Winter Squash Varieties
and Types

Winter Squash Varieties—like acorn, butternut, buttercup (kabocha), Hubbard, and Spaghetti—are left on the vine to size up and ripen all summer, harvested in the fall, and eaten all through the winter.

Winter Squash Varieties—‘Bonbon’ Buttercup
Winter Squash Varieties—‘Bonbon’
Buttercup

© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

They’re called winter squash because you eat them through the winter, not because you can grow them through the winter. Hard frost kills them, and even if they survive in mild-winter areas, they need summer heat—and flying pollinators—to set and ripen fruit.

Summer squash—like zucchini, crookneck, and patty pan—are harvested small, while the skins are still soft. For zucchini varieties, click Here. For other summer squash varieties, click Here.

Winter squash and summer squash are closely related, and share similar soil, fertilizer, irrigation, and cultural needs. For information on growing squash, click Here.






Acorn  |   Delicata  |   Buttercup  |   Heirloom  |   Butternut
Hubbard  |   Spaghetti




Unfortunately, I don't have good photos of most of the winter squash varieties I've grown and recommend below. Back when I had the space to grow multiple varieties of winter squash, I was more interested in growing them than taking pictures. Since I moved into town, and a community garden plot, I've only been able to grow one variety a year, and it was always 'Bonbon' buttercup, because they were so prolific, reliable, and delicious. I have lots of 'Bonbon' photos. Most of the photos below are from Cook's Garden Seeds, our seed source.


Winter Squash Varieties

Two—Yes, Two—‘Bonbon’ Winter Squash Plants
Two—Yes, Two—‘Bonbon’ Winter Squash Plants!
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Winter squash varieties can be divided into acorn, delicata, buttercup (kabocha), butternut, hubbard, and spaghetti squash types.

Most winter squash, like their cousins, pumpkins, have LARGE vines—10 to 15 feet (3-5m)–and sometimes 2 or 3 vines. The larger Hubbard winter squash varieties can easily run to 20 feet (5m). Winter squash need space to ramble.

If you don’t have much space, or if you’re growing squash in containers, choose compact bush varieties, like ‘Honey Bear’ acorn squash, or ‘Bush Delicata’.


Acorn Squash

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Small, ribbed squashes are delicious baked. Most have mildly sweet yellow flesh. Acorn squash do not store as well as other winter squash, so use within 3 months of harvest. Sun curing not necessary with acorn squash.

‘Honey Bear’ (F1 hybrid, 100 days, resistant to Powdery Mildew)  produces dark green, 1-lb (0.5kg) fruit on compact, prolific vines.

‘Table Ace’ (F1 hybrid, 70-85 days)  produces colorful, delicious acorn squash with dark green skins and orange flesh.

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Acorn  |   Delicata  |   Buttercup  |   Heirloom  |   Butternut
Hubbard  |   Spaghetti



Delicata Squash

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‘Delicata’ (Heirloom, Open-Pollinated, 105 days)  squash are 7-9” (18-23cm) long and 3-4” (7-10cm) wide oblong squash, with pale yellow skin and green stripes running down their sides. Sweet, light orange flesh. Smooth texture. Stores well in cool, dry conditions.

‘Bush Delicata’ (Heirloom, Open-Pollinated, 80 days)  is similar to ‘Delicata’, but in a compact, bush plant that spreads only 4-5’ (1-1.5m). AAS winner.

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Buttercup (Kabocha) Squash Varieties

Buttercup or Kabocha squash have sweet, somewhat dry, yellow-to-deep-orange flesh that’s perfect for fall soups and stews, or simply roasted and served with butter. Some varieties are starchy immediately after harvest, but sweeten up after a few weeks of storage.

Growing Squash—‘Bonbon’ Buttercup
Winter Squash Varieties—‘Bonbon’ Buttercup
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

‘Burgess Buttercup’ (95 days)  is the classic buttercup squash, producing 3-5lb (1.4-2.2kg) dark green, blocky fruit. Deep orange, sweet flesh grows sweeter during storage. 3-4 fruit per plant.

‘Bonbon’ Buttercup (F1 hybrid, 95 days) is the best buttercup squash I’ve grown. The large vines produce blocky 4-6 dark green, smooth-skinned fruit. Sweet, smooth-textured flesh, especially roasted. If you have the space for some large vines, grow this squash. 2005 All-American Selections winner.

‘Discus Bush Buttercup’ (Open Pollinated, 90 days)  produce 3-4 dark green, 3-lb (1.4kg) fruits on compact bush plants that grow to about 3’ x 3’ (1m x 1m). Great for small gardens, these can even work in large container gardens like half-barrels.

‘Sunshine’ (F1 hybrid, 95 days)  produces 3-5lb (1.4-2.2kg) fruits with scarlet skin and deep orange, persimmon-colored flesh that’s smooth and sweet. Mid-sized vines produce 3-5 fruit/vine. 2004 All-American Selections winner.

Buttercup Squash Varieties I'm Trying for the First Time
Photos click out to Cook's Garden Seeds
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‘Amazonka’ (F1 hybrid, 60-70 days)  is an uncommon, compact buttercup squash that produces 1.5-2lb (0.7-0.9kg) orange fruits on semi-bush vines. There aren't very many bush or semi-bush winter squash varieties suitable for container gardens, so I'm eager to try this one. A high producer that stores well, it's a Cook's Garden favorite that I'm trying for the first time this year.

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‘Sweet Dumpling’ (F1 hybrid, 90-105 days) White with green stripes and specks on the outside and deep orange, sweet flesh on the inside, these small buttercup squash are only slightly larger than acorn squash. Stores for up to 4 months.

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Heirloom Winter Squash


In a departure from normal practice, I'm posting descriptions from our seed source, Cook's Garden Seeds, along with photos from their web site. I can't recommend these from personal experience, because I'm trying them myself for the first time this year.

Due to limited garden space, it's been several years since I've been able to try any new winter squash varieties. Now I have several new clients who are as eager to try these gorgeous heirloom winter squash varieties as I am. At the end of next summer I'll post my own reviews of each of these varieties.

Heirloom Winter Squash Varieties I'm Trying for the First Time
Photos click out to Cook's Garden Seeds

‘Muscat de Provence’ Rare Squash From the South of France.

This winter squash from the south of France has become rare over the past few years. The flattened 5-10 lb. (2.2-4.5kg) fruits have a smooth orange terracotta finish, deep ridges that radiate from the stem, and sweet flesh. We keep ours in the back pantry and they last right through the winter.

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‘Speckled Hound’ (Heirloom, 95-100 days). Marvelously concentrated sweet, nutty squash flavor.

A winter squash that's as gorgeous as a gourd, but so much more scrumptious. Beneath the randomly patterned blue-green and orange rind is a dense yellow-orange flesh bursting with marvelously concentrated sweet, nutty squash flavor. Growing to 3-6 lbs. (1.4-2.7kg), it's a joy to hold and carry: pumpkin-shaped, silky smooth and waxy, with shallow furrows and a strong green stem. Easy to harvest from plants with open habit. Strong broad foliage protects the fruit from sun and insect damage as it matures.

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‘Thelma Sanders’ A family heirloom from Ms. Thelma Sanders of Adair County, Missouri.

These vines produced more perfect beautiful, acorn-shaped squash than any others we have tried. Buff-colored fruits are about 1-2 lb. (0.5-1 kg) each, with a small cavity and creamy sweet flesh. Delicious roasted or baked. A family heirloom from (who else?) Ms. Thelma Sanders of Adair County, Missouri.

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‘Lakota’ (Heirloom, 85-100 days)  Plant breeders have recreated a stunning winter squash once prized by the Sioux but long lost to cultivation. Lakota is as colorful as an Indian blanket with the fine baking quality of Hubbard. Fine-grained orange flesh is sweet and nutty. Mature fruits are 8" x 9" (20 x 23cm).

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‘Cook's Custom Blend’ A variety of winter squash to stock the winter larder. Mix contains delicata, acorn, oriental, and french types. Just let the vines ramble along the lawn so they don't take up space in the garden. Each packet provides enough seed to plant a row along the edge of your garden.

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Butternut Squash

Winter Squash Varieties—‘Waltham Butternut’
Winter Squash Varieties—‘Waltham Butternut’
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Butternut squash have tan skins, small seed cavities, and sweet, smooth, orange flesh that sweetens further after a couple months of storage. Longest-storing winter squash. If stored cool, dry, and dark, they’ll still be good 9-10 months later.

‘Waltham Butternut’ (105 days)  is the classic oblong butternut squash. 9” (23cm) fruits, 4-5lbs (1.8-2.2kg). Produces 4-5 fruits/plant. Large vines.

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‘Early Butternut’ (F1 hybrid, 85 days)  produces medium-sized, 3-4lb (1.4-1.8kg) fruit with the same sweet taste of ‘Waltham’. Best butternut choice for short-summer gardens.


Hubbard Squash

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© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

‘Red Kuri’, a.k.a, ‘Orange Hokkaido’ (92 days)  produces scarlet-skinned, drop-shaped 4-7lb (1.8-3kg) squash with smooth, orange flesh. One of the best winter squash to grow.

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‘Sweet Meat’ (Heirloom, Open Pollinated, 115 days)  produces large, slate-grey, 10-15lb (4-8kg) fruit with smooth, sweet flesh. Long storage life. Vigorous 10’ (3m) vines need plenty of space.


Spaghetti Squash

‘Spaghetti Squash’ (OP, 60 days)  produce cream-colored, 3-5lb (1.4-2.2kg) fruit that turns yellow at maturity. Harvest when skin turns pale yellow, puncture with a fork, and bake. Discard seeds and separate flesh into pasta-like strands with a fork. Serve as you would pasta.

Top of Winter Squash Varieties Section



Acorn  |   Delicata  |   Buttercup  |   Heirloom  |   Butternut
Hubbard  |   Spaghetti





Top of Winter Squash Varieties  |   Growing Squash
Summer Squash Varieties  |   Zucchini Varieties  |   Alphabetical List of Vegetables



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