How To Control Pumpkin Vines [6 Practical Tips!]

How to Control Pumpkin Vines (6 Practical Tips!)One integral part of the pumpkin plant is its vines. Providing them with proper maintenance is essential for a successful harvest. Learn to know how to control pumpkin vines with our following mini guide. Growing them in your garden is not rocket science. If you provide them with the right soil temperatures and necessary conditions, they can thrive. Controlling pumpkin vines is one of the essential steps in the maintenance of pumpkins.

To control pumpkin vines, you need to understand their growth. Not many know that once the main vines of a pumpkin plant have established properly, secondary and tertiary vines also start to appear. All the vines need to be pruned for proper pumpkin growth and also covered in soil to promote disease prevention.

Along with controlling the vines from growing absurdly and becoming a hurdle in the successful growth of pumpkins, they also need to be provided with some general care. The vines need at least six hours of sunlight a day. In addition, the vines are known to need about 2.5 centimeters of water every seven days. Learn more about their growth, maintenance, and general care.

Growth of the Vines

Pumpkin vines do not appear right after you plant your seeds. After about 1 to 2 weeks of sowing the pumpkin seeds, sprouts that look like small leaves appear from the ground. About after a week of the sprouts appearing, dark green leaves with jagged edges start emerging. They continue to grow for a few more weeks after which vines start to become apparent.


In the initial stage, they just look like thin green threads, although that changes soon. Regardless of the pumpkin species you’ve planted, the vines grow in the same manner. They start spreading rapidly and tend to get tangled with each other. After the proper establishment of vines, secondary vines start showing too. The pumpkin fruit actually grows on them, therefore, it is necessary to keep them maintained and in proper health.

Click here to buy pumpkin seeds on Amazon.

Secondary Vines

Secondary vines, also known as runners or side shoots, grow rapidly along the main vine. They are to be encouraged if you want your fruit to thrive. But their growth needs to be managed and controlled through methods like pruning.

It is also important that you train the secondary vines to grow out and far from the main vine and the pumpkin fruit itself. As they need to be cut off, you wouldn’t want the pumpkin fruit coming in the way. Doing so also prevents overcrowding and thus provides you with enough room to water, spray insecticides, and generally maintain the plant. Tertiary vines are those that grow further off the secondary ones. It is recommended to trim them to encourage pumpkin growth.

Secondary Roots

These roots establish on the vine at the base of each leaf stem. They are essential and their growth needs to be encouraged as much as possible. They help the pumpkin plant to efficiently withstand windstorms. They develop when the vine comes in contact with the ground where the seeds are planted. Moist soil also promotes its growth; therefore you can cover the root nodes of the vines with rich garden soil for the purpose. Compost and mulch can be added to the soil to boost the organic matter and lock the moisture in.

One more thing that you need to take care of is training these roots away from your fruit. They cause the vines to attach to the ground and thus it becomes impossible for them to move with the growth of the pumpkin fruit. This contributes greatly to stem stress and can cause them to split. One con associated with covering your secondary roots with soil is that you don’t know what is going on below the surface but the prevention from insect damage and thriving fruits are worth the risk.

Pruning the Pumpkin Vines

Things you’ll need

  • Leather gardening hand gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Rich soil


Take Precautions

Firstly, you need to put on some heavy leather gardening hand gloves to protect your hands from getting cut or bruised by the sharp vines while working on them.

Cut the Tertiary Vines

Now use your pruning shears to cut the tertiary vines growing out from the secondary ones as soon as they start developing. Cut them right from where they meet the secondary vines.

Cut the Secondary Vines

Measure your secondary vines cut about ten to twelve ft along the joint where they meet the main vine. After taking measurements, cut them with your hand pruning shears.

Cover the Vines with Soil for Disease Prevention

Once you’ve made your cut, the plant will be open and prone to diseases and infections. To prevent any disease or fungus from entering the plant and to minimize the water loss, cover the cut ends of the secondary vines with soil. Make sure the soil you use is rich. You can add mulch to your soil for natural enrichment.

Cut the Main Vines

Let the main vine develop until pumpkin fruit begins to emerge. Cut these vines with your hand pruning shears about ten to fifteen ft beyond the last pumpkin fruit on the vine. A single pumpkin can have 2 to 3 main vines, and it is possible to have 1 healthy pumpkin fruit produced on each vine. Start with determining which pumpkin fruit is the healthiest out of all of them and then remove any later fruits as they grow. As the main vine keeps developing rapidly, continue to cut them as required so that the plant concentrates on using its energy on developing the pumpkin fruit instead of on growing the main vine.

Once again after cutting the main vine as required, cover its cut end with rich soil. It will prevent any diseases from entering the plant and will help in preserving the plant’s moisture.

Train the Secondary Vines

At this step, it is important to train the secondary vines to grow away from the fruit and the main vine so that they don’t overlap and form a clutter by intertwining with each other. Relocate the secondary vines at an angle of ninety degrees from the main vine. This will provide you with enough space for fruit development and maintenance, increased air circulation, and you’ll have better access to the main vine.

Click here to buy pruning shears on Amazon.

Click here to buy gardening hand gloves on Amazon.

Click here to buy mulch on Amazon.

General Pumpkin Vine Care

All the nutrients and beneficial matter reach the pumpkin fruit through the vines so it’s of utmost importance that you keep them healthy.

Sunlight and Water

The pumpkin vines need at least six hours of sunlight to thrive. The warmer your soil is the better. Along with the sunshine, they also need a significant amount of water. It is recommended that the pumpkin vines should get about two and a half centimeters of water every seven days.

Prevention of Diseases and Pests

Pumpkin vines are likely to get one of these two diseases: powdery mildew and bacterial wilt. Without proper care, this illness can damage and kill your entire crop. The vine borer and pumpkin beetle are two common insects that are known to damage pumpkin plants. You can use organic insecticidal soap or antifungal spray to get rid of those pests. You can also pluck them off from the pumpkin vines as you find them. If some of your vines are already infected, the best way known to control the disease from spreading is to dig the vines up and burn them.

Click here to buy organic insecticide on Amazon.

Harvest Time!

Pumpkin vines are known to retain their green color and remain fresh and healthy until it is almost time to harvest the fruit. During that time, the vines start to wither, die, and decompose. This is not something you need to panic about. It simply indicates that it’s harvest time! If you’ve provided the necessary care to them, your pumpkins won’t be compromised.

Read more:

How and when to harvest pumpkins

23 cool things to do with pumpkins (not just eating and decorating!)

How to Grow Squash in a Vertical Garden

How To Grow Pumpkins Successfully


  1. I have a specific question about pumpkins. Last winter a pumpkin I had in the house was rotting, so I threw it out the back door into a garden area. Early this summer I saw this gigantic leaf where I have black-eyed susans planted. I researched the leaves and am pretty sure I have a pumpkin growing, plus there are blossoms.
    I don’t know if I’ll yield actual pumpkins or not; hence my question. The vines are not close to the ground, but are very hearty growing amongst the black-eyed susans. Is it likely that there will be actual pumpkins or am I just getting a strong and healthy vine? Thanks.

    • Hi Mary,
      Whether or not you’ll get fruit would depend on pollination. If there are pollinating bugs flying around, you could be seeing some pumpkins developing from the flowers. Good luck!

    • Hi Lynda,
      Sorry to hear your pumpkins are giving you so much trouble! Have you tried any of the solutions suggested in this post?

  2. Hi Anne,

    Thank you for your article – I have been searching for ages for easy to understand “how to prune your pumpkin” advice. So many use complicated phrases and little instruction! I am now ready to approach my crazy pumpkin patch with confidence and re-claim my garden 🙂

  3. I feel really overwhelmed and confused by the information presented here. I’m having some trouble understanding which parts I’m meant to prune/cover etc. Some photos or even a diagram would definitely be helpful to go with this information. It seems like great and descriptive info, I’m just a really visual person and I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I’m really afraid of cutting or covering the wrong things. Do you know of any diagrams of the plant that might help me understand better? I’m sort of lost on the Tertiary vine, secondary vines and secondary roots. I went out and looked at my plants, but I’m still feeling a little lost.

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