Prune zucchini to keep it under control.

How to Prune Zucchini

by Emily Weller

Whether you are a newbie in the garden or have been growing vegetables for years, zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a good pick for your summer garden. The plant tends to be prolific. Some gardeners lament an overabundance of its fruit in season, not a lack of fruit. Pruning your zucchini plants helps control their bushy spread, and removes any leaves and stems that are dead or spent. You don't have to prune the plants, but may find doing so to be helpful.

Wear garden gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working with your zucchini plant. The stems and leaves are fuzzy, and can cause skin irritation. Use pruning shears that are clean and disinfected, to avoid spreading disease to your zucchini plant. To disinfect your shears, brush any mud or dirt off of the blade. Fill a bucket with 1 part bleach and 3 parts water. Soak the shears for at least five minutes, then let air dry.

Allow the main shoot or stem of the plant to grow to about 3 feet long. If you start pruning too early, the plant is likely to give up on you and not produce any fruits.

Use bypass pruning shears to cut off side shoots that form off of the main shoot. Trim the shoots back to three leaves, so the plant has room for flowers and later, fruits, to form.

Cut leaves and stems off of the plant at the base as they turn yellow and dry out.

Items you will need

  • Garden gloves
  • Bypass pruning shears
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket


  • Check your zucchini plants regularly for signs of cucumber beetles or squash bugs. The insects can spread disease to the plant or eat through the leaves.
  • Harvest the fruit from your plants when it is around 6 inches long or even shorter. Use the pruning shears or gardening scissors to cut the fruit off of the plant. You can injure the plant if you try to pull or tear the fruit off.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images