Pumpkins are a tender, warm-weather crop. Pumpkins are a type of winter squash—grown through the summer for harvest in the fall.
- Sow pumpkins indoors 3 to 2 weeks before the last expected frost in spring the transplant them into the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
- Sow pumpkins outdoors when the soil temperature has warmed to 70°F (21°C). Protect pumpkins in the garden from cool temperatures with row covers.
- Pumpkins mature 60 to 100 frost-free days after sowing depending on the variety.
Pumpkins, like other winter squashes, must fully mature on the vine.
Pumpkin Sowing and Planting Tips
- Grow pumpkins from seeds or seedlings.
- Pumpkin seeds are viable for 6 years.
- Direct sow pumpkins in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 70°F (21°C). In warm-winter regions, sow pumpkin seeds in midwinter for harvest in early summer.
- To start pumpkins indoors before the last frost in spring, sow seed in peat pots 4 to 3 weeks before planting out. The indoor temperature should be 66°F to 85°F (18-29°C) until germination.
- Pumpkin seeds will not germinate at a soil temperature below 66°F (18°C).
- Sow seed ½ to 1 inch (1.3-2.5 cm) deep.
- Seeds germinate in 4 to 10 days at 85°F (29°C) or warmer.
- Space plants in the garden 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) apart in all directions.
- Pumpkins will benefit from the warm soil created by planting on hills or mounds; raise the soil 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 20 inches (50 cm) wide and grow individual plants on hills. Space hills 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) apart.
- Water to keep the soil from drying.
- Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
- Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of transplanting.
- Pumpkins prefer a soil pH range of 5.5 to 6.8.
- Grow pumpkins in full sun for best yield.
- Avoid planting pumpkins where cucumbers or melons have grown recently.
- Common pest enemies include aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borers, slugs, and snails.
- Common diseases include bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and cucumber mosaic.
Interplanting: Plant pumpkins with bush beans, corn, dill, eggplant, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes.
Container Growing Pumpkins: Pumpkins are not a good choice for container growing. They require significant room to spread and grow.
Pumpkin Planting Calendar
- 4-3 weeks before the last frost in spring: start seed indoors for transplanting into the garden later.
- 2-3 weeks after the last frost in spring: transplant seedlings to the garden; minimum soil temperature 60°
- 3 weeks after the last frost in spring: direct sow seed in the garden.
Recommended Pumpkin Varieties
- ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’, ‘Red Etampes’, and ‘Cinderella’ are classic orange pumpkins.
- Other varieties include ‘Atlantic Giant’, ‘The Great Pumpkin’, ‘Howden’, ‘New England Pie’, ‘Wee-B-Little’.
Botanical Name: Cucurbita maxima
Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family; other members cucumbers, melons, watermelon, and pumpkins.
More tips: How to Grow Pumpkins.