Pumpkins are available in various sizes ranging from small to large, like the current father of mammoth pumpkin cultivars, the Atlantic Giant pumpkin. No matter the size, pumpkins have always claimed a soft spot with most people since if they don’t want to eat it, they can use it for pumpkin contests or carve it out and use it for decoration.
The process of growing giant pumpkin varieties starts with selecting the right seeds. Their vines require organically rich and moderately moist soil, long sunny days, fertilizers, and plenty of space for the vines to spread out for the pumpkin fruits to amply develop.
If you’re looking to grow a giant pumpkin for a contest, to carve, or simply to have an interesting experience, we’ve put together a list of five giant pumpkin varieties that will meet your needs.
5 Giant Pumpkin Varieties
1. ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’
The ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’ is arguably the world’s largest pumpkin. The vines of this variety can grow as long as 90 feet, and the pumpkin fruits can gain as much as 15 pounds per day.
In comparison with the ordinary jack-o-lantern pumpkins, the skin of the ‘Atlantic Giant’ has a pinkish-orange hue that pales.
For optimal growth, keep the garden soil evenly moist.
In a case of poor soil, it is advisable to add 2 pounds of 10-10-10 slow-release or water-soluble fertilizer for every 100 square feet when mixing the garden and again when the vines are 12–15 inches long. You can alternatively side dress with one or two shovelfuls of compost.
To encourage the giant fruit’s growth, remove all but two or three of the developing pumpkins on each vine. This dramatically helps the vine to concentrate all its energies on the few fruits left, resulting in giant fruits.
Remember to sterilize your cutting tools in Lysol or rubbing alcohol, and wear protective gear when harvesting the extra pumpkins to avoid the prickly vines.
When mature, ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’ gets so huge and heavy that it may take at least a dozen people to harvest it. They have been grown for over three decades, with the most outstanding and record-breaking pumpkin grown in Canada weighing 1006 pounds.
2. ‘Big Max’
Also known as the Big Mac pumpkin, ‘Big Max’ pumpkins can grow to enormous sizes of up to 70 inches and gain weight up to 200 pounds.
They tend to be round with a slumped or flattened shape around the belly.
It has a characteristically bright-orange or red-orange rind that is rough, ribbed, and thick and can grow up to 4 inches thick. For this reason, they are suitable for storing. It also has a bright orange or yellowish flesh that is commonly used for baking and cooking.
When used in dishes, it is brings an essence of a mild or a semi-sweet flavored pumpkin. However, the flesh is a little bit watery and may require draining after cooking.
Either way, whether you want to win a prize at the local pumpkin contest or you are just after a large pumpkin to transform into pies, bread, or any other mouth-watering dessert, ‘Big Max’ pumpkin is the real deal. They are also good for canning, decorations, carving, and freezing.
These pumpkins are typically mature and ready for harvest at around four months after planting. This is when the rind turns into deep orange color and is firm when touched.
It is recommended that the pumpkin be left on the vine as long as possible to give room for maximum nourishment and development, but be sure to harvest right before any hard frost sets in.
To harvest them, use pruning shears to carefully cut the pumpkin fruit from the vine, leaving around 3 inches of the stem so that the pumpkin can continue to grow and prevent decay from the top of the stem. Remember to cure the pumpkin out in the sun for approximately seven days to help harden the rind.
For maximum shelf life, store your pumpkin in a cool and dry place.
3. ‘Big Moon’
Although comparable to the ‘Big Max’, ‘Big Moon’ is also popular for its enormous size, but it is a little larger with a darker rind.
After planting, the seeds have a germination rate of about three to five days with fully mature fruit ready for harvesting after about 120 days. They can grow to enormous sizes and weigh over 200 pounds.
The ‘Big Moon’ has pale flesh and is typically not edible. To encourage fruit development, harvest all but one or two pumpkins to get the largest possible pumpkins. This will allow the vine to channel all its energies on developing the remaining fruits.
As the pumpkin grows, place straw under it to help cushion it and prevent decay from the possibly wet ground.
4. ‘Mammoth Gold Pumpkin
As the name suggests, ‘Mammoth Gold’ pumpkins grow into large and mammoth sizes, often weighing an average of about 60 – 100 pounds, but they can be more. When mature, the rind gets slightly grooved and mottled and turns into a yellowish-orange hue. It can also grow in size to 20 inches long and 20 inches wide.
The ‘Mammoth Gold’ pumpkins have edible but coarse thick, pale, and yellow-orange flesh famously used for cooking and making pies. The pumpkin is also famous for jack-o-lanterns.
Upon germination, the fruits reach maturity in about 105 to 120 days. To attain maturity, however, it is crucial to note that pumpkin seedlings do not tolerate frost, and providing appropriate cover, such as mulch, is necessary when cold weather threatens.
The soil should also be moderately moist at all times, but avoid getting the leaves and vines wet to avoid rot and mildew. By mid-summer, pinching off all the blooms or developing fruits except for one or two will help the vine concentrate its resources to the chosen fruits, maximizing their possible size.
They can be harvested as soon as the vine dries and the rind hardens. However, you can leave it on the vine for maximum nourishment as long as the season lasts. Be sure to harvest it right before the first frost sets in.
When harvesting, leave 3 – 4 inches of the stem attached to the pumpkin and do not carry it by its stem. If it breaks off, it will cause quick rot to the pumpkin.
Remember to cure the pumpkins out in the sun for about seven days, until the stem shrivels, and store them in a cool and dry place.
The ‘Prizewinner’ is another breed of large pumpkin. Thanks to its large and enormous size, it earned its name for winning many local, county, and state fair competitions.
‘Prizewinner’ seeds produce large pumpkins that are uniform in size and shape. They develop smooth rinds that have a rich-orange hue and typically weigh 100 pounds or more.
‘Prizewinner’ pumpkins reach maturity within 120 days of planting. They are good for cooking, decoration, and carving. With a little more attention and caring, the ‘Prizewinner’ pumpkin produces large fruits for pumpkin competitions too.
As enormous as giant pumpkins can be, they are still pumpkins and should be handled carefully. Remember to cushion them with a little mulch while still in the garden to help keep the ground moisture away to prevent possible rot.
When harvesting, never carry the pumpkin by its stem because if it breaks, the pumpkin’s shelf life is greatly shortened, and you will have to use it as soon as possible.