If you have limited space, but you love the taste of freshly picked courgettes, then we have the solution for you. In this article we will show you how to grow courgettes vertically.
Homegrown courgettes are delicious, and they are so easy to grow. And you don’t need many plants to get a good supply of freshly picked courgettes all summer. Courgette plants are known to be heavy croppers.
But not everyone has the good fortune to have a big garden, or indeed any garden. If you only have limited outside or garden space, but you don’t want to miss out on homegrown courgettes, why not grow climbing courgettes?
We will show you how to grow courgettes vertically in pots to save space.
Best Varieties Of Climbing Courgettes
While most courgettes can be trained to climb, there are varieties that have a habit of growing vertically rather than horizontally. Here are some courgette varieties that will climb, for you to try:
Black Forest F1: This variety is one of the most recommended climbing courgettes. It will give you a smooth, dark green fruit and is a heavy producer throughout summer as long as you harvest the fruits regularly.
Tromboncino: This is a variety that comes from Italy, and it has a very odd shape. But they have a great flavour. They will need a lot of sun though, so make sure you give them a sunny spot. I couldn’t find seeds for this variety, but you can buy them from Thompson and Morgan as plug plants.
Shooting Star F1: This climbing variety will produce yellow fruits and tastes great when stir-fried. It also has disease resistance, which is always a bonus.
Now that we have looked at the various varieties, let’s look at the nitty-gritty of how to grow courgettes vertically.
Sowing Courgette Seeds
When it comes to sowing the seeds, there is no difference between vertical and horizontal growing courgette plants.
You can start them off indoors in April or May. Fill a 3in (7cm) pot with peat free compost and push the seed down into it, on its side. Sow two per pot, in case one of them does not germinate.
Cover the seeds with more compost and give them a good soak. Leave them in a warm place where they are safe from frost.
They should germinate in 5-7 days.
If you want to start them outside, you have to wait until any risk of frost has passed. Which is normally in late May or early June.
Sow the courgette seeds exactly as described above.
Starting them outdoors does mean that they will bear fruit later, so if you want to harvest courgettes early in the season, you should consider starting them off indoors.
Planting On The Courgette Seedlings
On to the next step of how to grow courgettes vertically. Once there is no chance of frost any more, you can transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Courgette plants are not as hardy as others, so make sure you give them a chance to acclimatise to the conditions first. Put them out in their pots in the sun during the day, so they can get used to being outside.
Make sure you only put out your courgette plants when the danger of frost has passed.
Being heavy feeders, courgettes need rich soil to thrive, so prepare your container you want to grow it in as follows:
- use a big pot or container, you want around 90 to 100 litres
- make sure the container you use has drainage holes, if it doesn’t just drill some
- add a layer of rocks in the bottom of the pot, this will make sure good drainage to prevent the container from getting water locked and the roots from rotting
- top with peat-free compost and mix in well-rotted manure to give the plant the nutrients it needs
Now your pot is ready for planting your courgette seedlings in.
Growing Courgettes Vertically
If you want to learn how to grow courgettes vertically, this is the main difference. You need to give them something to climb up on. Otherwise, they will grow out rather than up.
This is one of the main requirements for courgettes that grow vertically.
And it’s also one of the main mistakes people make. They plant their climbing variety without giving them any support and are annoyed when they don’t grow up. Thankfully, you are reading this guide about how to grow courgettes vertically, so you won’t make this mistake.
Because, although climbing varieties of courgettes are inclined to climb, they need support they can climb up on. This could be a wall, a trellis, or you can use a tomato cage or support frame. These work well for this purpose.
- Can be pushed into soft ground
- Made from durable green plastic coated steel
- Set of 5
Alternatively, you can create your own climbing support for your courgettes. All you need is three canes and some string.
After you have planted your seedling in prepared container, put the three canes around the edges of the container. Tie them together at the top, making a tent-like structure.
When your plant has started to grow, tie the stems to the canes, ideally below the leaves. You want to start outside and work your way in. Do this every few days, as the plant grows.
Top Tip: Tie the stalks loosely to the canes to avoid damaging them.
Continue doing this every few days, depending on the growth rate of your plant, throughout the growing period. This process is called training the plant.
Technically, you can train any courgette plant to grow vertically. However, it is easier with varieties that are already inclined to do so. That’s why we recommend using one of the climbing varieties mentioned above in this how to grow courgettes vertically guide.
Caring For your Courgettes
Let’s move on to the next part of our guide about how to grow courgettes vertically, caring for them.
Like other squashes, courgettes are heavy feeders, so they need enough nutrients and plenty of water to thrive. You want to make sure you keep the soil moist. Especially if you grow your courgettes in a container, where the soil will dry out quicker.
They also need a lot of sun and warmth, so find a sunny spot for them. Water them regularly, especially when it doesn’t rain much. Water them from below, to avoid the foliage getting wet.
When you notice that the first fruits start to swell, it’s time to start feeding your courgettes. Ideally, with liquid fertiliser that is high in potassium, such as liquid tomato feed. We use this one, which works great.
- Easy to apply simply mix with water in a watering can according to instructions
- For tomatoes and flowering pot plants
- With seaweed extract for maximum growth and better crops
Feed them every two weeks, to make sure they have the nutrients they need.
And keep tying the stems to the canes to make sure your courgettes will grow vertically.
Apart from that, courgettes are quite easy to care for. But there are some common problems that can occur, such as rotting fruits or no fruits at all.
If you find that your courgette plant does not produce any fruits, then that’s because your plant only produces male flowers. These don’t produce any fruits, they taste really nice though, courgette flowers are edible. The reason your plant does not produce any female flowers is a lack of water. Make sure you water your plant regularly and the female flowers will grow.
If you do have female flowers, but they don’t fruit, then this is due to failed pollination. Some varieties are self-pollinating, but others are not and the latter will need pollinating by insects, such as bees. Your seed packet should tell you what type of variety it is.
Make sure to encourage pollinating insects into your garden, by planting flowers that will attract them, such as lavender, borage, thyme, nasturtium, etc.
Another problem that can occur is rotting fruits. This happens normally in damp weather conditions. The flower at the end of the fruit will first go soggy. If they are not removed, it can spread to the fruit.
To prevent your fruit from rotting, water from below and if you see any soggy flowers, remove them immediately. You want to keep an eye on the flowers, especially in damp weather.
How To Harvest Courgettes
Now we come to the best part of the whole process, harvesting the fruits of your labour!
To make sure that your plant produces fruits into late summer, harvest the courgettes regularly. Ideally, you pick them when they are around 4in (10cm) long. If you leave them longer, they will lose their taste.
The best way to harvest them is to use a sharp knife to cut them at the base of the fruit. You can twist them instead, but you risk damaging the plant this way, as you will have to do it very sharply.
Pests And Diseases Affecting Courgettes
Whether you grow courgettes vertically or horizontally, they are vulnerable to some pests and diseases.
The main pests are slugs and snails. They love young leaves, so your courgettes are in the biggest danger when they are seedlings. So protect them until they have grown big enough.
If you want to find out how to do this, read our guide about how to grow courgettes for huge harvests.
There are two diseases that can infect courgettes, powdery mildew and grey mould.
They are both fungal diseases, powdery mildew is likely to infect unhealthy plants who aren’t watered evenly. You will see a white powdery coating on the leaves. Grey mould is most common in wet weather. The first signs will be grey, fluffy mould on the leaves and stems.
Healthy courgettes are less likely to be affected by diseases, so here is what you can do to prevent these diseases from infecting your plants:
- Give your plants space to allow for good air circulation
- Water them regularly and water from below
- Top your container with mulch to lock in the moisture
- Keep the container free from weeds and any dead debris
If you spot any sign of infection, remove the infected part of the plant immediately and destroy it, do not compost.
Now that we have shown you how to grow courgettes vertically in pots, you can look forward to a summer full of delicious courgette recipes.