All members of the squash family have completely separate male and female flowers and it can be important to tell the two apart. But how can you tell the difference between a male and female squash flower?
Male & Female Squash Flowers
The easiest way to tell them apart is that the female flower has a fruit behind it whereas the male flower has nothing behind it. Let me show you what I mean with some photos.
Female Squash Flower
Here you can see a female squash flower, the actual flower head of the flower looks the same as the male. The difference comes with what lies behind the flower.
You can see the little squash sitting behind the flower just waiting to grow quite clearly here.
If this flower gets pollinated then this will begin to develop into a full-sized squash and the flower will fall off.
Male Squash Flower
In contrast, this is a male flower, look how there is only a thin stem behind the flower and no sign of fruit at all.
It is these male flowers that usually appear first on your plant, so if for the first two weeks of flowering your squash only has male flowers don’t panic, the female flowers will be on their way soon.
Why Does It Matter?
The main reason it matters is if you need to hand pollinate your plants, this can be quite common if we have a spell of cold and wet weather just as your squash is flowering.
This is because in cold and wet weather there are a lot fewer pollinators about, so there is a much higher chance your squash won’t get pollinated at all.
If this happens the little fruits just fall off the plant and never develop, which is obviously not ideal.
So what can you the gardener do? The answer is hand pollination.
While this may sound complex it is actually really simple. Just grab a small paintbrush, give it a good dab inside a few male flowers to load it up with pollen.
Then brush this pollen into the heart of a female flower and you should have just pollinated that flower, allowing the squash to develop.
When The Fruit Is Developing
I just thought I would show you a photo of what the squash starts to look like once it has been pollinated and started to develop.
The flower has fallen off and the squash has started to swell and develop. Pollination was successful here, so if something goes wrong with the fruit now we know it wasn’t down to pollination.