How To Train Zucchini On A Trellis To Grow Vertically

How To Train Zucchini On A Trellis To Grow Vertically

If you’ve ever grown zucchinis in your garden, you’ll know that these plants are not natural climbers but will spread out to fill a considerable amount of space. So, you might be wondering how to train zucchini on a trellis and whether this is a good idea.

The amount of space that a zucchini plant needs can be a problem for gardeners who have only limited garden space and not enough space for both a large zucchini plant as well as a variety of other vegetables.

It’s for this reason that savvy gardeners and innovators have developed the idea of growing zucchini on a trellis so that the plant grows vertically instead of along the ground.

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Apart from being space-saving, this is the best way of growing zucchinis because it also has numerous other benefits for the plants themselves.

I’ve dedicated quite a few articles to vertical gardening, so in this article, I want to discuss how to train a zucchini on a trellis. This allows the plant to grow vertically instead of horizontally along the ground.

What Are The Benefits Of Growing Zucchini On A Trellis?

Apart from space-saving, there are many other benefits to growing zucchini on a trellis. Here are just some of them.

It Provides Good Air Circulation Around The Plant

powdery mildew on zucchinis

If you’ve ever grown zucchini in your garden, you’ll know that these plants can be very susceptible to fungal diseases such as powder mildew. This is something that I struggle with in my own garden because I really haven’t found a cure that actually works to combat this disease.

While I haven’t tried the method of using a mixture of milk and water that many gardeners swear by, everything else I’ve tried just hasn’t worked. You see, we don’t drink milk in our house so I would have to buy it especially to try on the powdery mildew.

I might give it a try this year and let you know how successful it is. But, what I normally just do is cut off the damaged leaves and let the plant continue to grow. The fungal disease doesn’t kill the plant or prevent fruit production but it does look unsightly and the plant is not as healthy as it should be.

The idea of growing a zucchini on a trellis can help to limit diseases such as powdery mildew because there’s plenty of airflow. This limits the amount of moisture hanging around and provides a less-than-ideal environment for the disease to take hold.

It Facilitates Better Pollination Of The Flowers

male zucchini flowers

As a gardener, you would know that zucchinis produce both male and female flowers. It’s the female flowers that are responsible for the fruit production. But, this won’t happen unless these female flowers are pollinated with the pollen from the male flowers.

Thankfully, I have plenty of bees that come and visit my garden and they do this job for me. However, gardeners who aren’t as lucky may have to do this manually using a soft brush.

If you’re keen to attract more bees to your garden, you might want to check out my article which explains exactly how to do this.

When your zucchini is grown vertically on a trellis it allows the bees to easily find the flowers on the plant and move from one to the other quickly. If you’re hand pollinating, this job is also made easier because the different flowers will be easy to spot.

female zucchini flowers and developing fruit

It Helps With Fruit Growth

Like all fruiting plants, zucchinis need an adequate amount of sunlight to produce nice, tasty fruit. When these plants are grown on a trellis, the fruits get better sun exposure because they’re not hiding on the ground under those large leaves. This can easily result in larger fruits.

Harvesting Is Made Easier

Have you ever gone out to harvest a zucchini and found a huge one down on the ground hidden by a number of overgrown leaves? Zucchinis can be easily overlooked when they hide among those large leaves.

And, before you know it, you end up with one that is large enough to feed the entire neighborhood! This can happen quickly too because I’ve witnessed zucchinis almost double in size overnight.

When you grow your zucchini on a trellis, you most likely won’t have the problem of overlooked fruit because they’ll be must easier to see and you can pick them without them getting too big.

Your Zucchinis Are Protected From Slugs And Snails

There’s nothing worse than watching a zucchini get to the perfect size and then come out the following day to find that it’s been munched on by snails and slugs. 

Growing your zucchini on a trellis gets it off the ground and makes it almost impossible for slugs and snails to attack your fruit.

It also makes it easy for you to see any other pests that might attack your plant such as vine borers or cucumber beetles.

So, now that you know all the benefits, how do you train a zucchini plant to grow on a trellis?

How To Grow Your Zucchini On A Trellis

Here are some top tips to consider.

Select The Perfect Variety

While any type of zucchini variety can be grown on a trellis, some varieties are better suited to vertical growing. Some popular zucchini and squash plants include:

  • Long Green Trailing
  • Table Dainty
  • Bush Baby
  • Gem Squash
  • Patio Star
  • Raven
  • Greybeard

If you plan to grow your zucchini from seeds, try to look for varieties that are labeled as compact as these will be better for training on a trellis. Or, you might see them labeled as bush varieties.

Choose Your Location And Prepare The Garden Soil

When choosing your location, bear in mind that zucchinis need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Therefore, you want to choose a nice sunny spot for your plant whether you’re growing in garden beds or a large pot. 

Zucchinis can be quite successfully grown in a large pot if you only have a small space for gardening outdoors. 

Most zucchini plants produce quite a lot of fruit during their growing season, so one plant should be enough for a family as long as there are plenty of bees for pollination.

If you have a nice sunny spot that is next to a sturdy fence or other structure, this would be ideal because it will be easier to support your plant.

Before planting, add lots of organic matter to the soil to enrich it. Zucchini vines do like a fair amount of nutrients to grow well and provide a bumper harvest. 

Prepare Your Zucchini Trellis

strong wooden trellis with climbing plant and surrounded by other plants

It’s always a good idea to prepare your trellis or support structure before planting so that there’s no danger that you might damage the roots of plants already growing.

For zucchini plants, you’re going to need quite a strong structure because the plants will get heavy as they grow ao they will need extra support. 

You can either purchase a ready-made wooden trellis from a garden center or make your own. But, make sure that you have this well-secured into the ground with some long heavy-duty stakes. You don’t want your trellis falling over under the weight of the plant.

This is where growing near a fence or other structure comes in quite handy because it will allow you to secure the trellis to the fence or structure with strong rope.

While you could use a tomato cage, these are generally not strong enough to support a fully laden zucchini plant. Plus, it’s much harder to train your plant when it’s inside a cage.

If you’re going to make your own trellis, you could use some thick bamboo stakes and chicken wire stretched between the stakes. But, don’t just have a stake at either end. Place one in the middle as well as you’ll want to tie one of the growing stems to this.

Plant Your Seeds Or Seedlings And Water Well

Zucchini seeds should be planted at a depth of around 1 inch (2.5 cm) once the danger of frost is over. It’s always a good idea to put two or three seeds in the same hole in case some don’t germinate. You can always thin out the seedlings later.

If you’re going to grow more than one plant, space them around 18 inches (45 cm) apart.

Once you’ve sown your seeds or planted your seedlings, water well. Then, add a layer of straw-type mulch over the soil or around the base of the plant.

Training Your Zucchini Plants Up The Trellis

It’s important to start training your young plants straight away. This will make it easier and avoids damage to the plant.

As soon as the main stem is long enough, you want to tie it to one of the bamboo stakes or trellis upright supports. Use strong garden twine for this. Or, you could cut up some old pantyhose or old towels to use as plant ties. 

Essentially, you want a tie that’s going to be strong but that won’t cut into the thick stems of the zucchini plant.

Continue to tie your plant to the support as it continues to grow. Make sure that you also tie up any lateral branches that start to grow as well. Tying your plant to the stake often will ensure that it continues to grow vertically and is well supported.

As long as you harvest your fruit regularly, there’s no need to support the fruits themselves. Their stems are quite sturdy.

Prune Your Zucchinis Regularly

compact zucchini plant in pot showing bottom leaves cut off

When your zucchinis are grown vertically, it’s much easier to prune them and keep them healthy. Once the plant starts fruiting, you should regularly remove any dead, damaged or diseased leaves.

This ensures that the plant puts its energy into more fruit production.

To prune off the leaves, just use a sharp pair of secateurs or pruning shears. Although the stems of the leaves are quite thick, they’re hollow inside and relatively easy to remove. Make the cut fairly close to the stem but take care not to cut into the stem itself.

When harvesting your zucchini fruit, use secateurs to cut them from the plant.J ust pulling them off may damage the main stem. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when you do this because the stems can be a little prickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How tall should a trellis be for zucchini?

In general, you want a trellis that is at least 5 to 6 feet (150 to 180 cm) tall to support a healthy zucchini plant.

What type of trellis is best for zucchini?

You need a strong trellis for zucchini, so one made from wood or thick bamboo is best.

How far apart should you plant zucchini when growing vertically?

Space your zucchini plants around 18 inches (45 cm) apart when growing them vertically.

Final Thoughts

If you want to grow zucchinis in your garden, but you don’t have a lot of space, the simple answer is to grow them up a trellis. This is a great way to utilize the amount of space that you have and grow a greater number of crops in your vegetable garden.  When you grow your zucchinis vertically, they’ll take up less space, become healthier plants and be far easier to maintain.

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