With the right plant and container selection, you can grow zucchini in pots to enjoy delicious squash straight from your container garden. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a summer favorite on its own or in recipes. These warm-weather squash produce vigorous crops, so a single zucchini plant is often enough. While vining zucchini plants don't work well in containers, compact varieties fit perfectly and provide plenty of fresh zucchini to enjoy.
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Selecting the Right Zucchini Type
If you want to grow zucchini in pots, choose a bush variety. This type of zucchini plant grows from a central point, stays low and creates a mounded plant, allowing it to grow well in a container garden. The zucchini crop usually grows near the base of the plant for easy harvesting. You don't usually need a support system for a bush zucchini plant, but you can use a tomato cage to encourage upright growth.
Traditional vining zucchini plants can grow several feet in every direction, which isn't ideal for container gardening. They'll grow down over the sides of the container and often spread out in all directions around the pot. If you choose a vining variety, you can use a trellis to encourage the plant to grow upward instead of outward.
Choosing and Prepping the Container
A wide, deep container provides the best spot to grow zucchini in pots. Choose a pot that's at least 18 inches in diameter and 16 inches deep to accommodate the plant well. It also needs drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out of the pot to keep the roots from rotting. Any container material is suitable as long as it meets the size and drainage requirements.
Decide where you want to put your zucchini plant before filling the pot. It's easier to add the soil in the spot where you plan to leave the pot so you don't have to carry a heavy pot. Zucchini plants love the sunshine, so pick a spot that gets a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day. Even more sunlight is better.
Don't fill the pot with garden soil because it's too heavy and might contain weeds, pests or pathogens. Instead, fill the container with potting soil, which is lighter. The lightweight soil allows roots to grow well and promotes good drainage to keep your zucchini plants healthy.
Planting Zucchini in Pots
If you grow zucchini in pots from seeds, you can start the seeds in the container about two weeks after the last frost. Plant two or three seeds near the center of the prepared container with about 2 inches between the seeds. Cover the seeds with about 1 inch of soil and water them well. For best results, thin the plants to the strongest, healthiest one to grow a single plant in the pot.
Caring for Zucchini in Pots
Consistent moisture helps your zucchini plants grow well. Fluctuations in soil moisture can lead to blossom-end rot, which creates a brown, rotten spot on the blossom end of your zucchini. The plant needs at least 1 inch of water weekly between rain and irrigation. Water the zucchini deeply when you provide supplemental irrigation.
When you grow zucchini in pots, you might need to water the plants more often to keep the soil moist. The size of the pot and the amount of soil impact how often you need to water. Smaller pots with less soil dry out faster than larger pots. If the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil are dry, it's time to water your zucchini plants.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.