Pumpkins can grow in most climates and are grown for their fruits, seeds, and leaves. Pumpkins can be used as food or decorations. But how long does it take for a pumpkin plant to develop?
In this article, we will talk about pumpkin growth stages and what to expect at each stage.
Each pumpkin begins with a seed. Once the seed germinates, the seedling develops into a small pumpkin plant. After approximately eight weeks (50 to 55 days), the pumpkin begins to flower. If the pollination is successful, the flower forms a fruit.
In the middle of the summer, the pumpkin starts to change color. Finally, as fall approaches, the pumpkin turns orange (or another color depending on variety). The stem begins to dry out and becomes woody. And that is when you harvest it.
So, let’s take a closer look at each pumpkin growth stage in more detail.
Growth Stages of a Pumpkin Plant
A pumpkin plant takes between 90 and 140 days to fully mature, and there are seven pumpkin growth stages. Additionally, after the pumpkin is harvested, it undergoes the stages of curing and storage.
Stage 1. Start Planting
The first stage is to sow your pumpkin seeds. It’s best to plant your seeds in late spring. This way, your pumpkins are ready to harvest in the fall.
Two or three seeds should be placed in one hole approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. This process is called overseeding, which increases the chances of seed germination.
For a headstart, begin the process indoors by placing the seeds in a soil-filled container. Water the soil heavily.
Storing a container in a dark and warm place will cause seeds to sprout within 5-10 days.
Pro Tip. Before placing seeds into the ground, it is essential to note that pumpkins require a lot of room to grow. So, select a location where you have enough space for them to spread.
Stage 2. Seed Germination
The second pumpkin plant stage is seed germination. Depending on the soil’s temperature, germination can take 5 to 10 days.
Seeds will emerge from the ground and gradually sprout two oval-shaped leaves (cotyledons). Pumpkin seedlings look very similar to cucumber or squash seedlings.
After a week or so, the first set of true leaves emerge. These leaves are more circular and larger than cotyledons. The color of the new leaves is slightly brighter.
Stage 3. Vine Growth
After about two weeks or so, vines will start to protrude from the plants stem. The plant will begin to grow quickly and produce many vines at this stage.
Many pumpkin varieties can grow vines that are 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) long, though it varies based on the type of pumpkin plant.
Such long vines can be a big challenge for raised garden beds. They will grow over the edge and will cover the whole pathway.
Pro Tip. The main pumpkin vine can be trimmed when it is 10 -15 feet ( 3 – 4.5 m) long to avoid plants taking over the garden. Tips of the secondary runners can be pruned when they are about 8 – 10 feet (2.4 – 3 m) long. Vines growing out of the secondary vines can be removed straight away.
Stage 4. Flower Blossom
After 8 to 10 weeks, you should notice flowers developing between the plant stems and the runner vines. Flowers usually have big yellow petals. Basically a bigger version of a cucumber flower.
Female pumpkin flowers have a small fruit behind them, while male flowers do not.
Stage 5. Flower Pollination
When your plants develop, the male flowers will form and blossom before the female flowers. When female flowers appear, the pumpkin pollination stage begins.
At this stage, pumpkin flowers bloom and attract insects. Insects such as bees or bumblebees transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers.
When the pollen transfer is complete, the female flower will close and start forming the fruit.
If there is a lack of pollinators in the area, you can simulate their activity. This is done by transferring the pollen from the male flower to the female flower using a small paintbrush. However, this process is long and inefficient. It is always better to attract pollinators to your garden.
Pro Tip. During the pollination stage, many flowers might drop from the pumpkin plants. As long as these are male flowers, it is normal. When male flowers finish their job, the plant will dump them onto the ground (plants seem to behave just like humans 🙂 ).
Stage 6. Fruit Development
Once the pollination process is complete, the female flower petals will close in, and the fruit will slowly start to develop.
During this stage, the fruits will grow larger and become more rounded. The typical time frame for pumpkins to fully mature after pollination is 45 to 55 days.
As the fruit continues to grow, its skin thickens and hardens. After a few months, the pumpkin vines will start to brown and wither. They will gradually change to their natural color.
We all know our favorite pumpkin colors. However, depending on the variety, apart from orange and yellow, they can be white, green, blue, black, or even mixed colors.
So, this concludes the growth stages of a pumpkin plant.
Stage 7. Harvest Time
Now comes the exciting part of the pumpkin growth stages. Harvest time!
There are several ways to tell when the pumpkin fruit is ready to be harvested. These are:
- The skin of the pumpkin is the correct color (depending on variety),
- Plant vines will start to dieback,
- The pumpkin skin becomes hard,
- Hearing a hollow sound when tapping the outside of the fruit,
- The pumpkin stem becomes tough.
Once all these take place, the fruit is ready to be harvested.
Pro Tip. Use clippers or pruners to cut the stem when harvesting pumpkins. Leave approximately 2 inches (5 cm) of stem attached to the pumpkin. This will increase the fruit’s shelf life.
Before you take your pumpkins to decorate, store or use for cooking, it’s essential to cure them in a sunny spot for approximately 2 to 4 weeks.
Curring will strengthen pumpkin skin, will protect them against deterioration, and increase its shelf life.
Pro Tip. If rain or frost is predicted during this curing period, move pumpkins to a covered location.
After curing is complete, with proper storage, pumpkins can last up to 6 months.
Store pumpkins in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Check pumpkins weekly and remove any that show signs of mold.
How To Prepare Pumpkin For Eating
Most people associate pumpkins with carving during Halloween. Carving them and throwing scraps into the bin, best case, compost.
But there are so many ways you can use these after carving. So, eliminate the waste and try these recipes out:
- No Baking Pumpkin Pie Recipe,
- Pumpkin Nut Bars,
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup,
- Savory Pumpkin Soup,
- Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup,
- Curried Pumpkin Soup,
- Pumpkin Pancakes,
- Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes,
- Mini Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Muffins,
- Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream,
- Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Dip,
- Pumpkin Grits,
- Pumpkin Spice Shake,
- Chickpea Pumpkin Curry,
- Baked Pumpkin,
- Honey of a Pumpkin Bar.
What To Do Next
Pumpkin is a very easy vegetable to grow, and it’s very versatile. It can be used for decoration, pie filling, soup base, and more. This is a great vegetable to grow in your backyard or garden.
So, here you go! All pumpkin growth stages were briefly explained. If you have any questions, just drop us an email.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our other similar ones in the Gardening How To section.
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