Must My Zucchini Climb? (And What Happens If They Don’t)

Zucchini are great plants for beginner gardeners. Not only are they easy to grow, but they’re also nutritious, and they’re prolific producers. But, if you’re new to growing zucchini you might wonder whether or not a zucchini plant needs to climb.

A zucchini plant does not need to climb in order to grow fruit. In fact, zucchinis are not natural climbers. However, there are benefits to having your zucchini climb. And, if your gardening space is small, a climbing zucchini is a good option. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of climbing zucchini and how you can train your zucchini to climb.

Should Zucchini Climb and What Happens If They Don’t

Zucchini are large plants with broad leaves and tall stems that spread outward. 

Image by karen_hine / CC by

Unlike cucumbers, zucchini plants don’t have tendrils. As I said, they’re not natural climbers. But you can train them to climb. 

Whenever I’ve grown zucchini I’ve never had them climb. However, I was lucky to have had a gardening area large enough to accommodate several zucchini plants. 

Yet, had I known more about climbing zucchini, I would definitely have tried this method. Because there are good reasons to have your zucchini climb.

Reasons Why Your Zucchini Should Climb

Saving space is the main benefit of climbing zucchini.

In its natural state, a zucchini appears bush-like, with large, reaching leaves. And those large leaves take up a lot of garden real estate.

If your garden is small, or you’re gardening with containers, a zucchini plant may not fit if it doesn’t climb. And not growing this easy, versatile vegetable would be a shame.

If you’d like to learn more about container gardening, then check out my guide on the subject. You’ll find it very helpful.

But space saving is not the only benefit of climbing zucchini.  When your zucchini climb, the fruit is easier to pick.  

On the ground, zucchini can hide under the plant’s large leaves. In contrast, when raised, the fruit is much easier to spot.

Too, the leaves and fruit will be less susceptible to disease and rotting. 

When sitting on the ground, there’s not much airflow under a zucchini plant’s heavy foliage.  Moisture can easily become trapped. This, in turn, can lead to the ground becoming over-saturated. And an over-saturated ground can lead to problems.

Zucchini flower being pollinated by a bee.
Image by LeeleeUusikuu from Pixabay

Lastly, when trellised, zucchini flowers are more accessible to pollinators, such as bees.  More accessibility means more pollinated flowers, which means a greater harvest. 

What Happens If Your Zucchini Doesn’t Climb?

If your zucchini doesn’t climb, nothing terrible will happen. Your zucchini will still grow and produce abundant fruit.

Your main concern will be whether or not you have enough space. In general, zucchini need roughly 3 square ft. per plant. Climbing zucchini, on the other hand, need only about one square ft. per plant.

Be aware, that when grown on the ground, the fruit can hide under the plant’s large leaves.  This means it’s easier to miss spotting a zucchini. And since zucchini grow fast, there’s a chance you’ll end up with a huge zucchini

Image by Sh2587 from Pixabay

Too, because there’s less air circulation, you’ll find the leaves along the ground may yellow and rot, or develop powdery mildew.

The Easiest Way to Train Your Zucchini to Climb

Zucchini are heavy plants, with one main stem. In order to climb, they’ll need some type of plant support.

But because they aren’t natural climbers, you’ll need to train your zucchini to climb.  This means you’ll need to manually help them up their support system.

The easiest and simplest method, in my opinion, is using a sturdy metal post or wooden stake. The stake should be about 6 ft. in height and heavy duty.  Possible affiliate for stakes

Don’t use a narrow bamboo stake or any other single lightweight stake. This type of support won’t be strong enough to hold the plant’s weight. 

Put the stake, or whatever support you’re using, in right after you’ve planted the seeds or seedlings. If you wait to place your support until your zucchini is larger, you might accidentally damage the roots.

If you’d like to learn more about how to grow zucchini, then check out my beginner’s guide on the subject.

Your staked zucchini can get quite tall, so it’s essential to place the plant where it won’t block the sun from your other vegetables.

Once your zucchini plant starts to grow, you’ll need to physically tie the stem to the stake using garden string or twine. Don’t use any rough tying material that may damage the stem.

Throughout the season, as your plant continues to grow, you’ll need to keep tying the top of the stem to the stake. If the leaves or plant starts to droop, that’s a sign it needs to be tied in more spots.

As I said, a zucchini plant is heavy.  If there are not enough ties, or the stake is too weak, your plant will start to lean.

Zucchini leaves
Image by Marie Czarnecki from Pixabay

You can trim the leaves below your zucchini flowers to help increase airflow and give pollinators better access to the flowers.  This also helps your zucchini fruit grow quicker and stronger since the nutrients will feed the fruit itself rather than the leaves.

Make sure you harvest your zucchini often.

Types of Support for Your Climbing Zucchini

In addition to a stake, there are several other types of support you can use to help your zucchini climb.  Whichever you choose, make sure it’s strong enough to take the weight of your plant.

Chain link fencing or any other sturdy fencing is also a good option. This is a particularly ideal choice if your zucchini is already planted next to a fence.

You can use a tomato cage.  A tomato cage will help keep your zucchini leaves elevated, more so than “climbing”. But you can use a stake in conjunction with the cage if you want your zucchini to climb above the tomato cage’s rim. Possible affiliate for tomato cage

Lastly, using a trellis is another great option for supporting your climbing zucchini. 

Trellis’ can be vertical or arch-shaped. They come in different designs and can be made from different materials.  When it comes to a trellis, you mainly want to ensure the support is tall enough and will hold the weight of your zucchini plant.  This article from Balcony Garden Web has some great DIY trellis ideas.

3 Zucchini Varieties Suited for Climbing

Because zucchini aren’t natural climbers, it takes some practice and effort to get them to climb.  Here are three varieties that will make this task a little easier.

Final Thoughts

  • Zucchini does not need to climb to produce fruit.
  • There are several reasons you may want your zucchini to climb.  The main being it saves space.
  • Zucchini are not natural climbers and will need to be trained to climb up a support system.
  • There are several support options you can use for climbing zucchini.

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Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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