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Cut zucchini plant: Why and when to cut back the leaves and what to consider

Zucchini from your own garden can be harvested until autumn, if you properly care for the plant. However, sometimes the plant is affected by diseases or pests and you need to act quickly to save the harvest. There are also some care measures that can ensure healthy plants and increase yields. One of these measures is pruning. Here’s why and how you should prune your zucchini plant to harvest fresh zucchini from your garden all summer long.

Why should you prune the zucchini plant?

How to prune zucchini properly in the garden

First of all, why prune these huge plants at all? Unlike squash, zucchini seem to grow in a more closed bush. Although most varieties don’t need much work, there’s always room for improvement!

Here are 6 reasons why you should prune your zucchini plants:

Stimulate growth

Cutting off unhealthy leaves stimulates the plant to put more energy into the remaining foliage and fruit.

Pruning the tops at the right stage of growth can stimulate new growth. Weekly tip trimming can also make the plant more compact, which is ideal for small spaces, while occasional tip trimming will result in more overall plant growth.

Provide better air circulation to prevent powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew is the most common disease of zucchini, and proper watering and pruning at the right time are the most effective ways to control it.

Powdery mildew loves a warm, moist environment. Cutting off the lowest leaves allows more air to flow through the plant, which helps keep powdery mildew under control.

Powdery mildew on zucchini remove diseased leaves

Make it easier to inspect the zucchini plant for pests and diseases

Pruning, especially at height, makes it much easier to search for and find pests. By removing some of the foliage, you can monitor your plants for signs of disease, rot or infestation before they get out of control.

Easier access to fruit

Cutting back zucchini allows you to keep an eye on the ripening fruit and also makes harvesting and weeding easier.

Sometimes production can increase so much that it’s easy to forget about the zucchini on the plant. But you’ll soon find that their size can almost double overnight, which affects the taste. That’s why it’s important to harvest the right size fruit.

Prevent blossom end rot

Blossom end rot can be caused by either a calcium deficiency or lack of pollination. Calcium deficiency can be corrected by digging in some lime or baked eggshells before planting or by adding them around the base of each plant later.

The lack of pollination can be remedied by hand pollinating within the first day after the female flower opens. However, if you missed this incredibly short window for pollination, you can cut off the rotting flowers to focus the plant’s energy on the pollinated flowers.

Encroachment on other plants

Another reason to prune your zucchini plant is because of encroachment and competition for light with the rest of your vegetable patch, especially if they are growing in a small space. Your zucchini will be stimulated, and the surrounding plants will thank you by increasing their production.

Check whether the zucchini leaves shade or completely cover the other vegetable plants in the bed, and remove these leaves.

How and when to cut off zucchini leaves

Pruning zucchini: the most important things in a nutshell.

Pruning the zucchini plant provides better air circulation, stimulates growth and allows the gardener to thoroughly inspect the upcoming crop for signs of pests and diseases. In small gardens where maximum yields are desired, pruning zucchini can be especially handy for keeping these rampant plants under control.

When and how to trim zucchini leaves: Instructions

How to cut zucchini which leaves can be removed


To prune zucchini, all you need are pruning shears and 70% alcohol or disinfectant to sanitize them.

Zucchini care: when should you cut off the lower leaves?

In the early stages of growth, keep an eye on the lower leaves. If a lower leaf touches the ground, cut it off.

Once the plant has developed several flowers or even a few fruits, you can remove any leaves that are below the lowest flower or fruit.

The fruits are primarily fed by the leaves that grow above them, so the lower leaves are unnecessary. Of course, if you see diseased or pitted leaves, you should cut them off as well.

Lower pruning involves removing the unwanted lower leaves, as well as their stems, from the main stem. By removing the entire leaf and stem, there is much less chance of fungus or disease developing in the remaining hollow stems.

Be absolutely careful not to damage the main stem, fruit, flowers, or leaf nodes above the first fruit or flower.

Cut back lower leaves of the zucchini plant stimulate growth

How to cut the tips of the shoots of the zucchini plant?

This should only be done on the bright green, fresh, new shoots at the top of the plant. As long as the top is actively growing, you can prune it.

The easiest way to do this is to pinch off the tips with your thumbnail. You should only trim the growth above the last two leaves at the top of the actively growing plant. Be careful not to damage the leaf nodes along the stem where two new leaves will eventually grow.

Zucchini plant cutting shoot tips care


How many leaves can be removed?

As with pruning most plants, you should remove no more than 30% of the zucchini plant’s foliage. So if you remove all the leaves below the lowest fruit, as well as any diseased leaves, this equates to about 20 to 30%. The zucchini fruits themselves benefit from some shade in hot, sunny climates, so you should not remove the leaves that shade them.

Zucchini plant cut back lower leaves