pumpkin plant in container

How To Start Growing Pumpkins In Containers

Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Real Men Sow

When the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees F and all dangers of frost have passed, sow the pumpkins in the container in spring. Pumpkin should be planted from seeds. However, you can grow seedlings in biodegradable containers to lessen transplant shock. To grow pumpkins in a container, you will need a large container that can hold at least 20-25 gallons of pumpkin plants. To support the growth of your pumpkin plants, you will need a support system.

How Long Does It Take To Grow Pumpkins?

Pumpkins are heavy eaters so make sure you add lots of compost before planting. Plan to fertilize your pumpkins throughout the growing season. Depending on which variety you choose, it can take pumpkins 90 to 120 days before they reach full maturity.

Everybody should at least try growing pumpkins once in their lives. It is fun to see these large orange fruits get bigger each day. Kids love growing pumpkins in their gardens. You can grow pumpkins in pots regardless of where you live, no matter if you have a small backyard in the suburbs or a large patio in the middle of the city.

Growing Pumpkins In Containers

Know When To Plant Pumpkins

Pumpkins cannot withstand frost so they should be planted in containers when temperatures are above 65°F. You can plant them in any USDA zone between April and May, depending on where you live. You can plant in July if you live in a warmer climate without frost to get a later harvest close to October or November. However, people who live in tropical or subtropical climates can grow pumpkins all year.

Get The Right Sized Container For Your Pumpkin Plants

Growing pumpkins in pots are as simple as choosing the right size pot. The wrong size pot will cause your pumpkin to die. It needs enough space for roots to grow, so make sure you get it just right. For smaller pumpkin varieties, a pot should be 10 gallons. You will need a larger pot if you wish to grow larger cultivars such as those used for making Jack-o-lanterns.

How Deep Should The Container Be For Growing Pumpkins?

To be able to grow pumpkins, the pots should be between 20-24 inches in depth. Some gardeners have had success with pumpkins growing in 6-foot-wide plastic swimming pools. This is a unique and affordable way to grow pumpkins.

Make sure that the containers are able to drain. The pumpkins do not like standing water so ensure that the bottom of any pot you choose has enough holes for the water to drain. You can often use a drill to make holes in containers that don’t have holes.

Position The Pot So That It Gets 4-6 Hours Of Sun Each Day

These containers can be quite large and you won’t want it to move once they are filled with soil and large plants. Before you can start growing pumpkins, it is important to choose the right location. Even if you are growing a small pumpkin cultivar, they need to be in the sunniest spot on your patio. These plants require at least six hours of sunshine each day. Plants that are too shaded will experience slow growth and may retain too much moisture. This can lead to mildew.

Get The Soil Ready To Plant Pumpkin Pots

A bagged soilless mixture is best for container growth. These mixes are designed to provide nutrients and moisture for the plants. You can see that pumpkins are heavy feeders. They can grow to huge sizes. This plant requires a lot of nutrients so soil that is high in humus is essential. You should use potting soil that has been enriched with compost. It also retains water.

Do not worry about adding too much compost or manure. You will need enough for your pumpkins. After mixing it into your soil, plant it to add more compost to the top. Make sure you check the soil pH range of your container. Pumpkins like a pH range of 6 to 7.2.

Plant The Pumpkin Seeds Or Seedlings In Containers

It is better to plant seeds in pots than to transplant seedlings that you have started indoors. Pumpkins can become root-bound very quickly so it is best to do this. To avoid transplant shock, ensure that you transfer seedlings purchased from a nursery promptly.

Prefer Biodegradable Containers

Use biodegradable containers if you are sowing seeds indoors. It is easier to transplant seedlings indoors because you don’t have to disturb the roots. Start with 3 to 4 seeds per pot. Then, thin it down to one or two depending on the size of your plant. The size of the container will determine whether you keep one or more seedlings.

Each seed should be planted 1-2 inches below the soil surface. It can make it more difficult for the seeds to emerge from dirt if they are planted deeper than recommended. The seeds usually germinate in 5-10 days.

Create A Support System for pumpkins 

You need to consider the size of these plants. A sturdy and large trellis should be installed that can support them. It is best to keep the vines from growing on your patio or ground as it can spread bacteria. To support their pumpkin vines, most gardeners use an A-shape tree trellis. To prevent the plant from contracting diseases, trellis should be kept away from walls.

You’ll need to train your vines to climb the support system as your plant grows. It’s actually much simpler than you might think. You just need to move the tendrils along the trellis. To aid in growth, the tendrils will naturally attach to anything that is near them. Slings help keep the fruits in place as they develop. They’ll fall and possibly snap the vines if they don’t get slings. Gardeners often use pantyhose to cover the fruit and attach it to the trellis.

How To Care For Pumpkins Growing In Containers

You have pumpkin plants that are happy to grow in their pots. Now you need to make sure they stay happy. This is how to care for pumpkin plants that are growing in containers.

Watering

You must water your plants frequently. Pumpkins need to be watered frequently, just like melons and gourds. Pumpkins love moist soil so make sure to water them regularly. Each plant requires one inch of water each week. You must also ensure that you water the plant at the base and not the leaves.

Mulching

Mulching pumpkin plants around is a great idea. Mulch your pumpkin plants only when they are just a few inches high. You don’t want to accidentally cover them with mulch. Mulching is good for pumpkin plants because it slows down the rate at which water evaporates from the soil and retains more moisture. It can also water the soil in late spring and keep it cooler in summer.

Always Fertilize Pumpkin Plants

Pumpkins are heavy feeders. If you want to harvest a good crop, then expect to use a lot more fertilizers. For larger pumpkins, it is important to begin with fertile, rich soil. This step can be covered if you follow the instructions to add plenty of compost to the container.

You’ll need to fertilize your plants in the beginning stages to ensure they grow larger. You can then reduce the nitrogen in your plant’s soil by switching to a 5–15-15 fertilizer rich in potassium, phosphorus, and lower nitrogen. Every other week, apply 5-15-15 fertilizer. This fertilizer should be applied every other week until the plant produces flowers and is large enough.

Hand Pollination

If you want to get fruit from your plants, pollination is vital. You may need to use bees or other pollinators if the flowers aren’t being pollinated. Female flowers will have an oval, or the beginning of a pumpkin at the base of their flowers, which appears a few days later than the male flowers. The pollen required to pollinate female flowers is provided by the male flowers.

Hand pollinating flowers is possible by using a cotton swab. Gently move the cotton swab around inside the male flower to collect pollen. Next, collect the pollen and then rub the swab into the female flower. You just played the garden-style role of the birds, bees and butterflies!

Handling Pests And Diseases When Growing Pumpkins In Containers

Many diseases and pests can affect pumpkin plants. These are some of the possible problems that pumpkin plants might face as they grow.

Squash Mosaic

Although symptoms of squash mosaic can vary, they are most often characterized by mottled leaves and blisters. Infected plants often have stunted growth and malformed fruits. Squash mosaic is a virus transmitted by infected seeds. It is spread by cucumber beetles.

This virus can only be managed by planting certified disease-free seed. Keep your garden beds free of any debris to reduce the chance of cucumber beetles coming in.

Phytophthora Blight

You might have phytophthora disease if your plants suddenly and permanently wilt but their leaves don’t change in color. The plant usually dies in a matter of days. Roots and stems that are very close to the soil will be discolored and can be removed easily.

This disease is not treatable if it occurs in warm and humid conditions. Avoid saturated soil and don’t water for prolonged periods of time.

Aphids

Aphids, small, soft-bodied insects, like to stick to the stems and undersides of leaves. The infestation can lead to yellowing of the leaves if it becomes too severe. Aphids produce a sticky substance which can encourage mold growth on plants. The leaves may develop necrotic spots or stunted shoots.

With a water hose, you can get rid of the aphids. The majority of insecticides are used to control severe infestations. To control the population, you can also try using an insecticide soap or oil such as neem oil.

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetle infestations can cause stunted or diseased seedlings and leaves. You might notice symptoms such as bacterial wilt or scarring on the fruit due to the beetles. These beetles can stay in soil and leaf residue left over from the previous season. They emerge from the soil when temperatures rise.

Be aware of signs that beetles are present on your plants. To protect your plants against these pests, and also to prevent damage to your plants, you can use floating row cover. You can also try using kaolin clay to manage small numbers.

Squash Bug

Squash bugs can cause yellowing and browning of leaves, as well as wilting. These pests can also lead to the death or blemishing of fruits. Squash bugs are gray-black, with orange and black stripes along their abdomens. These bugs love to stay in the dirt and debris that is left underneath plants and rocks.

After harvesting, you should remove all crop residue and crop debris. Row covers are a good option to protect your plants from pests. You can also use insecticide soaps or oils.

Harvesting Container Grown Pumpkins

It’s time for you to harvest your pumpkins after 90-120 days depending on which variety of pumpkin you grow. This is the moment you have waited for. You must first make sure that your pumpkins have reached maturity and are ready to harvest. You can test maturity by pressing your fingernail into the pumpkin rind.

A mature pumpkin can withstand the pressure. If the pumpkin is not sounding hollow, you can knock it. This indicates that it is time to pick it. It’s now time to pick your pumpkin. You don’t want the fruit to be pulled off the vine. You can also snap the vine, as you might imagine, and this will cause damage to any other fruit on the vines. Instead, you can use a pair or pruning shears to cut the vine. You will need to leave a 10cm long stem and then use the shears/knives to trim the vine.

Storing Pumpkins

Pumpkins are incredibly versatile. You can harvest them and keep them for up to a month. Pumpkins were a popular choice for our ancestors because they can last so long in attics or root cellars. Proper storage requires a dark, dry, and dark place, such as a basement or root cellar. These locations can hold pumpkins for up to five month if they are kept in the right conditions.

The Best Pumpkin Varieties For Container Gardening

If you are growing pumpkins in pots it is best to choose smaller pumpkins. They should weigh between 2 and 5 lbs and be 6-10 inches wide. These pumpkins can also be grown in pots. These are just a few of the many varieties you should consider:

Baby Bear

This pumpkin variety matures in 105 days and is half the size of a regular pumpkin. Baby bear pumpkins can be used to bake pies. They can be as large as 6 inches in width and up to 2 pounds in weight.

Baby Boo

This is a miniature, creamy white pumpkin measuring approximately 2-3 inches in size. The flesh is edible and turns pale yellow when fully ripe. This is why it’s best to harvest this variety before it reaches full maturity.

Bushkin

The vines are compact and bushy, making them ideal for small gardens or containers. These pumpkins can be used for carving or pie making and weigh up to 10 lbs.

Jack Be Little

Jack Be Little is an excellent choice if you’re looking to grow miniature pumpkins as ornamental decorations. They are also edible. They mature at around 8 ounces and can be stored for between 8-12 weeks after harvesting.

Small Sugar 

This variety is often called New England Pie. It takes up to 105days to mature. This pie pumpkin is delicious and can weigh in at 5-8 pounds. The majority of sugar pumpkins are grown for their kitchen purposes, such as baking or canning. This is an heirloom pumpkin from the pre-Civil War.

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