Thursday, July 24, 2008

It’s Monoecious!

One plant with two incomplete flowers: pistillate or “female” flowers and staminate or “male” flowers define a monoecious plant. (See this post about complete, or perfect, flowers.) I recently figured out that the reason that I wasn’t getting any fruit on my squash plant (Yes, singular---I have one plant growing in a large pot on my patio.) was that the flowers were typically only opening one at a time, lasting only a few hours, and that they were all female. Finally, on Monday, there were two flowers, one of each "sex", and lots of busy insects. Now I have one squash (heirloom scallop, Cucurbita pepo, from Botanical Interests, Inc). Whoo-hoo!

Although this sounds like pretty basic stuff (and me with a degree in horticulture, even!), it’s exactly the kind of thing you learn with experience or via a mentor. Nowhere on the otherwise informative seed packet did it say, “For best yields plant a minimum of three.” Or, “Single plants will have extremely low yields.” Or, “Not recommended for container gardening.” Corn is an example of a well known monoecious plant that always has planting instructions that include block or mass planting for improved pollentation.

Lesson learned? Plant more squash plants if you want a crop!


Aiyana said...

Well, with that one male, maybe you will end up with a few after all. Is this squash sometimes called Pattypan?

jocelyn said...

Yes, this squash is also known as patty pan type. The seed I bought is actually a blend of white, yellow and green squash---pretty! I had 100% germination of the seeds I planted, then thined them to one single plant. I'm saving the rest of the seeds to try again next year...