Pumpkins are a popular Halloween decoration, but they can also be grown and eaten. Pumpkin develops through 5 different stages: seedling, vegetative, flowering, fruiting, and ripening.
Each stage has specific care requirements that must be met in order for squash to thrive. This guide will walk you through the pumpkin growing stages and what to do during that stage. Happy pumpkin growing!
What Is Pumpkin?
A pumpkin is a kind of squash bred for its enormous size and sweet flavor. The vegetable’s hue is often orange or green, although other kinds are purple, white, or even yellow. Pumpkins may be eaten raw or cooked and are commonly used in pies, soups, and other meals.
Pumpkins are native to North America and were grown by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived. The term “pumpkin” is derived from an Algonquian word that means “big melon.”
In fact, because their hard shells make them simpler to store than summer squash, pumpkins are now known as winter squash.
Pumpkin Growing Stages
We divide the pumpkin growing stages into 2 stages: The formation stage and The growing stage. Let’s learn each stage.
Plants thrive when seeds are put directly into garden soil after frost risk has passed in late spring and soil temperatures are above 70°F. If you live in the northern part of the United States, direct sow seeds in late May; if you live in the southern half, direct sow seeds in early June.
After planting, keep the soil wet but not waterlogged at all times. Pumpkin seeds feature a tough seed coat that protects the embryo as well as a set of embryonic leaves that carry nutritional reserves.
Soil moisture weakens the seed coat during imbibition, allowing water to enter the seed and initiating respiration and metabolization of the food stores.
The main root emerges through the seed covering as the first stage in germination. Its role as the first root formed, also known as the radicle, is to grow downwards and give support to the seedling after it sprouts, anchoring it into the earth.
It begins to absorb soil moisture and nutrients as soon as it emerges. Whether you began seeds indoors or put them directly in the garden soil, germination should take around ten days.
The two embryonic leaves within the seed force their way through the seed covering while the radicle collects water and nutrients. These pseudo-leaves, or cotyledons, naturally develop upward, moving through the earth in search of sunlight.
After the cotyledons break through the soil surface, the emphasis shifts to the development of real leaves and photosynthesis.
First True Leaves Develop
The clock begins to tick after the seed is sprouted. The seedling relies on cotyledon food reserves to power all of its metabolic functions, and they are depleting.
It is critical that the seedling produces leaves as soon as possible so that photosynthesis may begin. The first real leaves emerge from the center of the plant, between the sprouting leaves, around a week after sprouting.
True leaves are dark green with sharp edges. They can absorb sunlight for photosynthesis, and the plant begins to produce its own sustenance. The cotyledons may wither and fall off at this point.
Third True Leaf Develops
Growth is significantly faster now that the seedling has genuine leaves and can photosynthesize.
Plant growth hormones, or phytohormones, collaborate quickly to transform the seedling’s freshly formed, undifferentiated cells into new leaves, including the third genuine leaf. As new leaves emerge, photosynthesis increases, accelerating plant development.
Root System Forms
With their rapidly developing leaves, young plants are capable of photosynthesizing and creating the food required to power the plant’s other functions.
The focus is currently on further enhancing the root system. Pumpkin plants do not produce a taproot, but instead, form a fibrous network of tiny roots in the top 12 inches of soil to collect water and nutrients.
Let’s move on to the second stage of pumpkin growing stages.
The plant’s attention is now directed to the external growth of the pumpkin plant. The vegetative phase of the plant lasts about eight weeks from germination to flowering.
During this growth phase, plants focus on elongating vines, growing new leaves, and saving nutrients for use during flowering. Vines can grow 6 inches per day at their peak.
Yellow male flowers develop on vines about ten weeks after planting. Pumpkins are monoecious, which means they produce both male and female flowers on the same plant.
The female flowers open after about eight male flowers have formed. Male flowers are the long apex, slender stalked, but female flowers have a small bulge, or oval, at the base, which can develop into a fruit.
Male and female flowers both bloom early in the day for around 4 hours before closing permanently. They rely on bees and other insects to carry sticky pollen grains from male blooms to female blossoms while they are open.
The fruit set begins quickly if fertilization occurs. Ovaries that have not been fertilized shrivel up and fall off the vine.
Fruit develops quickly after fertilization and remains green for 45 to 55 days. The time it takes to achieve maturity is determined by the cultivar planted and the local growing conditions.
A healthy vine may produce a large number of fruits. Allow 3 or 4 fruits to mature and then remove others as they begin to grow to stimulate the vine to produce huge fruits.
When the pumpkin is fully ripe and stops growing, ethylene – a gaseous plant hormone found in the cells – causes the pigment of the fruit to change and ripening occurs.
The pods gradually change from dark green to bright orange (or whatever the crop’s mature color is), indicating that they are ready to be harvested.
The plant reaches the final vegetative stage of its life cycle when it has completed its ripening stage and produces fruit ready to be harvested.
Now the tree has nothing left to accomplish but seeds have developed in each pumpkin. Phytohormones in vines activate senescence genes, and leaves and vines die.
How To Harvest Pumpkin
After the pumpkin growing stages, all that remains is to wait for your pumpkins to grow before harvesting them. People frequently pluck pumpkins before they are fully ripe and grown.
Wait for the vines to die before picking your pumpkins while they are still immature. When your vines begin to die, it is a sure sign that they have fulfilled their duty and that your pumpkins are mature and ready to pick.
Tap the hard rind of your pumpkins to see whether they sound hollow. If they do, your pumpkins are ready to be picked. Remember that pumpkins (even those on the same vine) do not always ripen at the same time.
As a result, you should inspect each pumpkin separately and pick it only if you are certain it is ripe. Don’t simply inspect one or two and then harvest everything at once.
After removing pumpkins off vines, place them in the sun for five to seven days to cure. You should keep them somewhere dry and cold. Properly preserved pumpkins may survive for weeks.
Types Of Pumpkin
Pumpkin is a type of squash that comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. There are many pumpkins on the market today. Some are great for carving, while others are best for cooking.
Some Pumpkin Varieties:
- Cinderella – This little pumpkin has a rich orange hue with white stripes. It has been a favorite for many years due to its sweet taste and long shelf life.
- Champion – In 1948, the Connecticut Field and Mammoth Blue kinds were crossed to create this variety. Champion pumpkins may weigh between 50 and 125 pounds or more! The flesh is a delicate yellow-orange tint with white stripes going vertically across it, similar to tiger stripes!
- The Crimson Kuri Pumpkin has dark green skin with red streaks going down its sides and across its top surface; it also has fewer seeds than other pumpkin kinds.
Ways To Use Pumpkin
Pumpkin is one of the most versatile vegetables out there, and it’s also very easy to grow. It has many uses, from fresh eating to cooking and baking.
Pumpkin is a vegetable that can be eaten fresh or cooked, and it’s also an ingredient in many recipes.
Here are some ways you can use pumpkin in your daily diet:
- Eating Fresh: As long as the skin isn’t damaged, you may eat pumpkin fresh when it’s still firm. The skin should be brilliant orange and smooth, with no wrinkles or soft spots. After cutting the fruit in half and scraping the pulp inside with a spoon, the seeds may be extracted. For a nutritious snack, you may either bake or simmer the pulp.
- Adding Pumpkin to Soup: Pumpkin is a great addition to the soup when making it for dinner or lunch at work. Cut some pumpkin into cubes or slices, then sauté them in butter till golden brown before adding them to the soup pot while you simmer the rest of your ingredients (like chicken stock). Spice it up with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger for added taste!
- Pies: The pumpkin pie tastes delicious and is also healthful. Because of the sweetness supplied by the condensed milk or cream cheese, the pie made with cream cheese and condensed milk taste even better than other pies. To make your pies tastier, you may also add chocolate chips, nuts, or cinnamon powder.
FAQs Related To Pumpkin Growing Stages
How Often Should I Water Pumpkin?
If you’re growing a pumpkin from seed, it’s important to water it regularly. The pumpkin plant needs at least 1 inch of water per week to grow properly.
The amount of water your particular pumpkin plant needs depends on the weather and soil conditions where you live.
If you’re growing pumpkins in containers, use a soaker hose or other type of watering tool that waters deeply and slowly rather than just wetting the top layer of soil.
If you’re growing your pumpkins in a garden bed, consider mulching around them to conserve moisture and keep weeds down. Mulch is especially helpful if you live in a dry climate or if your soil tends to dry out quickly after rainstorms or watering events.
Can Pumpkin Be Planted Indoors?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is that it depends on what variety you’re planting.
If you want to grow a large pumpkin for carving or for pies, then you need to start your seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost date in your area.
If you want to grow small pumpkins for roasting, then it’s fine to plant them directly into the garden when they are big enough.
If you live in an area where the summers are very hot and there is no danger of frost, then you can even plant your pumpkin seeds directly into the garden once they have sprouted.
But if you live in an area where there are cold winters and frosts every year, then starting them indoors is essential for good germination rates and healthy plants that will produce tasty pumpkins later in the summer.
How Many Pumpkins Do You Get Per Plant?
The number of pumpkins you can get from one plant will depend on a few factors.
First, determine which type of pumpkin you’re growing. Smaller ones may produce fewer fruits, but they can also be used to make jack-o’-lanterns. Larger pumpkins are typically used for cooking or carving.
If you’re growing just one plant, expect it to yield between 15 and 20 pumpkins at most. If you have multiple plants, that number may increase significantly.
For example, the average yield for a single vine is about 20 fruits, but if you have three vines growing together, this increases to 60 fruits per vine!
Thank you for reading our blog post on pumpkin growing stages. We hope that you found this information useful and learned a little bit more about the process of growing pumpkins. Be sure to check back soon for more gardening tips and tricks!