There are many half-truths regarding gardening. One of the more common ones concerns planting cucurbits next to each other. The scuttlebutt is that planting cucurbits too close together will result in oddball squash and gourds. Since I’m calling this a half-truth, then obviously there is some fact and some fiction with regards to this particular piece of folklore. So what is the truth; will melons cross with squash, for instance?

Cucurbit Cross Pollination

The cucurbit family includes:

  • Watermelons
  • Muskmelons
  • Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Winter/summer squash
  • Gourds

Because they reside in the same family, many folks believe that there will be cross pollination between the members. Although they all have similar flowering habits, bloom around the same time and, of course, are family members, it is not true that all cucurbits will cross pollinate.

The female flower of each can only be fertilized by pollen from the male flowers of the same species. However, cross pollination can occur between varieties within a species. This is often seed in squash and pumpkins. Many people who have a compost area will be surprised (at first) to see squash plants that, if allowed to come to fruition, will be a combination of different squash.

For this reason, summer squash, pumpkins, gourds and various winter squashes that all fall into the same plant species of Cucurbita pepo may cross pollinate with one another. So, yes, you may end up with some oddball squash and gourds.

How about melons and squash? Will melons cross with squash? No, because although they are within the same family, melons are a different species than squash.

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