Oh, the beloved zucchini. This popular summer squash is a classic for so many reasons! Zucchinis are fast-growing, prolific garden plants that perform well in various growing zones. They’re nutritious, versatile, and tasty as well.
If planting zucchini is on your list for this summer’s garden, this guide is for you.
I’ll show you everything you need to know to learn how to plant zucchini. You’ll learn how to start zucchini seeds both indoors and outdoors, how to care for plants as they grow, how to harvest, and more. Keep reading and soon, you’ll be an expert on growing zucchini!
Types of Zucchini
When you think of zucchini you probably picture a long and thin, dark green vegetable. While this is probably the most popular type, zucchini comes in many interesting varieties!
- Cue Ball is a small, round zucchini variety that looks like a ball.
- Golden Delight is a pretty yellow variety. It’s resistant to several diseases including powdery mildew.
- Green Zebra zucchini has light and dark green stripes, much like a zebra.
- Spineless Beauty is a classic, dark green zucchini. This variety is specially bred to be easy to harvest.
- Zucchini Grey is a unique variety with a gray tinge to it. The skin has lightly speckled stripes.
Growing Conditions for Zucchini
Learning how to plant zucchini starts with providing the right growing conditions. In the right environment, zucchini are prolific growers giving you a steady supply of fruit all summer long.
Zucchini plants need rich, loamy soil with plenty of organic matter.
The soil should hold moisture well but not to the point that it gets soggy. Soggy soils can lead to root rot so plant zucchini in an area that’s well-draining.
Soil pH can be anywhere from 6.0 to 8.0. Between 6.5 and 7.0 is ideal. At-home soil test kits are an easy way to check the pH of your soil.
Full sun is best for growing zucchini. Choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Like other summer squash, zucchini does best in warm weather. Wait to plant until all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are regularly in the 60s and 70s.
Zucchini gets pretty big, so choose a location with plenty of room for the plants to grow. To save on space you can grow zucchini vertically with a trellis or garden stakes.
What’s the Best Way to Plant Zucchini?
There are several different ways to plant zucchini. Starting seeds indoors, direct sowing seeds into the garden, or starting with seedlings from a garden center or nursery.
The best method for you may not be the best for your neighbor so choose what works best for you!
Personally, I recommend starting zucchini from seed. We highly recommend the zucchini seed selection available from one of our favorite seed retailers, Hoss Tools!
Zucchini seeds are inexpensive and fast-growing. You can get a whole packet of seeds for the price of just one starter plant at a nursery. Some varieties are ready to harvest as little as 45 days after planting.
Starting seeds is simple, even if you don’t have much planting experience. No special skills are required and if you have questions, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you in this guide and over on the seed starting page.
How to Plant Zucchini
Well-loved by beginners and experienced gardeners alike, zucchini is a plant that anyone can learn how to grow! Here’s how to start zucchini from seed both indoors and outdoors.
Starting Zucchini Indoors
Starting zucchini seeds indoors is one of the quickest ways to get to a harvest. You can start seeds indoors several weeks before it’s warm enough to plant outdoors.
To start seeds indoors, you’ll need some basic equipment.
Zucchini plants don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so starting with small containers or biodegradable pots rather than seed starting trays is best.
If you want to use seed starting trays you can, just be careful when potting up to avoid stressing your plants. Here are some other things you might need.
Starting Zucchini Seeds
Fill your containers with seed starting mix. Plant one or two seeds per container and water thoroughly.
Keep the seedlings warm and moist while they’re germinating. Heating pads and humidity domes help keep seedlings warm and trap moisture.
Seeds should emerge in 7-14 days.
Caring for Zucchini Seedlings
Once seeds emerge, place them under a grow light or directly in front of a sunny window. Seedlings need plenty of light to grow strong and healthy.
When seedlings are about an inch tall, thin the plants to just one per container. Since zucchini plants don’t like to have their roots messed with, don’t try to separate the plants. Choose the healthiest-looking seedling in each container and use sharp scissors to snip away the extra plants at the soil level.
Fertilize the seedlings with a slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer when they have their first set of true leaves.
After 3-4 weeks, it’s time to get ready to move your seedlings outside.
Before planting your seedlings in the garden, take some time to harden them off. Seedlings grown indoors need time to get used to being outside before they’re out there permanently.
Set your seedlings outside for a few hours each day, slowly increasing the time until they’re left out overnight. After a full night outdoors, your seedlings are ready to be planted in the garden!
Direct Sowing Zucchini Seeds
Since zucchini grows so quickly, direct sowing is one of the best ways to grow it. Even gardeners who live in a zone with a short growing season can plant zucchini seeds directly in the garden and still have plenty of time for a harvest.
Sowing Zucchini Seeds
Choose a suitable location and prepare the soil by adding organic matter like compost or aged manure. It’s safe to plant zucchini outside when nighttime temperatures stay above freezing. Daytime temperatures should be between 60-70 degrees or higher.
Plant zucchini seeds in rows, with one seed every 4-6 inches. Space the rows 2-3 feet apart.
The recommended spacing varies depending on the particular variety you’re growing. Check the back of your seed packet for more specific information.
Regardless of the variety you’re growing, the recommended planting depth is about 1/2 an inch deep.
After planting, water thoroughly and keep seeds moist while they’re germinating. When seedlings are a couple of inches tall, thin the plants to the spacing recommended on your seed packet.
Planting Zucchini Seedlings
Starting zucchini seeds is pretty simple but the easiest way to plant zucchini is to purchase starter plants from a garden center or nursery. Since zucchini is a popular vegetable, seedlings are readily available in the spring and summer months.
Once the soil is prepared, dig a small hole about twice as wide as the container the seedling is currently in. Carefully remove your plant from the container and place it in the hole.
Remember, zucchini plants don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so be as gentle as possible. Fill in all around the plant with soil and water thoroughly.
Caring for Zucchini Plants
After learning how to plant zucchini, the next thing you need to do is learn how to care for the plants as they grow.
Once they’re in the ground, caring for zucchini is simple. With just a little TLC, your plants will produce plenty of tasty fruit in no time.
Regular, steady watering is best for zucchini. Aim for about an inch of water per week. During especially hot or dry periods, zucchini needs more water.
Water at the base of the plants only. Avoid overhead watering as much as possible because it can lead to fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
To keep your plants producing regularly, it’s a good idea to fertilize zucchini.
Use a balanced fertilizer to feed zucchini plants at the first sign of flowering.
Zucchini plants are susceptible to pests like cucumber beetles, vine borers, and squash bugs. Keep an eye on your plants and treat any signs of pest damage quickly before a small problem becomes a major issue.
There are many natural and chemical methods for dealing with pests. Both can be good options depending on your personal preferences and gardening philosophy.
To reduce the risk of pests, clear garden debris away at the end of each season and practice crop rotation methods.
When and How to Harvest Zucchini
The right time to harvest depends on the specific variety you’re growing. Check the back of your seed packet to see how big your zucchini should be.
For the best texture and flavor, harvest zucchini on the smaller end of the range. For example, if your variety grows between six and eight inches long, harvest closer to six inches.
To harvest, use sharp garden shears to cut the zucchini off the plant, leaving about an inch or two of stem on the fruit.
To keep your plants producing regularly, harvest zucchini early and often.
Wrapping Up How to Plant Zucchini
Fresh zucchini tastes so good! And knowing you grew it yourself makes it taste even better. Once you learn how to plant zucchini you won’t want to go back to store-bought.
To learn more about planting and growing all types of crops, check out the Seed Starting page on our website. We have guides on how to plant dozens of vegetables, flowers, and herbs, plus tips and tricks, product recommendations, and much more. It’s a fantastic resource you won’t want to miss!