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Once you learn how to grow one type of pumpkin, you can pretty much grow all of them.

As for gourds, that term includes plants in both the genera Cucurbita (soft-skinned gourds) and Lagenaria (hard-skinned gourds), so a pumpkin is also technically a gourd. AND, there are over 965 species.

But the best part is, pumpkins are delish!

Steam them, add some cinnamon sugar, or even make pumpkin puree out of them… whatever you choose to do, you’ll have yourself an amazing veggie to accompany pretty much any meal.

I’ve tried to grow pumpkin and have learned a couple of things the hard way – but I guess that’s how you learn to grow pumpkin (or anything really, isn’t it?)

Healthy pumpkin plants growing on the ground

Come October, every family with kids is looking for the perfect pumpkin to carve, cut, and decorate.

So to be sure that you have your perfect pumpkin by learning how to grow them yourself!

Finding out how to grow a pumpkin, finding out what size pot is the best for growing pumpkins and then harvesting and even eating them is easily done with all of the info online, but everything you need to know is right here in this post. 

The good news is that pumpkins actually aren’t that difficult to grow. If you follow a few simple steps you will have a flourishing plant in no time producing amazing pumpkin.

 

 

 

Is pumpkin good for you?

Pumpkins are incredibly healthy and they have a low-calorie content which means they are suitable if you are trying to lose weight, or simply eat healthier. 

They are loaded with vitamin A, B2, C, E, iron, copper, manganese and potassium. There are other nutrients like beta carotene which is also found in carrots and other yellow and orange coloured veggies. 

From Seed to Veggie

Pumpkins will take approximately 24 weeks (6 months) to grow from seed to an edible vegetable. 

These are things like the soil type, fertilizer, seasons, and lighting requirements.

Here is the info in a nutshell:

Planting season: Sow in spring
Soil pH level: Between 6 – 6.8 
Sunshine: At least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day 
Can be grown in a container: Yes
Preferred weather: Sunny weather

Choosing the Right Container to Grow Pumpkin

I found that pumpkins are quite a resilient plant and are happy enough to start off in seedling trays or a small pot.

If you don’t like transplanting seedlings then it is best to choose a large pot that can be used for your pumpkin to grow in. 

Single plant:
Container size: 10 gallon/ 38 litres 

Multiple plants:
Container size: 20 – 25 galloons/ 75 – 95 litres (2 or 3 plants)

When you are learning how to grow a pumpkin in a pot, the best rule is that bigger is better. But in saying that, you can also grow them in grow bags (one plant per grow bag is best) – they will just need to be watered more regularly.

Because pumpkins grow on vines and are not root vegetables, they only have a shallow root system so they are not going to grow deep down into the earth.

Make sure that you weed the pot and then mulch with weed-free compost, mulch or straw to deter weed growth and the retain the moisture.

Sowing your pumpkin seeds

This is a personal choice and depends on your situation. You can start pumpkins off in seedling trays or in individual pots. If you’re new to gardening then its better to sow directly into the soil so you don’t risk damaging seedlings when you transplant them. The most important thing now is to create the best nourishing soil for your plants.

1. Fill the pots (or tray) with potting soil.
2. Make a hole approximately 1.5 cm/ 1/2 inch deep) and sow one seed.
3. Cover the hole with soil and water.
4. Put on a windowsill or somewhere sheltered but in the sun

Pumpkin seeds don’t need the sun to germinate, but the warmth of the sun does help. Remember that the seeds are under the ground and the sun doesn’t reach them. The seed has everything that it needs to germinate.

Just adding water, soil and warmth will start the germination process.

Adjusting the Soil

Pumpkins like to have well-composted soil, so remember that when you are preparing the soil for your pots when you are going to transplant. If you are already sowing the seeds into the pumpkins’ final growing place, do this from the beginning.

– Compost-rich
– Well-drained
– Add manure

As they prefer a ph level of 6.0 – 6.8, test this out with a pH reader and adjust the soil accordingly.

Seeds of Small Pumpkin Varieties for Sale

Small sugar pumpkin seeds all together - pumpkin seeds for sale
Jack Be Little Pumpkin seeds for sale
Wee be little pumpkin seeds

Once Your Pumpkins Start to Germinate

Make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out. Either stick your finger into the soil and if it feels damp then it is still moist enough. If it is dry, then water it. You can also use a water reader to check this.

Once the roots are poking out the bottom then it is ready to be transplanted.

Prepare your larger pot with your well prepared soil and make a pot-sized hole in the soil. The easiest way to do this is to take the smaller put that your pumpkin seedling is already growing in and make the hole in the larger pot with this smaller pot. That will be the perfect depth for your seedling.

Carefully unearth the pumpkin from its smaller pot, you don’t need to mess around with the roots, and just place the plant gently into the hole, filling with soil, patting firmly to secure it and then water.

Staking your Pumpkin Plant

How big can a pumpkin plant grow?

The vines can grow long so it depends on what you want to do with it. Are you letting the vines grow down the sides of the pot, are you going to stake them, or are you going to train them to grow up a terrace or arch?

Most people just leave the pumpkin vine to grow but there is value in trimming the vines when they reach 10 – 15 feet in length. This helps with maintenance of your pumpkin plant, it stops it from choking out other plants, and it stops the plant from wasting energy on tertiary vines.

If you are going to stake them, take four canes or bamboo sticks and them into the large pot and wrap the step around them. You can tie the step to the canes with string, but I prefer to use rags as they are gentler on the plant.

As the stem of your pumpkin plant continues to grow, keep winding it and wrapping it to give it support.

Male and Female Pumpkin Flowers

Continue to keep the soil well-watered as your flowers begin to grow.

There is a distinct difference between the male and female flowers as you can see in my photos below.

On my pumpkin plants, I noticed that the male flowers grew first and they were these gorgeous yellow flowers that grew on stems. Not long stems, but most probably about 2 – 4cm long.

If you look inside them, they also have a narrow anther.

The male flowers grow for a couple of weeks before the female flowers start to grow. This is to attract bees so that they can start to include these flowers on their daily pollination ‘route’. By the time the female flowers grow, the bees will be able to pollinate them and cause your pumpkins to start to grow.

While the male pumpkin flowers grow on stems, you will notice that the females flowers will have a bulb at the base in place of the stem. This is your new pumpkin that is growing!

This was when the first flowers on my pumpkin plant started to grow – these are all male flowers as you can see by the stem. They are closed as they are about to fall off.

male pumpkin flowers growing in a pot

Watering Pumpkin Plants

Water at the base of the plants and not over the leaves. Make sure that you keep the soil moist.

If the weather is still warm, mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and keep the soil cool.

If the temperatures do go above 70°F (21°C) then move them into the shade. This is easy to do with containers, although when filled with soil the pot will be heavy.

As your Brussel sprouts reach maturity, reduce watering.

Feeding Your Pumpkins

how to grow pumpkin in a pot

Pumpkin plants grow through three distinct growing stages:

1. The pre-flowering stage
2. The flowering stage
3. The fruiting stage

During each stage, your plant has different requirements and so knowing how to fertilize your pumpkin plants correctly is very important or you can end up with a lot of leaves and no fruit, burnt leaves, dropping buds, or other problems.

Hammocks and Mulching

If your pumpkins are going to grow on the ground, add mulch, straw, or even shredded newspaper under the pumpkin to cushion it. Keep on turning the fruit gently so that the color ripens evenly.

By now, the leaves will start dying.

Adding Nitrogen to Your Pumpkin Plants

The edges of the leaves on my pumpkin plants started to turn yellow. This was before the female fruits started to develop. 

Since I am new to growing pumpkins, I did Google it and added sawdust from my dad’s workroom and in addition, I added coffee grounds from a local coffee shop, to the top of the soil so when I watered the elements from the coffee woudl leach into the soil.

I didn’t do any scientific testing but things seemed to get better for the plant once I had done this.

Other reasons that the leave could yellow are too much fertiliser, wind burn, or even sunburn.

Sunburn is caused when there is water or water droplets of dew on the leaves and then when the sun comes out, the leaves get burned.

Three Popular Varieties

Jack Be Little Pumpkins

‘Jack-Be-Little’ produces up to eight tiny fruits per plant – just the right size for an individual portion.

Sweet Dumpling Pumpkin

‘Sweet Dumpling’ has up to 10 stripey fruits per plant. Either roast them whole or use for soups and stews.

Turks Turban Pumpkin

‘Turk’s Turban’ is one of the most colourful squashes available. The pale-lemon flesh tastes a little like turnip.

Final Thought

Pumpkin plants are relatively easy to grow, just remember to start off with the correct soil requirements and feed them the correct organic fertilizer at the right times. Even the smaller varieties are still ‘big’ veggies and they need the goodness to make the goodness. 

More info for you if you’re interested in growing pumpkins:

  1. How to fertilize your pumpkin plants at the different stages
  2. All the pumpkin seed info you need to grow your own pumpkins