Every year I would try a new winter squash variety that was supposed to be compact and every year it took up more room than I allotted for it. I finally decided to trellis the vines, but they don’t like to stay put. When I turn my back, for just a second, the vine reaches out and grabs hold of the hydrangea planted on the other side of the fence. Squash vines are not easy to un-twine, trust me.
So I asked a fellow gardener and squash enthusiast if he ever prunes his vines. He laughed at me, because he has way too many vines to be that particular about them. But he also assured me that it is very hard to kill a squash vine with pruning. Since winter squash can only reasonably be asked to carry 4 – 6 fruits each, once they set those fruits, he said it’s fine to trim away the excess.
How Much is Excess?
The squash need a certain amount of leaves to develop their full flavor, but as long as there are several feet of vine before the squash itself, you can pinch or cut the vine about 2 – 3 leaf nodes past the fruit. I gave it a try and haven’t noticed any ill effects.
What About the Vines that have Rooted?
Isn’t it amazing how tenacious some plants can be? All they have to do is touch soil and they sink their roots into it. If only all gardening was that easy.
The only roots that are crucial to your squash plants are the ones at its base. The roots that may have formed along the vine do help it take up water and nutrients, but they also produce more vine, so it’s basically a wash. If you’re tired of stepping over and around your squash vines, snip them or move them, the plants will survive.