Pumpkins are varieties of winter squash with firm skin, often orange in color and contain seeds and pulp inside. They originated from Mexico and their botanical name is Cucurbita pepo.
In order to grow pumpkins, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Here are some great tips for growing pumpkins and some other things you should be sure to account for.
Table of Contents
12 Tips for Growing Pumpkins
1. Apply Fertilizer
Pumpkins thrive well when fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium but low in nitrogen is added to them.
2. Be Sure to Prune
Pinch off vine ends when pumpkins start to develop. This will help focus the energy on pumpkins only instead of pumpkins and vines.
3. Add Mulch
Use organic mulch to help destroy weeds and retain moisture in the soil.
4. Choose the Right Location
Pumpkins prefer areas with full sunlight. Planting them in frost conditions will delay plant growth.
5. Check Soil pH
Neutral soils with a PH of 7.0 with very good drainage work best for pumpkins.
6. Space Out Your Seeds
- Plant four or five seeds per hill for semi-bushy varieties.
- Plant one or two seeds per hill for bushy varieties.
- Plant three seeds per hill for miniature varieties.
7. Watch for Diseases
These plants are highly prone to powdery mildew and downy mildew. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these and treat the plants as soon as possible. Typically these are controlled by the use of fungicides.
8. Be Careful When You Water
Water these vegetables moderately. Avoid excessive watering to avert root rot. However, pumpkin leaves may appear wilted in hot day sunlight. This does not necessarily mean that they need water. They will revive in the evening.
7. Limit Insecticide Use
Pumpkins are mostly affected by bugs and aphids. However, insects like bees are beneficial because they aid in pollination. Thus be careful when choosing your preferred insecticide.
8. Happy Harvesting
Harvest after four months from the planting time and before winter. Mature and ripe pumpkin fruits are always orange in colour with a hard skin.
Cut the vines using clean pruning shears and remember to leave some inches of the stem attached to the fruit.
9. Growing Season
They grow well in summers when the temperatures are extremely high and soils are dry. Frost conditions will lead to stunted or no growth at all.
10. Very Big Pumpkins
Atlantic Giant is known to be the largest pumpkin variety. Their vines spread to over 90 feet on the ground. It weighs approximately 1000 pounds.
Other large pumpkins include Big Max, Big Moon, Mammoth Gold and Prize Winner.
11. Very Small Pumpkins
They include Jack Be Little, Munchkin, Baby Bear and Baby Pam. They are easy to grow and weigh two pounds or less.
12. Find Fun Varieties
There are an almost endless number of pumpkin varieties to choose from. Here are some of the most fun.
- Cinderella pumpkins– very attractive and delicious.
- Sugar pumpkins- just from their name, they are sweet and can be added to baking flour.
- Porcelain Doll pumpkins – they resemble a porcelain. They have a pink color on the flesh. Good for cooking.
- Lumina/ Ghost pumpkins – they are white in color with smooth flesh. Used for decorative purposes.
- Jack Be Little pumpkins – due to their tiny nature, they are best used for beauty in homes and gardens.
When to Plant Your Pumpkins
The time of planting does not really matter a lot. What matters is the time you will want to use or harvest them.
Generally, pumpkins cannot tolerate wet conditions at the time of planting. The most recommended planting season is during summer when the soil is dry.
Pumpkins thrive better in areas with warm temperatures than areas with cool temperatures. So the time of planting will depend on where you reside. Just ensure that you plant them during warm seasons.
How Long Do They Take to Grow?
On average, pumpkins mature after 100-120 days. That is approximately three to four months depending on the variety.
Pumpkins propagated from seeds take longer times to mature than those grown from seedlings. However, those grown from seeds are the best.
In order to germinate well, pumpkins need a lot of spacing. Typically 4 – 6 plants are placed per hill. Space your plants at least 5-6 feet apart. However, the bush type requires a spacing of 8 feet.
Be sure to consult the seed packet for the specific variety you are planting. That is the best place to start when it comes to seed spacing.
While planting, place your seeds 1-2 inches deep in the soil. Plant two or three seeds close to each other just in case one fails to germinate. Space the rows 10 feet apart.
Pumpkins really love growing in spacious gardens thus ensure your yard is spacious enough to accommodate all your plants.
How Many Pumpkins per Plant
This will depend on the pumpkin variety, fertilizer application, lighting and irrigation.
|Small||Baby Bear, Pie Pumpkins, Munchkin, Jack Be Little||4-8 pumpkins|
|Medium||Connecticut field Magician, Autumn Gold||2-3 pumpkins|
|Large||Howden Biggie, Aladin, Magic Lantern, Gold Rush||1-2 pumpkins|
|Extra large||Atlantic Giant, Big Max, Prize Winner, Dills Atlantic Giant||1 pumpkin|
Tips for Growing Pumpkins in a Container
Yes. If you prefer potting to ground gardening, then use of containers works well for pumpkins too.
First, the choice of your container is a key factor. Larger containers are the most preferable to use. Ensure that they have drainage holes at the bottom to enable easy movement of water. If your container lacks drainage holes, you can drill them, small in size.
Place a soil-less medium mixed with sterilized compost in your container. Do not add unsterilized compost as it may introduce pests and diseases to your garden and plant.
The main reason why sterile compost is added is to improve the mixture’s drainage and fertility. Fertilizer can be added before planting to boost their growth. Similarly, mulch is added to boost growth and prevent moisture loss.
Plant your seeds, two or three in a container. After the appearance of leaves, thin the seedlings to either one or two.
Pumpkins are known to be spreading plants so it is recommended that you use strong trellises or poles to train the vining varieties along them.
Water frequently while taking caution not to make the soil soggy.
Fertilize once every two weeks. Avoid excessive nitrogenous fertilizers because they foliage growth but reduce fruit growth.
It is also important to note that containers cannot support extremely huge pumpkin varieties thus recommended to grow smaller varieties in containers.
Tips for Growing Pumpkins in a Raised Bed
Yes. To grow pumpkins in a raised garden bed, ensure that the soil temperature is 70℉ then make your soil in a hilly manner with approximately 10 inches of spacing.
At the center of the hill, make a hole two inches deep and place two to three seeds inside. Cover the seeds gently without pressing the soil hard. Mist or irrigate to keep the soil equally humid.
Since pumpkins love a spacious place, plant them at the edges of your raised garden to allow them to wander freely. This will make it easier for you to train them to grow along poles for extra support.
Pumpkins are very delicious when cooked. They are a rich source of vitamin A for the body. In Africa, pumpkin leaves are used as a traditional vegetable that is rich in fibers. Their guards are used to store milk until it gets fermented and drank in most traditional ceremonies. Lastly, pumpkins are also used for decoration purposes in indoor arenas.