If you want to know how long does it take to grow a pumpkin then you are at the right place. While pumpkins are known as fall decorative staples, particularly for Halloween, they also make fun carving objects or delicious pies for gatherings or after-dinner dessert. You can find orange, white, mini, and large pumpkins at your local pumpkin patch. But if you want to see what it’s like to have some in your own garden, we’ve got expert tips on growing pumpkin plants for you.
Browse our pumpkin-growing guide to get ideas for your own backyard plant collection. We’ve got tips from Rosie Lerner, a Purdue University extension consumer horticulture specialist, on how to grow, harvest, and care for your pumpkins, including how to keep them pest-free for weeks.
So, Let’s get started!
How Long Does It Take To Grow a Pumpkin?
Knowing how long it takes to grow a pumpkin starts with knowing which variety you want to grow. There are approximately one hundred different pumpkin varieties grown worldwide, not counting the numerous gourds and edible squash that join the autumn festivities. Different varieties require varying amounts of time to ripen.
Some pumpkins, such as the deeply lobed ‘Musquee De Provence’ pumpkin, mature in 90 to 100 days, while others, such as the deeply lobed ‘Musquee De Provence’ pumpkin, take up to 125 days. The ‘Jack Be Little’ miniature pumpkin matures in as little as 85 days.
How to Grow Pumpkin From Scratch
Here are 5 ways to grow a healthy pumpkin:
1. Select your pumpkin seeds
Because pumpkins come in hundreds of varieties that differ in size, color, taste, and texture, no single type can claim to be the “best.” There’s something for everyone, from ballooning giants to teeny-tiny gourds.
2. Place the seeds in full sun
Sow seeds directly in the ground one day after the last frost. Each seed packet will state how long it takes the plant on average to produce full-grown pumpkins (“Days for Maturity”). Small Sugar Pumpkins, for example, mature in 100 days. Plant them in mid-July if you want them to ripen about a week before Halloween.
Choose a location with full sun and space the seeds according to the instructions on the packet. Although some “bush” varieties grow in a more compact form, pumpkin vines can sprawl quite far.
If you’re feeling ambitious, plant the seeds in “pumpkin hills”—small mounds of dirt lifted above the ground. According to Lerner, placing them on the ground flat causes them to warm up and drain water more slowly. “It helps to raise the plant and allows the long vines to cascade down a little.”
3. Take care of your pumpkin plants
Most vegetable crops require a deep but gentle soaking once a week, about an inch at a time. Adjust as needed based on rainfall. Even if the soil is still moist, pumpkin leaves can appear wilted in the afternoon heat. Resist the urge to water the soil even more if the foliage begins to green up again in the evening or under cloud cover, as this can contribute to root rot. Mulching your beds will help keep your pumpkin plants hydrated and will keep weeds at bay.
4. Apply fertilizer to the soil as needed
Pumpkins are voracious eaters. Using an all-purpose vegetable garden fertilizer (rather than one designed for lawns) can provide them with the necessary food. Testing your soil every couple of years is also a good idea. The results will show you what kind of dirt you’re dealing with, as well as the pH and nutrient levels, and will help you plan accordingly.
5. Collect your pumpkins
After several months of growing, your pumpkins will mature after the rinds harden and turn the proper shade. Burpee recommends harvesting before a heavy frost, which will damage the fruits. Cut the vine with pruning shears, leaving a few inches of stem attached. Then, whether by carving, cooking, or decorating, enjoy the fruits of your labor.
When Are Pumpkins Ready To Harvest?
When the color of the pumpkin has fully developed and the rind has hardened, it is considered mature. When you thump a ripe pumpkin, it will sound hollow. The stem will frequently begin to harden and dry. Pumpkins can be left in the garden until a light frost kills the vines in cooler climates. Harvest before the ground freezes.
Cut pumpkins from the vine with a sharp knife or pruners, leaving 3 to 4 inches of stem. Carrying a pumpkin by the stem may cause it to break off, providing an entry point for disease organisms. Allowing pumpkins to fully mature before harvesting will allow them to keep longer if you plan to store them for Thanksgiving pies or other uses.
5 Common Pumpkin Growing Mistakes
Growing your own pumpkins can be an excellent learning experience, particularly for those looking to broaden their green thumb. However, if you don’t give your future jack-o’-lanterns the proper care, you might find them crawling all over your garden and taking up more space than you want. Here are a few examples of errors and how to correct them.
1. Plant underwatering
Pumpkins require a lot of water every day because they grow so quickly. To give them the right amount of water, use a watering can or a drip hose.
2. Taking them too early
When pumpkins are ready to be picked, they turn orange. Leave them on the vine if they’re yellow until they turn a bright orange.
3. Leaving the pumpkins on the ground for an extended period of time
Use a barrier, such as cardboard, underneath your plant to keep it from becoming soft or rotting.
4. Planting them near other plants
Pumpkin plant vines can become overwhelming, so growing them too close to your other plant babies will not allow them to thrive. Allow at least one foot between each one and provide them with their own bed.
5. Failure to address pests
Always keep a close eye on your plants to ensure their health. After diagnosing the problem, treat pests with insecticide (such as cucumber beetles, slugs, and flea beetles), while fungal disease can be treated with fungicide.
Q1. Can I grow pumpkins in pots?
Yes! The better the container, the bigger it should be. (A half-barrel planter could suffice.) Keep an eye on the soil — container gardens will dry out faster than regular beds.
Q2. What should I put under pumpkin growing?
During the hot summer months, spreading a layer of straw beneath your developing crop can help protect the gourds. The use of mulch, such as straw, will help keep the soil cooler, prevent evaporative moisture loss from the soil, and keep the pumpkins cleaner, according to Lerner.
Q3. How can I keep pests away from my pumpkins?
Cover your plants with floating row covers at the start of the season to protect them from common pests such as squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles. Remove these covers as soon as flowers appear, because bees will be required to pollinate them! For the same reason, use caution when applying insecticides to your garden. The chemicals can harm these vital creatures, preventing the plants from producing any pumpkins!