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Why Is My Zucchini Growing Short And Fat

Zucchini can grow into many odd shapes and sizes, most of which are typical for the fruit. Some symptoms your fruits can display that can point to issues in the environment or how your plant is being cared for can determine your plant’s shape or growth habit. So you might wonder, “why is my zucchini growing short and fat?” 

Zucchinis that are growing short and fat can indicate deficiencies in nutrients, light, or water issues. Improper light can also be a reason for insufficient growth.

Read on to learn about what your short and fat zucchini can be trying to tell you and how you can correct these issues. 

Why are my zucchini short and fat? 

The most common reason zucchini growth will be stunted poor soil nutrition. While zucchini plants are not particularly fussy, they prefer rich, well-draining soil with a midrange pH between 6.0-7.5.

If the soil is off in the pH range, it becomes difficult for your plant to effectively uptake nutrients, leading to stunted or odd growth. If your soil pH is in the correct range, but you’re still having issues, there are a few other common reasons why your zucchini are not developing as desired. 

A lack of water can also be an issue that may need to be addressed if you notice strange, suboptimal growth of your zucchini. These plants prefer to have their soil evenly moist while they grow to prevent drought stress which can hinder the development of the fruit.

An excellent way to ensure your plant’s soil stays evenly moist is to water when the top inch or so of soil is dry. Mulch covering can also aid in moisture retention, buying you extra time if you are forgetful with watering. 

Insufficient light for this full-sun plant can affect its growth rate and habit. Not only will this lead to fewer leaves and flowers being produced, but pollinators are also less likely to visit plants that are in low-light conditions compared to those under bright light.

Zucchini plants that get less than 6 hours of direct sun each day will likely grow leggy, have sparse flower and fruit production, and generally would be unproductive. Ensure your plant has a bright location where it can get at least 6 hours of direct light daily. 

Lastly, pests or diseases such as squash borers or powdery mildew can hinder your plant’s ability to develop full fruits. Fortunately, these are issues that present themselves in a very obvious manner, with squash borers making holes in the central stem and powdery mildew appearing as a white coating on the leaves.

These issues can be solved using organic fungicides or improving the spacing between your plants for circulation. As far as pests are concerned, a floating row cover can be placed over the young squash plants to prevent them from laying their eggs in your plant. Choosing pest and disease-resistant squash varieties can also prevent some hardship in the future. 

While it can seem overwhelming at first, all of the different possibilities that can cause your zucchini to develop in odd ways can be narrowed down quickly so you can get to the root of the issue and adjust the conditions as needed to get the perfect harvest.

What does an overwatered zucchini look like? 

While keeping consistent soil moisture is vital to developing healthy zucchini, overwatering a zucchini plant can similarly stunt its growth by not watering enough. Slow growth and discolored leaves are symptoms of overwatering and fruits that mold or rot on the vine.

This can occur if weather conditions are unfavorable and keep the soil moist for much longer than it should be, depriving the roots of oxygen and washing out nutrients that the plant needs for maturation. 

It is best to keep an eye on the weekly weather forecast so you can anticipate any rainfall that may come, which can replace a portion of your regular watering. Zucchinis need the equivalent of 1 inch of water per week, so keep this in mind if you’ve got a rainy week coming up, especially if it’s not hot enough to dry out the soil between rain showers. 

When should zucchini be harvested? 

Zucchini can be harvested young when they are most tender, though most people prefer to pick their fruits when they are a bit more substantial in size. 

Zucchinis are ready to be picked when the color has developed appropriately for the variety planted; the fruit is firm and around 6 inches in size. These fruits can develop quickly, so it is pertinent to pay attention to your plants when the fruits are getting close to the mature size so you can harvest them at their peak. 

Younger fruits can be picked and enjoyed as they are most flavorful and tender at this point. Alternatively, overly large fruits can rot on the vine, attracting pests or disease. Larger zucchinis tend to lose their flavor and tenderness, making them less desirable for eating. 

Regularly harvest your zucchini to get continuous flushes of fruits throughout the growing season, or if you need to curb the growth of your plant, make sure you leave some fruits on the vines. You can also remove some female flowers and excess vines to focus the plant’s growth on the existing fruits. 

Final Thoughts 

It can be disappointing to notice your zucchini’s poor fruit development after attempting to grow a healthy, vigorous plant. The bright side is that your plant is telling you something is off, and once you notice the issue, you can begin to address the potential causes. 

Recognizing and tackling these problems will make for a more well-rounded, informed gardener. Knowing more about the things that can go awry in the garden from first-hand experience may not be the most fun way of learning, but it is an effective way to grow a productive and healthy garden. 

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