How Pumpkins Grow – Everything you Need to Know
Pumpkins are known to grow almost anywhere around the world, and are featured in many cultures cruisine. There are many varieties of pumpkins that come in different shapes, colors and sizes. But they all have one thing in common – their growing habits. Do pumpkins grow underground? Do pumpkins grow on trees? Let’s find out…
Pumpkins DO NOT grow underground or on trees. In fact, pumpkins grow on vines that naturally spread out along the ground. Each vine can reach a length of 20-30 feet (6-9 meters), and each pumpkin plant can have multiple pumpkins. Which means you will need a lot of space for your pumpkin crop.
Do Pumpkins Grow Underground?
It is easy to see why you may think pumpkins grow underground.
Often, when you pick up a whole pumpkin from your local grocer or farmers market, it has a layer of dirt encrusted on the skin, like potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables that grow underground.
However, the dirt is not there because the pumpkin grew underground. Rather, the soil is on the pumpkin because it has been sitting on the soil as it matures on the vine. Dirt can also splash up from the fertile soil when it rains, giving the appearance of a very grubby, soil covered pumpkin.
How do Pumpkins Grow?
As we mentioned earlier, pumpkins grow above ground on vines.
Each pumpkin plant can produce multiple pumpkins along the vine. Generally speaking, if the growing conditions are good, you can expect between 4-6 pumpkins per plant. Although, this will vary depending on the pumpkin variety you grow.
It will generally take 3-4 months for a pumpkin to mature on the vine. At which point, it should color up and form a wooden stem, which will indicate that it is pumpkin harvest time.
Pumpkin vines can be trained to grow vertically over a trellis or vegetable cage. It is actually one of our favorite sights to see pumpkins (and other vegetables) hanging down from a trellis or on the underside of a cage. Like in this picture of an aerial vegetable patch.
Quick Guide to Growing Pumpkins
The growing season for pumpkins is spring through to summer. They grow best when the soil is warm, and not exposed or susceptible to frost. If you are interested in growing pumpkins in your own backyard, here are a few tips to give you the best chance for success.
Do You Have Enough Room?
A big consideration when cultivating pumpkin from seed is the space they need to grow.
With vines that can reach beyond 20 feet (6 meters), they can quickly overwhelm a veggie patch or raised garden bed.
If space is a challenge for you, we recommend training them up a trellis, or along a vegetable cage, like in the picture above. Be mindful that as they mature and gain weight, you will need to install supports that cradle the pumpkins. Some people use pantyhose or string nets tied to the trellis or cage.
Pumpkins love sun, or more specifically, pumpkin plants love sun. As is the case of vegetable cages where the pumpkins live under the cage in the shade, the pumpkins themselves do not need sunlight to mature. As long as the pumpkin leaves are exposed to 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight, the pumpkins will mature nicely.
Pumpkin plants can survive in partial shade, however if you want them to thrive plenty of sun is recommended.
Soil Planting and Care
A well-draining soil that is rich in organic materials will provide the best environment for pumpkin plants to establish a healthy root system. We like to mix through some matured compost and manure through the soil a week or two before we plant our pumpkin seeds.
Generally speaking, we’ll plant a couple of seeds in each spot, and thin the plants out as they begin to grow, leaving the stronger plants behind.
Watering Your Pumpkins
Besides sunlight, the other key ingredient for successful pumpkin growing is water. Pumpkins need plenty of water, and it isn’t hard to see why, with their long vines and large fruit.
Water your pumpkins with at least 1 inch of water every morning, and again in the afternoons on extremely hot days.
Try to focus the water at the base of the plant, rather than the leaves and pumpkins. Spraying the entire plant can potentially lead to rot and disease forming on the plant, which will result in spoiled pumpkins.
Okay, so you’ve successfully raised pumpkin seedlings, and have a few pumpkins forming on your vines. When do you know when the pumpkins are ready? This section is dedicated to helping you navigate through the aftercare of pumpkins.
When to Harvest Your Pumpkins
There are a few ways to tell when your pumpkins are ready for harvest.
The first and easiest way is the color of your pumpkin. Once the pumpkins’ skin begins to develop a deep coloration, it is close to harvest time. You may also see legions or warts forming on the exterior of the pumpkin – which is a good sign that it’s ready.
Once you suspect your pumpkin is almost ready, gently knock the side of your pumpkin as if you were knocking on the front door of a house. If your pumpkin is ready, you should hear a hollow sound.
Once you have harvested your pumpkins, the best practice is to store your pumpkins in a dry, warm space away from light. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘curing stage’ for the pumpkin. It allows the skin to harden, and the sugars in the pumpkin to settle.
Many home gardeners advocate that pumpkins taste better after the curing process, compared to if the pumpkins are consumed directly after harvest.
Frequently Asked Questions for Do Pumpkins Grow Underground?
In this section we attempt to answer all your ‘other’ questions that may not be addressed in this article.
Keep in mind, if you can’t find an answer to your question, please send us a message via our CONTACT page. We will endeavor to respond with a timely answer, and include it in our growing FAQ section below.
Do Pumpkins Grow on Trees?
No – pumpkins do not grow in trees. Pumpkins grow on vines that usually sprawl across the ground. The pumpkin vines can be trained to grow vertically across trellises or vegetable cages.
You may see pumpkins growing in trees if a pumpkin vine manages to scale up a tree trunk, and begin to fruit with pumpkins hanging down off the vine.
Will Pumpkins Grow in a Raised Bed?
Pumpkins can certainly grow in raised beds full of fresh organic matter. Sometimes raised beds offer more favorable conditions for pumpkin plants, because the soil temperature is warmer than conditions in the ground. And yes – you can probably guess pumpkin plants generally grow better in warmer conditions.
Be warned, giant pumpkin plants can quickly overwhelm a raised bed garden. Therefore, we recommend that you train the pumpkin vines to grow over the side of the raised bed and along the garden ground.
How Long Does it Take for Pumpkins to Grow?
The growth period will vary depending on the varieties of pumpkin. However, as a general rule of thumb, pumpkins can take between 80 – 120 days to grow from seed to a matured pumpkin.
Do Pumpkins Grow Underground – Summary
Even though you often see pumpkins being sold covered in dirt, they do not grow underground. Pumpkins actually grow along vines that creep along the ground. They grow on the surface of the ground, eventually resting on the soil surface, as they mature.
Pumpkin plants require a lot of space to grow, so ensure you allow plenty of room.
If you have pumpkins growing in your garden, please send us pictures. We love seeing home produce in the making!