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How to Grow Zucchini Vertically: A Complete Guide for a Successful Crop

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Struggling with the notorious zucchini monster taking over your garden? You’re not the only one! Every year I forget just how vigorous the growth of zucchini plants can be, going from innocent little seedlings to triffid-like monstrosities seemingly overnight!

One way of solving this problem is by learning how to grow zucchini vertically. By following just a few simple tips, these plants focus and put all their efforts into going upwards, creating an abundance of space in the garden for you to grow other crops. 

Sound fun?

Then let’s find out how!

Can You Make Zucchini Plants Climb?

You can force your zucchini to climb, but they might not always do so willingly. If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you’ll notice that they tend to send out horizontal shoots that like to clamber up and over any obstacles in their way. Left to their own devices, they’ll cover a large patch of ground with leafy growth, hiding an abundant crop of delicious vegetables.

But with some careful persuasion, we can make zucchini grow upwards instead!

Growing Zucchini Vertically In 5 Easy Steps

How To Grow Zucchini Vertically - Save Space & Increase Yields in 5 Simple Steps

We know it sounds farfetched. But you can grow zucchini vertically!

The video above from Organic Backyard Gardening shows an excellent five-step process that works surprisingly well.

We outline the process below.

  • Step 1. Place a six-foot stake in the spot where you intend to plant your zucchini. (Any area in your garden with at least six to eight hours of daily sunlight works.)
  • Step 2. Sow your zucchini seeds or seedling plant around three inches from the stake.
  • Step 3. Start tying the zucchini plant’s base to the stake as it grows.
  • Step 4. Prune the leaves below your zucchini. (Let the plant focus on fruit. Not leaves!)
  • Step 5. Harvest your first zucchini gourds after around 45 to 50 days.

Zucchini plants rely heavily on bees and beneficial pollinators to create the best fruit. If you don’t have many bees in your area – you can manually pollinate them using Q-tips or a dry paintbrush.

Zucchini also grows best in moist soil. Water your zucchini plant with at least one inch of water weekly. Don’t let it get dry!

Why Do You Plant Zucchini Vertically?

zucchini growing vertically on a trellis

The main reason for growing zucchini vertically is to save valuable ground space. Vertical gardening is one of my favorite space-saving techniques, enabling me to cram more crops into a smaller area. There are many benefits to this growing technique – even if you have adequate garden space to grow in!

From my point of view, growing my crops in a smaller area means I have less space to manage and maintain. So that’s less weeding and watering. And less compost is required to mulch the beds every year. Less work and more crops. What’s not to like?!

A single zucchini plant can occupy up to 16 square feet when grown horizontally – that’s a lot of outdoor space where other crops could be grown! By growing them vertically, we use around a quarter of this area, and even that is being generous.

Growing zucchini vertically also makes spotting and harvesting fruits at the optimum time a piece of cake. Ever missed a zucchini at the perfect stage for picking and returned to find a baseball bat-size zucchini a few days later? Yes, we’ve all been there! But, by encouraging your zucchini plants to reach for the skies, the fruits will be less likely to stay hidden and easier to harvest when the time comes.

And finally, vertical zucchini plants have better access to sunlight and adequate air circulation, reducing the risk of common diseases such as bacterial wilt, blossom end rot, powdery mildew, and other fungal issues.

Vertical plants also reduce the chance of critters getting into your crop, including common zucchini pests like squash bugs and vine borers.

Small zucchini plant growing vertically in the garden.

Can All Zucchini Grow Vertically?

Zucchini plants can be grouped into three types:

  1. Closed (or compact) bush,
  2. Open bush, and
  3. Vining.

Closed bush types of zucchini plants have a compact growth habit, with short stems and densely packed leaves and fruits. These space-saving plants are ideal for smaller gardens but are not a wise choice to grow vertically.

Both open bush and vining zucchini varieties can be grown upwards, albeit in slightly different ways.

Open bush zucchinis are naturally inclined to grow horizontally. But with some persuasion and support, their long stems can grow upwards. (They require training.)

Vining zucchinis, on the other hand, are destined to reach for the skies! Their growth habit is more like a cucumber or melon than a zucchini, and they’ll attain great heights without too much assistance.

What Is the Best Squash to Grow Vertically?

It is not always clear which types of zucchini squash are best to grow vertically. As a rule of thumb, if the seed packet mentions compact or dense, it is likely a closed bush variety better suited to container gardening. My favorite closed-bush zucchini varieties are zucchini Cocozelle, Golden Zebra, or Bianco Lungo, but I’d never attempt to grow either vertically!

While vining zucchini are the easiest to grow vertically, you can also get good results by training the more vigorous open bush varieties to grow upwards.

Again, seed companies don’t always mention what type of bush zucchini you are looking at, but terms like ‘vigorous’ are a bit of a giveaway! It also helps to look at the recommended spacing for planting – compact bush varieties can be planted with little as 24 inches between them while sprawling open bush zucchini need almost double this space.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you can train Caserta zucchini to grow up a stake, producing an abundance of lightly striped green fruits along the way. Other common types of open bush zucchini include Greyzinni, which bears fruits with a delicious creamy texture, or the beautiful Golden Glory, with its abundant harvest of vibrant yellow zucchini fruits.

Tromboncino Climbing Summer Squash (Zucchini) | 25 Seeds | Thresh Seed Company
$8.89 ($0.36 / Count)

Tromboncino climbing zucchini are an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a unique yet tasty heirloom garden squash. Harvest your tromboncino climbing squash early if you want them to taste tender and sweet. You can also harvest them when they are more mature for a butternut squash-like texture. They make flawless ingredients for stir-fries and soups. They also work as a fresh and wholesome side dish.

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02/14/2024 10:02 am GMT

What Varieties of Zucchini Are Vining?

Sadly, true vining zucchini varieties are becoming increasingly difficult to source. They were once widely grown in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but they seemed to fall out of fashion several decades ago. I’m all for a campaign to save these unappreciated cultivars, as they are a lot of fun to grow!

My favorite vining variety is an F1 hybrid called Shooting Star, which, as the name suggests, grows upwards, producing numerous yellow zucchinis along the way. It does need some support and training, but it will happily clamber its way up and over any obstacle it meets. Unfortunately, the seeds of this lovely little zucchini are not widely available outside of the UK, but they’re worth a try if you can get hold of them.

Other options for vining zucchini include Table Dainty and Long Green Trailing. But again, these can be hard to source. If true-vining plants are unavailable in your region, the best option is an open bush type with a vigorous growth habit instead.

How Do You Train Zucchini to Climb?

Grow squash and zucchini vertically!

Because true vining zucchini are so hard to find, we should focus on growing open bush types vertically. If you are lucky enough to track down one of the rare varieties of vining zucchini, the best advice I can give is to grow them like your cucumbers!

Open-bush zucchini naturally have a horizontal growth habit, but their stems can get trained and supported to grow upwards. A mature zucchini such as Golden Glory can have up to 6 feet of healthy plant growth. That’s a lot of space you’ll save in your garden!

What Is the Best Way to Stake Zucchini?

Wooden garden stakes and trellis for securing zucchini plants.
Wooden garden stakes and trellis for securing zucchini plants.

How to Stake a Zucchini to Grow Vertically

Yield: Vertical Zucchini Plants!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Cost: $10

If you plan on growing zucchini vertically, they should get staked right from the moment they are planted. Doing so enables you to begin training them upwards right from the start, which is vital to ensure the main stem is strong enough to hold the weight of the plant and zucchini fruit when mature.

Materials

  • A 4-6-foot stake, bamboo pole, tomato cage, or trellis if you're growing multiple plants. Make sure they're sturdy and well-supported!
  • Zucchini seeds (vining or open bush varieties)
  • String or plant ties

Instructions

    1. Start by pushing a tall, sturdy garden stake deep into the ground in the center of your prepared planting site. Remember that zucchini seeds like plenty of organic matter, such as organic mulch, to provide essential nutrients and lock in soil moisture.
    2. A single 4-6-foot stake, bamboo pole, or tomato cage will be sufficient for each plant, or you can use a zucchini trellis for multiple plants if that is easier. Ensure it is strong and well-supported, as these plants will get heavy!
    3. Next, plant your zucchini seedlings close to the base of each wooden stake. Leave a 1-2” gap between the seedling and the stake – no more, as the plant needs to be close enough to tie it in securely.
    4. The next few weeks are crucial, as this is when your zucchini needs persuasion to grow vertically. Take the stem and secure it to the vertical support structure gently using string or a plant tie.
    5. Repeat this step every couple of days after planting as the entire plant grows taller, loosening off the lower ties if necessary as the plant stem size increases.
    6. As the season progresses, continue tying your zucchini stem to its support, helping to maintain vertical growth.
    7. The lower broad leaves can be pruned off with a clean knife, keeping the plant tidy and leaving you with a neat main stem that will appear laden with a bountiful harvest of your favorite summer vegetable in no time!

Conclusion

Thanks so much for reading our guide about how to grow zucchini vertically.

Growing vertical zucchini is easier if you don’t want to bend over when tending to your plants.

We also find that scanning for squash bug eggs and vine borers is way less taxing when you grow vertical trellis zucchini.

What about you?

  • Are you going to grow vertical zucchini soon?
  • Have you ever tried growing vertical zucchini before?
  • Are you going to use a garden trellis? Or garden stakes?
  • What’s your favorite way to eat garden zucchini?

Thanks again for reading.

And have a great day!

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