Tag Archives: hand-pollinating squash

Help! My Baby Squash are Shriveling and Dying!


It’s disheartening to carefully tend your seedlings, finally spot a tiny squash, only to watch it shrivel up and die. If your little squash are getting wrinkles, and the plant looks otherwise healthy, it’s probably not your fault.

Blame the bees.

There are two types of flowers on a squash plant (this goes for cucumbers and melons too). The male flowers often bloom first, announcing their presence to any bees or pollinators nearby your garden. If the bees do not find your garden in time to transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, the squash will not grow to maturity.

This is a male squash flower. Pretty basic.

The female flowers below have a baby fruit at their base. Do you recognize the common vegetables?

female yellow squash flower

female yellow squash flower

female zucchini flower

female zucchini flower

female cucumber flower

female cucumber flower

Little cucumbers are cute and very poky. 🙂

So what do you do if the bees haven’t found your garden yet? You can transfer the pollen yourself.

DSCN4397  DSCN4398


All you have to do is take a male flower (I like to tear off the petals to make this easier) and transfer the pollen to a female flower. Some people use a makeup brush, but I don’t like to share my makeup brushes, especially with squash pollen.

Once you see lots of bees buzzing around in the mornings, this won’t be necessary.

This should solve the wrinkly squash syndrome for you. Hopefully you will soon have boatloads of zucchini!

If you are swimming in zucchini or patty pan squash, you should try some Chocolate Zucchini Apple Bread.  It’s really good and a nice way to use all that squash.