Common Name: winter squash
Native Range: South America
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Yellow to orange
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Fruit: Showy, Edible
This annual vine can easily be grown from seed. It is best grown in fertile, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Seeds may be planted outdoors when soil temperatures have risen to at least 65 degrees F., typically around the last spring frost date. Plant several seeds together in each planting site (seed hill) and thin later. Seed can also be started indoors about 3 weeks before the last spring frost date, with young plants set out after last frost date. Distance between individual plants varies depending on the variety and growing method. For vines that scramble along the ground, generally space seed hills about 3-5' apart. Fertilize well. Fruits resting on mulch, straw or boards resist rot.
This squash was first domesticated in southern Mexico. It is a monoecious, creeping or climbing, annual vine featuring lobed, ovate leaves with toothed margins and cordate bases. Solitary axillary male (three stamens) and female (three stigmas) flowers are yellow to orange. Fruits (typically 10-20 pounds each) on hard corky stems come in a variety of sizes often with elongated thick necks and with soft green or white or combination of green/white skin. Fruits include silver seed (flesh unpalatable - grown primarily for edible seeds rich in oils) and callicarpa (cushaw-type).
No serious insect or disease problems. Bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, blossom end rot, downy mildew and powdery mildew may appear. Potential insect pests include aphids, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, stink bugs, cutworms, pickleworm and squash vine boreres. Watch for mites. Spray for insects at night when bees (needed for cross-pollination are less active).
Best use of fruit is for harvest of edible seeds or as ornamental decorative squashes.