Courgettes, along with all (I think) squash plants have male and female flowers and it is only the female flowers that will ever produce courgettes, so what do these flowers look like and how do you tell them apart?
Male & Female Courgette Flowers
Female flowers will have a mini courgette behind them whereas male flowers will not have a fruit and will be on a thin stem.
So let’s look at male flowers first, these will usually appear in clusters and will come a few weeks before the female flowers.
Their job is to attract pollinators who then pollinate the female flowers which is why they appear first, so don’t be concerned if at first your plant only has male flowers.
Once the female flowers start to appear more male flowers will still be produced.
So looking at the male flower we can see that it is just on a stem, there is no fruit behind it. You will be able to tell the difference more clearly when I show you a female flower next, but just notice how the stem is straight and there is no swelling.
Also, the stem is thin, whereas a female stem looks a lot thicker because it isn’t a stem but a courgette waiting to develop.
Now contrast that to a female flower which has a clear swelling behind it which is actually a courgette waiting to grow.
You can also see at the base of the courgette where it changes again where it attaches to the stem of the plant. Male flowers don’t have this and are just on a straight stem out of the plant.
Why is this important?
It is important to know the difference because in a wet summer or if you are growing late-season courgettes you may well have to hand pollinate them.
In a wet summer there just aren’t as many pollinators buzzing about which can often mean your plants won’t get pollinated and the fruit won’t develop.
this is not a problem if you are growing a variety that doesn’t need pollination but most types do.
Hand pollinating courgettes is simple, but you need to move pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers so it is important that you can tell the difference.
My Female Flowers Drop Of And No Fruit Forms
This is a sign of failed pollination, usually, this is caused by a lack of pollinators around. You need plenty of pollinators around to keep up with the high demands of a courgette plant.
If the weather is poor (lots of rain) or it is later into the season then there is often not enough pollinators about to do the job. This is usually true for all squash plants.
In this case, you can hand pollinate the flowers using a paintbrush. Gently brush inside the male flower first and then transfer this to a female flower.
It can also be caused by environmental factors like drought, but it is much more likely to be poor pollination unless the plant is on the verge of dehydration.