After 10 generations’ worth of genetic mutation, Roy Pearman laid claim to one of the most visually-iconic pumpkin species seen today: the Knucklehead pumpkin. The warts are not symptoms of a disease but rather an aesthetic addition to a squash that serves as well on your porch as it does in your kitchen. How, then, can you grow some of these striking pumpkins for yourself?
What is a Knucklehead Pumpkin?
Knucklehead pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita pepo family, making them cousins to the zucchini. These pumpkins aren’t pure relations, though. They’re hybrids bred for their lumpy appearance.
These “Superfreak” gourds came to be courtesy of Siegers Seed Co. They’re also referred to as “warty goblin” pumpkins or “red warty things.”
Knucklehead pumpkins are yellow-orange in color. Their cylindrical bodies are usually symmetrical save for their green, red, or brown bumps, or “warts”.
How to Grow Knucklehead Pumpkins
Knucklehead pumpkins can take root as soon as the weather starts to warm. It takes about 110 days for these pumpkins to reach maturity, so getting the how-to of their growth right is essential to a successful harvest.
Where Do You Grow Knucklehead Pumpkins?
You should plant your Knucklehead pumpkin seeds once the soil in your garden consistently reads at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If summer is running late, you can start your seeds in 4-inch pots indoors.
The Knucklehead Pumpkin Basics
- Size - at full maturity, Knucklehead pumpkins weigh between 12 and 16 pounds. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and 10 inches in width.
- Growing Zones - your Knucklehead pumpkins will thrive in warm soil. Knucklehead pumpkin mounds between 12 and 18 inches in height will help your garden generate that necessary warmth.
- Soil Type - ideal Knucklehead pumpkin soil is well-fertilized with a neutral pH. That said, Knucklehead pumpkins are hearty and can thrive in clay soils that don’t retain too much water.
- Light - because Knucklehead pumpkins enjoy basking in the sun, plant your seeds in full light or in areas that only see a touch of shade.
- Water - the ground around your Knucklehead pumpkins should be damp upon watering, not oversaturated.
- Fertilization - Knucklehead pumpkins love fertilizer. Make sure you integrate compost and organic fertilizers into your pumpkin mounds to see the best Knucklehead growth.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Knucklehead Pumpkins
Follow these steps from spring to fall, and you’ll see a successful Knucklehead pumpkin harvest:
Step 1: Choose Your Location
Find a spot that allows you to plant bushing varieties 3-4 feet apart and vining varieties 4-5 feet apart. This spot should also receive full sunlight throughout the summer.
Step 2: Prep Your Location
Knucklehead pumpkin mounds should take up one square foot of space and have flat roofs. Keep 3-4 feet of distance between your mounds.
When building your mounds, integrate ½ cup of organic fertilizer and a quart’s worth of compost into your mound to provide your Knucklehead pumpkins with the appropriate amount of nutrients.
Step 3: Plant Your Seeds
Once the ground consistently registers at temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you’re clear to plant your Knucklehead pumpkin seeds. If you haven’t started your seeds indoors, plant them directly into the soil at a depth of one inch.
If you’re transplanting Knucklehead seedlings, harden your transplants in advance. Plant one seedling per mound, taking care not to disturb their root systems.
Step 4: Keep the Soil Moist
Water your mounds just enough to dampen them. Repeat this dampening at least twice per week or when the ground grows dry.
Step 5: Let Them Grow
Knucklehead pumpkins take 110 or so days to reach maturity, so step back and let nature do its job!
Step 6: Harvest Your Pumpkins
When the stems of your pumpkins are no longer naturally damp and the skin of your pumpkins is stiff, it’s time to bring your harvest inside. Remove the pumpkins from their bushes or vines with pruning shears, leaving a stem of at least 1 ½ inches in length attached.
Step 7: Storage
Keep Knucklehead pumps in a warm, dry location that ranges between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity.
What Can You Do With Knucklehead Pumpkins?
You can cook Knucklehead pumpkins into any manner of tasty fall dishes. You can even celebrate the pumpkin in its entirety by making Cook with Haley’s Knucklehead Pumpkin Soup. Combine roasted Knucklehead pumpkin with other fall favorites, like home-grown carrots and onions, to properly appreciate the fruits of your labor.
You’re more likely to see Knucklehead pumpkins on front porches around Halloween, though, than you are to see them at a kitchen table. The lumpy appearance of these gourds makes them ideal for spooky designs. They can also serve as unusual additions to your fall interior design.
Knucklehead Pumpkin Photo Gallery
A Collage of Color
Though Knucklehead pumpkins will always have a base orange-to-red color, their warts have great potential for variety! The green growths on these pumpkins aren’t anything to be wary of but rather a genetic variation to be celebrated.
Sizes for Everyone
While Knucklehead pumpkins tend to be on the larger size, some, like this one, don’t grow to be quite so big. If you’re looking for a smaller Knucklehead pumpkin to place on your mantel, you’ll be able to find one!
Knucklehead pumpkins are called “red warty things” for a reason! Check out the texture on these ripe beauties, and you’ll see why Knucklehead pumpkins make spooky front-porch material.
Ideal for An Eclectic Interior
If you’re looking to spruce up your seasonal decor, Knucklehead pumpkins add a pop of strangeness to the average fall display.
Ripe and Red-y
Not all Knucklehead pumpkins are bright orange! This pumpkin, for example, embraces its redder roots with off-colored warts to match.
Looking for a heartier pumpkin to put on your front porch this year? Knuckleheads’ natural warts make them all the creepier on Halloween night.
Something to Hold Onto
A dried-out stem is the perfect indicator of a Knucklehead’s ripeness. Once the stem is no longer damp, you’re ready to bring your Knuckleheads into your home (just make sure you leave yourself a handle to hold onto).
Where to Buy Knucklehead Pumpkins Online
Want to get your Knucklehead seeds without going to the store? There are a number of merchants that’ll sell you variety packs online.
Rose Wenon Amazon will sell you 50 Knucklehead pumpkin seeds at a time.
Gram’s Garden offers 3 “Goosebump” pumpkin seeds per packet through Amazon’s market. “Goosebump” pumpkins are an off-shoot of Knuckleheads and may appear bumpier than their cousins.
Gram’s Garden also offers you 4 “Bunch O’ Warts” pumpkin seeds per pack. These pumpkins will range between 15 and 20 pounds and are perfect for folks looking for larger gourds.