Pumpkins are a fantastic addition to any vegetable garden, but their water needs can leave a gardener stumped. How much water do pumpkins need? We researched this in-depth so you can provide the proper care for your spooky plantings.
Pumpkins are between 80 and 90 percent water, so they need a lot of water. Around one inch of water, each week is the minimum. Pumpkins will need more water during times of heat and drought. It is crucial to plant pumpkins in well-draining soil. If you plant pumpkins in boggy ground they will be susceptible to root rot and other diseases.
We have researched high and low to come to this answer for you. Let's take a closer look at how often you need to water your pumpkins and the ideal ways to water your pumpkins.
How Much Water Do Pumpkins Need?
Because they are made up mostly of water, pumpkins need at least one inch of water each week. An inch of rain equals around 16 gallons of water on average, so make sure you have a sound watering system in place, whether it is manual or not.
Ideally, the soil should be evenly moist when the pumpkins are watered. This helps with evaporation and water absorption into the roots. Likewise, make sure you always water the soil and not the leaves. Water on leaves can promote diseases or funguses.
If you planted your young pumpkins in a mound, you could build a rim to form a "moat" for watering. This helps water stay low and absorb into the soil for the small plants to use. However, make sure to get the majority of the mound watered. If the plants' roots are not developed enough, they may not be able to reach the water in the "moat fully."
As pumpkins age, their water needs may continue to grow as their fruits develop and demand more water. Thankfully, at the same time, their roots also develop and can reach water deeper in the soil. Still, it is best to water your pumpkins at least an inch each week evenly.
If your pumpkins seem to demand water often, consider mulching your garden. Mulching can help the soil retain water. If you live in a hot area, using a light-colored, much like wood chips can also help reduce heat absorption and water evaporation.
Should You Water Pumpkins Every Day?
While you can water pumpkins every day, it is better to water pumpkins only a few times a week. Not only is it less of a time commitment, but it also helps your plants. Since pumpkins need around one inch (16 gallons) of water, work out a system that works for your scheduling needs. For example, perhaps you give your pumpkins eight gallons of water twice a week.
The primary drawback to watering pumpkins, and most plants, every day is they do not get deep root water. Even on plants without deep roots, it is best to let the water soak into the soil. This is especially important on hot days. Water at the top of the ground will evaporate faster. The roots will also not usually grow as deep if they always get a shallow watering.
By watering pumpkins in large amounts every few days rather than every day, you enable the plant to grow a healthy root system. This is especially important for pumpkins and other full-sun plants. Without a fully developed root system, plants may be more prone to drought damage.
When Should I Stop Watering My Pumpkins?
You should decrease how much you are watering your pumpkins as the fruits mature. Since the fruits use up the majority of water, the plant does not need as much as it develops. While around one inch is still recommended as the fruits mature, "listen" to your plant and the soil and adjust accordingly.
If you want to store your pumpkins over a long time there are some watering considerations. Ideally, significantly reduce or even stop watering your plants ten days before harvest. However, if you notice the leaves browning and suspect it needs water, do not be afraid to water it. Reducing soil moisture before harvest decreases moisture for long-term storage. This is especially helpful for avoiding mold.
If you see damage or yellowing leaves, make sure they are getting enough sun and nutrients. Think your pumpkins might not be getting enough sun? Check out this article to learn more about pumpkins' specific needs. If you think your pumpkins are low in a particular nutrient, check out this article on some great liquid fertilizers.
Fertilizers are a great option, even if your pumpkins are doing well. Not only can it improve the quantity of your pumpkin harvest, but it can also improve the quality of it as well. Water-soluble fertilizers are not the only option for pumpkins are a great option because of their watering needs; they also make sure the nutrients get quickly absorbed.
Water Conservative Pumpkin Varieties
Because of their small fruits, smaller pumpkin plants usually need less water. Here are a few compact bush varieties to consider. Both small and mini pumpkins need less water on average but are mostly used for decoration or eating. Let's take a look at some options.
Jack Be Little
Jack Be Littles and all the We Be Little pumpkin varieties are mini pumpkins. They are bright orange and baseball-sized. They also tend to be somewhat flat, making them great for decorating. If eaten, Jack Be Littles are generally sweet and suitable for pies.
Baby boo pumpkins are white mini pumpkins great for decorating and adding a pop of fall color. Baby boos can be eaten but are often used as a decoration. Their creeping vines also make a good ground cover that requires less water than the average pumpkin, making them easy to care for.
Small sugar pumpkins are, like their name suggests, small. While not as tiny as their mini counterparts, small sugars generally need less water than the average pumpkin and have an array of uses. Small kids can enjoy painting or carving these small pumpkins. Children tend to like them because they can enjoy watering this little, fast-growing pumpkin.
Want to learn more about how to grow great pumpkins? Check out these other posts about how to to make your pumpkins thrive.