Pumpkin Growing Tips

Follow our easy-grows-it tips to take the guesswork out of growing everyone’s fall favorite: pumpkins.
Types of Pumpkins

'Prizewinner'

Watch out county fair, this pumpkin's a big one! Cucurbita maxima 'Prizewinner' can produce pumpkins that weigh anywhere from 75 - 150lbs, and with proper care and conditions can grow even larger.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Jessica Yonker

Image courtesy of Jessica Yonker

Pumpkins aren’t just an autumn icon; they’re also one of the garden’s most fun and easy crops to grow. Farmers who grow giant pumpkins elevate raising these fruits to an art, but it’s really not that difficult. Try these tried-and-true pumpkin growing tips, and you’ll be set for success as you tend your own pumpkin patch.

Start with a known pumpkin variety. You’ll often see pumpkin seedlings for sale that are labeled simply as “pumpkin.” When growing pumpkins, choose one that will deliver what you and your family want. You can find pumpkins suitable for carving, baking, painting, and creating colorful autumn displays. You can even grow miniatures suited for small hands to hold. Do your homework and get seeds—or seedlings—for the type of pumpkin you’ll enjoy most.

Pumpkin-palooza! 10 Pumpkin Varieties

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Plant pumpkins in a different spot each year. Like all vegetables, you need to rotate or move pumpkin crops from year to year. Ideally, keep pumpkins on a three-year rotation cycle, meaning you don’t plant them in the same spot for three years in a row. This allows soil to replenish nutrients vines remove, and it also helps foil diseases that may survive in soil over winter.

Pumpkins have male and female flowers. Male flowers appear first for about a week before any female flowers appear. Male flowers stand tall on upright stems; female flowers have what looks like a miniature pumpkin at their base. If a female flower is pollinated, that miniature pumpkin starts growing. If no pollination occurs, the female flower—with its mini pumpkin base—falls off the vine.

Mature pumpkins are 80 to 90 percent water, so you can bet that pumpkins need a lot of water as they grow. Irrigate plants when soil is dry. It’s typical for pumpkin leaves to wilt at high noon, but if plants are wilted in the early morning, that’s a sign you need to water. Aim for deep, infrequent watering to encourage deep root growth. Copy the giant pumpkin farmers and use a soaker hose or drip irrigation.

Start decreasing the amount of water you’re providing pumpkin plants when fruits turn their mature color. If you intend to store pumpkins for winter use, they’ll store longer if you stop watering completely a week to 10 days prior to harvest. 

Save seeds from this year’s pumpkin to plant next year. You can only save seeds from pumpkins that aren’t hybrids. Research online to make sure you’re not growing a hybrid. To save seeds, place seeds and pulp in a colander. As you run warm water over them, start picking out individual seeds. Use a gentle detergent to help remove pulp. For most home gardens, you only need to save two dozen seeds at most. Drain the seeds on a strainer, then place on a screen suspended over a box lid. Place the seeds in a warm, dry place. Stir seeds frequently the first few days to promote drying. Dry seeds at least two weeks—longer is even better. They must be completely dry before storing, or they’ll mold. Store seeds in an envelope, paper bag, or non-airtight jar in a cool, dry place. Be sure to label your container.

Next Up

When to Harvest Pumpkins

Learn the secrets to harvesting pumpkins so they’ll stage a strong holiday display—and last long enough to fill a pie, too.

Growing Pumpkins in Containers

Raise a crop of pumpkins on a deck or patio—with no garden bed in sight. Learn how to grow pumpkins in pots no matter where you live.

How to Grow Pumpkins

These autumn favorites are one of gardening’s most fun plants to grow — and they’re really a cinch. Learn how to plant pumpkins and how to care for a bumper crop in your garden.

5 Tips for Preserving a Carved Pumpkin

Learn how to preserve a carved pumpkin so your Halloween masterpiece will last all season long.

Why Are My Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow?

Tomato leaf discoloration can be caused by a number of factors, including nutrient deficiencies, plant diseases and cultural problems. We’ll help you narrow down the cause of yellowing leaves on your tomato plants and find solutions to help.

How to Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot

Got an ugly black spot on the bottom of your tomatoes? Never fear. It's a common problem that's easier to fix than you might think. HGTV expert Gayla Trail, of YouGrowGirl.com, offers advice.

How Grow Garlic

Get expert advice on when to plant garlic, how to grow your own crop of garlic year after year and picking the right time to harvest garlic.

Learn How to Grow Potatoes and When to Harvest Them

Follow our guide on how to grow potatoes and discover how easy and satisfying it is to raise a homegrown crop, plus learn about the many types and varieties available for your garden.

How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin

Tips from giant-pumpkin experts Christy Harp and Jamie Johnson on how to grow a great big gourd.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Containers

Short on garden space? You'll be happy to know sweet potatoes can be grown in flower pots.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.