Does growing pumpkins in Texas seem like an intimidating task to you? You need not worry. Contrary to what many believe, because of their long growing season, pumpkins thrive in Texas.
To plant pumpkins in Texas, follow these steps:
- Select the variety of pumpkin you’d like to harvest.
- Select a garden area.
- Plant your pumpkin seeds according to the best timing for your region in Texas.
- Provide your plant with the required conditions and necessary care for it to thrive.
- Harvest and store the fruit.
Texas is known to be the fourth leading state in pumpkin production. Except for a few additional details, growing pumpkins in Texas isn’t quite different from growing them in any other part of the world. The optimal time for planting pumpkin seeds in Texas is June. In Central Texas, they are usually planted in early summer, as pumpkins require warm and well-drained soil to germinate.
Learn to grow pumpkins in Texas in a few simple steps.
Grow Pumpkins in Texas (Step-by-Step Procedure)
Let's break down growing pumpkins in Texas, into a few simple steps.
Finding the right pumpkin variety for your needs
Did you know that there are dozens of kinds of pumpkins, in various shapes, colors and sizes? Check out our guide about the 73 types of pumpkins right here. And since pumpkins are really members of the squash family, this guide about 54 types of squash will also come handy. Once you have your heart set on the appropriate type, you can order your pumpkin seeds online in any of these top stores.
Selecting the Planting Area
As the climate in most parts of Texas is hot in summer, you can plant the seeds directly into the ground. In colder areas, you may need to grow your pumpkins in indoor pots and provide them with their required conditions. Pick a site where there’s an abundance of sunlight and there’s ample space for the vines to grow and scatter.
Usually, the vines require approximately 50-100 square feet per hill. Pumpkins need to consume a lot of organic matter so they prefer rich soil that is not too moist. 2 to 3 layers of mature compost or old manure can be added in the ground by digging it about 12 to 13 inches deep to create the optimum soil.
Sowing the Pumpkin Seeds
You first need to ensure that the soil’s temperature is perfect for planting the pumpkin seeds. It needs to be around 70ºF to 95ºF. The warmer your soil is, the quicker the growth pace will be.
You can either sow the seeds in a hill or in rows. With hills, sow about four to five seeds about one inch deep in them and maintain a distance of about four to seven feet between hills. With rows, plant the seeds about six to twelve inches apart and maintain a distance of about six to ten feet between rows.
In about a week, vines will start to emerge. You can cut off the unwanted vines without interfering with the roots.
- Cover the plants with row covers to prevent them from getting infected by pests carrying diseases and viruses. Remove those covers before the blossoms appear to let pollination occur.
- The pumpkin plants don’t thrive in extreme moisture but watering them 1 inch per week is vital. While watering, make sure you keep it away from the leaves and the fruit itself to avoid rotting.
- To repel infection carrying insects, add mulch around your plants. Don’t overdo this process; otherwise, the roots can get damaged.
- Using insecticides in excessive quantity is not recommended at all, as bees are very important for the success of the pollination process.
To get fruit from your plants, pollination is essential. Use a bee house to attract bees near your pumpkin plants. After about 8 to 9 weeks of sowing the seeds and a few days after the male blossoms appear, the female blossoms emerge. The male blossoms produce pollen that pollinates the females, which have an enlarged ovary at the time.
If natural pollination doesn’t occur due to any problems with the flower blooming, you can perform hand pollination. Simply use a cotton bud to transfer the pollen from the males to the females. After about a week, you should see the pumpkins taking form.
The harvesting period of Texas pumpkins starts in early September. 80% are known to be harvested in a three-week window for seasonal fall sales and 95% of the pumpkins are used for ornamental/seasonal novelty use.
After about 45-55 days of successful pollination, the pumpkin will mature. It would have grown bigger in size and changed colors according to the species you have planted. Once it ripens, the stem dies which denotes that it’s time to harvest the fruit.
Simply press your fingernail in the rind and see that there is no imprint left; this indicates harvest time. Cut the stem a few inches from the fruit to prevent the early rotting of the fruit. To ensure a longer life span, store your fruit in a warm place for about 14 days where the temperature is around 77ºF. Finally, store the pumpkin in a cool, dry place with temperatures between 50 and 54 ºF.
Read more: When and how to harvest pumpkins
Storing the Harvested Pumpkins in Texas
Simply wash and cut your pumpkin to prepare it in a variety of ways, like boiling, steaming, and baking. The pumpkin cubes are to be cooked till the pulp turns soft. Remove the softened pulp from the rind, make it into a puree, and leave it to cool. Pour the puree in an air-tight container and leave a little room for it to expand. Freeze the container and use as required.
Selecting Pumpkin Species that Thrive in Texas
Although the carving pumpkins you use for ornamental purposes are mostly edible, they lack in flavor. It is best to choose the pumpkin seeds that are bred for the particular reason you wish them to use for. Here are some pumpkin varieties that thrive in Texas:
Dill’s Atlantic Giant
This carving pumpkin variety is popular for its giant size. It is common for this species to produce pumpkins weighing 400 to 500 pounds. It is yellowish orange in color with slightly rough skin. This variety of pumpkin takes about 130 days to grow fully mature.
Big Max is a large carving pumpkin variety that grows to be about 100 pounds and 20 inches in diameter. These pumpkins are usually bright orange colored with a yellowish-orange skin. They take about 110 to 120 days to fully ripen.
Mammoth Gold pumpkins are ideal for carving. They can weigh from 60 to 100 pounds, depending upon the conditions provided. They have orange flesh with a large seed cavity. These pumpkins take about 90 to 110 days to grow mature.
These ghostly white pumpkins are great for Halloween decorations. They weight about 10 to 12 pounds and have orange colored flesh. They take about 80 to 90 days for maturing.
Miniature Jack-Be-Little pumpkins are not only great for table décor but are also edible and delicious! These tiny pumpkins are orange in color, weigh between 4 and 8 ounces and mature in approximately 95 days.
These small, edible, and mouth-watering pumpkins have a smooth texture, bright-orange flesh, and the finest flavor. They ripen in about 110 days.
Jackpot pumpkins weigh from 2 pounds up to 30 pounds. They have a deep round shape with a medium orange color. They are known as the first true hybrids that produce fruit during high temperatures.
Weighing about 10 to 12 pounds, these pumpkins are ideal for cooking as well as carving. These orange colored fruits take about 100 days to grow mature.
Now that you know all about growing pumpkins in Texas, perfect your Halloweens and pies with beautiful ornamental and mouth-watering pumpkins!
Finally, a shoutout for our mega post on how to grow pumpkins successfully - important in any state!