchini. Your zucchini does stop producing fruit eventually, but it can be hard to tell whether or not it is time to pull it.
Here is how to know when your zucchini plant is done producing zucchini:
- No more flowers are being produced.
- No zucchini are growing.
- The plant has frozen.
- The plant has died or wilted.
- The growing season has ended.
- The plant has produced the average amount of fruit.
Knowing your zucchini is done producing is all about looking for the necessary signs. Below, we will discuss these six signs of a no-longer producing zucchini plant in depth. Then, I will talk about a few ways to get the most longevity out of your zucchini plant.
1. No More Flowers Are Being Produced
One of the most sure-fire signs that your plant has stopped producing zucchini is a lack of flowering.
Zucchini has two different types of flowers: one with the male sex organs and one with the female sex organs. This video shows the difference between the flowers:
Male flowers open up to pollinate the female flowers, which produce fruit. Suppose your flowers are not getting pollinated by bees or other pollinators. You will have to pollinate them yourself (or consider adding some pollinators to your garden). Zucchini usually appear after flowering. After 3-4 days, they reach their optimal size and firmness for harvest. They will keep growing if not pulled off.
If you have not noticed any flowers or flowering on your zucchini plant, it may mean your zucchini is not producing anymore. Paired with any of the other signs, this will tell you that your zucchini plant has produced all that it can and can be pulled from the garden.
Other Factors Can Contribute to a Lack of Flowering
However, there can be a couple of other reasons your zucchini may stop flowering, so you should stay vigilant for other causes.
Sometimes zucchini only produces male flowers in hot weather, which would also cause your plant to stop producing. Additionally, lacking pollinators may make your zucchini stop flowering. If either of these is the cause, your plant may still have some zucchini left in it. You will just need to solve either problem.
2. No Zucchini Are Growing
One of the most obvious ways to tell your zucchini plant has stopped producing is to check for fruit. As we will discuss below, one zucchini plant can make between three and ten pounds of zucchini. Depending on the average weight you harvest your zucchini at, the exact number of zucchini producible by a well-taken care plant will vary.
If there aren’t any zucchini coming out of your plant, and you can tell that it’s in excellent condition otherwise, you can assume that your zucchini plant is done producing. This is especially true if your zucchini has given you a large harvest over the course of the season.
Remember that zucchini are excellent at hiding, though. If you notice flowering from male and female flowers and think they are being adequately pollinated, then there’s a chance you just need to lift some of the bigger leaves to find your fruit.
Not seeing any zucchini growing doesn’t necessarily mean the plant is done producing. However, paired with any of the other signs, it can be a good indicator. Zucchini not growing from your fruit can mean there are pollination problems, as I mentioned above. Otherwise, if you’re noticing low zucchini growth paired with a high quality plant, you can assume the plant is done producing.
3. The Plant Has Frozen
There’s a reason most of us enjoy zucchini in the summer: Zucchini is a warm-weather crop that cannot tolerate frost.
Zucchini prefer warm weather, which is what qualifies them as summer squash. Their ideal temperature is seventy degrees Fahrenheit (21.11 degrees Celsius), both day and night. With this in mind, zucchini plants will stop producing when it starts to get cold. If it has been cold in your area, your zucchini plant is likely done producing fruit and will instead freeze over.
4. The Plant Has Died or Wilted
Another way to tell that your zucchini plant is done producing is by the health of its roots and leaves. If you notice your zucchini plant is wilting, browning, or looks otherwise unhealthy, it won’t likely produce anymore fruit. This might not be because your zucchini plant simply reached its production capacity. Instead, there could be something else going on with the conditions of your zucchini plant.
Take this sign with caution, though. If you’re noticing a wilting or dying zucchini plant, there are many potential causes beyond the plant just being “done” producing.
You should be mindful of your zucchini plant’s pH, watering, and sunlight needs. If you find something off with one of these three pillars of success, you might realize that your plant could have produced a lot more than it did this season.
5. The Growing Season Has Ended
As we mentioned above, zucchini is a warm-weather summer crop. The zucchini plant is an annual plant that lasts for one growing season or less. At the end of your gardening season, zucchini crops will usually die back, and the plant will stop producing zucchini.
No matter how well you treat your zucchini plant, how much it is produced, or how many flowers pop up, your zucchini will stop producing at the end of the season. Seventy degrees is ideal for your zucchini plant. Once the nights get colder, it will stop growing altogether.
6. The Plant Has Produced the Average Amount of Fruit
On average, zucchini plants produce three to ten pounds (1.36-4.54 kilograms) of fruit in a growing season. As we just discussed, zucchini plants only last one growing season. If you feel like you’ve gotten a significant amount of zucchini from your plant, and nothing else is growing from it, the plant has probably given all that it can.
To know how much your zucchini plant has produced, you can start to measure and log your zucchini weights with a scale. This way, you can know if you’re getting close to the heavier end of zucchini production. Plus, if your plants end up surpassing expectations, you will know that whatever you did this season is worth doing again next year!
How Can I Keep My Zucchini Plant Producing?
Zucchini plants produce fruit quickly and are relatively easy to grow. A zucchini plant will grow between three and ten pounds of fruit in a single season. Ensuring your zucchini plant is getting optimal conditions for continued growth will help you get your plant to produce on the ten-pound end of the spectrum.
To help your zucchini plant keep producing, watch the pH, moisture, and sunlight levels of your garden’s soil. Additionally, make sure to clip fruit from the plant as it reaches optimal length or starts to get too big. The best practice is to clip with scissors or shears rather than pull from the plant.
Below, I’ll give you a baseline of what to look for in ideal soil for zucchini. Then, I’ll go into some harvesting techniques and best practices.
Ideal Conditions for Growing Zucchini
Ideally, your zucchini plant will thrive in soil that’s rich in nutrients and microorganisms. Soil should be at a 6.0-7.5 pH and contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Zucchini thrive in weather over seventy degrees and cannot survive any frost or cold front. That’s why it is so important to plant your zucchini fruit in the warmer days of spring, way after the risk of frost has passed. Your zucchini plant should be getting sunlight for at least six to eight hours a day.
Zucchini appreciate well-drained soil and can be generously watered once a week. When it starts to get warmer, you might add a little more watering and can track the moisture with a moisture meter.
If you’re worried about over watering your zucchini, you could check this article out.
Use Proper Harvesting Techniques
Instead of pulling it from the plant, you should always cut the zucchini from the plant, with about 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of the stem still intact. Pulling it can damage the root or stem of your zucchini plant and bruise your zucchini. Bruising will leave your zucchini with a much shorter shelf life.
You should be checking and harvesting from your zucchini plant frequently. Your zucchini plant can only hold so many zucchini at a time. If you have one hiding under a leaf, that less zucchini you get to harvest eventually.
Zucchini continues to grow when you don’t pull it from the plant, so be vigilant. Large zucchini may be less than ideal for eating and cooking because they are much seedier and have an altered texture.
When you store your zucchini, you need to keep it in a cool and dry place. The crisper bin works well for zucchini storage. Typically, you can only store zucchini for around a week, so be sure to use it before it gets squishy.
Zucchini plants are annual, so they only last for one season. Once you harvest anywhere from three to ten pounds of fruit, it is normal for your zucchini plant to stop producing. You may notice your zucchini plants have stopped flowering and that there is a slower production rate on the fruits.
Additionally, if you notice your zucchini plant dying back or wilting before producing very much, you may want to look into your pillars for gardening success. Check-in on water, light, and pH for your zucchini before assuming it is done growing.