What You Need to Know About Growing Winter Squash

Despite their names, winter squashes are frost-sensitive and should be planted after the last frost date in your area. Although they grow around the same time as summer squash, there are differences. Read on to learn more, plus discover 6 of our favorite winter squash varieties for your garden. 

Winter squash growing in garden

Squash garden photo via Kusine/Flickr Creative Commons

Growing winter squash vs. summer squash

A summer squash, zucchini in bloom

Zucchini photo by net_efekt/Flickr Creative Commons

Summer squash

Summer squash – such as zucchini shown above – is harvested at an immature and tender age. In fact, summer squashes don’t taste as good when they grow too large. In the right growing conditions, summer squash plants quickly produce dozens of fruit all summer long.

Kabocha seedling will grow into winter squash

Kabocha seedling photo via Sa_ku_ra/Flickr Creative Commons

Winter squash

Winter squash are allowed to mature on the plant, and they are ideal for storing. Some will last the entire winter. They do, however, take longer to produce, often requiring 80 to 100 days.

See also our tips for growing squash, which you can apply to growing winter squash as well.

6 winter squashes to grow in your garden

Acorn squash growing in garden

Acorn Squash via HA! Designs—ArtbyHeather/Flickr Creative Commons

1. Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo)

These deeply ribbed squashes are very popular due to their delicious flesh. Acorn squash matures rather quickly, making it well suited for colder climates with short summers. (80 days to maturity).

butternut squash is a popular winter squash

Butternut Squash via Chiot’s Run/Flickr Creative Commons

2. Butternut Squash (Cucurbita moschata)

The sweet, nutty flavor of butternut squash is beloved for casseroles, breads and soups, including Chef Brenda’s Butternut Squash Soup with Nasturtium Flowers recipe. Butternut squash is excellent for winter storage. (85 days to maturity).

Also try making:

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Roasted Butternut Squash with Parmesan

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Jarrahdale squash is a beautiful and delicious winter squash to grow

Jarrahdale squash photo via tofu nutloaf/Flickr Creative Commons

3. Jarrahdale squash (C. maxima) 

You’ll have to be patient when growing this blue-gray heirloom that matures to 6 to 10 lbs. each. Ornamental and delicious, the gorgeous Jarrahdale squash is worth the wait. (100 days to maturity).

marina di chioggia is a lovely winter squash

Marina Di Chioggia squash photo via mswine/Flickr Creative Commons

4. Marina Di Chioggia (Curcubita maxima) 

This heirloom originally comes from Chioggia, on the coast of Italy. The deep-yellow flesh is renowned for pies and baking. Productive vines produce winter squashes that eventually weigh 10 lbs. each. (95 days to maturity).

spaghetti squash has flesh that looks like spaghetti noodlesSpaghetti squash photo via essgee51/Flickr Creative Commons

5. Spaghetti Squash (Cucurbita pepo)

The pulp and flesh of this winter squash resembles spaghetti noodles, which gives this one its name. The oblong fruits grow to 3 to 5 lbs. each. (88 days to maturity).

You might also enjoy our post on how to cook spaghetti squash.

Turban squash growing in garden

Turban squash photo via Sporkist/Flickr Creative Commons

6. Turban Squash (Curcubita maxima)

A relative of butternut squash, this pretty winter squash is also called Turk’s cap. Some say this squash is prettier than it actually tastes, but others swear by turban squash. See what you think of this old French heirloom. (90 days to maturity).

What are your favorite winter squashes to grow in the garden?

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