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7 Best Fertilizers for Squash Plants



Fertilizing is an integral step in the growth cycle of crops. Squash plants are no exception and rely on regular fertilization to help them thrive and produce fruits. They are heavy feeders that need some extra help to live up to their full potential.

If you are growing squash in your garden, you need a fertilizer to provide them with all the essential nutrients they need to thrive. So, learn the best fertilizers for your squash and when to apply them.

When to Fertilize Squash
butternut squash ready to harvest

Squashes are categorized as summer and winter squash. Summer squashes usually appear on bushes and typically have thin, edible skin. These include zucchini, pattypan, and yellow squash. Winter squashes grow on vines and often have inedible skin. Winter squashes include pumpkin, butternut, and acorn.

Both these varieties appreciate regular applications of fertilizers to promote growth and fruit set. Start your plants strong by amending the soil with compost or balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer before planting.

Fertilize them again when the first blooms make an appearance. Summer squashes bloom about 35 to 45 days after planting, while winter squashes can take longer. Depending on your fertilizer, you may have to feed the squash plants regularly to promote fruit growth.

Best Fertilizers for Your Squash
person wearing gloves holding fertilizer

To achieve optimal results for your precious squashes, consistently nourish your squash plants with the suitable fertilizer you prefer. It should be precisely timed for optimal growth and health.

hand holding soil

Compost is an effective way to provide your squash plants with nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Compost consists of organic matter, such as grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen waste, which can decay over a few months before use in the vegetable garden.

The ideal time to use compost fertilizer for squash is before planting. Prepare the plot by adding up to a 2-inch thick layer of compost and mixing it several inches deep in the soil. Incorporating compost into the soil makes it rich, loose, and moisture-retentive.

Bone Meal

Bone meal is made from the bones of animals and fish, making it full of nutrients that can boost your squash plants. It contains nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium, which help the plants develop a strong root system, produce blooms, and set fruit.

Bone meal breaks down slowly and does not require frequent application, like a liquid fertilizer. Sprinkle bone meal beside the plants every four weeks. Ensure that it does not touch the vines, or it can burn the foliage.

Bone meal contains no potassium, and squash plants require this nutrient to mature the fruit. So, cease use once the squash plants set fruit.


Manure makes another excellent fertilizer for squash. It has the primary nutrients crops require, like nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and micronutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. It also improves soil structure, increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil.

The ideal time to use manure is in the fall before planting squash plants the following spring. Prepare the garden bed by incorporating a layer of manure, 1 to 2 inches thick, into the soil. As the manure decomposes over winter, it releases nutrients, enriching the soil.

You can also amend the soil with well-rotted manure right before planting. Spread 3 to 4 inches of the well-rotted manure on the soil and mix it in.

Tomato Feed
fertilizer in a cup near tomato plant

While tomato feed is commonly used to fertilize tomatoes, you can also use it for squash plants. This fertilizer has a high potassium content, which helps encourage fruit growth. Apply tomato feed on the squash plants every 10 to 14 days once fruits appear.

Commercial Fertilizer
person spreading fertilizer on the lawn

Commercial fertilizers are a more concentrated alternative to organic fertilizers, so you need a small amount to fulfill your plants’ nutritional needs. These fertilizers have different ratios of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) mentioned on the label.

Before planting, you can enhance the soil by using commercial fertilizer. Opt for an all-purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-10-5, 5-10-10, 8-16-16, or 12-12-12. Apply this fertilizer at 1 to 2 pounds per 100 feet of row. These measures will ensure the soil is adequately amended for optimal plant growth.

If you have prepared your soil with compost, it may need more nitrogen, which aids chlorophyll production and helps build a robust root system. Test the soil and, if required, use commercial nitrogen fertilizer, such as urea, calcium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, or ammonium sulfate. To achieve the best outcomes, apply ½ to 1 pound of fertilizer for every 100 feet of row.

For summer squashes, once the plants are about 3 to 4 inches tall, side dress with nitrogen every three to four weeks. Create a furrow (narrow trench) approximately 2 to 4 inches away from the row. Place the fertilizer in the furrow and ensure thorough watering, allowing the fertilizer to penetrate the soil effectively. Avoid the fertilizer from coming in contact with plant stems to prevent burning.

Compost Tea
hand holding compost tea

Compost tea is another way to use compost to water and feed your garden. To prepare compost tea, immerse a few handfuls of thoroughly decomposed compost in water for one to two days. This steeping process allows the nutrients present in the compost to infuse into the water, creating a nutrient-rich solution.

Enhance the growth of your squash plants by nourishing them with this nutrient-rich compost tea. Apply it fortnightly throughout the growing season. Compost tea is a great alternative to commercial fertilizers for organic gardening.

Banana Peel
banana peel garden fertilizer

Banana peels are an excellent potassium source, a nutrient especially critical during the fruiting stage. They also contain other nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium, making them an ideal organic fertilizer.

To make banana peel fertilizer, cut the peels into small pieces, add them to a mason jar, and pour in the water. Allow them to soak for two to three days.

Soaking banana peels in water helps break down the nutrients, which seep into the water so plants can absorb them more easily. Use the water brimming with nutrients to hydrate your squash plants.

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