How to Grow a Pumpkin

Four Parts:Preparing to Grow PumpkinsPlanting the PumpkinsCaring for the Pumpkin PlantsHarvesting the Pumpkins

Pumpkins can be made into a sweet or savory dishes, their seeds are healthy and fun to roast, and they serve as beautiful, bright fall decorations. Growing pumpkins is easy and inexpensive, since they thrive in many different regions. Read on for information on choosing a variety of pumpkin to plant, finding an environment that will help your plants thrive, and as well as growing and harvesting your pumpkins.

Part 1
Preparing to Grow Pumpkins

  1. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 1
    Find out when to plant pumpkins in your region. Pumpkin seeds do not germinate in cold soil, so they need to be planted after the chance of frost has passed. Plan to plant pumpkins in late spring or early summer for a fall harvest.
    • If you celebrate Halloween and would like to have pumpkins in time for the holiday, plant them a little later in the summer. Your pumpkins may mature and need to be harvested too early for Halloween if you plant them in the spring.
  2. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 2
    Choose a planting spot and prepare the soil. Pumpkins grow on vines and need a good amount of space to thrive. Choose a place in your yard with the following qualities:
    • 20 or 30 feet (6.1 or 9.1 m) of open space. Your pumpkin patch doesn't have to take up your whole yard. You can plant it along the side of your house, or along the fence in your backyard.
    • Full sun. Don't choose a spot under a tree or in the shadow of a building. Make sure the pumpkins will get plenty of sun all day long.
    • Soil with good drainage. Clay-based soils don't absorb water quickly, and aren't as conducive to growing pumpkins. Choose a spot that doesn't have standing water after heavy rains.
      • To give the pumpkins an extra boost, prepare your soil beforehand by composting it. Dig large holes where you plan to plant the pumpkins and fill them with a compost mixture a few days before planting.
  3. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 3
    Choose pumpkin seeds. Go to your local nursery or order seeds from a catalog to use in your pumpkin patch. There are many different varieties of pumpkins, but for the home grower's purposes they fall into three main categories:
    • Pie pumpkins, which are meant to be eaten.
    • Large decorative pumpkins that can be carved into jack o'lanterns. The seeds in these pumpkins are edible, but the flesh is not flavorful.
    • Small decorative pumpkins, often called mini pumpkins.

Part 2
Planting the Pumpkins

  1. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 4
    Plant your seeds 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) deep. They should be planted in rows toward the middle of the patch, so the vines have plenty of room to grow. Allow a few feet of space in between plantings.
    • Plant 2 or 3 seeds within a few inches of one another, in case one doesn't sprout for some reason.
    • It doesn't matter which end of the seeds point up. If the seeds are viable, they will grow either way.
    • Plant the seeds in "hills" or mounds, spaced in rows in your planting bed. This can help if your soil doesn't receive good natural drainage, but also, more importantly, aids germination, where the Sun heats up the soil quicker in the mound, thus the seeds germinate faster.
  2. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 5
    Cover the planted seeds with compost. If you composted the soil before planting, you can skip this step. If not, add a thin layer of compost or mulch in the areas where you planted seeds. The compost will help keep weeds out and nourish the seeds.
    • With proper care, the pumpkin plants should sprout within about a week.

Part 3
Caring for the Pumpkin Plants

  1. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 6
    Water the pumpkin plants when the soil moisture is low. Pumpkin plants need a lot of water, but they shouldn't get too much. Make a habit of watering them when the soil seems a little dry, rather than adding more water to wet soil.
    • When you do water the plant, use a lot of water and let it soak deep into the soil. Pumpkin plants' roots run several inches or feet down, depending on the stage of growth, and it's important that the water reaches them.
    • Try not to get water on the pumpkin leaves. This encourages the growth of a fungus called powdery mildew, which can cause the leaves to wither and the plant to die. Water in the morning, rather than at night, so any water that gets on the leaves has time to dry in the sun.
    • When the pumpkins themselves begin to grow and turn orange, decrease the amount of water you use. Stop watering entirely about a week before you plan to harvest the pumpkins.
  2. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 7
    Fertilize the pumpkin plants. When the plants first sprout (in about a week or two), adding fertilizer helps keep weeds from growing and encourages health pumpkin plant growth. Go to your local nursery and ask for a fertilizer you can add to your pumpkin bed.
  3. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 8
    Control weeds and pests. In order to make sure your plants produce healthy pumpkins, you'll have to monitor them throughout the growing process.
    • Weed the patch often. Don't let the growth of weeds crowd out the pumpkin plants or absorb the nutrients they need to thrive. Plan to weed a few times a week.
    • Check the pumpkin leaves and blossoms for beetles, which eat plant tissue and ultimately kill the pumpkin plant. Scrape them off the plant a few times a week.
    • Aphids are pests that threaten a lot of garden plants. They can be found on the undersides of the leaves, and if you don't take care of them, they'll kill the plants quickly. Spray them off with water in the morning so the leaves have time to dry.
    • If necessary, use an organic pesticide to rid your plants of pests. Ask about products at your local nursery.

Part 4
Harvesting the Pumpkins

  1. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 9
    Check to see if the pumpkins are ready. The pumpkins should be bright orange in colour (depending on the species) with a hard shell. Their stems and often the vine itself should be starting to dry out and wither.
  2. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 10
    Don't harvest pumpkins that are still soft. They won't keep for more than a few days before spoiling.
  3. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 11
    Cut the pumpkins' stems. Use a pair of shears to cut the stem, leaving it a few inches long. Don't break off the stems, since this will cause the pumpkins to rot.
  4. Image titled Grow a Pumpkin Step 12
    Store the pumpkins in a sunny, dry place. Keep them away from humidity and damp spots. They do not need refrigeration. Pumpkins keep for many months after they have been harvested.


  • Once picked, pumpkins (which can grow prolifically) can be stored outdoors for a long time, or in a cellar if you are in a snowy climate. In a temperate climate, leave pumpkins in sheds, on shed roofs, under sacks etc; in a snowy climate, leave in the basement. They'll feed you all winter through.
  • Water well but do not saturate, as the stalk is prone to rotting.
  • There aren't too many problems with bugs and pumpkins - they're generally hardy.
  • If you do get pests, some stores will sell live insects that are pest predators, such as ladybugs that eat aphids.


  • Pumpkins are prolific growers - they tend to take over their part of the garden. Keep them apart from other plants so that they have lots of room to grow. Wherever a pumpkin starts growing, any plants underneath will be crushed - keep an eye on emerging pumpkins and gently move them and their stalk to a slightly different spot if they are crushing something else. Sometimes they will even crush each other!
  • Pumpkin leaves will even climb nearby trees or wall if given the opportunity. A house a person once bought had an overgrown pumpkin patch with a pumpkin growing on the roof!

Things You'll Need

  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Shovel, trowel, spade
  • Decent soil and a large area of garden space
  • Regular watering
  • Organic Pesticide (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables