An Essential Guide to Growing Pumpkins—From Planting Seeds to Harvest
One of the best things about Halloween is choosing the perfect pumpkin at the patch or store, then spending the afternoon deciding how to carve it, drinking apple cider, and pondering how you plan to craft your costume. But if you want to save yourself a trip (and test your green thumb), you can also opt to grow your very own pumpkins.
Caring for homegrown pumpkins when they're in the ground can be a time-intensive process, but as long as you set a routine, there will be big orange gourds in your garden in just a few months. Here, Danny Watson, a garden center associate at The Home Depot, shares his best tips for planting and growing pumpkins from seeds.
When to Plant Pumpkins
The best time to plant pumpkin seeds is from late May to early July, so you can enjoy them in the fall. You can choose store-bought seeds that are ready for planting or collect the seeds from a pumpkin you just carved—it's a pretty easy task. Before you plant pumpkin seeds, keep in mind that you'll need plenty of room in your backyard to space out the seeds, so aspiring pumpkin growers who lack substantial outdoor space might want to stick to the pumpkin patch or store.
How to Plant Pumpkin Seeds
Top Pumpkin Growing Tips
How Long Does it Take for Pumpkins to Grow and When Should You Harvest?
Pumpkins typically have a growing season of 75 to 100 days. A few weeks before it's time to harvest, remove any leaves that are shading the plant—this will help give the pumpkins more color.
"A sign of a ripe pumpkin is when the outside is the proper coloring and the skin is hard to the touch," Watson says. "The stem is also a sign of the pumpkins' ripeness. They will be dry to the touch and begin to shrivel."
When the pumpkin is ready, wear gloves and cut the stem one to four inches, keeping in mind that if you cut it too short, it will not store as long. After cutting the stem, place the pumpkin in the sun for 10 to 14 days to harden and ripen properly.