Trellising squash not only looks amazing, it’s a great space saver. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to grow squash vertically, give you tips and techniques for training the vines, tell you the best varieties to use, and how to choose the right plant supports for them.
Even so, some people are too nervous to trellis them because they worry the vines are too large and heavy. But the good news is that any type of climbing squash can be grown vertically!
Growing squash on a trellis or other vertical structure helps to keep this bully from taking over your vegetable beds. And that means that even those of us with small garden plots can plant it!
It’s much easier to control the unruly vines, and it looks pretty amazing too. These fast-growing climbers will quickly cover a structure, and the fruits look so cool hanging down.
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide to growing squash vertically. Click the links to skip to the section you’re most interested in. Or keep reading to learn everything you need to know to successfully trellis squash in your garden!
Is Squash A Vine Plant?
Before you decide whether growing squash vertically is something you want to try in your garden, it’s important to understand that not all types will make good trellis plants.
Very broadly, there are two different kinds: vining varieties and bush varieties. Vine varieties will climb a trellis, and bush types (sometimes called patio plants) will not.
So, it doesn’t matter whether you have summer or winter squash, pumpkins or gourds. From butternut to spaghetti, kabocha to acorn – any kind can be trained vertically as long as it’s a vining variety.
Does Squash Need To Climb?
Squash needs to climb if you don’t have a lot of garden space at home. You can train them to grow vertically on a trellis or other support.
But it does not always need to be trellised. Climbing varieties will do just fine along the ground without any support, and many gardeners leave them that way.
However, most of them get very large, and can take over pretty quickly. Trellising squash is the best way to contain these long vines, and keep them from getting too wild.
Growing Squash Vertically
Any type of vining squash can be grown vertically. But it’s important to keep in mind that the largest climbers (like huge pumpkins and gourds) get very long and heavy.
In fact, some of these giants become so large that farmers have found pumpkins growing in the tops of trees! So be sure you know how tall the plants will get before you decide to trellis them.
Those monster vines I mentioned are not very practical for training vertically, and are best for large veggie plots or farm fields.
Benefits Of Growing Squash On A Trellis
Not only does trellising squash look gorgeous, it’s also beneficial for the plants and your crop. Getting the leaves and fruit up off the ground can protect them from pests and disease issues.
Fruits sitting on the ground can easily be eaten by bugs or animals. Plus, when soil splashes up on the leaves, it causes problems with fungus and disease.
Growing squash vertically also means your crops will be cleaner, and they won’t have an ugly yellow spot on them (which is what happens when they lay on the ground).
Best Types Of Squash To Grow Vertically
Like I mentioned above, there are two basic types of squash plants: vining varieties that will climb on a trellis, and bush varieties that won’t.
By now you may be wondering how the heck can you tell the difference? Well, you can’t tell by just looking at the seeds or the seedlings. So be sure to always check the seed packet or plant tag to know for sure.
Choosing Supports For Trellising Squash
There’s no doubt that trellising squash is not only beneficial, it’s beautiful too! Choosing the right support will not only add an architectural element to your garden, it will ensure your vines will grow safely, and look their best.
The most important things to think about when choosing a support are the height and strength of the structure.
Before you decide what type of support to use, you should know how large the plants will get in order to pick the perfect structure for them.
How Big Do Squash Vines Get?
Squash vines can get anywhere from 3-4′ long, all the way up to as big as 20+ feet tall. Like I mentioned above, the largest ones (like giant pumpkins and gourds) can grow to the tops of trees.
The height can vary greatly though, and it totally depends on the variety you choose. A good rule of thumb to remember is… the smaller the fruit, the shorter the vine.
Always be sure you check the plant tag or seed packet so you know how tall yours will get. That way you can pair each type with the perfect sized support.
Squash Trellis Ideas
Once you know how tall they will get, that will make it much easier to choose the right type of support for them.
They need to be supported by large, strong structures that can handle their weight. The vines will become very heavy once the fruit starts to mature. So, if you plan to grow squash vertically, be sure to use a strong support for it.
How To Grow Squash Vertically
One common question I get from readers is “How does squash grow vertically?”. Excellent question!
The stems themselves don’t wrap around the trellis, they send out side shoots that are called tendrils. It’s these tendrils that will wrap around anything they touch, including a support.
A common concern that people have when growing squash on a trellis is that they will get too large and rip from the vine.
It’s true that large fruits hanging down from the plant may need extra support so the weight doesn’t damage the vine.
You can make a hammock out of an old t-shirt or pantyhose, then tie it to the trellis to loosely cradle any dangling ones to support their weight.
In all the years I’ve been growing squash vertically, I’ve never had to give any of the hanging ones any extra support. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you want to try larger types, like gourds or pumpkins.
How To Trellis Squash Plants
Another common question I get asked is “Do squash plants climb a trellis?“. The short answer is yes, but… in all honestly, they really aren’t great climbers by themselves.
Gravity is fighting us, and the heavy vines prefer to sprawl out horizontally rather than climb vertically (they are a bit lazy that way I guess).
So you will definitely need to train them to grab onto the structure. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult, it just take a bit of extra planning.
How To Train Squash Vines
To train unruly squash vines, you can simply weave or tuck them into the trellis. The tendrils will eventually grab on by themselves. Be careful though, young vines are very delicate.
Since they’re so heavy, you will likely need to tie them to the support. I recommend using plant clips or cut-a-size twist ties since they are easy to remove and reuse. But you could also use flexible ties or twine if you prefer.
Just be sure to tie them on loosely, so they won’t get strangled as they get thicker. Once the tendrils grab onto the trellis on their own, you can remove the clips or ties, and then reuse them to attach the new growth higher up.
They grow fast in the heat of summer. So check them every few days, and train new vines as needed to keep your squash growing vertically. Get detailed step-by-step instructions for training vines here.
Growing squash vertically is beneficial to the plants and to your garden. Trellising squash means that even gardeners with small spaces can plant these large vines. Plus, since it looks so gorgeous, it really makes a statement in the garden!
Want to learn how to grow even more of your vegetables vertically? Then you need my brand new book, Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield In Less Space! In it you will learn all about vertical vegetable gardening and get detailed step-by-step instructions for nearly two dozen beautiful DIY projects and trellises that you can build! Order your copy today!
Learn more about my new Vertical Vegetables book here.
More Posts About Vertical Gardening
- Growing Cucumbers On A Trellis: How To Grow Cucumbers Vertically
- How To Trellis Peas In Your Garden
- How To Trellis Grapes In Your Home Garden
- The Amazing Benefits Of Vertical Gardening
Share your tips for trellising squash, or tell us how you prefer to grow squash vertically in the comments section below.