How To Prune And Stake Zucchini Plants

A zucchini plant is a lazy gardener’s crop. For very little work, the payout (AKA the yield) is enormous, and nothing beats the taste of one fresh out of the garden. But it turns out I may have been a little too lazy growing this crop in past years and that zucchini plants can benefit from pruning and staking. 

Pruning And Staking Zucchini Plants?

staking zucchini

Yes! Much like tomatoes, your zucchini plants won’t mind having a little trim and TLC throughout the growing season. 

The benefits are many, including reducing the risk of disease, such as powdery mildew, which is inevitable with zucchini plants. 

Leaves won’t sprawl across the soil, meaning fewer pathogens will get to them. And it allows for better air circulation, which is a good thing for fruit production! 

The technique is also a major space-saver out in the garden. Zucchini plants tend to take over rapidly; pruning and staking make them more compact and helps them grow up instead of out.

How To Stake Zucchini

staking zucchini

This is a job that is easiest done as you initially plant your zucchini. If you’re a little late to the game, no worries! Just be careful not to disturb the roots.

Plant a four or five-foot stake close to the zucchini stem and gently tie with some garden string or tomato ties. As the zucchini continues to grow, keep securing the stem in increments.

How To Prune Zucchini

Pruning zucchini isn’t a huge project because you shouldn’t remove too many of the leaves.

The fruit needs the leaves above to grow; only remove the ones below the first zucchini blossoms. 

prune the leaves

In addition to the leaves, remove their stems. Do this with a sharp pair of garden shears and clip right at the main stem. It’s not difficult to do, as you’ll notice the stem is hollow until it hits the plant’s main stem.  

As you can see, the result is a zucchini patch that looks nice and tidy compared to how it started.

As the growing season continues, watch for the development of powdery mildew and remove any diseased parts of the plant. Discard them into the garbage – never the compost. 

A healthier plant could very well lead to a better harvest. Grilled, stuffed, or grated into bread or sweets; you’ll enjoy lots of zucchini for months to come!

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15 Comments
  • Pat says:

    Thank you for the great information on pruning the zucchini plants.

  • Peter Hack says:

    Which green zucchini varieties do you recommend for southwestern Ontario?

  • JoJo Gutwald says:

    Can I prune too many leaves off of plant

    • Catherine Sherriffs says:

      Yes! Zucchini plants love the sun but the fruit uses the leaves as protection. I recommend pruning just the lower leaves that are more prone to touching the ground.

  • Kim says:

    Great article. I’m growing zuccini for the first time in a keyhole garden. I have them staked but want to prune off some leaves. I have no flowers yet, is it too soon to remove the lower leaves?

    • Catherine Sherriffs says:

      I think you can get away with pruning a couple of lower leaves without causing the plant too much stress! Don’t overdo it, though. The most important thing is getting some fruit to harvest!

  • Maureen Lundy says:

    Thanks for the tips for growing great zucchini.Will definitely be doing this with my plants!

  • Emily says:

    Hi Catherine! I live in Southern Ontario, Canada…I tried to grow zucchini last year for the first time, and the squash beetles got to it. I moved the plants this year to a completely different garden, but didn’t realize they have to be staked…or how beneficial it is for them. So, I’m going to do that ASAP, but I was wondering…do the zucchini grow close enough to the stalk that they won’t pull the plant down if it’s staked properly? How does the plant tolerate the weight of the vegetables while they’re growing and maturing? Thanks so much for posting this article. Great read!

    • Catherine Sherriffs says:

      Hi Emily! Great question! First of all, I don’t want you to stress too much about staking the plant. I have grown some VERY successful and high-yielding zucchini plants without a stake. However, this process really does help with powdery mildew, and I know it can get hot and steamy in Southern Ontario!

      The fruit of the plant does grow incredibly close to the stalk, so you don’t have to worry about the weight pulling whatever support you use down to the ground. Zucchinis will appear around the base of the plant; the idea here is to simply pull the leaves and their stems gently up off the ground and stake them in increments to allow for better air movement.

      Finally, because you are adding the stake after planting, just be sure not to hurt the roots as you go through the process! I hope this helps! Thanks for reading.

  • Barb says:

    Tks for your article… First time growing Zucchini, my neighbor gave me 2 plants… I planted them in a large pot staking them along side each plant with compost from my bin and good planting soil, then added some crushed egg shells around the top… Hope it will work out ok… I will also look out for mildew by misting my plants with an aspirin, baking soda mixed with water in a 1 litre spray bottle…
    I prefer to use natural ingredients to deter disease and bugs on my plants…

  • Drew says:

    Thanks for the article! When you say to secure them in increments, how much space is between these increments and how high should you expect to go? I’m guessing it differs for each cucumber variety, but what should I watch for? Thanks.

    • Catherine Sherriffs says:

      Thanks for your question, Drew! I would secure the stalk of the zucchini plant (or cucumber) when you notice the leaves becoming heavy and drooping; every couple of inches or so. The idea is to keep the leaves from touching the soil below. I hope this helps!

  • Leslie says:

    I think I got a little overzealous and pruned my zucchini too much too early. Will the plants likely die or just produce less due to my error?

    • Catherine Sherriffs says:

      It depends on what you mean by “overzealous”… Zucchinis do benefit from the shade provided to them by the foliage on the plant. Having said that, in my experience, zucchini plants will provide something for the dinner table, no matter what. I hope that’s the case for you!

  • Margarite Cuomo says:

    Thank you for all your beneficial help. I’m going to try this on my zucchini plants today! Now I know they have powdery mildew (live South. Plus, my plant has gotten “leggy.” I have tried stalking, but it seemed to no avail. Now, thanks to this article, I can properly care for my zucchini plant and hopefully yield a great crop! This is my first time with zucchini.

Author

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.