Pruning Squash Leaves - Should You Remove Squash Leaves?

Squash Leaves
pumpkin leaves
(Image credit: Chansom Pantip)

Many gardeners find that once their squash plants grow and are fully developed, the squash leaves are huge, almost like umbrellas to the squash plant. Since we are told to make sure our squash plants get lots of sun, are these large squash leaves healthy for the plant? Should we allow more sun to be getting to the fruit below? In short, can squash leaves be pruned and is it good for the plant? Keep reading to find out more about cutting squash leaves off.

Why You Should Not Be Removing Squash Leaves

The very short answer is no, do not cut off your squash leaves. There are many reasons why removing squash leaves on a plant is a bad idea. The first reason is that it opens the plant's vascular system up to bacteria and viruses. The open wound where you cut the squash leaf off is like an open doorway to destructive viruses and bacteria. The wound will only make more possibilities for these organisms to invade the plant. The squash leaves also act like a sunscreen for the fruit. While squash plants as a whole like sun, the fruit of a squash plant does not. Squash fruit are actually very susceptible to sunscald. Sunscald is like a sunburn to a plant. The large, umbrella-like leaves on a squash plant help shade the fruit and keep it from sun damage. Besides this, the large squash leaves help to keep weeds from growing around the squash plant. Since the leaves act like huge solar panels on the plant, the sun's rays do not go beyond the leaves and weeds do not get enough sun to grow around the plant. Believe it or not, in this case Mother Nature did know what she was doing with squash plants. Avoid removing squash leaves. You will do far less damage to your squash plant by leaving the leaves on.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.