Butternut Squash

Quick Reference

Harvest Type:  Continuous

Transplant/Direct Sow:  Direct sow or transplant

When to Plant:  2 or more weeks after the last average frost date.

Days to Germinate:  10 days

Days to Maturity:  110-120 days

Planting Depth:  1” deep

Germination Temp:  Above 70°F

Seed Spacing:  Plant in hills with 4 seeds per hill. Space hills 8' apart.

Rows:  5' apart

Light:  Full sun

Soil pH:  5.5-6.8 pH

Water:  1-2” of water per week

Soil Temperature:  Optimal range is 70-95°F

Fertilizer:  10-10-10 N-P-K ratio at 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet of row space.

Rotation:  Annually


Harvest Type

Butternut squash is an indeterminate annual plant with a single harvest that stretches through the growing season.

TIP: To increase yield, use a liquid fertilizer at the plants' base when they begin to bloom. A 10-10-10 N-P-K ratio fertilizer is good. Fish emulsion is excellent. 

Transplant / Direct Sow

You can direct sow or transplant butternut squash seeds.

When to Plant:

Butternut squash cannot tolerate cold or frost. Plant 2-3 weeks after the last average frost date. Use a row cover to protect from light freezing. The soil temperature should be 70°F-95°F.

TIP: Use successive growing to produce a second crop of butternut squash. Plant 12 weeks before the average first frost date for crop harvest in the fall.

Days to germinate

It takes squash seeds about ten days to germinate.

Days to maturity

It takes about 100-120 days, depending on the variety you plant.

Planting Depth

Plant seeds at 1" deep.

Spacing Between Plants

Plant seeds in hills with 3-4 seeds per hill. Thin to 1-2 plants per hill. Space hills 8' apart. Butternut squash will produce 4' runners in all directions. Some varieties will take over a 20' x 20' space.

TIP: Smaller varieties of winter squash, such as butternut, turban, and small pumpkins, will grow vertically, saving garden space. Make sure to provide them with plenty of vertical support.

Growing conditions

Butternut squash is a heat lover.  Plant in full sun when the outside temperature is over 75°F, and the soil temperature is above 70°F. Amend the soil before planting hills with a balanced fertilizer such as aged compost, manure or a 10-10-10 N-P-K ratio fertilizer. They like to go a little dry between waterings. Allow the top 1-2" of soil to dry and then water. Do not allow them to wilt. Water using 1-2" of water per week in a slow, deep watering cycle.

Companion Plants

Corn, culinary herbs, pole beans, and cucumbers all make excellent companion plants.


Rotate butternut squash each year. They are heavy feeds, so plan to amend the soil each year.

Anticipated yields

Plan your garden yield at 2-3 butternut squash plants per person for daily consumption, and expect 10-20 or more squash per plant. Butternut squash, in general, stores well for 2-6 months if kept in a cool, dark place. Butternut squash puree freezes well and is excellent for canning.

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Fall & Winter Garden 30
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