How to grow courgettes for a budget-friendly (and incredibly tasty) crop

Fancy growing your own glut of easy and delicious Mediterranean goodies?

Basket of fresh picked courgette from the garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

They're one of the most popular crops around, and it's not hard to see why: learning how to grow courgettes – or zucchini, if you prefer – means you'll be supplied with deliciously versatile vegetables that are packed full of nutrition.

Even better? Courgettes are widely considered to be one of the easiest vegetables to grow, making them suitable for even the very greenest of beginners to the ever-popular Grow Your Own trend.

Throw in the fact that they're counted among the best vegetables to grow in pots (not to mention one of the most budget-friendly crops for gardeners), and you have all the more reason to learn how to grow yourself a glut of courgettes. Trust us: you won't regret it.

How to grow courgettes

We love growing courgettes from seed, as it means we keep our kitchens stocked with homegrown veg (or fruits, if you want to be pedantic) from mid-summer through into early autumn.

'Courgettes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and often the most prolific as well,' agrees Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex. 

Homegrown courgettes in flower

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'If you grow courgettes, it’s very likely you’ll have so many that you will be sharing plenty with family and friends,' continues Morris. 

'Even the flowers are edible, too!'

Tempted to try it for yourself? Here's how to get started on these tasty treats (even if you're planting them in a small vegetable garden).

What you will need

As ever, we always advise you gather the equipment you need before you get started on any big gardening project. So step away from your raised beds (or balcony garden, or allotment) and make sure you've ticked off our courgette essentials list first.

Now, unsurprisingly, the first thing you will need when learning how to grow courgettes is the seeds themselves (or young plants from your local garden centre, if you prefer). And, as Morris points out, there's quite a few to choose from.

'There are are various sized and shaped fruits, from dark green to yellow,' he says, noting that 'some are a classic courgette shape and others are round or striped'. 

'Whichever you choose, they are fun to grow – plus the bees will love the flowers, making them ideal for anyone with aspirations of a wildlife garden,' he adds.

As well as your courgette seeds, you will also need to pick up the following:

Step-by-step guide

Now that you have everything you need, it's time to learn how to grow courgettes in earnest. And, as mentioned already, you're in for a very easy ride...

1. Sow your seeds

It's a good idea to brush up on how to sow seeds successfully, as it's likely you'll be planting your courgettes from seed (as mentioned already, you can buy them as young plants from your local garden centre, but you'll find it more expensive and there will likely be less varieties to choose from, too).

'Sow seeds into individual 7.5cm pots filled with moist seed compost in April or early May, and keep them undercover,' says Morris, who recommends stashing yours in a heated propagator, a greenhouse, or even on a warm windowsill. 

'Not only will this help germination, but it will also keep slugs and snails from munching on the new shoots.'

Courgette seedlings growing in tins on a windowsill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, you can sow your seeds directly outside if you prefer, so long as you wait until all threat of frost has passed.

'Germination is usually more reliable indoors, as courgettes love the warmth,' says Morris. However, you may find success with your courgettes if you dig in lots of compost or well-rotted manure, plant 2-3 seeds in the centre, and water them well.

'Be sure to cover them with a cloche or some horticultural fleece until they've sprouted,' advises Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the co-directors at Gardens Revived

Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the directors of Gardens Revived
Christopher O'Donoghue

A gardener with over a decade of experience under his belt, Christopher set up Gardens Revived with his brother, Andrew, in 2018  to create a thriving family business. Together, they have worked on residential gardens, listed buildings and gardens, flower shows and large estates with some exceeding 70 acres – many with historical significance.

Remember: you will need to learn how to get rid of slugs if you do decide to sow your seeds outdoors, as these critters love munching on baby courgettes.

2. Harden off your seedlings

The next step in our How To Grow Courgettes 101 book is simple enough: you'll want to prep your seedlings for life in the great outdoors.

'When all frosts have passed and the soil has warmed up, your courgette seedlings should be big enough to handle,' says Morris. 

'Be sure to harden them off by placing your potted seedlings outside in the day for a few hours, and extending the time outside over a couple of weeks until they are acclimatised.'

Alternatively, you can use a cold frame from Amazon to do the hard work for you.

3. Get transplanting

Once your courgettes are prepped and primed for a slightly chillier lifestyle, it's time to get planting them out in their final growing positions.

'Courgettes love the sunshine, so make sure they are in a warm, sunny place where you can easily water them regularly,' says Morris. 'And be sure to give the soil a good mulching to retain moisture and plenty of nutrients, too.'

Courgettes growing in a raised bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises that you prep your planting site with lots of peat-free compost or well-rotted manure, and that you sprinkle a general purpose fertiliser over the top for good measure.

Christopher, meanwhile, adds that you can grow courgettes in containers, so long as they're at least 45cm deep and filled with a good peat-free compost.

'Just be sure to keep them well watered,' he adds, 'as plants tend to dry out much more quickly when they're in pots.'

4. Show them some love

As well as protecting them from slugs and snails, a big part of learning how to grow courgettes is setting up a regular watering schedule, as these are thirsty plants.

'Keep the soil moist, but take care to water at the root,' says Christopher. 'Getting the leaves damp is a quickfire route to fungal disease!'

It's also a good idea to feed your plants with a high potash liquid fertiliser once the fruits start to appear, and to pinch off any powdery-looking leaves, too, as it's usually a sign of mildew. Mulching is also a brilliant way to keep weeds at bay!

5. And harvest!

'Courgettes can be harvested when they are any size,' says Morris, which is music to our ears. 

'Smaller courgettes are more tender but bigger Courgettes will go a long way in a dish. Be warned, though, because if you leave them on the plant for too long, you will soon be facing huge marrows!'

Christopher adds that you can also harvest the flowers, too. 'I like to fry them up with halloumi, but you can stuff them or use them in salads if you prefer something healthier,' he says.

Just be sure to pick the male flowers (aka the ones without the small fruits attached), advises the RHS, as picking the female ones may reduce your yield.


What is the best way to grow courgettes?

Courgettes are wonderfully easy to grow, so long as you give them a nice sunny spot to grow in, lots of water to drink, and rich soil to bask in. You can also pop them in containers if you prefer, either for space-saving purposes or if you'd like to create the perfect soil conditions.

Do courgettes need to climb?

While there are some climbing varieties of courgette available, most tend to trail along the ground. That's why it's so important to make sure you leave a decent amount of space (say 95cm) between each planting site.

Can you grow courgettes in grow bags?

Much like tomatoes and potatoes, you can grow courgettes in grow bags, so long as they're deep enough (you want one that's at least 45cm deep) and you plant just one or two seeds per bag.

And there we have it: if you're wondering what to plant in April, you can't go wrong learning how to grow courgettes.

So long as you take care to tick off their primary needs, you'll be guaranteed a bumper crop that lasts you all through summer and autumn. Happy harvesting!

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.