A summer garden isn’t complete for me unless I’m growing some kind of squash. Whether it’s zucchini, butternut, or spaghetti squash, there’s always a squash plant growing. Squash, like all vegetables, have specific needs, and if those needs aren’t met, they can fall ill and die. Squash need the right nutrients, sunlight, and water in order to grow. If there’s a problem, your squash leaves will likely be the first indicator.
One common problem with squash is yellowing leaves. It’s the middle of summer, your squash have begun growing, and now the leaves are turning yellow, browning, and dying. What’s going on?
Why are my squash leaves turning yellow?
It’s a question we hear a lot: why are my squash leaves turning yellow and dying? The most likely reason for yellowing leaves is incorrect watering – you may be watering your squash too much or too little.
Squash need an inch of water every week. The soil needs to be fully moist 8-12 inches down in order for squash to be properly hydrated. If you live in a climate like mine where the summers are hot and dry, you may need to give your squash a watering every day.
Conversely, you can overwater your squash. The ground around your squash shouldn’t be soggy. Moist, but not drenched. If your squash are getting waterlogged, you’re overwatering or your soil may be too compacted or blocked from draining properly.
A nutrient problem
Improper watering techniques aren’t the only reason your squash leaves may be turning yellow. It could be rooted in a nutritional imbalance.
Like all plants, squash need certain nutrients in order to grow and produce edible squash for us to eat. Squash need plentiful nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, also known as NPK. If your phosphorus in particular is low, you can try adding bone meal.
You can make your own natural, all organic NPK fertilizer by mixing a 10 pounds of bone meal, 10 pounds of feather meal, and 2 pounds of sulfate of potash.
Ensuring that your soil is well fertilized at time of planting and throughout the summer is vital to healthy squash.
Squash pest problems
A less likely but still possible reason for your squash leaves to be turning yellow is the result of pests bugging your plants. White flies, spider mites, leafhoppers, and aphids all love to chow down on your squash and will do so with zeal. Squash are also vulnerable to disease.
In general, your best strategy for yellow squash leaves is preventative. Ensure that your plants are being properly watered and fertilized and they won’t likely succumb to pest problems.
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