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Have limited space in your garden and wondering whether you can grow a pumpkin plant in a pot? Or maybe you're living in an apartment and the only option to plant pumpkins is in planters and pots?
The good news is that you can grow pumpkins in pots. If you choose the right container and take good care for your plants - and you should be able to see a good yield by the following autumn. In this post, we'll show you exactly how to do that.
Growing pumpkins in pots - the basics
Pumpkins are a complete package when it comes to carving them for ornamental purposes or creating delicious sweet and savory courses with them. A long growing season is required for growing this yellowish-orange fruit. Even if you don't have a large enough outdoor space to grow the delectable fruit, you don't need to worry. With rich soil, necessary space, and the required care, pumpkins can thrive in your pots and containers.
To grow pumpkins in a pot, follow these few simple steps:
- Choose the right container.
- Find the right kind of pumpkin.
- Fill with fertile potting soil with good drainage.
- Position the container in a sunny location.
- Mulch to help keep the soil moist.
- Keep watered.
- Install a trellis if desired. Fruit will need to be supported with slings if you choose this route.
- Harvest when ready.
Growing pumpkins in pots or containers are as easy as growing them in the garden. Below we dive into the details of each step to help your pumpkin crop be a huge success.
Selecting a Pot
Whether you are planning to grow large pumpkins or small ones, you need large pots to do so. The bigger the container will be, the better. You need to provide the vines with enough space to spread. For small pumpkin varieties, a large-sized pot of about 10 gallons is suitable. For larger varieties, a 20 to 24 inches deep container of about 15 to 25 gallons would be necessary. Remember, whichever pot you choose, it needs to have sufficient drainage available for your plants.
Choosing the Right Kind of Pumpkin
Did you know there are dozens and dozens of pumpkin varieties? Some pumpkins can be huge, while others are smaller - with every possible size in between. When choosing the right kind of pumpkin, take the size of your container into consideration. Mini pumpkins are perfect for a smaller space. We'll get more into recommended varieties for indoor growing in pots later in this post.
The good news is that it's easy to order seeds online, which means you have a huge selection of pumpkin varieties to choose from. Check out our post about where to buy garden pumpkin seeds online to see all available options.
Choosing the Optimum Soil
For the soil, a temperature of about 21ºC or more would do, but optimally it should be 35ºC. Pumpkins need a lot of nutrition, and they prefer soil that is very rich and is not too moist. You can add mature compost to the soil to contribute to the organic matter and the structure of the soil you're about to plant the seeds in. You can prepare your soil in advance by pouring it in your pot and digging old manure about 12-13 inches deep in it or by mixing 2 to 3 layers of compost to loosened soil.
Whether you plant your seeds directly in the earth or in pots, you need to make sure that you choose the right time to do so. They require about a hundred frost-free days to thrive; therefore, it is best to let all the frost pass before you start growing your pumpkins. Remember, the warmer the soil, the faster the process. In cooler climates, you can plant them from April to late May and in warmer climates, till July. If the climate around you is tropical and frost-free, you may be able to grow them all year.
Positioning the Pot
It is best to place your pot in a place where there is plenty of sunlight available. They need about 6 hours of sunlight a day to thrive. Moisture and cold will slow their growth and result in fungus growth. Wherever you decide to place your pot, make sure it receives proper air circulation.
Planting Pumpkin Seeds in Pots
Plant your seeds about 1 to 2 inches deep in the soil. Digging them any deeper can cause them to have trouble emerging from the soil. Under proper conditions, in a week or two, dark green leaves with jagged edges will start appearing. After their growth, the vines keep getting taller and taller, and the pumpkin plant will begin to grow.
As the pumpkin vines expand, they spread all around. It is necessary to situate a big and durable trellis to support them. Trellis formed in the shape of an A is a good choice. Keep it at a distance from your walls to avoid any infections or illnesses. As the vines grow and expand, train them to grow in a particular structure and snip of any unwanted ones without disturbing the roots.
Providing Them with the Necessary Care
Garden fabric or row covers make for a great gardener's tool. Use them to protect your plants from cold, wind, and insects. Remove row covers before flowering to allow easy pollination.
Watering the plants is necessary. Water one inch per week, but make sure you keep the water away from foliage and fruit. They need to be kept dry to avoid rotting and other diseases.
Add mulch around your plants to keep the dampness locked in, and repel the pests. Avoid over-cultivating else the roots may become subject to damage.
Do Not Overuse Insecticides
Pollination is an important process, and bees are essential for it to occur. Apply the insecticides when the blossoms are closed. You can also attract bees with a bee house.
Vines add up to the quality of the fruit. Try not to damage them during the process. If they seem to be going out of control, you may need to do something, though. Read this guide about how to control pumpkin vines for some helpful strategies.
Natural or Hand Pollination
Pollination is the essential factor to get fruit from your plants. Attract bees near your plants. The female flowers appear a few days after the male ones appear. The male flowers produce the pollen that fertilizes the female flowers, which have an expanded ovary at the time that transforms into a pumpkin after pollination. To hand pollinate, you can use a cotton bud to move the pollen from the males to the females. About seven days after the female flowers appear, you will see that the pumpkins start forming.
Still not sure what pollination is? Read our guide about pollination vs. fertilization in plants.
Harvesting the Fruit
Once the pollination is performed successfully, the pumpkin starts to grow mature. The pumpkin starts growing larger, and its color starts transforming according to the variety you have planted. Once the pumpkins ripen, the stems die, denoting that its harvest time. Press the pumpkin rind with your fingernail and see that it does leave an imprint, that's when it's time to harvest. Cut the stem a few inches from the pumpkin and store your fruit in a warm place where the temperature is around 25ºC for about two weeks. This will ensure a longer life span. After this, store your fruit in a cool, dry place with temperatures between 10ºC to 12ºC.
Read more: How and when to harvest pumpkins.
Pumpkin Varieties Suitable to be Grown in Pots
Although larger varieties of pumpkins can be grown in huge containers, the smaller ones are more suitable for pot gardening. Here are a few small pumpkin varieties that you can grow in pots:
Jack Be Little
Jack Be Little is a variety of miniature pumpkins used for ornamental purposes and is edible as well. They weigh around 8 ounces, are flat and ribbed. This tasty treat lasts for about eight to twelve weeks if provided with the necessary care.
Baby Boo is a creamy, white variety of tiny pumpkins. It is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and its white-colored flesh is edible. When fully ripe, the color turns into pale yellow; therefore, it is best to harvest it before the fruit achieves complete maturity.
These pumpkins add well to your assorted Halloween decorations. They are covered in green, orange, and white-colored spots and smears. The fruit is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches tall.
Mini-Jack is an easy-to-grow variety of pumpkins. The ribbed fruit is approximately 3 to 4 inches in diameter. It can be carved and used for ornamentation. It is also edible, so you can use it to make delicious delicacies.
Lil Pump Ke Mon
Lil Pump Ke Mon is a ribbed pumpkin variety that consists of orange and green stripes. It weighs about 1 to 2 pounds.
Growing Pumpkins in Containers Indoors
If you do not have space in your garden, you can grow pumpkins in a container indoors, so long as the plant has plenty of light and the vines are controlled. Choose a location that is warm and has full sun, and be sure to water and fertilize regularly.
Be sure to plant your seeds in a pot that is large enough to allow a trellis. As the vine grows, train it around the trellis to keep your vine in order, or they will grow across your floor.
The bigger difference between growing outdoor and indoors is the need to hand pollinate. Since plants grown indoors do not have pollinators available, to produce pumpkins, you will need to hand pollinate them, as explained in the section above. In order to do this, first, you will need to be able to tell the difference between male and female flowers. To learn more about this, check out our post, "What Are Pumpkin Flowers Like?"
How Much Soil Do Pumpkins Need?
Pumpkin plants need at least 10 gallons of soil in order to allow adequate growth of the root ball, but ideally would have 15-20 gallons. They are very thirsty plants as well, so the more soil they have, the longer they can go without being watered.
Jack-Be-Little Pumpkins in Containers
Smaller pumpkin varieties, like Jack-Be-Little, are perfect cultivar for growing in pots. Since the fruit is smaller and more light-weight, it can also be trellised more easily.
Want to learn more about growing pumpkins? We have a few suggested articles you can explore on our site -