How to Grow Butternut Squash – A Beginner’s Guide

butternut squash plant growing in garden
Butternut squash, which are known botanically as Cucurbita Pepo, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing butternut squash as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Butternut Squash

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the butternut squash seeds  in the spring or just after the last frost. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when butternut squash are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Butternut Squash the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing butternut squash in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your butternut squash grow. Generally, your soil should be well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. Soil PH levels should be around 6.0–6.8.

 6″ apart in rows. 6′ apart in rows. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 1″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your butternut squash seedlings 9″-12″ tall and 2′ across. when the plants are 3″ tall.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Butternut Squash

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your butternut squash. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your butternut squash should be getting full sun, which means as much sunlight as you can possibly give it, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Butternut Squash

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your butternut squash do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your butternut squash begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Butternut Squash to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your butternut squash grow.

It takes approximately 7-10 days to germinate, and a total of 85 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Butternut Squash

The best time to harvest your butternut squash is when the skin is hard (can’t be punctured with the thumbnail) and uniformly tan in color.

Butternut squash can grow up to about 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) long and 3 to 5 inches (7.5-13 cm) in diameter.

What Can Butternut Squash Be Used For?

Food Use: sprinkle with brown sugar and season with salt and pepper

Flavor Profile: The sweet taste of this squash is enhanced if stored for a while prior to cutting.

Can Butternut Squash Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you will ideally need a 18″+ containerfor each plant. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your butternut squash around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Butternut Squash Safe for Bees?

Yes, butternut squash are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing butternut squash is bee-friendly.

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