Growing squash does not have to be limited to sprawling gardens. Many gardeners have successfully grown these large, lush plants in containers. The key is using the right container and the right soil mix.
Squash varieties are available in two basic growing types: bush and vining. The bush variety is best suited for container gardening. The vining types would grow well but would spread over the deck, patio, or lawn, defeating your purpose of saving space. Here are some bush varieties that grow well in containers:
Zucchini Green Bush Squash
Zucchini Golden Squash
Makaronowa Warszawska Squash
Table King Bush-Winter Squash
Sunburst Hybrid Squash
Ronde De Nice Squash
Types of Containers
After choosing a bush variety of squash, you must choose the correct container for growing. Bush varieties of squash can easily grow to a diameter of 36-48 inches. No matter what the shape, the container you use should have a top surface area at least 24 inches across.
Today’s gardeners have numerous container choices. From traditional to modern, here are some choices:
Half-barrel, wooden or plastic
Deep planter box
Smart Pots made of black polypropylene material
Adequate drainage is crucial to growing squash in containers. All containers used must have holes with the exception of Smart Pots which are made of a porous black polypropylene material. If necessary, drill holes in the bottom of your container.
Filling the Container
The bottom of the container should be lined with small pebbles. This prevents soil from escaping through the drainage holes. If using Smart Pots, it is not necessary to line the bottom with pebbles.
Plants grown in a container cannot absorb nutrients from deep in the ground; therefore, it is crucial to use soil loaded with nutrient dense organic matter. Commercial soil mixes or a self-made mix can be used. A good soil mix to make would contain equal amounts of these: perlite, sphagnum, potting soil, peat moss, and compost.
Planting Squash in Containers
Now that the most difficult tasks are over, it is time to plant the squash seeds or seedlings. Before either method of planting, moisten the soil well. Plant in each container one seedling. If sowing seeds, in every container sow five seeds one inch deep. Thin to the healthiest two plants after germination. Wait some days then cut the weakest seedling at soil level.
Caring for Squash Plants
At least seven hours of direct sunlight daily are needed for squash plants to thrive. The sun and heat may increase the water needs for the plants. The container squash plants’ soil should remain moist six inches deep. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer every two weeks. Lastly, a trellis or stake can give added support to the heavy fruit growth.