By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
When garden space is scarce, it is good to know that a number of plants will happily thrive in containers. This is good news for apartment dwellers that may have only a small balcony or patio space. Many herbs, vegetables, flowers and even small trees are quite happy in a container as long as the size is adequate, proper drainage is provided, and they receive the care that they need. Vegetables grown in pots often require more frequent watering than plants in the ground, so close attention must be given, especially during times of extreme heat.
Will Squash Grow in Pots?
Many cultivars of cucumbers, peppers, peas, leaf crops, tomatoes and squash can be grown in pots. Contrary to what you might think, these plants will produce just as much fruit in a container as they do in the ground, as long as you pick a suitable variety and provide the care that they need.
Squash Varieties for Container Gardening
There are a number of varieties of squash that are appropriate for container gardening. Some varieties to consider include:
- Bush Acorn
- Black Magic Zucchini
- Bushkin Pumpkin
- Bush Crookneck
Planting Squash in Pots
Two important components to successful container gardening are container size and soil type. Although it may not seem like it, one squash plant will fill a 24-inch pot in no time. Do not overcrowd squash plants.
A couple of things can be done to promote drainage; drill several holes in the bottom of the container and place some fine gravel covered by a piece of wire mesh in the bottom of the container. This will keep the soil from clogging up the drainage holes.
The best soil mixture is loose, well-drained and loaded with organic matter. Mix together one part each perlite, sphagnum, potting soil, peat moss and compost for a well draining and highly fertile soil.
Caring for Container Squash
Place your squash container in a location where it will receive at least 7 hours daily of full sun.
Provide a trellis or stake for your plant to help support the weight of the fruit. Squash is quite happy to grow vertically, and this is good for the plant. Vertical growing allows light and air to circulate and often reduces pest problems.
Keep an eye on the moisture. Water when the soil is dry a couple inches down.
Provide an organic fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season.