When do you plant pumpkins in time for Halloween harvest? And how do you do it? Do you put seeds directly into the soil or do they need to germinate in propagators first? Here are my answers to all your pumpkin sowing questions.
When do you plant a pumpkin?
Pumpkin planting time is late May (if you’re sowing directly into the ground) and April (if you’re planting into propagators first).
Please note that pumpkin seeds are not frost resistant. Frost will damage them.
You need to either wait for warmer weather in order to successfully sow them into the soil (soil needs to be at least 60°F/15,5°C/so, late May) or sow them into pots (from April), keep them indoors (preferably on the windowsill or in the propagator) and then (late May, early June) transfer seedlings directly into the soil.
Please note that pumpkin roots are prone to damage, so you need to be very careful during replanting.
The preferable method is sowing pumpkin seeds directly into the ground.
If you live in warmer climates (like the Southern States) you’re pumpkin will grow fast. If you sow the seeds in early July, you will still harvest before Halloween. If it’s really cold where you are, you can plant seeds into the pots as late as in June and wait with replanting until soil gets warm.
Can I plant pumpkin seeds in the Fall?
No. If you plant them in September, you won’t be able to harvest fruits in time for Halloween. Pumpkin seeds can’t hibernate in the soil, so they won’t produce any pumpkins for next Halloween, either.
Can you grow pumpkin indoors?
No. You can start planting process indoors, wait until seeds germinate (and frosty weather is gone), but then it’s time to plant seedlings in the garden.
How do you plant a pumpkin?
Sowing directly into the ground:
Pumpkins like fertile and well-drained soil. Make sure that soil is at least
Pumpkin seeds germinate faster when they’re planted into the small soil heap (around 50cm or 20″ high).
Place up to 5 seeds (on their sides), 2,5 cm (1″) deep into the soil. Plant another few seeds 3cm (10ft) apart.
Important: Always remove the weakest seedling sprouts. There should be one (the strongest) left. Continue the process even (or especially) when the plant gets bigger. Always leave the biggest & the healthiest looking flower.
Sowing into pots:
Fill 8cm (3″) pots with fertile soil. Place each seed on its side around 2,5 cm (1″) deep into the pot. Cover with soil. Water and put all pots on the windowsill, on the shelf in the greenhouse, or in the propagator.
You can replant seedling into bigger containers if it’s still cold outside and pots are getting too small (you can see roots protruding at the bottom).
Please remember to regularly remove weak seedling sprouts.
How fast do pumpkins grow?
It depends on 2 factors:
Some grow fully in 80 or 100 days, others need more time (up to 150 days; especially bigger ones like Atlantic Giant). Check out my ‘140 pumpkin, squash, and gourd types‘ post.
As I previously mentioned, you can plant seeds late May for Halloween harvest in northern climates, and early July for Halloween harvest in warmer/southern climates.
Seeds germinate fast: between 4 – 6 days.
It takes the pumpkin to fully grow about 1,5 or 2 months after flowering (depending on a pumpkin variety).
Where do I get pumpkin seeds?
You can buy them online, in a gardening store, or straight from the pumpkin farm. You can also plant pumpkin seeds from a store bought pumpkin.
How do you know if pumpkin seeds have gone bad?
Fresh pumpkin seeds can go rancid. If they smell sour, discard them.
Learn how to dry and store pumpkin seeds here.
If you bought the seeds in a packet, look at the best before date.