Growing acorn squash in containers: step-by-step guide

How Growing acorn squash in containers? Growing acorn squash is fun and super-easy when you know exactly what to do. So, if you wonder about growing acorn squash plants in containers, don’t hesitate to try! It is not a science to grow acorn squash in the home container garden and have a great harvest.

growing acorn squash in containers

Let’s get started!

What do you need for growing acorn squash in containers?

If you are new to growing acorn squash plants, you will obviously have lots of questions. How to grow acorn squash? What is better to use: acorn squash seeds or seedlings? Which containers to use? Which soil to get? When do you harvest acorn squash?

Fortunately, all these questions have quite simple answers. Before you start planting acorn squash, learn these simple tips that can help you:

  • Prepare the right container for growing acorn squash! The first thing that container gardening requires is the exact type of container. To know what you require, you should understand the plant’s peculiarities.
  • As for the acorn squash plants, they have shallow and widespread root systems. Thus, you need a large container that is rather wide than deep. Besides, acorn squash containers must have enough drainage that help you prevent root rot.
  • Provide the best growing conditions! One more crucial point is to choose the right soil mix that your plants can thrive in. Acorn squash plant prefers dark and rich soil that contains plenty of organic nutrients. A good idea is to use a perlite-based substrate to provide better drainage.
  • Another essential point for acorn squash plants is direct sunlight. When choosing the right place for container gardening, avoid the west or east direction to get enough sun per day.
  • The right planting time also matters. Keep in mind that acorn squash can’t tolerate frost, so it should be at least 2 weeks after the last frost date in your region. Although acorn squash is also known as winter squash, it doesn’t grow in severe conditions.
  • Opt for the right acorn squash variety! As you are going to grow acorn squash in containers, you need to choose the right variety that is suitable for this growing method. The best idea is to get a bush variety of acorn squash, as their shape is better for growing in containers than any of the vining varieties. Opt for a good variety such as Table King, Table Queen, or Table Gold.
  • Take care of watering! Although acorn squash loves full sun, it is not drought-tolerant, so it needs a big deal of water to thrive.
  • Water your crop twice a day in summer. The best way is to water acorn squash early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the temperature is the highest. In cool temperatures, it is enough to water acorn squash once a day.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Avoid too much moisture accumulating in the soil as it can affect the root system.
  • Watch out for the pests and diseases! Like any other plant, acorn squash and squash seeds are prone to attract pests. What is more, some bugs can carry harmful bacteria and fungal diseases that add more trouble.

Here is a list of pests and diseases that can affect your acorn squash crop:

  • Aphids
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Squash bugs
  • Squash vine borers
  • Downy mildew
  • Powdery mildew

A good way to scare the pests away is to bring companion herbs into the growing area. These are fragrant herbs that can naturally repel the pests from your crop.

Here is a list of herbs that can work as natural pest repellents for acorn squash:

  • Catnip
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Parsley

5 simple steps to grow acorn squash

Before you start to plant acorn squash, learn this simple guide that will make your job super-easy. Acorn squash is easy to grow and maintain, but you should be prepared for the right start!

5 simple steps to grow acorn squash

These tips are mainly oriented toward growing acorn squash, but some of them are also suitable for growing such squash species as butternut squash, yellow squash (or summer squash), and zucchini.

Step #1: prepare the containers and soil

Acorn squash plant grows best in large containers. Since this plant has wide-spread roots, they should have enough space to grow freely and healthily.

Does acorn squash need a big container? The optimal size of a container where you can plant acorn squash is no less than 12” (30 cm) deep and 24” (60 cm) wide.

A good idea is to install a trellis, so the plant begins vining freely when growing. The support is crucial for this type of plant.

One more essential point is that container gardening is to provide enough drainage holes to keep the soil adequately moisturized.

As for the soil, it must be well-draining and rich in nutrients and organic matter. Since acorn squash loves direct sun, it also needs a lot of water to replenish the moisture loss and avoid drought or scorching. That’s why you have to water acorn squash generously.

Thus, well-draining soil is crucial to avoid excess water accumulation in the containers that can affect the plant’s roots.

Step #2: sow the acorn squash seeds

You can start to plant acorn squash seeds either in spring or in mid-summer. The crucial point is to have enough time before the first frost date. As for the acorn squash, the possible growing time takes 75 to 100 days.

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The minimal temperature for the acorn squash seed germination is 60 °F.

Plant seeds directly into the soil in your container (about 1 inch under the soil level). The optimal way is to sow 2 or 3 seeds per container, so the plants will have enough space to grow. Then, water the soil adequately to boost the developing process.

If you are going to deal with acorn squash seedlings, keep in mind that they get stressed when you disturb their roots. So, it is not the best idea to transplant them after germination.

In warmer climates, you can sow the seed outdoors just in time. As for the colder areas, start the acorn squash seedlings indoors with the help of biodegradable pots. When the temperature rises enough to bring the seedlings outside, you can just plant these pots in the garden space.

When the seedlings start appearing and growing, be careful so as not to damage your crop. You should define the weakest sprout and thin it to give the rest of the plants more space to grow. For acorn squash planted in larger pots, you can leave two sprouts to grow; otherwise, a small container can handle just one.

For successful growing, young seedlings need balances or phosphorus organic fertilizer.

Step #3: maintain the plants properly

To grow acorn squash successfully, you need to follow several simple tips:

  • Keep in mind that acorn squash needs up to 8 hours of sun per day during the growing season.
  • Acorn squash requires at least 70 °F and preferably 90 °F to thrive. As soon as the plants are established, they can feel good at higher temperatures. However, the squash plant needs proper watering to keep the vital balance.
  • When watering, be careful not to dampen the foliage, as the excess moisture will create a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal diseases.
  • Make sure that the soil is moist enough by checking 2-3 inches below the soil level.

Step #4: pollinate the flowers

This step is not necessary if there are enough bees and other natural pollinators in your area. However, in case they are too scarce, you have to help your plants with this job.

Acorn squash has male and female flowers. The female flower has a spherical growth at its base, and the male flower doesn’t have one.

To pollinate the flowers by hand, take a cotton swab or a soft brush. Place it inside the male flowers to get the pollen from inside. Then, transfer the swab or brush to the female flowers to leave the gathered pollen inside it.

Step #5: harvest the acorn squash

Finally, you can wait for your crop. The fruits need at least 50-60 days to ripen completely. In some other regions, it takes about 85-90 days respectively. Even if they grow big, don’t harvest them too early!

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If you notice that the plant itself starts drying out, that is a sure sign that it’s time to harvest acorn squash. To check the fruits, try to put a dent in the skin with a fingernail. If you can’t do this, it is a sign that the squashes are completely ripened.


Does acorn squash need a trellis to grow on?

Using a trellis is a good idea when growing acorn squash in containers. Since acorn squash needs something for good support, provide it by installing a trellis in the container. While growing, acorn squash will vine on it.

How many acorn squash can you get from one plant?

Acorn squash plants are known for their productive nature. On average, you can get about 6-8 fruits from a vine. In 60-90 days, the squashes are ready for harvesting.

Do acorn squash like sun or shade?

Acorn squash is a sun-loving plant, so it requires full sun to grow healthily and happily. Make sure that your acorn squash gets no less than 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. When the acorn squash plant doesn’t get enough direct sunlight, it can’t thrive properly.

How long does it take to grow acorn squash?

Generally, it takes from 80 to 100 days since the first sprout appears to fully grow acorn squash plants. Since this plant is also known as winter squash, it is related to the harvesting time. Usually, the optimal time to harvest acorn squash is when the temperature gets close to freezing at night

Final thoughts

As you can see, acorn squash is quite an easy grower. Follow this simple guide and enjoy your incredible squash crop!

Ruth Walsh

Gardens hold a special allure for many, a place where dreams take root and flourish. But for those stepping into the world of gardening for the first time, the path can be tangled with questions and uncertainties. That’s where I come in. Welcome to my gardening blog, where I’m dedicated to guiding beginners through the intricate journey of cultivating their own crops.

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