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Growing Yellow Squash in Containers
If you enjoy the taste of fresh yellow squash but lack the necessary garden space, don’t worry! Growing yellow squash in containers is easy once you have the supplies you need. While there are two main types of yellow squash (yellow zucchinis, as pictured above, as well as the traditional “crookneck” variety), either one will grow happily in a pot. You can grow unusual yellow squash, like pattypans, in containers as well.
Growing Yellow Squash in Containers Outdoors
Yellow squash require all the usual container gardening must-haves: a large pot, potting soil, and plenty of sun and water.
For your container, you can use a large decorative pot, a grow bag, or even a regular 5-gallon bucket with holes drilled into the bottom. If possible, try to give them a growing container that’s around 2 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep, with at least 5 gallons worth of space. While there’s no hard and fast rule, the largest pot you can give them is generally your best bet. Just make sure it has drainage holes, so the plant doesn’t rot.
Use high quality, well-draining potting soil for your squash. You may wish to mix in a little compost or other fertilizer to add even more nutrients, since yellow squash are heavy feeders. Once they’ve started growing leaves, you can feed them a low nitrogen fertilizer, worm castings, or compost every few weeks.
As with any potted plant, don’t use soil from your garden.
Choosing Your Plants
All summer squash varieties, including yellow squash, grow in what’s known as a “bush.” While they may not look like a rose or blackberry, it’s good news for container gardeners! Unlike winter squash, which vine great distances and require support, yellow squash generally grow a reasonable 2 feet tall, and they tend not to spread more than 4 or 5 feet.
One good variety for containers is the Pic-n-Pic crookneck, since the plants have only around a 3 foot spread. Butterstick yellow zucchini can do even better, with a 2 foot or less spread. And for something a little different, you can try a Sunburst pattypan, which also has a roughly 3 foot spread.
Of course, if you have the space, any variety will do!
Once you have your seeds, plant 1-3 seeds in the center of your large pot, about an inch into the soil. Give each seed 1-2 inches of space from its neighbors. Once they’ve started coming up, you can thin them if necessary.
You can also transplant started seeds or purchase them from a greenhouse, but they’re less likely to flourish, since yellow squash have delicate roots that dislike transplanting. You should try to start them in the large pot they’ll spend their lives in, but if you must transplant, try to use a peat pot that can be planted whole without disturbing any roots.
Ideal Container Placement
Yellow squash enjoy plenty of light, so place them in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day. A south-facing deck or patio is always a good option, since there really isn’t a cap on how much sun they should get. Make sure you place the container in an area where you won’t regularly have to move it. They’re very heavy.
Even the smallest yellow squash varieties will still take up quite a bit of space. Make sure the pot is several feet away from the edge of your deck or any walls, so you’ll still be able to harvest all the way around your plant once it starts producing.
Caring for Your Squash
Keep the soil damp until the seeds germinate, and after that water your yellow squash thoroughly on a regular basis. Since they’re in pots, they dry out quickly. Give them water whenever the top two inches of soil are dry, and plan on giving them around an inch a week if it hasn’t rained. Try not to get the leaves wet when you hand-water them, since it can promote mildew.
Once mature, your squash will begin to flower. Pollinators will be along to take care of business as long as your plants are outside. (Keep an eye out for male and female flowers – more on that in the “indoors” section.)
Once the yellow squash are 4-6 inches long – or whatever full-size is for your variety, according to the seed packet – they’re ready to harvest. Cut them from the vine and enjoy.
Yellow squash tend to like temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees. If your squash is still producing happily once fall comes, you can move it indoors or to another protected area before it gets too chilly. Consider using a hand truck or other tool though – the full container will be very heavy!
Growing Yellow Squash Indoors
Since yellow squash grow so well in containers, there’s no reason you can’t grow them indoors as well! Simply follow all the past care instructions, including offering them plenty of water and ample sunshine or a grow light.
There’s one main difference for indoor squash, though. Since the plants are inside, you’ll have to do all the pollination yourself. Squash have male and female flowers, so you’ll need to use a light paintbrush or other tool to gently dust pollen from the male onto the female. You can usually tell the difference by identifying the small squash at the base of the female, but if you’re having trouble, here are a few more ways to tell males from females.
Enjoy Growing Your Squash!
With these tips, you should be set for success while growing yellow squash in containers. As always, follow your seed packet’s suggestions for the best results.
If you’re looking for more container gardening tips, here’s how to grow peppers in containers.