Short on space but would like to grow zucchinis? Learn how to grow zucchinis vertically whether they’re in a raised garden bed or a container.
In my tiny courtyard garden, I’m always looking at ways to maximise the use of the limited space I have. To coin an old corporate bingo expression, continuous improvement is always on the cards.
Zucchini plants take up a sizeable amount of space which can be a challenge. In my case, it means less room for growing other crops, and I like to cram in as many as possible. The good news is, when it comes to zucchinis, those massive plants can be grown vertically.
What is Meant by Growing Zucchinis Vertically
In basic terms, growing zucchinis vertically refers to training the plant to grow upwards like tomatoes by staking it, pruning it and tying up as it grows.
Benefits of Growing Zucchinis Vertically
1. Saves Space
One of the main benefits of growing zucchinis vertically is space saving. In my garden, it takes up a small corner of the raised garden bed. If you have a small garden, or if you’re growing in containers, you can save on space and plant them 45cm apart instead of the recommended 60-70cm spacing.
2. Can be Grown in Large Containers
The other advantage is the ability to grow zucchinis in a large container, such as in 40-45 cm in diameter. Growing zucchinis vertically in containers has the advantage of being much easier to manage without having to crouch down or bend over.
3. Minimises Powdery Mildew
Zucchinis are notorious for getting powdery mildew and once the plant is infected, it can stall growth and fruit production. By raising the leaves and stems and growing it upwards, it improves air flow and reduces the chance of powdery mildew or at the very least, delays it.
4. Keeps Fruit off the Ground
Another advantage of staking zucchinis is that it keeps the fruit off the ground. By raising it, there’s less chance of critters getting to the fruit and it gives protection from being in contact with soggy soil when it rains.
How to Grow Zucchinis Vertically
Growing zucchinis vertically is not a difficult task but you need to start early and you need to be diligent. Here’s a step by step guide on how to do it. The best time to start is at the point where you have established seedlings that are ready for transplanting.
- At the time of transplanting, drive a timber stake through the soil and transplant the seedling making sure the main stem is close to the stake. For best results, use a solid and thick timber stake that can support the weight as zucchinis can be very heavy.
- Using budding tape or old T-shirt cut into strips, tie the stem to the stake. Budding tape expands as the plant grows and gives support and strength without damaging the stem.
- As the plant grows, prune the lower leaves and stalks from the base of the plant cutting as close to the stem as possible. Note: Only prune leaves that are lower than the fruit.
- Once a week, check for growth and repeat the process where necessary. During the growth phase, it pays to check twice a week as the plant is growing very quickly. You’d want to prune and tie about every 10cm of growth.
Whether you have a small courtyard, a spacious backyard or a container garden, growing zucchinis vertically is a way of maximising growing space and improving plant health. The only caveat is to start early and remain diligent in your pruning. Otherwise, you may end up with an unruly plant that is difficult to manage.
Or a zucchini hammock.
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