Light requirements: Full sun.
Planting: Space 24 to 60 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.)
Soil requirements: All pumpkins need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Work at least 3 inches (more for larger pumpkin types) of compost or other organic matter into soil prior to planting. Create a raised bed or planting mound if soil tends to be heavy and poorly draining. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.8.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist. Water is most critical when flowers and fruits are forming. Avoid overhead irrigation; wet leaves make the plant susceptible to fungal diseases.
Frost-fighting plan: Pumpkin plants can be damaged by a light frost (28º F to 32º F). Protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts by covering plants with straw or a frost blanket. Do not let frost settle on late-season fruits, as they won’t store well.
Common issues: Pumpkins can experience blossom end rot and powdery mildew (late summer). Watch out for squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles. If pest problems start early in the season, grow plants beneath floating row covers.
Harvesting: Pick pumpkins before frost. Fruit is ripe when the outside is fully colored, skin is hard, and the stem begins to shrivel and dry. To harvest, cut stems with a sharp knife, leaving at least an inch of stem (more is better). Pumpkin vines are prickly; wear gloves and long sleeves. Never lift a pumpkin by its stem; slip your hand beneath the fruit to carry. If the stem breaks, the pumpkin won’t store well.
Storage: Pumpkins with stems can store for 2 to 3 months. The ideal storage space is 50º F with 60 percent humidity. Do the best you can in a basement, vermin-free crawl space, or other frost-free storage area.
For more information, visit the Pumpkins page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 49
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Dietary fiber: 3g
- Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 2g
- Vitamin A: 245% DV
- Vitamin C: 19%
- Vitamin E: 10%
- Riboflavin: 11
- Potassium: 16%
- Copper: 11%
- Manganese: 11%
- Iron: 8%
- Phosphorus: 7%
The bright orange pumpkin speaks to us of fall, harvest, and Halloween, but that color also signals a huge load of beta-carotene, one of the plant carotenoids that converts to vitamin A in the body. This important antioxidant may reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as protect against heart disease and some of the problems of aging. And pumpkin offers a huge list of other vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget those tasty pumpkin seeds; they are high in essential amino acids and zinc.