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When to Plant Pumpkins

Pumpkin or zucchini little seedlings growing in pots waiting to be planted out.

Plant pumpkin seeds directly in the garden two weeks or more after the last frost. Transplant pumpkin seedlings to the garden 2 to 4 weeks after the last frost; start seeds indoors 4 weeks before setting out seedlings.

The optimal planting soil temperature for pumpkins is 60-85°F (16-29°C). The optimal growing temperature for pumpkins is 60-75°F (16-24°C).

In reverse-season climates, a second crop may be planted in early autumn for harvest in winter.

Planting Pumpkins

Pumpkins are easy to grow but they generally take up a lot of garden space. A pumpkin plant needs about 10 square feet of growing room if allowed to sprawl.

Pumpkins grow best in humus-rich, well-drained, sandy loam. Add aged compost or a commercial organic planting mix to a depth of 12 inches. Pumpkins are often planted atop mounds or hills allowing the vines to run down the hill where they can be trained to circle the mound.

Pumpkins are heavy feeders needing a moderate amount of nitrogen and a high amount of phosphorus. Add a slow-release organic fertilizer to the soil at planting time. Plant pumpkins in full sun.

Pumpkin harvest time

Pumpkins mature in 90 to 115 days. Pumpkins are ready for harvest when skins lose their sheen. The shells should be hard enough to resist denting by a thumbnail.

Pumpkins are best harvested as late as possible in autumn, but before the first hard frost.

Pumpkin seedlings
Pumpkin seedlings

Pumpkin planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Feb. 1-Apr.15
Feb. 8Feb. 15-Apr. 15
Feb. 18Mar. 1-Apr. 15
Feb. 28Mar. 15-Apr. 30
Mar. 10Apr. 1-May 15
Mar. 20Apr. 10-May
Mar. 30Apr. 10-June 1
Apr. 10Apr. 20-June 1
Apr. 20May 1-June 15
Apr. 30May 1-Jun. 10
May 10May 10-June 15
May 20May 20-June 15
May 30June 1-20
June 10June 10-20
Young pumpkin plants
Young pumpkin plants

Pumpkin planting details

  • Sowing depth: 1 inch (2.5cm)
  • Space between plants after thinning: 3-4 feet
  • Days to sprout: 7-10 (soak seeds in water overnight before planting)
  • Days to harvest: 90-115
  • Storage period: 8-24 weeks
  • Seeds per 100-row feet: 1 ounce
  • Yield per 100-row feet: 200 pounds
  • Suggested varieties: Jack O’Lantern, Small Sugar, Cinderella, Lady Godiva, Green-Striped Cushaw

Related pumpkin planting articles:

How to Grow Pumpkins

How to Grow Winter Squash

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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