growth stages of a pumpkin plant

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When you want to grow pumpkins for fun or for profit it helps to know about pumpkin growth stages and how long does it take for a pumpkin to grow.

If you’re like many people, you might lose interest in these pumpkins once you realize that it takes a long time to grow a pumpkin. This can lead to some issues with your garden later on.

In order for pumpkins to grow properly, there are some key steps that need to be taken from start to finish.

With these steps kept in mind, a lot of issues can be avoided, making growing pumpkins much more manageable.

In this post I will guide you on the different growth stages of a pumpkin plant and what you need to do to get a bountiful harvest.

Interested..? Read on.

How Long Does It Take to Grow A Pumpkin:

Pumpkins are a warm-season vegetable that you can plant once the soil warms up to around 65 F. The plants will take about 120 days to mature — or longer, depending on the cultivar — and produce large, bright orange fruits.

Most pumpkins grow best in regions with a long growing season, usually 80-100 days. If you live in a short-season climate, choose small varieties like ‘Jack Be Little’ or ‘Jackpot’ which mature more quickly.

The Growth Stages of A Pumpkin Plant:

Pumpkins have a long growing period, and it is important to know about the different stages of pumpkin growth. Pumpkins can be used both as fruit as well as ornamental plants.

Here are the main 12 growth stages of a pumpkin plant:

1. Planting:

The first stage is obviously planting the seeds. Sow seeds directly in the garden once all danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures have reached at least 70 F. (21 C.). Pumpkins love warm weather and soil.

2. Seed Germination:

The next phase of pumpkin growth is germination. Germination refers to the point when the seeds begin to send up shoots that will grow into the pumpkin plant’s first leaves.

Under ideal conditions, germination occurs within seven to 10 days after planting.

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At this stage, the plant feeds off of its seed until it has developed enough true leaves to begin manufacturing its own food through photosynthesis.

Unfortunately, even during this early stage in pumpkin growth, pests such as cutworms can destroy young plants before they get a chance to grow. To protect seedlings from cutworms, You can use a thick layer of straw mulch around the base of their plants.

3. Sprouting:

In this stage the first two leaves that emerge from the seeds. They are not true leaves but rather a pair of embryonic leaves called cotyledons.

4. First True Leaves Develop:

Sprouting is followed by the first true leaves, which look similar to adult pumpkin leaves but are smaller. The leaf stems and veins will be yellowish-green at this stage.

These leaves will continue to grow larger as they emerge from their sheaths.

The rest of the first set of true leaves will develop over a period of several weeks as the seedling grows larger and stronger.

5. Third True Leaf Develops:

By the time the third set of true leaves has developed, the seedling should have long stems that are no longer yellowish-green but have taken on their typical green coloration.

6. Forms Strong Root System:

Once they have sprouted and begun growing their first true leaves, pumpkin plants quickly enter the next stage of growth: forming a robust root system.

The root system allows the plant to extract nutrients from deep in the soil. The roots are also used to anchor the plant in place to prevent it from being blown over by wind or knocked over by heavy rain.

7. Vine Growth:

Once the root system develops and the plant gets nutrients from the soil it starts to vigorously grow its vines.

If a pumpkin is grown in a garden bed, vine growth will occur after about two weeks of growth. Vines can grow up to 10 feet long, but often they are trimmed in order to keep them under control and prevent them from taking over an entire garden bed.

8. Flowering Stage:

The flowering stage begins approximately 50 days after planting — if you’ve planted early enough in the season the pumpkin will have time to mature before fall frost sets in.

Pumpkins have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers develop on long thin stems and female flowers grow on short thick stems.

Female flowers appear first and are followed by male flowers shortly thereafter.

Female flowers are generally larger than male flowers and produce a small bulb at their base which is where the pumpkin will form if pollinated successfully (this bulb has been mistaken for a small fruit).

9. Pollination Stage:

Soon the male flowers start producing pollen and the plant enters in the pollination stage.

Pollination is the process by which pollen from a male flower is transferred to a female flower.

If you want to pollinate pumpkins by hand, use a small paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male blossom to the female blossom. The process takes only seconds.

If there are bees around the garden, you needn’t worry about pollinating by hand as they will do it for you.

Once the female flowers get pollinated the plant enters into the fruiting stage.

10. Fruiting Stage:

In the fruiting stage the pollinated female flowers begin to develop into pumpkins.

A pumpkin begins as an ovary that develops into a fruit. The ovary grows and eventually becomes a pumpkin

You can tell when your pumpkin has set because its ovary swells with developing seeds and fleshy fruit material.

After this stage of development is complete, your pumpkin is on its own and needs only water and plenty of sunshine to help it grow large enough for harvest.

11. Ripening of The Fruits:

Ripening occurs as the pumpkin grows in size, its color deepens, and its rind thickens. At this point, it stops growing and begins to break down slowly. Now it is the best time to harvest the fruits.

12. Senescence:

Senescence is the final stage of the life cycle of the pumpkin plant. At this stage, the pumpkin stops growing and begins to break down.

As the seeds are formed inside the pumpkins the individual plant completes its life cycle. The plant along with the leaves and vines die.

Ideal Growing Conditions:

The main requirement for growing pumpkins is warm soil and a long growing season. The seeds germinate in soil that is at least 60°F (16°C), and the vines will not begin to flower or set fruit until the weather is warm.

In cooler climates, it is possible to start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse and transplant the seedlings after all danger of frost has passed.

Soil Condition:

Pumpkins can be grown in almost any soil type, but they prefer loose, rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8.

Sun and Water:

Pumpkins need plenty of sun and water, so choose a warm spot in your garden with full sun and soil that drains well.

Where to Plant Pumpkin:

If you would like to grow pumpkins in your garden, choose an area with fertile, well drained soil that gets plenty of sun.

Before planting, use a spade to work in compost or well-rotted manure and make sure the soil is smooth and level.

You can plant one pumpkin plant per square metre or four pumpkin plants per square yard.

Sow the seeds directly into the soil when all risk of frost has passed and the soil temperature has reached 15 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover lightly with soil, water and keep moist until germination takes place.

What Do Pumpkin Seedlings Look Like?

Pumpkin seedlings have a long stem with two heart shaped leaves. The stems can grow up to 3 metres long, but they usually only reach 1-2 metres. The pumpkin vines will start to trail on the ground as they grow.

How To Transplant Pumpkin Seedlings:

If you start your seeds indoors, do so about 6 weeks before you intend to plant them outdoors. Use individual pots and keep the seedlings moist.

When they reach 10 centimetres (4 inches) tall and all danger of frost has passed, transplant them into the garden at least 1m (3ft) apart.

How Long To Pumpkin Seeds Take To Germinate:

The pumpkin seeds should germinate in one to two weeks. Once they sprout, thin out one of the plants so there’s only one left to grow in each container.

Continue caring for them inside until you’re ready to plant your pumpkins outdoors.

How To Care For Pumpkin Seedlings In The Ground:


Fertilize young pumpkins with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet of garden space immediately before transplanting them into their permanent locations.

Repeat this application once every two weeks until the plants start growing flowers. After that point, switch to a fertilizer designed specifically for fruiting plants because it has higher levels of potassium,


Water is essential for pumpkins, and too much water can be just as bad as not enough water. You need at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week, but the exact amount of water will depend on the weather and amount of sunlight.

To make sure you are giving your pumpkin plants the right amount of water, test the soil by sticking your finger about 2 to 3 inches into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water them again.

Seedlings need more water than established plants because they’re still establishing their root systems. Use a soaker hose to avoid wetting the leaves and causing disease problems

Proper Vine Support:

If your pumpkin vines spill over into other beds or pathways and become difficult to manage, install some vine supports at this stage.

Place two posts on either side of your patch and tie string between them in a grid pattern that will support your vines as they grow.

Protecting Your Pumpkin From Pests And Disease:

Pumpkins are susceptible to many of the same pests and diseases that can affect cucumbers and squash. The key to preventing these problems is to be watchful for signs of disease or insect activity, and to make sure the plants are properly watered.


Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and spider mites are some of the most common insects that attack pumpkins.

  • Cucumber beetles may be yellow or striped; they feed on pumpkin stems and leaves, causing wilting and stunted growth.
  • Squash bugs suck plant juices from leaves and stems, leading to wilting and death of the plant.
  • Spider mites feed on the underside of leaves, leaving them with a stippled appearance before they turn yellow and drop off.


  • Powdery mildew is one of the most common diseases that can infect pumpkins; it causes white spots on the leaves that eventually spread over the entire leaf surface.
  • Bacterial wilt is another disease that can kill a pumpkin plant quickly; infected plants develop yellowing vines that wilt rapidly even if they are well watered.

When Do Pumpkins Flower:

Pumpkin plants will begin to flower after a couple of months or so of growing. The yellow flowers are male and female. Female flowers have what looks like a green ball behind them (this is the future pumpkin).

Male flowers have a long stem behind them. You can tell the difference by rubbing your finger over the petals – female flowers stick out more than male flowers.

Female flowers open first and are pollinated by male flowers, which open later in the day. If you don’t see any bees around, try hand pollinating your pumpkins by touching the centre of each flower with some cotton wool or a paintbrush – this is where the pollen is!

How Long Does It Take For A Pumpkin To Grow After Pollination?

Once the pollen is transferred from the male flower to the female flower, it takes between five and 15 days for the pumpkin to appear, depending on the variety.

At this point, you can reduce the watering little bit. Initially the pumpkin will be like a small green ball at the base of the flower.

As this green ball grows it becomes a small pumpkin. It will take approximately 90 days for this small pumpkin to grow into a full-sized pumpkin that is ready to harvest.

Harvesting Your Pumpkins:

As fall approaches, keep an eye on your pumpkins and harvest them before any frost or cold weather hits.

Pumpkins are typically ready to harvest from 90 to 120 days after pollination. In the end, it depends on the variety of pumpkin you have planted.

You’ll know a pumpkin is ready to be harvested when it has turned its full orange color (it may have some green left on the stem) and sounds hollow when tapped with your knuckles.

Also, be sure that its rind is hard and not easily pierced by your fingernail before picking.


Pumpkins are fun to grow, but they are quite different from other plants. They are a great way to add some color and interest to any garden.

Grow them off the ground, on a trellis or fence, or just let them ramble across the ground. However you choose to grow them, you’re sure to have fun watching your pumpkins grow.

Growing pumpkins can take a long time but it’s certainly worth it.

I hope this post was helpful to you. If you like the information, share it with others, and Don’t Forget to PIN IT.

pumpkin growth stages

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