Facts and Questions about Giant Pumpkins

A collection of common questions about giant pumpkins, as well as grower submitted questions. Ask your own question using the the form below.
General Questions about Giant Pumpkins

Where does the word pumpkin come from?
The word ‘pumpkin’ comes from the Greek word, ‘pepon’, which means a ‘large melon.’

What’s the world record for heaviest pumpkin?
As of 2016, the heaviest pumpkin weighs in at 1190kg’s or 2323 pounds and was grown by Mathias Willemijns from Belgium

Should I protect my pumpkin from the sun?

Just like us, pumpkins don’t like it if they are in the sun all the time. It can toughen the skin at the top of the pumpkin, and cause splitting if the growth is too fast for the pumpkin to handle. Shade cloth or something similar will help with this. I have previously used an old sun umbrella to provide some shade. Check out the Shade section in the How To page to learn more

Can you eat a giant pumpkin?
Technically yes you can eat them, but they are made of mainly water and are very bland in taste, also with the pumpkins growing so fast and sucking up nutrients and fertilisers it might contain some nasty things you may not want to eat.

What colour will my pumpkin be?
Your pumpkin can range in colour from a pale green/white colour through to a shade of orange. It doesn’t really matter what colour it is, as long as it grows large.

I’ve heard of something called Mycorrhizae, what is it?
Mycorrhizae is a fungus that is added to the ground and makes ultra fine roots come out off the plant.

Giant Pumpkin Seeds and Seedlings Questions

What type of seeds do I need?
The type of seed you need to grow a giant pumpkin is the Atlantic Giant variety, botanical name Cucurbita maxima.

Where do I get my giant pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds can be bought from a few different places, Trademe, Kings Seeds, or maybe you know someone that has some seeds from a giant pumpkin. Check out the Sourcing Giant Pumpkin Seeds Page for more info.

Where do I get giant pumpkins seedlings from?
You can either grow them yourself from seeds, or you can get these from garden centres.

Is there anything I can do to help the seed?
Pumpkin seeds are very hard, some people file the edges of the seed to help it grow faster, also soaking them in water overnight is said to soften them up. Check out the Seed Starting page for more information.

How come some of my seeds haven’t germinated?
Pumpkin seeds can rot very easily, so it is best to make sure you don’t over-water them in the early stages. Because of this, it is best to plant more than one seed to have a backup. You can easily get rid of the weaker looking plants once they are growing.

Can I use the seeds from this year’s giant pumpkin for growing next year? If so how do I prepare and store them?
You can use your seeds from this year for next year. Read about saving them on this page.

Giant Pumpkin Planting

When is the best time to plant?
The best time to plant here in New Zealand is around the end of October.

Giant Pumpkin Growing

How long does germination take?
Germination of your seed can take from 3 to 10 days.

How long does it take to grow a giant pumpkin?
On average it should take around 160 days to grow a giant pumpkin. Check out the growth cycle page to see when growth occurs.

How come I don’t have any female flowers on my plant?
Female flowers always come to the party later than the male flowers so be patient and they will appear soon.

Do I need to keep weeding my garden?
In the very early stages, while you are waiting for your seed or seedling to grow, weeding the garden is very important as it removes any competition for nutrients with the pumpkin.

Which way will my vines grow?
Your vine will grow opposite the first true leaf, which is the middle leaf once the two that were in the seed have spread open.

Grower Submitted Questions

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me with the fertilizer. Our pumpkin is currently 110 cm in circumference. Its growth in this is between 2-3 cm per day. I got some of the nitrophos fertilizer and I was wondering how often and how much I should give
Hiya, thanks for the question. To promote good fruit growth, it is best to wait until the pumpkin has fully set, this is around when the pumpkin reached the size of a basketball. I would apply the Nitrophos about once a week at the most.

Once the pumpkin is this size you can change your fertilser to a good potassium-rich fertilser.

This will promote pumpkin growth, and is best used with other types of fertilisers. It is also best to be careful when using this, as it may make the pumpkin grow faster then it can cope with, making the pumpkin split open.

I’m growing four giant pumpkins.But I wonder to know if it can be eaten and how to make to it.
Giant pumpkins don’t make the best eating pumpkin, they are very watery and not very tasty at all. Plus if you have been using fertiliser on them, they may have some of this inside of them.

Cows and pigs really like to eat them though.

Hi, my pumpkin puts on a good 4cm circumference in a day if sunny.Is this good?Its 120cm at the moment. I don,t know if this is good or not. Would potassium food make a difference?. Thanks, Johnathon in ChCh
That’s pretty good growth, when the pumpkin is around 70-90 days old you should switch to potassium-based fertiliser, which will promote pumpkin growth.

hi, my pumpkin seedling has started to go mad and is growing fast ( although still a long way from setting a pumpkin), But it has these small bright yellow dots on some of its leaves. what could they be and should be worried? also at this early stage what should I be feeding/ doing with it to get the best out of my pumpkin? Also FYI I have it on a mound with black polythene, ice been making sure it doesn’t cook in the full sun recently but it seems to be loving it. Cheers
If it is just a small amount of yellow on some of the leaves, this is usually just a natural thing that occurs. Looking at my pumpkins I have small patches of yellow on some of the leaves, while the rest are a nice green colour. At the early stages yo should be applying a good Nitrogen based fertiliser, I recommend and use a product called Nitrophoska Blue, its small blue pellets, and is produced by a few different suppliers, the cheapest one is usually at Bunnings, and is made by Egmont. The nitrogen fertiliser helps with root, vine and leaf growth. And will make your plant a nice green colour (could help with the yellow spots) but……… it can also damage the plant if too much is used, try to avoid any getting on the leaves or vine as it can burn them. Also too much, and it can slow down the development of the flowers. So finding that fine line is a balancing act.

For a bit more info on fertiliser and at what stage to use them, check out the how-to page, and click on fertilising.

As for the polythene, if you have a small amount on the mound that should be OK, but as the vines travel out, you really want to bury them, this allows the small vines to get a few more nutrients in the soil and help with evaporation loss from the sun, once your fruit is set and growing, this is when you should look at providing some sort of shelter for it.

Hi, I was wondering would it be OK / a good idea to grow your pumpkin on top of a tarp or on a crate so when you do want to move it to the competition you can easily? or would the pumpkin hate it ?cheersThis is a totally personal preference. To me, it makes sense to have something underneath it to raise it up off the ground, where it may rot, or an animal might easily attack it. Last year mine grew on a paving stone, this year I might use some polystyrene sheeting. Which will be more flexible as the pumpkin grows.
It’s really up to you as there is no best practice for it. Let me know what you decide, and how it works for you.

I know you have answered a couple of questions regarding eating the giant pumpkin, I was just wondering if you harvest them before they get too big do they make good eating?
Hiya, I’ve heard stories of them being used in hospital meals in Australia. And I guess the only way to find out is to try, the only thing I would suggest is to only use one grown organically without the use of chemicals or fertilisers. If you do try it, let me know how it tastes.

My pumpkin plants are young and growing strong, they don’t have any pumpkins or flowers yet. However, they have been getting tiny holes surrounded by a slight yellow patch. What could be causing this and what can I do to prevent it?
This could be a lack of water or any number of things. It’s a hard one to pinpoint to one problem, the best idea is to keep an eye on it, and hope it doesn’t get worse.

Hi My pumpkins are only getting to about 60cm Dia and then drying off is there something I can do to stop this, and do I just let them creep all over the ground or should I prune them back. Just new at this
Unfortunately, they can be a bit like that, and stop growing for no apparent reason. Once they get to the size of a basketball, they are usually “set” and will grow until maturity, there isn’t too much you can do, as a lot of it comes down to pure luck.
With the vines, you can either let them grow if you have the room, letting them pick up any water and nutrients they may find. Or once the pumpkin is set, trim them back a little bit, so the plant puts its energy in the pumpkin, and not into growing more vines.

HI, I was wondering how big should a good sized pumpkin be by early January? mines currently 170cm in circumference and putting on 4-6cm a day. is this OK?
Every single person will have a different size and idea where they want their pumpkin to be at. To me, that sounds like a good size, and if it putting on that much, it is doing really well.

What causes giant pumpkins to rot underneath once they get to the size of a basketball.
The most usual cause of this would be they are continually damp underneath, so taking care when watering is helpful. Also placing something underneath, like a piece of plywood, polystyrene or something similar will help keep it off the ground.

At what stage do you start trimming the vines back and how far do you trim them back
Once your pumpkins have set, and you have decided on which one, or ones you want to grow to maturity, you can start thinking about trimming back vines. There is a lot of opinion on what to do and what not to do. I personally don’t trim back much of the vine but do trim off all flowers that appear after my pumpkins are growing. Growing vines use energy that may be used to grow a pumpkin, but the vines are also a place where nutrients can be collected. Anything over 3 – 4m may be a waste, so pruning back should be fine.

Hi there, We have been growing pumpkins on our own until now, where I have discovered the 1st of two has rotted underneath (due to dampness as stated above I’m guessing) and the other has unfortunately been snapped completely off! I’m now trying to figure out what to do with it? Do I put it somewhere to mature or dry or something?
Depending on how big the pumpkin was when it snapped off if it was still little and yellowish, there probably isn’t much you can do. It wouldn’t have formed properly on the inside. If it was near maturity, and quite big, you might be able to store it in a cool dark place. All depending on what you want to do with it. If it is no longer connected to the vine at all, it will not mature anymore.

My pumpkin is around 40kg at the moment. It is growing at around 2kg a day. Will the pumpkin have exponential growth from now on? ie. 3kgs a day then 5kgs etc…? Or will it remain constant?
Generally, pumpkins have a big growth period, and yours might still have that period to come. As it grows, the weight increases will decrease, and slowly taper off.

As with anything pumpkin related, everyone is different, and anything can happen, so while there is general ideas of what will happen, you just have to wait and see.

Hello, I have three main vines with one growing a pumpkin on it. Would you suggest removing the other two main vines? Or do they aid in the growth of the pumpkin on the other vine?
Personally, I would leave the three vines, as any small vines they put out can help pick up nutrients. Trim them when they get to the 2.5 – 3m length, and burying what is left can help.

We planted the normal crown pumpkins (not giant ones) The strangest thing has happened. Amongst the crown ones, we have giant yellowy orange ones growing. Four of them, the biggest is about 12kg. We do not know where it came from as the seeds are our own crowns from last year. How this happened we are at a loss. have you heard of anything like this happening?
This is the first time someone has told me that this has happened, but I do know that it can occur. Pumpkins can self-pollinate from the male to the female, or you can cross plants to produce the fruit (pumpkin). So what has probably happened, is that a bee has taken pollen from a different strain of pumpkin somewhere else, and deposited onto your pumpkin resulting in the different pumpkins, a very nice surprise indeed.

Hi, we are growing a giant pumpkin for a primary school competition, and until now it has been growing well, we have trimmed off any other sprouting pumpkins to allow this one to grow to its ‘biggest’ potential. The pumpkin is now showing signs of black mould, the top quarter of it is soft and significantly black. Reading your other F&Q’s it appears to be suffering from dampness (we do water in the evening) or similarly sunburn (we are in Nelson and it is in the sun most of the day, wish we had read up on both of these potential issues before now). The bottom is clear and healthy. Is there anything we can do to avoid it spreading or further damaging the pumpkin in the hope that it will grow bigger and survive for the competition in April? The rest of the plant is thriving and continues to overrun the veggie patch! Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated!
Hiya, unfortunately from what you have described you might not be able to do anything 🙁 the sun shouldn’t cause it, as the sun will just slow its growth, or may contribute to a split. Pumpkins are a very fickle plant and can easily start to rot at any time. I would wait and see how it goes, but I don’t think there is a solution, and I’m not sure if it would last until April. Hopefully, it can hold together, good luck.

We are growing two giant pumpkin plants for our local A and P show competition. Both plants have three pumpkins each. Do we take off the smaller pumpkins and let the biggest one on each plant grow?
This is a personal choice, most people will take off the smaller ones and let one big one, but the new thinking is the plant can support multiple pumpkins.

Hi there. My pumpkin had been doing well, but now has two issues! Firstly it hasn’t been growing in a good spot and has grown onto its own stem on the side away from the main root. The pumpkin is still connected to the main stem by a small segment. It seems to be growing still, so I’m hoping to keep it going a bit longer. The main problem though is that it has developed a white patch on the top where it had contacted the black shade cloth. I’ve raised the cloth, but some mould spots have developed. The white patch is otherwise firm. Can I treat the mould at all? The pumpkin is around 60kg, by far the biggest I’ve ever grown. I don’t want to give up on it if I can keep it going. Thanks, Pete.
Hopefully, the mould spots haven’t become too bad, you can gently brush out the mould with a soft toothbrush. And then apply a fungicide, hopefully, it can help.

Hi Sam, Help our stem started to go soggy so we have just cut off the pumpkin but the underside of the pumpkin is slightly soggy. My 9 yr old son the owner of the pumpkins is devastated can we do anything to it to make it last to our local comp. he so wanted to enter it. I have the soggy side lying face to the sun now. perhaps we could wash it with something. Thanks
Hiya, I think the best option is leaving it in the sun, and hopefully, it will dry out. If it was just the stem I would say gently brush it with a soft toothbrush and then apply some fungicide. Hope everything goes ok for you guys if not, there is always next year.

Hi! Some of our pumpkins when cut open have very hard white patches in them. On the outside of the skin where this is happening there is a blotch also. What is this from do you think? Thanks
Interesting question, off the top of my head I’m not too sure, it might just be something genetic specific to that plant.

Its the start of sept and I have just planted a seed for our family competition I hope to plant out into prepared sites mid to the end of October we are just north of Christchurch , what do you think of my timing ?? our last years best was 97 kg.
Hiya

Your timing might be a little bit early, but it shouldn’t cause too many problems. Once the plant emerges, two weeks from that date is usually around when it is time to move to the planting location. Make sure the seedling has 3 fully developed leaves formed when transplanting the look for the first fully formed leaf, usually the 2nd or 3rd one, the vine will travel in the opposite direction of this.

My two concerns would be leaving the seedlings in the pots too long where they might get root bound, which would cause problems as they wouldn’t have the best start to growing, so once they looking good, put them in the ground.

The other thing you need to watch, especially due to your location. Is the temperature of the soil, and the potential of frost. As they might be in the ground a little earlier than expected, make sure you have something to help protect them during the nights. It can be a simple home made greenhouse, or as something as simple as a cardboard box, which I used a couple of years ago.

Hi there, just getting my seeds started now and aim to have them in the ground by labour weekend. My question for you is, last year I had some of them vines split along the length. My biggest pumpkin grew on this vine so it wasn’t terminal, but I would like to know why it would have done that so I can avoid it this time. Thanks Tahl
Hi Tahl, thanks for getting in touch. I too have had a split vine, so have tried finding answers, this is what I have found.

The three main causes are from too much fertiliser, inconsistent watering, or genetics. It’s not an exact science, and it just seems to happen randomly.

The main thing to do is make sure it stays dry, and heals up. As to how much this can effect the growth on a pumpkin is unsure, with various theories. I think if you have it happen again, you will just have to live with it, and make sure you don’t get any stem split, as this can be fatal.

How big will my pumpkin get if it is half giant pumpkin and half-crown pumpkin?
Hi there, that is an interesting question and a problem which the top growers try and minimise by pollinating the plants themselves and making sure other types are not near by. It all comes down to genetics, and it will be almost unknown until it has grown fully, hopefully it has more giant traits than normal pumpkin.

Hey, my giant pumpkin vine is growing like crazy, the main vine is at least 5 or 6m long. I’ve had a few female flowers come and go but still no male ones open yet. Can you help? Also, I just noticed today that the last half a metre of the main vine and leaves have shrivelled and gone soggy. Any answers? Thanks.
Hmm, interesting, sometimes the male and female parts don’t always appear at the same time, and sometimes it is just a waiting game. For the end parts of the vine, I am wondering if it is dead, or got an infection. I would cut it off at the next good bit, and see how it goes.

Hi, my giant pumpkin has a main vine around 6 metres, with a couple of secondary vines branching off about 3 metres long. The pumpkins are growing to around twice the size of a golf ball then the ribbing distorts and then goes soft after a couple of days. The first time there were two growing and 1 did this. Immediately after that 3 more started to grow. Now 1 has done this but 2 still seem okay for now. All the pumpkins have grown on the main vine. Is there something lacking in nutrients, an insect problem or something else. I try not to over water the plants and have some plants providing natural shade. Any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks
Hi there, thanks for the questions. The usual way of truing to eliminate the problem you have is to make sure the watering you are doing is very even across the whole plant, and making sure there is an adequate supply of calcium for the plant to uptake.

This is a very common problem with all pumpkins, and plants from the same family, and it is something I have experienced on all of my plants.

Hi Sam. I have just filed my seeds, put them in wet paper towels and into zip lock plastic bags. They are now sitting in the bay window of my kitchen enjoying the sunshine and have plenty of light. When is the best time to plant them after germinating? Should they be planted into pots of seed raising mix or should they be planted directly into the prepared soil? Leanne
That is an awesome start for them, as soon as they stat showing signs of growth I would put them in pots of seed raising mix. Letting them grow to a seedling has a huge advantage, and that is once you have a seedling with 3 grown leaves, the plant will grow in the direction the middle leaf faces. Which lets you place it the way you want it.

Hi Sam. I am curious to know how many usable seeds there would be inside a “typical” giant pumpkin.
Hi there, that is a good question.

It really can vary between pumpkins. From my experience, I have removed 500 – 600 from a giant pumpkin before, and from what I have read the longer the pumpkin is left on the vine, then the more viable the seeds are from it. Some estimate only 10 – 20% will grow, so it is very much like a lottery.

Also, some of the really big pumpkins overseas only have around 100 seeds inside, all comes down to genetics. The only way to find out is to try and grow some.

Need help…. My pumpkins are as big as golf balls and they are rotting off, I really thought they looked healthy … Is it all the rain we have been getting making them rot or does this happen?
Hello, this happens some of the time. Pumpkins can rot very easily, the extra rain may be contributing to the problem but I have had it happen randomly as well. Hopefully, some grow through to full size for you.

Hi! I am trying to grow a giant pumpkin. I have a plant that is healthy with large green leaves, but I have a pumpkin that grew to about the size of a coke can and it has started to rot. I wasn’t sure if it is best to leave it alone or to cut it off the vine. I have another pumpkin that I pollinated 10 days ago. It is about a foot away from the rotting one.
Hi there, I would cut that off to make sure the plant isn’t putting any unneeded growth into that rotting piece. Hopefully, your new pumpkin grows to a “set” size and carries on producing a great pumpkin.

Hi we live on a dairy farm and have some seeds germinating to hopefully grow a giant pumpkin or 10.we have a few warm moist sunny spots where I plan to plant them, in cow effluent eg at edge of effluent ponds etc.will they thrive in this type of soil do you think.thanks
Hello, plants love well matured compost so being near the effluent pond may be beneficial to the plant, but it could also be too many nutrients all at once, I would plant some there and then plant somewhere further away and see which plants do better, only way to find out is to try.

Hi I am growing a giant pumpkin plant and it looks healthy and really green has about 6 leaves and is getting bigger every day. I do however notice that some off the leaves have ting wee pin holes in them do you think something could be eating the leaves? I have hand picked the aphids off and do that most weeks any ideas please help. Thanks
It could be anything from small bugs to something like a deficiency in magnesium in the soil. It does happen, but as long as the leaves are mainly healthy, they should be fine.

Hi my daughters pumpkin is finally making a pumpkin that is now about the size of a softball. We planted the seed a few months back, wondering if 3 months will be long enough for it to grow really big. What kind of growth can happen in 3 months? Thanks
A pumpkins lifecycle is around 160 days, if you have a pumpkin that is around that size, that should be around at least 60 – 70 days already. So by my calculations you have roughly 90-100 days of time to do all the growing, so 3 months will be just about right.

Hi there this is regarding a pumpkin that was rotting underneath it is 46cms round but I don’t think it will survive another one has started growing not far away from it so I will leave it a few days then take it off I thought it was going to be a really good one!!!!
Even the best-looking pumpkins can sometimes still fail, luckily they grow a few pumpkins so there is always a back up one.

Hi there I have a pumpkin that was growing really well but we have had lots of rain and not a lot of sun so I noticed it has a rotten patch underneath am I best too take it off and hope another one grows or leave it alone I have put straw under it Thanks
Hi there, thanks for the question. If I was in that position I would remove it, as any rotten patch underneath don’t recover too well, I’d be interested in knowing what size the pumpkin is, feel free to send me an email any time.

HI THERE I HAVE A PUMPKIN THAT HAS BEEN GROWING REALLY FAST AND NOTICED THAT IT HAS A SMALL CRACK ACROSS THE TOP IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD DO OR JUST LEAVE IT ALONE THE PUMPKIN LOOKS HEALTHY AND WOULD BE ABOUT 40CM AROUND THE PLANT IS MASSIVE WITH HEAPS OF FLOWERS AND LOTS OF OTHER SMALL PUMPKINS EVERYWHERE IT IS IN A GOOD SHELTERED PLACE WE HAVEN’T HAD MUCH SUN YET GOT LOVELY RAIN YESTERDAY AND THAT’S WHEN I NOTICED IT?THANKS
Hi there, all you can really do is leave it and hope for the best, hopefully the crack stays intact, but due to the rapid growth of the pumpkin it will probably split open, if it does split open cut it off the vine straight away, and let another one grow.

Hi, I have a pumpkin that is about 120kg and 30 days old and have noticed that the blossom end has started to rot so I cut it back to clean tissue and applied a sulfur dust. should it heal? ALSO, have a smaller one that has grown onto the stem and the stem has split..can it still mature to a giant size only using half the stem tissue to take up water and nutrients, tHANKS
Hi there, the sulphur dust should hopefully help. Hopefully it heals up and the pumpkin carries on growing.
As for the stem split, it sometimes happens, but the pumpkin will still get some nutrients and keep growing, the question of how much it effects the pumpkin can sometimes be a bit unknown.

Hey, Sam, my giant pumpkin fruit is 3 weeks old weighing 40 Kgs but the tip of the main vine was broken after growing 2 meters beyond the fruit. Would that affect it’s growth? Knowing that it has many secondary vines!
Hi there, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Instead of putting its energy into growing vine, it will now convert that into the pumpkin. Most people will stop the vine growing at a predetermined length anyways. This might just be a bit premature. I hope your pumpkin continues to grow well for you.

Where would I get some seeds from, please? First-time grower and keen to give it ago. I am based in Oratia Auckland and would the conditions be ok

Just ask a local grower, I have emailed you back and have some seeds I can send you if you give me your address.

If you grow a giant pumpkin-like one that won this year, 2015.
Do the seeds inside also grow bigger or stay the normal size?
Always wondered, never seen any shown.
Thanks.

The seeds pretty much stay the same size amongst most of the giant pumpkins.  Sure there are slight variations, but nothing major.  I had a seed from a 2008lb pumpkin and it was the same size as all the other giant pumpkin seeds.

Hi, I put a shade cover over my pumpkin and it has been growing well. Our weigh in is April 9 and when dop I take the cover off?

If it’s still growing well and you don’t mind that it is whatever color it is, I’d leave the cover on the pumpkin.  There is no guarantee it will orange up at all or in time for your weigh off.

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