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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Male and Female Flowers: Cukes, Zukes, Squashes and Vines

I am not an expert on vine crops. There is a basic way to tell the difference between male and female flowers. The female flower typically has a miniature version of the mature vegetable or fruit the plant produces directly below it. The male flower is typically a flower on a common looking stem.

Just because you see miniature fruits like a squash or cucumber or watermelon... that doesn't mean it will mature. That is why you see yellowing green finger size zucchini sometimes. It produced a female flower but it was not pollinated and it dies, yellows.

Depending on what you grow a vine may have male and female flowers. That is probably much of what we would grow. I am growing Kiwi's and they do however have a male flowering plant and female flowering plant. 

Squash Male Flower: Pilarchik
Notice in the picture above you see a long green stem where my finger is pointing. It is unremarkable and looks nothing like a yellow crook neck squash. It is a stem about 2 or 3 inches long and a flower. That is a male flower. You can see other male flowers around it.

In the picture below you see a flower with a miniature squash directly under it. That is a female flower.
Right next to it, you can see a male flower. It has the long basic stem.

Squash Female Flower: Pilarchik
A Variety of Squash Flowers and Fruit Sizes: Pilarchik

Above you can see the stages of development once a female flower is pollinated. You might notice the white powder. That is the Sevin Dust I use to kill the boring beetles. I wish I meant not very entertaining.

Below is a zucchini plant and you can see a yellowing green zuke. That is a female flower with a fruit that did not get pollinated. You can see the brown dried flower and yellow tip. They should just be removed.

Yellowing Zucchini was not Pollinated: Pilarchik
Male Flower with a Long Stem: Pilarchik
In the above picture, a little bit to the left of my finger, is the stem of a male flower. It is just like the yellow squash. No fruit shape under the flower only a plain stem.

Below you can see some large zukes. They will be picked today. If you look in the middle you see another tiny zuke that is starting to turn yellow. When you use Sevin Dust make sure it goes directly on the stem and not on the flowers or you will kill the pollinating insects.

Zucchini Plant: Pilarchik

Why is this important? When you see female flowers, you can pick a mature male flower and pollinate the fruit. You will increase your yield by knowing the difference between the male and female vine flowers.

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