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Poor pollination may cause squash blossoms to wither, drop

At some point, gardeners may find the large and attractive yellowish blossoms on their squash plants have dropped to the ground, instead of turning into tiny fruits.

The cause of dropping blooms typically results from poor pollination, or a lack of pollen transfer from the male blooms to the female ones.

Bloom Timing

Squash plants have both male and female flowers, and it's the female flower that produces the fruit, which appears small and green beneath the flower. The male flower has only a stem below it. As the blossoms appear, the flowers of each sex will open as they mature. But the flowers of both sexes remain fertile in the morning hours of only one day, and if the female flowers don't receive pollen from the male flower, they close and eventually fall off the plant, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

"The male blossom may open a second day, but the pollen will no longer be fertile and the blossom will close, wilt and drop from the plant that day or the next," Texas AgriLife Extension Service writes.

Sometimes a squash plant may have more male than female flowers or vice versa, and the flowers of either sex open day or a week before the others, another reason why pollintation may not occur, Texas AgriLife explains. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension says this situation most of the time "will correct itself."

Pollination Aids

Gardeners can help aid pollination, too, by assuring more bees visit their squash plant, either through planting flowers nearby or placing a rented or personal bee hive near the garden. Gardeners may also hand pollinate by using a Q-tip or paint brush to transfer the pollen from the male to the female flower.

Other Factors

Other causes of pollination problems may be due to conditions that interfere with bee visits such as rain, temperature changes

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Male squash blossoms (above) begin to wither with one having fallen off the plant.

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