Do Zucchini Need a Trellis? Steps, Facts & FAQs
While Zucchini does not usually naturally grow vertically, it will with some encouragement. Growing zucchini in this manner helps consider space and is a great option if your garden is already strapped for space. Plus, it also helps encourage air circulation and sun exposure, which can help the plant stay healthy. For this reason, many professionals recommend growing this plant on a trellis, though this is not absolutely necessary.
Luckily, growing zucchini on trellises is pretty easy. It only requires some basic steps to encourage the plant to grow vertically like a vine, as opposed to spreading along the ground.
The 6 Steps on How to Grow Zucchini Vertically
1. Install Metal Stakes
Firstly, you’ll need to install metal stakes into the ground at least a foot deep. Zucchini plants can get heavy, so they have to be in the ground very well to provide the firm structure that they need. Drive stakes less than 6 feet from each other to ensure stability.
Then, position the trellis so that it does not block the sun from the south. Generally, it is best to put it to the north, as long as that does not cast shade on other plants.
2. Add wire
Now, you’ll need to add wire to provide the plant with something to hang onto. You can either nail or staple chicken wire to the stakes, depending on the material they are made out of. (We recommend metal stakes, so nailing is not typically an option.)
Attach the chicken wire so that it does not have any slack, as this will support the plant best.
3. Plant Your Zucchini
With the trellis installed, you can plant your zucchini. Place it about a few inches from the base of the trellis. Beyond the position, you’ll simply need to plant the zucchini as you normally would. Water the plant as normal and allow it time to grow.
4. Attach the Plant to the Trellis
When it can reach the trellis easily, you’ll need to attach the vines to the trellis. Zucchini will sometimes find the trellis itself and grow up it. However, it often needs a little bit of encouragement to grow in this manner.
To do so, simply tie the plant to the trellis with strips of fabric or a similar material. Do not tie too firmly, as you don’t want to restrict the growth of the plant or cut off nutrients to the upper vines. All you want to do is keep the vine touching the trellis, as this will encourage it to grow up and around.
5. Continue to Tie the Plant
As the plant grows, you may need to keep tying it to the trellis. This varies widely from plant to plant. Some of them will start growing up the trellis by themselves without much encouragement, while others will constantly need to be tied as they grow taller.
Try to tie the stems in a way that encourages them to wrap onto the trellis. However, this only works effectively on some zucchini plants.
6. Untie the Plant
If your zucchini plant begins to grow onto the trellis by itself, you can untie it. Once the plants start growing on the trellis, they usually keep doing so and you should no longer have to guide them. Continue to care for the plant just like you would if it was on the ground.
You’ll need to inspect the plant every week to ensure that it doesn’t grow against the wire, which can distort and damage the plant. You want it gently climbing it, not trying to grow through it.
Do Zucchini Plants Need Support?
You don’t have to trellis a zucchini plant. Many people grow them along the ground just fine. The chance of diseases is a bit higher if it is left on the ground, but this is not typically a huge problem. If taken care of, zucchini can grow on the ground without much assistance. Most varieties are pretty hardy.
Zucchini plants produce very small vining tendrils that can help the plant climb nearby structures. However, this plant is not usually as good at climbing as others, so it needs a significant amount of support and help. Most people have to tie their plants to a trellis if they want them to grow well at all.
You will need to tie the plants to the trellis if you want them to grow with support. Otherwise, you can simply let the plant spread out upon the ground.
How High Should a Zucchini Trellis Be?
If you want to grow zucchini completely vertically, you should plan for the trellis to be at least 12 feet tall. While the plant may never actually reach this height, many of them do. Therefore, you do have to plan for the trellis to be quite tall.
Many zucchini plants simply grow straight up instead of curling around the trellis like other vines.
Zucchini can be encouraged to grow vertically, though they are not very good at it. While this plant is a vine, they often need to be tied to a trellis and some of them need to remain tied throughout their lifespan. Often, they do not latch onto the trellis firmly enough to support full-grown fruit, so ties are necessary to prevent the plant from falling down.
However, most zucchini plants are perfectly happy on a trellis if they are given the correct support. In fact, it can help the plant get more sunlight and keeps them away from the disease-ridden ground. Therefore, many gardeners actually prefer to grow zucchini in this manner.
Featured Image Credit: L. Feddes, Shutterstock