Not only is pumpkin a delicious, nutritional pie filling, but growing your own is a fun activity in the lead-up to Halloween.
It is useful to know how many pumpkins per plant and how much space you might need to yield a successful crop.
You can expect to produce around a dozen miniature pumpkins per plant; this reduces to between 2 and 5 for the medium to large fruits we associate with pumpkin carving.
Take the next step up to a giant variety and expect the maximum yield of 2 pumpkins per plant; although, by reducing this to one plant, all of your efforts are more focused on producing a single magnificent fruit.
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How Many pumpkins Per Plant, by Size
There are multiple varieties of pumpkin, differentiated by their size, color, and taste.
Mini pumpkins weigh less than 2lbs and fit into the palm of a hand. They are ornamental due to their vast array of color and size; some are edible.
They are the easiest of all pumpkins to cultivate; they require the least space, and a gardener should expect at least 12 fruits per vine.
They are ideal for growing in limited spaces; many of the vines are compact or climbers, perfect for small yards, roof gardens, or balconies.
Popular varieties: Baby Boo, Bumpkin, Munchkin, Hooligan.
Small pumpkins weigh between 2 and 10lbs and yield 4-10 fruits per vine. They are ideal for novice growers as they require less space and resources.
Popular varieties: Cannonball, Blanco, Mischief, and Triple Treat (very popular as its smooth, rounded shape lends itself beautifully to carving.
Medium to Large Pumpkins
These pumpkins grow to weights of 10-25lbs, with each plant yielding 2-5 fruits; the larger the pumpkin, the fewer each vine bears. They need improved irrigation, soil quality, and increased space.
Popular varieties: Jackpot, Autumn Gold, Jumpin' Jack, Gladiator.
Each plant should bear 1-2 pumpkins; however, it is worth concentrating all resources on just one per vine for competition purposes. These giant fruits will exceed 50lbs in weight.
Popular Varieties: Big Moose, Dill's Atlantic Giant, Prizewinner.
Are Pumpkins Easy to Grow?
Most gardeners have some success when growing pumpkins; the bigger the variety, the more care and attention they need. Miniature and small pumpkins require fewer resources and prove most popular amongst novice growers.
Pumpkins need 3-factors to grow; space, sunlight, water.
Pumpkins grow on vines that are often thick and coarse. Vines need sufficient space to grow, climb, and breathe; the greater the number of pumpkins per plant, the more space it needs.
Vines in limited space can't get essential nutrients for growth; they starve and die before bearing fruit.
Pumpkin plants in overcrowded spots compete for resources, such as water and nutrients from the soil, causing many to fail. Multiple plants require generous gaps in between.
When growing from seed, the recommended planting distance is thus;
- 3-5 seeds per mound; each mound needs a 2-6 feet gap from the next one, depending on the expected size of the pumpkin.
- For small varieties, keep each row at least 5” apart.
- For large varieties, each row should be at least 12” from the previous one.
- At signs of germination, thin out any large clumps of sprouting leaves.
One large pumpkin requires around 70ft² to reach its full potential.
Pumpkins thrive in sunlight and need direct access to it for at least 6-hours per day.
In favorable sunny conditions, seeds germinate within 5-10 days. By 45-55 days, the male and female flowers should appear, and by day 80-120, your pumpkins are ready to harvest.
Pumpkins need lots of water, at least an inch per week. Avoid the fruit and foliage; instead, aim for the soil and the roots to prevent rotting.
Deep watering exists of around 10-minutes, 2, maybe 3-times per week, depending on the climate.
To protect the fruit itself from water damage, sit it on mulch. It locks in moisture while keeping nuisance pumpkin beetles at bay. It also acts as a weed suppressant.
Is it Possible to Increase the Yield of Each Pumpkin Plant?
Experienced gardeners rely on a practice called "branching" to increase the number of pumpkins per vine.
Wait until the vine reaches 2ft long and pinch the fuzzy tips of the main body. It encourages new growth.
Removing all of the earlier male flowers (first ones to appear, with bulbous bases) that appear in the first 3-weeks produces a sturdier vine. Beware, pumpkins might be slightly smaller than expected, but their number increases.
This occurs due to the vine's ability to deliver more of the required nutrients directly to the female plants.
While the plant is young, it is possible to move it to a more prominent direction to receive the most sunlight. Do not attempt to redirect the vine once the flowers appear; they easily snap.
Plant lots of brightly colored flowers and scented herbs nearby. Pumpkin flowers need pollinating to fill the air with aromas to attract the bee's attention.
If the bees are showing no sign of pollinating the flowers, give them a helping hand. Use a clean cotton bud to gather some pollen from the stamen of the male flower. Gentle roll it around the anthers of the female flower and patiently wait.
How Soon Will You Know How Many Pumpkins Per Plant?
Pumpkins grow quickly in favorable sunny conditions; the vines can grow up to 6-inches per day.
Flowers appear at around 6 or 7 weeks; then, when pollination is successful, the female blossoms close and form soft green balls. Each one of these is the very early stages of a pumpkin.
A few weeks before harvest time, they will reach their final size. Adequate sunlight, water, and food will turn them into tasty, orange (if that's your chosen variety) pumpkins.
Protect each fruit from possible waterlogging by sitting it on a piece of card or mulch, remembering to gently turn it occasionally to guarantee an even color and rounded shape.
Growing Pumpkins in Pots
The best result for growing pumpkins is to plant them directly in well-balanced, nutrient-rich soil. However, some varieties will grow in a pot, especially the miniature and small varieties.
Plant the seeds in the biggest possible pot, and keep them well-watered with lots of sunlight. They thrive on a sunny window ledge for their early weeks, but then the vines will need natural light and air.
Give the climbing varieties plenty of trellises to wind their vines around. Occasional feeding with nutrien- rich fertilizer rewards you with copious amounts of varying colors of pumpkin.
Each plant could produce as many as 12 small pumpkins – some might be good enough to eat.
Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae along with cucumbers, melon, summer/winter squash, zucchini, and decorative gourds.
It splits into a further 4-sub-groups, each with its personal identity;
Pepo – Traditional small to medium, orange and green pumpkins carved for Halloween. Their fruit is sweet and delicious.
Moschata – Medium-sized pumpkins that are perfect for pie-making. They are usually tan-colored and oblong. They thrive in hot and humid conditions where they prove easy to grow.
Maxima – As the name suggests, these pumpkins are the jumbo type often spotted at the County Fair. They are usually bright orange, but some varieties have blue or bluish-green notes.
The largest variety on record was a Dill's Atlantic Giant that grew to 2,323lbs!
Mixta – They are small and medium-sized pumpkins that make stunning multi-colored displays. They usually have a bulbous bottom, narrowing towards the top. Some varieties are edible.
Pumpkins are an excellent source of vitamin c, beta-carotene, fiber, and potassium. They taste great and make wonderful displays during Fall, who doesn't love carving a Jack O' Lantern?
The number of pumpkins per plant is limited by your chosen variety and size and the amount of care and attention you give them.