How Long Does It Take To Grow a Pumpkin?

Understanding how long pumpkins take to grow will help you plant them at the right time.

Pumpkin Growing on Vine
Photo: Getty Images

From jack-o'-lanterns on the porch to festive table settings, pumpkins are quintessential to autumn décor. With colors ranging from the deep silvery blue of 'Jarrahdale' to the bright red-orange 'Cinderella', the decorating possibilities are endless. Growing your own pumpkins is a wonderful way to get into the autumn spirit, but it is important to understand how long it takes to grow a pumpkin so that you plant them at the right time.

How Long Does It Take Pumpkins To Grow?

Determining how long it takes to grow a pumpkin begins with knowing what variety of pumpkin you want to grow. About one hundred different pumpkin varieties are cultivated world-wide, not counting the numerous gourds and edible squash that join the autumn festivities. Different varieties take different amounts of time to ripen. The faster maturing pumpkins are fully colored in 90 to 100 days, while some, like the deeply lobed 'Musquee De Provence' pumpkin, take up to 125 days to mature. The miniature 'Jack Be Little' pumpkin matures in as little as 85 days.

Know the Variety

When selecting pumpkin varieties, look for the maturation time on seed packets and in catalogues. Typically listed as "days to maturity," the maturation time encompasses the amount of time required from the day you plant the seeds in your garden until the crop is ready to harvest. Maturation time is commonly listed as a range, such as 90-110 days, to account for variations in weather from one location to another.

Timing Your Pumpkin Crop

Pumpkins are typically planted in May through June so that they fully mature by early October. Plant varieties that take longer to mature in May, and faster developing varieties by mid-June. If you live in a cooler climate, select a fast-maturing variety, and wait until the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before sowing seeds. In locations with a very short growing season, start pumpkin seeds indoors 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost and transplant seedlings into the garden when all threat of frost has passed.

When Are Pumpkins Ready To Harvest?

Pumpkins are mature when their color has fully developed and the rind has hardened. A ripe pumpkin will sound hollow when you thump on it. Often, the stem will also start to harden and dry. In cooler climates, pumpkins can be left in the garden until a light frost kills the vines. Be sure to harvest before a deep freeze.

Use a sharp knife or pruners to cut pumpkins from the vine, leaving 3 to 4 inches of stem. Avoid carrying a pumpkin by the stem or it might break off, leaving an entry point for disease organisms. If you plan to store pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies or other uses, be sure to allow them to fully mature before harvesting, as they will keep longer.

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