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What to Do With Zucchini Plants at the End of the Season?

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Winter is coming, and the gardening season is wrapping up for most people. If you’re lucky, you’ve been able to stretch things a bit longer, maybe even getting a few more months of production out of your garden.

As the season winds down, though, what are you supposed to do with your zucchini plants? Hopefully, you’ve had a good harvest and are looking forward to more fun next year with your zucchinis. The things you do now will make all the difference.

With zucchini plants, you’re essentially going to have to start over from scratch every year.

That means you’re going to need to pull up all of the plants and their vines once the growing year is through.

However, you need to take steps to set yourself up for the next season before you do.

Here are some tips on what you should do with zucchini plants at the end of the season.

Frost Will Kill Your Zucchini Plants

If you live somewhere that turns very cold, then you should know that frost will completely kill your zucchini plants.

There’s no coming back. You’ll want to pull your plants up before the ground freezes, otherwise, it will make things much harder once the ground feels like a slab of concrete.

Getting Seeds for Next Season

Before you pull your zucchini plants up, you need to make sure you get seeds for next season that you can use again. This will save you some money and time from going to the store, and there’s nothing quite like completing the cycle of planting new plants with seeds from the old ones. It’s a great feeling.

Here’s what you should do to increase the chances that your next round of zucchinis will be even better than the last.

Leave Some Mature Fruit on the Vine

zucchini plant with fruits in the garden

Harvest as much zucchini as you can, but remember to leave two or three zucchinis on the vine so you can gather some seeds. The mature fruit will keep growing and you’ll be able to harvest enough seeds to grow new plants next year.

When you leave a couple or a few zucchinis on the vine longer, it tells the plant that it’s time to start making seeds. Taking them off early to eat them is like telling your plant that it needs to keep producing zucchinis so that one of them has a chance to get to the seed-making step in the process.

Once you feel like the season is winding down, it’s finally time to leave a few on there longer and let them grow to the point where they start making seeds you can store for next time.

Make Animal Fodder

Next, you should cut up and mix the vines and leaves with animal fodder. If you’re raising animals like goats or sheep, or even cows, they’ll love them and gobble up everything that you give them.

It’s a great way to offer healthy food to grazing animals in the winter.

Use the Rest for Composting

Anything left over after that can be used in the compost bin or pile. Before you toss them in the compost, just give them a once-over to make sure they don’t have any rot or fungus growing on them already. They could end up spoiling things more than you’d like.

Once your zucchini is in your compost, make sure that you cover it properly to prevent anything from getting in and spoiling it. When the weather turns nice again, you can uncover it and give it a good mix before using it in your garden.

Spraying it with some water is also a terrific way to add much-needed moisture after the winter. Good compost is a godsend, and you’ll see better results faster when you plant with good compost.

Dry Leaves for Fire Starter

Zucchini plant leaves dry very quickly, and they are fantastic when used as tinder to start a campfire outside to roast some marshmallows, or to get your fire going inside in the fireplace.

All you have to do is lay out a few dry zucchini vines or leaves under the firewood, and you’ll have a toasty, roasting fire in no time.

zucchini plant with fruit and flower

How to Know When It’s Time

How do you know when it’s time to pull your zucchini plants up? The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t do anything if your plants are still fruiting and you’re getting good fruit.

As long as things are growing, then you can keep them in the ground. Trust us, they’ll stop growing once things get too cold outside.

You can also go by taste. If you try to eat your zucchinis and they taste a bit off or different than earlier on in the season then it is a good rule of thumb for knowing when to pull up the plants next year.

Anything you don’t want to eat can always go in the compost, so it’s not a super big deal the first time or two around.

Make Sure to Get All of the Roots

Zucchini plants can have complex root systems. Don’t make the mistake of taking out all the leaves and the vines and thinking that your work is done. You need to get all of the roots out as well to keep the soil free so there is room to grow when you plant next season.

You may need to buy some special gardening tools to help you get them out faster and easier. They can be a real pain if they are deep in the ground.


Zucchinis are a delicious crop that you can plant in a home garden of basically any size. It’s a lot of fun to learn how they work and get the timing right so you’ve always got a supply of yummy zucchinis.

Doing it right also ensures you’ve always got seeds on hand for whenever you feel like planting them at the start of a new season.


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