By Erin Marissa Russell
Zucchini are available in so many varieties that it can be hard to choose which to grow each season. We’ve honed in on the most popular varieties recommended for home gardeners that produce bountifully and offer great-tasting fruits. Take a look at this list, and get ready to plan which varieties to grow in your garden.
Ambassador F1: This variety is known for its exceptionally early harvest. Produces dark green fruit with nutty taste. Tolerant of powdery mildew. 50 days to harvest.
Black Beauty: The dark green skin of this zucchini almost looks black, and fruits grow up to 12 to 24 inches long but taste best when picked at eight inches or fewer. 45 to 65 days to harvest.
Caserta: Each plant can bear up to 30 striped fruits. Caserta zucchini taste best when picked at four to six inches long. 1949 All-American Selections award winner. 60 days to harvest.
Clarion F1: This variety is known for an extremely early harvest. Fruits are pale green with mottled flesh. They taste best when harvested at five to six inches long. 40 to 45 days to harvest.
Cocozelle: An Italian variety cultivated since 1885 with stripes of pale and dark green. Known for exceptional taste and texture. Best when harvested at six to eight inches or smaller. 50 to 60 days to maturity.
Defender F1: Zucchini are easy to see on the bush, making it easier to harvest them. RHS award winner. Produces twice as much as some other varieties. High resistance to cucumber mosaic virus.
Dunja: Produces fruits that are straight instead of curved with dark green skin. Intermediate resistance to powdery mildew, watermelon mosaic virus, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, and papaya ringspot virus. 47 days to harvest.
Early Gem: This variety got its name by producing an early harvest of dark green zucchini with pale green stripes. Fruit tends to be slender and has an excellent flavor. RHS award winner.
Gadzukes: An Italian variety that produces dark green fruits with paler raised ridges. The ridges give the fruit a star shape when it’s sliced into rounds. 55 days to harvest.
Magda: A Lebanese variety of zucchini that starts producing early and continues through late fall. Fruits are pale with a short, squat shape and taste best when harvested at four inches or smaller. 50 days to harvest.
Nero di Milano: Another Italian variety, Nero di Milano hails from the Lombardy region. Fruits are so dark green that they almost appear black. Taste is best when fruits are harvested at six to eight inches long. 60 days to maturity.
Round Zucchini: Fruits grow to maturity quickly and taste best when harvested at three to four inches across. Zucchini are an oval, egglike shape as opposed to the traditional cylinder. 45 days to harvest.
Tondo di Nizza: These round zucchini were first cultivated in Nice, Italy. They are ready to harvest at the size of a baseball or softball. Skin is quite thin, which translates to a delicate texture, but makes it important to handle these carefully. 55 days to harvest.
While there are tons of zucchini varieties out there to choose from, the ones on this list offer something for everyone. You’re sure to have found a favorite whether you’re looking for great taste, early harvest, or a hefty crop. Why not grow a few different varieties so the zucchini on your dinner plate will never feel like the same old thing?