Save Space! Growing Zucchini Vertically

zucchini trellis pictures

Do you want to grow zucchini, but you have limited space and worry that the large plants will take up too much room in your garden?

Or perhaps you just don’t find long vines or broad bushes attractive in the garden, or you might have back problems that make bending down to tend or harvest low-growing plants painful.

No problem, we have you covered!  Growing zucchini vertically is an attractive, space-saving method for this popular summer veggie.

First, we’ll dive into options for trellises and then talk about staking and pruning these huge plants. 

How Big Do Zucchini Plants Get?

Some zucchini plants can grow very large and produce vines that are six feet long.  Large bush varieties can spread to four feet wide.

There are, however, more compact varieties available. Some of these varieties only grow to about two feet high and one foot across and do well in containers. If you have limited space, you might choose a variety such as Bush Baby or Patio Star.  

Besides growing to a huge size, zucchini plants also produce A LOT of fruit. For our family of two I usually plant one or two plants, The harvest can get pretty overwhelming when they’re really pumping out the fruit in summer.

So, gardener beware! Take a moment to think about how much zucchini you can handle before deciding how many plants to grow in your garden.

Learn more about the many varieties and about the process of growing zucchini before you begin.

pruning zucchini

Zucchini Plant Trellis Options For Growing Vertically

What exactly is a trellis?  It’s a type of plant support that enables you to grow lots of different vegetables, including zucchini, vertically.

If you’re space-challenged, growing zucchini on a trellis could be the solution to your gardening needs.  The trellis also makes tending and harvesting the zucchini easier.

Another advantage to growing on a trellis is that the plants aren’t lying on the ground. If you live in a wet climate, growing vertically helps the leaves dry out after a heavy summer downpour. Wet leaves can lead to fungal diseases like powdery mildew that are very common in humid areas.

If you decide you want to experiment with growing zucchini vertically, first consider carefully what type of trellis you want.  There are many styles to choose from, depending on how much time you want to put into it and your personal preference for size and design.

Options for a zucchini plant trellis:

  • Most commercial tomato cages found at the nursery aren’t tall enough to support indeterminate tomatoes. But, they could be perfect for zucchini!
  • If constructing your own trellis sounds too time-consuming, you can use simple wooden or metal poles to grow zucchini vertically.  These can be pyramid-shaped or straight, depending on your preference.
  • Some zucchini can also be grown in containers. If you choose this option, simple wooden or metal stakes might also work for you.
  • If aesthetics are a consideration, you can purchase lovely, whimsical trellises in a variety of designs. 
  • Some gardeners prefer a high trellis constructed of wooden or bamboo stakes or metal poles that are bound together with chicken wire.  

There are many sizes, shapes, and designs for the zucchini trellis.  It’s just a matter of choosing the one that works best for you. 

Explore Zucchini Trellis Pictures

Sometimes it helps to see a few pictures to get some ideas for planning your own trellis.  I’ve included a few pictures of the most common types.

growing zucchini vertically

Arched Trellis

There’s something a little exotic about growing plants overhead on an arched trellis.  This is my #1 choice for growing zucchini vertically. Since I’ve discovered Tromboncino squash, which is actually an Italian vining squash, not a zucchini, I’ve started to move away from growing the traditional bush varieties.

I originally discovered it because I was looking for winter squash varieties that were resistant to squash vine borer after losing all of my winter squash vines to this pesky insect one season.

It has a taste and texture that is very similar to zucchini, but slightly drier. I like this because I find that zucchini and other summer squash get soggy when cooking them. This squash is firmer and doesn’t turn to mush as easily.

I have a lot of cattle panel trellises  in my garden and Tromboncino is the perfect fit for my arched design. The photo above is from the entrance of my garden. You can see how the squash hang down through the arch for easy harvesting!

Tromboncino is a vining plant more like winter squash, so it can grow 20 or more feet long! In the photo at the beginning of the article, the squash was planted on the right side of the trellis, grew up over it, and then I trained it to grab onto the fence around me garden. It keep growing and producing fruit until frost. 

growing zucchini on a vertical trellis

Photo courtesy of Balcony Garden Web

Triangular Trellis

I like this trellising method because it’s a smaller version of the arched trellis. It would be fun for kids to crawl under and harvest the zucchini. I would experiment with placing it spanning between two garden beds over an aisle if I had small children so they could make their way beneath it without trampling the garden beds.

You can easily find the wooden variety at local nurseries and big box stores. I also like this metal version from Amazon. I would plant one bush zucchini on either side and train them towards one another.


trellising zucchini in a container

Tomato Cage

This easy, space-saving option allows you to grow zucchini vertically in containers or in the ground.  You can construct your own cages or purchase them from a gardening supply center. If you’ve built my DIY tomato cage you can experiment with using one or two of them for your zucchini.

trellis for growing zucchini vertically

Photo courtesy of All the Little Reasons

Metal T-Posts

I use metal t-posts of all sizes for so many different things in my garden! I have a pile in the corner of my garage and always a few extra lying around. That’s why I love this idea from All the Little Reasons of using one to trellis zucchini. I would use an 8′ t-post for this method.

vertical trellis for zucchini

Image courtesy of Riley’s Garden

Overhead Trellis

When I was browsing around online I found this technique from Riley’s Garden that is similar to how some people train their tomato plants with overhead trellises. This looks like a super interesting experiment!

How to Trellis Zucchini

You have many options for constructing a zucchini trellis, but the process of growing zucchini vertically begins with planning and preparation.

First, choose a sunny, well-drained location and decide how much space you’ll need for the number and variety of zucchini plants you want. Growing zucchini isn’t hard, but you’ll want to learn more about it before you begin: Growing Zucchini 101: A Beginner’s Guide.

Then, collect your supplies for the style of trellis you’ve chosen. 

  • If you want to try an arched trellis, you can find out how to make them in my cattle panel trellis article.
  • If you have old tomato cages lying around, this would be a great time to dig them out. Maybe you want to make a DIY tomato cage.
  • Dig out some old t-posts.
  • Take a trip to your local nursery, hardware store or home improvement store and take a look around. Do they have any premade trellises you could use for zucchini?

Plant the zucchini seeds or young plants a few inches in front of the trellis. Water them consistently until they germinate. If the soil is warm this should happen quickly.

If you’re growing a bush zucchini, they don’t have tendrils to help them climb. So, when the plants are ready to grow on the trellis, you’ll need to tie them onto the trellis with twine, garden, ties or strips of fabric. Continue to do this throughout the growing season as the vine grows longer.

If you’re growing Tromboncino squash, they behave more like winter squash, so they’ll be able to climb and hold onto the trellis. But, I do like to help them go in the directions I want them to by adjusting them once in a while.

powdery mildew on zucchini

Staking Zucchini

As you learned above, growing zucchini vertically doesn’t require an elaborate trellis.  If you choose, you can stake your zucchini on simple metal, wooden or bamboo stakes.

If you decide to stake your plants, it’s best to drive the stakes into the ground when the plants are seedlings to avoid damaging an already established root system. Drive them into the ground a few inches from the plant, and make sure that the stakes are a foot deep. Alternately, you could install all of the stakes first and then plant your seeds or plants.

I like using a metal post pounder when installing any kind of stake or post.

When the plant is a few inches high, tie it to the stake with a garden tie or piece of fabric.  Continue tying it gently, but securely, as it grows.

Pruning Zucchini Plants When Growing Vertically

Pruning zucchini plants doesn’t take long, and it can be important in preventing diseases such as powdery mildew.  If you’re growing zucchini vertically, it’s even more important to remove the dead or diseased leaves because they can increase the plant’s weight.

Begin by clipping any dead or diseased leaves.  Cut at the point where the leaf meets the vine. Make sure that you use clean clippers or a knife.

It’s important that you clean your clippers as you go along to avoid spreading diseases from one part of the plant to another, and dispose of the debris promptly.

You can also trim the bottom leaves that are growing below the fruit so that the plant’s nutrients can be used more efficiently. 

If you’re growing a vine variety and you want to prevent the plant from becoming too unwieldy, you can trim off some of the side shoots. You don’t want to remove too many, though, or you’ll cut into the plant’s production.

If you’ve never tried growing zucchini vertically, put it on your garden experiment list this season. There are lots of different options for trellises, from the simple t-post to a cattle panel trellis that could add an arched entrance to your garden. The most fun part of gardening is always the harvest, but it can be tricky to know when to harvest zucchini so you don’t end up with a baseball bat sized fruit!


Leave a Comment

[email protected]
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
© 2024 All Rights Reserved. | Design by Rebecca Pollock + Development by Brandi Bernoskie