Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Fertilizing & Watering Pumpkin Plants

Watering young pumpkin plants.

Watering young pumpkin plants.

As your pumpkins grow, you’ll need to make sure they have all the nutrients they need—and that means periodic fertilizing and frequent watering. If you don’t have a rain barrel yet, this is a good time to get one.

When you water your pumpkin plants, focus the water at the base of the plant. Water slowly so you don’t erode the soil. Avoid getting water on the leaves; this can leave them open to nasty things like powdery mildew (yuck!). If you water early in the morning, then the sun can help evaporate any moisture from the leaves. If you don’t have regular rain in your area, you’ll need to give your pumpkins a good, deep drink about once a week.

Can’t get out with the hose or the watering can? Set up a basic irrigation system with a soaker hose and a timer. Your local garden center or DIY store can help you get set up. If you’re more ambitious in the irrigation department, ask about a drip irrigation system—but be prepared to pay for that convenience.

Pumpkins are heavy feeders. Once your plants are established and the flowers have already appeared, you can give them some fertilizer about once a month. Use fertilizer that’s low in nitrogen and high in phosphate and potassium. Look for fertilizer that says 5-15-15 or 8-24-24 (nitrogen-phosphate-potassium). If it’s your first time growing pumpkins, you can err on the side of caution and get a more basic balanced 5-10-5 fertilizer. That should still be enough to nourish your pumpkins and keep them healthy.

Do you have any special tips for fertilizing and watering your pumpkin plants? Please tell us how you ensure that your pumpkins are well-watered and get all the nutrients they need to grow.

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