My article on hand pollinating zucchini flowers proved very popular, so I figured I’d post another on hand pollinating pumpkin and squash. It’s pretty much the same principle, but I had the photos so I thought it worth posting.
As for the zucchinis, if pumpkin and squash flowers don’t get pollinated they’ll just rot and drop off the vine. And for some reason, the bees just didn’t seem to be pollinating them this year so I’ve had to do it myself.
Pumpkin and squash flowers are a lot like zucchini flowers, but here are some photos as a refresher. These photos are all of my butternut pumpkins (I think Americans and Canadians call them butternut squash?). Click on them to see larger versions.
You don’t need to get fancy with paintbrushes or cotton swaps to transfer the pollen from the male flower to the female. Just pick the male flower, peel back the petals, and use it like a paintbrush:
If you do this each morning, it won’t be long until you’ve got a healthy crop of pollinated fruit growing!
If you intend to save seed from your pumpkins or squash, it’s a good idea to take some extra precautions to ensure you get a pure pollination and not a cross. Take some masking tape out in the afternoon, and put tape around the ends of the male and female flowers that are ready to open the next day (after a while you’ll be able to spot them). The next morning, remove the tape and pollinate the female flowers, then tape them up again. This ensures that you have complete control over what pollen goes into which flower, and the bees don’t get a chance to muck up your plans.