How to Trellis and Grow Zucchini in a Pot (Space Saving Garden Tips)

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Wondering how to grow zucchini in a pot? Zucchini is an easy to grow, versatile vegetable that just screams summer! Here’s how to grow zucchini in a pot + tips for trellising and growing zucchini vertically too!

flowering zucchini plant in a pot - how to grow zucchini in a pot

How to Trellis and Grow Zucchini in a Pot (Space Saving Garden Tips)

You might not think zucchini is suited to container growing, but several zucchini varieties are actually very well suited to small space growing! Best of all, zucchini is one of those garden plants you can almost always count on for a great harvest! It’s generally a very prolific producer!

Personally, I enjoy growing zucchini but I don’t always enjoy the space requirement. Traditional zucchini varieties take up a lot of space – valuable real estate in my garden. 

One of the benefits of growing zucchini in a pot is to reclaim space! If you’re short on space but  look forward to that fresh zucchini each year, here are two ways to grow zucchini anyway.

Not only can you grow it in a container, you can also train zucchini to grow vertically. We’ll describe both of these zucchini growing methods in this post.

round zucchini

Container Friendly Zucchini Plants

The first step to growing zucchini in containers is to choose the right type of zucchini. There are lots of different types of zucchini, each suited for different climates or growing conditions. Choosing varieties that are well suited for container gardening or types that will adapt well to vertical gardening will help keep your plant producing fruit all summer long!

Luckily there are several compact zucchini varieties that will work well in your home garden. If you want a smaller type of zucchini in your garden space, consider bush varieties instead of sprawling zucchini. 

Another tip when choosing zucchini seeds for container growing is to look for types that have the words “baby” or “patio” in their name. A few common types of zucchini plants well suited for planters include:

Of course you don’t have to plant seeds. If you would prefer to plant zucchini seedlings, you can do that too! Just remember to get zucchini varieties that need less space.

growing zucchini in a bucket

When to Plant Zucchini

Zucchini should be planted after the last frost date and once the soil has warmed to 65 – 70F. The nice thing about growing zucchini in containers is you have a bit more flexibility and can get a jump start on your growing season! Simply start your seeds in a warm environment indoors a couple weeks prior to your last frost date and then move outdoors once the weather is warm enough!

Growing vertically in raised beds is also a good option. Raised beds warm faster since winter snow and rain drains out. If you want to grow zucchini in the ground, you can help the soil warm sooner by covering your beds with plastic before planting. 

Where to Plant Zucchini

Zucchini plants need lots of sunlight. So place your containers in a sunny spot in an area that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

How to Plant Zucchini in a Pot

The second step in growing zucchini in containers is to choose the right container for the best growing experience. Even compact zucchini plants get big, so don’t choose a small pot for your zucchini plants; choose a large pot.

We’ve found a plastic 5-gallon bucket with drainage holes works really well for growing zucchini. You’ll want to use a quality garden soil or potting soil mix with lots of organic matter. 

It’s also a good idea to include peat moss or vermiculite in your growing medium to help with water retention and drainage.

Zucchini plants need a lot of water, so make sure their soil stays moist. They might also need a compost top dressing or your favorite organic fertilizer from time to time too!

making a garden trellis

Wondering how to grow zucchini vertically?

It is possible to grow zucchini vertically too! Using a tomato cage or other trellis and training the young plants up is a good way to start! Growing vertically will keep your zucchini from sprawling on the ground and can also help make harvest easier. 

You will have to tie the zucchini stems to the trellis because the plant won’t be able to support itself on its own. Check on your zucchini every day and tie as necessary to keep it growing up instead of out.

cucumber beetles on a male zucchini flower

Zucchini Plant Pests and How to Protect Against Them

Zucchini is a hardy plant but there are some nasty pests that attack summer and winter squash plants. Using row covers early in the growing season is a good way to keep pests off your plants, but you’ll want to uncover for them for pollination.

Some pests to watch out for include:

The best treatment is often to hand pick and squash the pests. Be sure to look under the leaves for eggs and squash them also. This post details the 10 most effective ways to control garden pests organically!

If squashing and picking is too gross, spray them down with Neem oil. Don’t forget the undersides of the leaves.  

If you notice your zucchini wilt, you either have vine borers or cucumber beetles causing bacterial wilt. If you see dull yellow mush coming out of your zucchini stems, you have vine borers. You’ll need to cut the worms out from the base of the plant with a clean, sharp knife. 

You can also inject Bt into the mush to kill the worm/s if you’re nervous about cutting it out. Check daily for any while you harvest.   

If you notice wilting plants and a bunch of black and yellow cucumber beetles, you probably won’t be able to do anything to save the plants. You’ll want to remove wilted plants and burn them right away.

flowering zucchini in a pot

Common Issues with Zucchini

Fungal diseases like powdery mildew is an issue in humid zones and where air is stagnant so make sure your plants have enough space for good air circulation. 

Powdery Mildew

If you notice white downy mildew looking spots on your plants, you might have an issue. You can sometimes prevent powdery mildew by watering the soil instead of watering the plant.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is another common issue with many varieties of zucchini. Blossom-end rot is often found on tomatoes too. If you notice your fruit gradually softening and turning brown, press a few antacid tablets like Tums around the base of your zucchini plant. 

Pollinating Zucchini

Another issue some people have with zucchini is pollination.

Sometimes there are too few female flowers and not enough male flowers, or vice versa. If this is the case with your zucchini, you may need to hand pollinate. The female flowers produce the fruit and the male flowers are necessary for pollination – so pay attention to your zucchini flowers. 

To increase the odds of proper pollination, make sure to plant at least two zucchini plants, so you might want to have two zucchini plants near each other in different pots.

Male Zucchini Flower

male zucchini flower
male zucchini flower -see the pollen inside? It’s on a long stem with no fruit.

Female Zucchini Flower

female zucchini flower
female flower on the zucchini fruit

Companion Plants Zucchini Like

Companion plants are useful for a variety of reasons. They can help keep away pests and they can also enhance taste and growing conditions too.

Zucchini love herbs and do well with any of them planted next door. The scent of oregano, dill and peppermint also keeps bugs at bay. Some companion plants can be planted right in the same container as the zucchini- like radishes. And others, like herbs, you’ll want to put in their own small pots to set next to the zucchini.

Radishes are great companion plants for container zucchini – they mature faster and help keep cucumber beetles away. You’ll be able to harvest them while waiting for your zucchini to grow big and strong.

basket of zucchini

When to Harvest Zucchini 

One thing you’ll notice now that you know how to grow zucchini in a pot is that it’s pretty easy to harvest! No more searching through layers and layers of leaves!

Zucchini can be harvested at any age but will produce more if you pick them daily. Once you notice the first little zucchini appearing at the of the female flower, your fruit should be ready to pick in only 3-4 days! 

The nice thing about having a zucchini in a large container close to your house is you won’t have to go far to check on them! Harvest time comes quickly for zucchini so make sure you’re looking often! 

Zucchini Recipes & Preservation Tips 

Eating seasonally is a great way to be more self-sufficient and summer is the perfect time to eat zucchini. If you’re interested in Seasonal Eating, you’ll definitely want to check out the summer seasonal eating guide for the tips!

Small, tender zucchini are best baked, roasted, deep fried, or stir fried. The bigger fruits you missed are better for shredding and freezing. That will allow you to bake fresh zucchini bread over the winter. Frozen zucchini can come out pretty watery so try to squeeze out as much water as you can before freezing.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes featuring zucchini –

Now that you know how to grow zucchini in a pot, what's the first thing you're going to make with it?

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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