How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed to Harvest
Pumpkins are quite popular in many countries all over the world. If you consider growing your own pumpkins right now, this article is 100% for you!
I walk you through all the different steps and answer all questions so that you can be sure that you grow your pumpkins in an optimal manner.
After all, you want to grow nice Pumpkins for Halloween, don’t you? 😉
Pumpkin Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 3 feet tall and 4 to 7 feet wide.|
|Climate||Pumpkins grow best in moderate to warm climates with optimal temperatures of 70 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||While pumpkin plants like the sun, it is also possible to grow pumpkins in half-shady places.|
|Soil Requirements||Pumpkins grow best in rather neutral soil with a pH between 6.3 and 7.|
|Country of Origin||Mexico.|
|Perennial?||No, pumpkins are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||You should start indoors in early spring.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||5 to 10 pumpkins per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||90 to 120 days to grow pumpkins from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Leaf Blight, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spot, Beatles, Snails, Bugs.|
|Use||You can use pumpkins for pies, salads or soups.|
What Types and Varieties of Pumpkins can you grow?
If you decided that want to grow your own pumpkins, you also have to decide what variety of pumpkins you want to grow. I listed the most popular pumpkin sorts below:
- Pie Pumpkin
- Jack O’Lanterns
- Long Island Cheese
- Ghost Pumpkin
- Cinderella Pumpkin
- Butternut Squash
- Sugar Pumpkin
- Carnival Pumpkin
I personally love to grow Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkins since they get quite big and you can also carve them for Halloween.
However, if you are a beginner, I would definitely recommend you get a seed mix so you can try growing many different pumpkin varieties.
You will be surprised how many different colors and shapes pumpkins can have and this can be quite interesting to watch.
When should you start to grow Pumpkins?
Pumpkins often take quite a lot of time to grow and to develop their fruits. Hence, it is usually a good idea to start relatively early in the year so that your pumpkin plants will have sufficient time to grow in an ideal manner.
If you can, I would suggest you start at the beginning of March. Sure, you can also start later like many experts would recommend you to do.
However, if you do so, your pumpkins may not get ripe until the year is over and the whole work would be wasted.
Thus, if you are not able to start as early as in March, at least make sure that you start until the mid of April.
Otherwise, chances are that your squash growth project might fail.
How long does it take to grow Pumpkins from Seed to Harvest?
Depending on the variety of pumpkin you like to grow, seed manufacturers claim that you should expect to grow your pumpkins from seed to harvest in 90 – 120 days. However, in my opinion, it usually takes significantly longer.
In fact, I have plenty of experience with growing pumpkins of different varieties and I can tell you that it always took me around 140 days or more.
That’s why I told you before: Start quite early in order to avoid time shortages in the long run.
Consequently, also make sure that you have a little bit of patience since you will have to wait quite a long time until you see the results of your work.
However, even though it takes a while until you can finally harvest your pumpkins, it can be quite interesting to watch them grow and to see them develop.
I personally never get bored with growing plants since I just love it too much.
What is the best Climate to grow Pumpkins?
Pumpkins usually like moderate and dry climates. However, many pumpkin strains had been modified over the years to become more resistant to weather conditions and therefore, it is now possible to grow pumpkins almost everywhere on our planet.
In fact, as long as you don’t live in freezing cold regions or in the desert, chances are that you will be just fine.
Hence, if you live in a region with moderate climate, you don’t have to worry too much and can just go for it.
What Temperatures do Pumpkins like?
The optimal temperature to grow pumpkin is usually between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, as mentioned before, many pumpkin varieties are quite resistant to swings in temperatures.
As long as you water your pumpkin plants in a proper manner, your squash plants will also resist temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
What do you need to grow Pumpkins?
Depending on the things you already have at home, you may not need too much additional equipment.
However, I just give you a list below what you need to grow pumpkins so that you can order the things that are still missing.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Growing bed (to grow your pumpkin seedlings)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Earthworm castings
- Fertilizer (necessity of additional fertilizer also depends on the soil structure in your garden)
- Watering cans
- Garden shovel
- Patience and passion for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Pumpkins?
If you follow the instructions in this article, you can expect to harvest 5 to 10 pumpkins per plant.
However, this also depends on your previous experience and your overall gardening know-how.
If you plant pumpkins for the first time, chances are that you will not get the same yield as someone who is doing so for decades.
Thus, don’t be disappointed if your yield will be relatively small. We all learn on a continuous basis and nobody is perfect.
That being said, I am still quite confident that you will do just fine if you follow every step of this article in a proper manner.
What to grow with Pumpkins?
There are many plants you can grow with pumpkins. If you want to learn more about it, make sure to check out my article that shows you the best and worst pumpkin companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Pumpkins?
People often don’t really understand why they should grow their own pumpkins.
In fact, it is quite convenient just to get your pumpkins from the local store instead of having to grow them for many months.
However, in my opinion, it is just not the same. If you just buy your pumpkin from the store, you don’t have any connection to it.
You don’t even know where exactly it’s comping from. In contrast, if you grow your own pumpkins, you know how much work you had to put in to finally see results and chances are that you will value your pumpkin much more. Moreover, for me, growing pumpkins is also quite a lot of fun.
Honestly, there are not many things I’d rather do than to grow many different plants at home.
Growing pumpkins is not only quite interesting, it can also be quite beneficial for your health since it can greatly lower your overall stress level.
In fact, if you are stressed by your job or from your private life right now and you feel that you need something to reduce your stress level, you should definitely try gardening.
By growing your own plants, you can greatly slow down your life and you can also create quite a peaceful atmosphere on your balcony or in your garden.
Growing Pumpkins: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Pumpkin Plants
Now that I hopefully convinced you that growing your own pumpkins is indeed a good idea, it is time to go into more detail.
The first thing you have to figure out is where exactly you want to grow your pumpkins.
In fact, site selection is one of the most important things for growing pumpkins since only if your pumpkin plants are grown at a decent location, they can develop in an optimal manner.
Do Pumpkins like Shadow or Sun?
In order to determine the optimal spot for your pumpkin plants, we first have to clarify whether pumpkins like to grow in the shadow or in the sun.
While pumpkins love sunny spots, they don’t have to get sun all day long. In fact, the optimal spot for your pumpkins will be a place where your pumpkins get 3 – 4 hours of sunlight every day.
However, these are not fixed and mandatory numbers. Even if your pumpkins get more or fewer hours of sun, chances are that they will still develop in a proper manner.
You can also try out different areas in your garden and see how well your pumpkins will develop at each site.
By doing so, you can figure out the optimal location for growing pumpkins by trial and error and this will be quite helpful for many years to come.
What are the Soil Requirements of Pumpkins?
Pumpkins love soil that is rather loose. In fact, you should make sure that the soil you plant your pumpkins in is not too compact since pumpkin plants simply don’t like compact soil at all.
Thus, in order to assure optimal growing conditions for your pumpkin plants, make sure that you get potting soil from your local garden center.
Additionally, you can also get earthworm castings to further improve your soil quality.
If you engage in composting, you can also use your own compost and mix it with the soil from the garden center.
In general, just make sure that the soil is as loose as possible so that your pumpkins can develop in an optimal manner.
How much Space do Pumpkins need?
Each pumpkin plant needs plenty of space. In fact, pumpkin plants can get quite big and each pumpkin plant should have at least 5 feet space in each direction in order to be able to grow in a healthy manner.
If you plant your pumpkin plants to close to each other, chances are that they will compete for nutrients and sunlight and this can hurt the growth behavior as well as the overall crop production.
Of course, if you have a big garden and have more than enough space, you can also give each pumpkin plant 10 feet space or even more.
The more space you give them, the better your pumpkin plants will develop.
Should you plant Pumpkins in a Pot or in the Garden?
Since pumpkin plants get quite big, I definitely recommend you grow your pumpkins in your garden.
Most pots will simply be too small and if you grow your pumpkins on your balcony, chances are that you will no longer be able to use your balcony for anything else since your pumpkin plant will cover it sooner or later.
Thus, growing pumpkins on a balcony should only be a compromise and whenever you have a garden, just grow your pumpkins there.
It will save you plenty of nerves and will also make your harvest much more enjoyable since your pumpkin plants will have more space, more nutrients and the yield will therefore also be much higher on average.
2. Plant Pumpkin Seeds
Now that you know where you want to grow your pumpkins later on in the year, it is time to get into detail regarding the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Pumpkin Seeds or Seedlings?
In the first step, you have to decide whether you want to use seedlings from your garden store or if you just want to grow your own seedlings.
Even though it might be easier to just get your seedlings from the store, I would definitely recommend you to grow your own seedlings from scratch.
In fact, only then will you get the full growing experience and if you grow your pumpkins from seed to harvest, you will also better understand how growing plants really works.
And no. It is not difficult to grow your own seedlings. Not at all! In fact, I will show you in detail how to do it in this article.
Just stick with me and you will be surprised how easy it actually is to produce your own seedlings.
If you learn this skill, you can not only grow your own seedlings, but you can also give away some of them to your family and friends and chances are that they will be quite thankful and also impressed.
Should you buy Pumpkin Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
I hope I convinced you that growing your own seedlings is a good idea! 😉
However, even if I did, you also have to decide whether you want to produce your own seeds or get them from a shop online or in the garden center. Both methods are fine in my opinion.
Yet, it can still be quite interesting to produce your own pumpkin seeds.
You just have to get a pumpkin from the store, cut it in half and you will see numerous pumpkin seeds. You just have to collect those seeds and you are ready to go.
How to plant Pumpkin Seeds
Once you got your pumpkin seeds, it is now time to actually plant them. It is crucial that you raise your pumpkin seedlings indoors on a bright and warm spot of your home so that they can develop in the best possible manner.
For example, you can just place your growing bed next to a window and you are good to go.
Hence, once you figured out where you want to place your growing bed, it is now time to fill it with potting soil. It is not necessary yet to add earthworm castings or other things to the soil yet.
You can do so once you plant your pumpkins in your garden. However, for now, just fill your growing bed with conventional potting soil.
Don’t fill it up to the top, leave about 2 inches in height left. Then, just place your pumpkins seeds on the top of the soil layer.
Make sure that each pumpkin seed has at least 3 inches space into every direction so that your seedlings will have enough space to develop in a healthy manner.
After you are done with placing your pumpkin seeds, you now have to cover them with a top layer of soil of about 2 inches.
Finally, carefully water your growing bed. Make sure that your growing bed never dries out and that you water it every day.
How long does it take to see the first Pumpkin Seedlings?
It can take a while until you see the first seedlings reaching the surface. In fact, you may have to wait up to two weeks until you finally see any results.
However, this doesn’t mean that all your seedlings will reach the soil surface after just a few weeks. Indeed, it can take around one month until all the seedlings will become visible to you.
One important tip: Not all seeds will turn into seedlings. It is therefore crucial that you plant more seeds than you need seedlings.
For instance, if you want to get 5 seedlings, I recommend you to plant around 15 seeds. If you want to get 10 seedlings, I recommend you to plant 30 seeds and so on.
The ration should be around 3:1 between seeds and seedlings so that you can be sure that you will actually be able to produce your desired number of seedlings.
If you really produce too many seedlings, you can just give them away to your family or friends or just dispose of them.
How to protect your Pumpkin Seedlings
As long as your pumpkin seedlings stay in your growing bed indoors, you will not have to worry too much about protecting them.
In fact, there will not be too many pests indoors and there will also be no snails chasing your pumpkin seedlings.
Sure, this will change once you transplant them outdoors, but for now, don’t worry too much about protecting your seedlings.
When should you transplant your Pumpkin Seedlings?
After a certain while, it is time to transplant your seedlings outdoors into your garden. However, when exactly should you do so? This depends on two main factors.
On the one hand, your pumpkin seedlings have to get big and resistant enough to transplant them outside. I would suggest a minimum height of at least 5 inches.
On the other hand, it also depends on your climatic conditions. In fact, if the temperatures still fall below the freezing mark in the nighttime, you should not yet transplant your seedlings outdoors.
In fact, temperatures do no longer hit the freezing mark and you are good to go.
Once you decide that the right time has come, you should prepare your growth site outdoors in your garden.
For that, you just have to dig a big hole in the soil and fill it with potting soil from the store. To give you a better indication of what big actually means:
Make sure that the hole is at least 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep for each plant.
Make sure that you also add the earthworm castings to the soil. You can also add your own compost if you want to.
Also make sure that you mix all those soil ingredients properly. Now, you are good to go and you can just transplant your seedlings into the soil mix you prepared for them.
However, make sure that each seedling has at least 5 feet space to each other so that your pumpkin plants get enough sunlight to grow in an optimal manner.
What kind of Protection do Pumpkin Seedlings need outdoor?
As mentioned before, there are many more dangers for your pumpkin plants outdoors than indoors and you should think about additional protection.
I would definitely recommend you to use a slug fence in order to protect your small seedlings from snails who want to eat them.
This is especially important in the first few weeks. After a certain while, your pumpkin plants will become much bigger and will also become more resistant and you will no longer have to worry too much about snails.
3. The Pumpkin Growth Process
If you got to this point, the hardest part lies behind you, congratulations! In fact, your pumpkin plants will become stronger each day.
In fact, you will no longer have to put in too much manual work. However, there are still some things to consider to grow your pumpkin plants in an optimal manner.
How fast do Pumpkins grow? Am I on time?
Many people also worry about whether they are on time when growing their pumpkins.
In fact, especially if you have never grown your own pumpkins before, you may not be sure whether your pumpkin plants develop in a healthy manner or not.
However, I always advise people just to be patient. If you follow all the tips in this article, your pumpkins should grow just fine and you should just let nature do its work.
Should you prune your Pumpkin Plants?
In my opinion, pruning your pumpkin plants is not necessary at all.
In fact, in my opinion, you can do much more harm than good by pruning your pumpkin plants and I would not recommend you to do so at all.
Hence, just let it grow and chances are that you will see pretty decent results.
Do you have to pollinate your Pumpkin Plants by Hand?
Similar to melons and cucumbers, it is pretty important that you pollinate your pumpkin plants by hand.
In fact, pumpkin flowers are just open for a rather confined period of time and if your plants are not pollinated during this timeframe, they will also not be able to produce any pumpkins.
Thus, whenever a pumpkin flower opens up, make sure that you use a cotton swab and just carefully pollinate your pumpkin flowers.
By doing so, you can maximize your chances that your pumpkin plants will actually produce crops later on.
How to stake your Pumpkin Plants
Even though pumpkin plants usually get quite big, there is often no need to stake them at all.
In fact, you can just let your pumpkin plants grow and they will naturally grow and stabilize themselves on the soil surface.
Hence, there is just no need to intervene here. Just provide your pumpkin plants with sufficient space and they will grow in the direction that’s best for them.
4. The Pumpkin Harvest
In the past months, you did quite a lot of work and you hopefully also learned a lot regarding how to grow pumpkins.
If you followed all the steps, chances are that you will now be able to earn the fruits from your work.
When should you harvest your Pumpkins?
Harvesting pumpkins is quite simple. In fact, it will be quite simple to determine when your pumpkins are ready to harvest them from the color and also from the overall size.
Thus, just follow your intuition in this regard and you will harvest your pumpkins in time.
However, if you just want to grow pumpkins for Halloween for carving purposes, you may even want to harvest unripe pumpkins since you will not eat them and just use them for decoration purposes.
How to store your Pumpkins?
Pumpkins usually have a rather decent shelf-life. You just have to store them in dark, dry and cold places and you can often store them for some weeks.
However, the sooner you use your pumpkins, the more vitamins and other precious components they will contain.
Thus, even though your pumpkins may last a while, I would still recommend that you use them as soon as possible in order to get the best out of them.
What to do with your Pumpkins?
In general, you can cook many different dishes out of your pumpkins. You can make pumpkin pies or soup.
Moreover, you can also just use them for decoration purposes for Halloween.
Opportunities are almost endless and you should just use your pumpkins for what you like most.
Pumpkin Plant Care Tips
So far, I walked you through all the different steps to grow your pumpkins in an optimal manner.
However, there are also some additional general tips I want to give you so you can further optimize the growth behavior and the yields of your pumpkin plants.
How often should you irrigate Pumpkins?
Many people are often quite insecure regarding how often they should water their pumpkin plants.
However, it is rather simple. Just water your pumpkin plants on a regular basis.
While you only have to water your plants a few times a week when they are still small, you will have to water them daily once they get bigger.
Especially in summer, make sure that you water your pumpkin plants extensively so that they can develop in a healthy manner.
In general, if you grow your pumpkins in your garden, you can provide your pumpkins with plenty of water since all the excessive water will vanish anyway sooner or later.
Thus, don’t worry too much about this topic. It doesn’t matter too much if you water your plants a little bit more or less.
Just follow your intuition and also have a look at your pumpkin plants. If their leaves start to hang, it is often an indication that they need additional water.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Pumpkin Plants?
While irrigating your plants in the early morning would be best, you can also do so throughout the day.
In fact, just make sure that your plants get sufficient amounts of water and you are good to go.
How often should you fertilize your Pumpkin Plants?
Since pumpkins often get quite big and also the crops can be enormous, they need plenty of energy to produce those crops.
However, since you already gave your pumpkin plants extensive space to grow and also used earthworm castings, chances are that your plants will have sufficient nutrients to grow in a healthy manner.
If you feel that your plants need additional fertilizer, you can get natural fertilizers from your garden center and you are good to go.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Pumpkin Plants?
As mentioned before, if you decide that you want to provide your plants with additional fertilizer, natural fertilizers will be the way to go.
In fact, just make sure that you don’t use any chemical fertilizers.
Even though they might work, chemical fertilizers are pretty bad for our environment and can also contaminate the soil with harmful elements.
Thus, make sure that you make your growing experience as natural as possible in order to protect our planet.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Pumpkins?
In my opinion, you should also never use chemical pesticides and herbicides for similar reasons why I am not recommending to use chemical fertilizers.
Those substances are simply not good for our environment and may also hurt many helpful insects like bees.
Consequently, make sure that you remove weeds by hand. Also don’t use chemical pesticides.
Even though your yields may be a little bit lower, you can still have a clean conscience regarding your growing behavior and that is much more important in my opinion.
If you want to get more information on pest control, also make sure to have a look at my article on how to get rid of pumpkin pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
If you followed my growing guide until the end, I am really proud of you! Honestly! I know that it was a quite long ride.
However, there is just so much to know and I want to give you all the information that is necessary so that you can grow your pumpkins in an optimal manner.
I hope this guide was helpful to you. If so, make sure to also share it with your family and friends and also feel free to have a look at my other growing guides!
If you want to learn even more about growing pumpkins, make sure to also check out my growing pumpkin faq section.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.