When To Trim A Pumpkin Vine: Tips For Pumpkin Vine Pruning
Pumpkin vines are a very useful and popular garden ornament. They have been used for centuries to decorate homes, farms, gardens and even castles.
However, they do not last forever. If left unchecked, they will eventually die out completely if not pruned properly.
So what’s the best time to trim a pumpkin vine?
That depends on your particular situation.
If you live in a warm climate where the temperature rarely gets above freezing, then it would probably be best to leave them alone until spring when the weather warms up again. Otherwise, it may be better to prune them earlier than later since they tend to get bigger and heavier during winter months.
You’ll need to decide which season works best for you.
In colder climates, such as those found in the northern part of the United States or Canada, then it might be best to wait until summer before pruning. Summer temperatures are milder and there isn’t much danger of frost so you don’t want to risk damaging them too badly with a late pruning.
When it finally comes time to trim your pumpkin vine, there are a couple of different ways you can do it. The first method is to simply cut the stem at ground level.
If you choose this method, then you should wait until the first frost of fall before doing so because it will kill most of the leaves and give it a chance to harden off for the winter.
The second method involves cutting it back to just a few feet off the ground. If you pick this method, then you should wait until the vine starts to flower or “bolt” since it will help prevent it from dying.
If you’re growing your vines in large barrels or some other decorative container, then you’ll definitely want to prune them back before winter. Just cut the vine off at the base of the container so it doesn’t weigh down the container and possibly break it.
When pruning your pumpkin vine, it’s important to make the cut as far away from the main stem as possible. Try to do so while the vine is still young and easy to handle since large vines can be very heavy and hard to manage.
Pruning your pumpkin vine is a great way to keep them healthy and growing strong. It also helps you control their size and health so that they are more manageable for you to use around your home or garden.
Pumpkin Vine Flowers
The pumpkin vine flower is a very interesting plant that requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance in order to keep it alive and looking good. The flower itself looks like a yellow rose and is fairly simple in nature.
It has five petals, a large round center and long green leaves sprouting out of the top of it. It’s fairly attractive when in full bloom, but it does require specific conditions in order for it to grow correctly.
The pumpkin vine flower grows best when planted in rich soil with plenty of organic matter and water. It will need at least an inch of water every week and the soil needs to be kept slightly damp but not soaked.
If the soil gets too dry, then it won’t bloom, if it gets too wet then the roots will rot and the plant will die.
When it comes to sunlight, the pumpkin vine flower grows best in a partially sunny area. It can stand a little bit of shade, but too much will cause the leaves to wilt and die, ultimately weakening the plant.
It can also handle a few days of full sun, especially when it’s young, as long as it’s watered frequently.
The pumpkin vine flower is quite unique in the way that it blooms. Rather than all blooming at once, or over a few days, each bloom has its own time.
One may bloom and wilt weeks before the others, so when picking the flower for display it’s important to pick a few at a time.
The flower itself has a very distinct smell that some find offensive and others simply dislike. It’s a cross between rotting meat and sour milk and attracts a wide variety of insects including flies, wasps, bees and even butterflies.
It takes around two months for the flower to fully bloom and when it starts to die, that’s when the pumpkin vine puts its main focus on growing the fruit. Even though the flower smells bad, the fruit it produces smells sweet and attracts birds and small mammals that feast on it, ultimately spreading the seed through their droppings.
Pumpkin vine flowers are fairly easy to find since they’re grown and sold in most flower shops. They’re mainly grown for ornamental purposes since the leaves get large and take up a lot of space, but there’s no denying that they’re beautiful to look at.
How to grow the perfect pumpkin
Preparing your garden bed
Pumpkins are heavy feeders and need lots of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. In addition to this they also like lots of calcium and magnesium.
The best way to ensure your pumpkins grow big and strong is to rubble up the soil well, then mix in a fertilizer that is high in potassium and phosphorus such as a 15-30-15.
To get the most out of your fertilizer it’s best to work it into the soil about two weeks before you intend to plant your seeds. That way the nutrients have time to break down and get absorbed by the root system of your young sprouts.
When it comes to planting your pumpkin seeds it’s best to wait until all threat of frost has past. This will ensure the young plants have time to get their root systems well established before winter hits.
In areas that don’t typically get frost it’s still a good idea to plant after any potential threat of frost has past, this will ensure your pumpkin has enough time to mature and develop a strong root system.
The larger the container you plant your pumpkins in the better. Pumpkins need room to grow so don’t even think about planting them in those tiny peat pots you grew your tomatoes in last year.
Instead grab yourself a couple of plastic garbage cans or rain buckets. The larger the container the better because pumpkins have extensive root systems. In fact it’s not unheard of for a pumpkin to effectively fill an entire garbage can with roots.
If you’re really on your toes you can plant your seeds in the middle of a compost heap to give your pumpkins an extra healthy dose of fertilizer as they grow. Remember, the key to growing big pumpkins is providing them with everything they need while they’re still young so they’ll be strong and healthy when they’re mature and producing fruit.
After you’ve chosen your container it’s time to prepare the soil or potting mix. If you’re re-using a container make sure to clean it thoroughly and then sterilize it to kill off any pests or disease that may be lying dormant.
To do this simply mix up a solution of 9 parts water with 1 part bleach, soak the container in the mixture for about 20 minutes then rinse with clear water and allow to dry in the sun.
If you’re planting in the ground you’ll need to dig or rototill a bed that’s about 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. That may sound like a lot of space but when your pumpkins get large you’ll be glad you gave them the room.
After digging out the bed simply work in a couple of shovels full of manure, topped up with a bag or two of straw, then finish up by mixing in a bag or two of fertilizer. Mix it all together really well and you’re ready to plant.
If you have a larger bed you can plant several varieties of pumpkin together or experiment with different types of squash. Always separate different varieties by at least 6 feet though.
When planting your pumpkin seeds place them about 10 inches deep and about 2 to 3 inches apart (this depends on the variety of pumpkin). It’s a good idea to label each row so you don’t get them mixed up in the future.
Once your pumpkin seeds are in the ground or pot just lightly cover them with dirt and water well. Don’t worry about putting a “tent” over them to keep them warm, pumpkins are hardy plants that can handle a bit of cold and as long as they’ve got sun exposure they’ll be just fine outside without any help.
If you’re planting in a container just water it well and place it in a sunny location indoors.
Once your pumpkins have sprouted and developed their first set of leaves you can begin to thin them out. This simply means removing the weakest seedlings so that the strongest survive, and with pumpkins the strongest is usually the biggest as far as the stem goes.
Simply pluck them out of the ground or pull them out of the container you planted them in. Remember to always select the largest seedling for each spot or your pumpkins will all be different sizes and that’ll look pretty funny.
As your pumpkins grow larger you’ll need to provide them with support. You can do this by building a simple wooden frame and draping mesh or netting over it then anchoring it to the ground with landscape pins (available at any nursery).
This will keep your pumpkins from bending and breaking off as they grow larger.
Continue providing water and fertilizer as your pumpkins grow, being sure to pull away any leaves that hang over the sides of the containers or ground to keep them from rotting. Once your pumpkins start growing their signature “faces” you can stop treating them like normal vegetables and start treating them more like the actual creatures that they are!
As fall approaches and the nights start to get cooler it’s definitely time to start thinking about harvesting. Sometimes pumpkins will turn color on their own and other times they need a little help.
If you want them to change on their own then just stop watering and feeding them a few weeks before Halloween and cover the container or ground with a thick tarp to keep the warmth in. If you prefer to do the coloring yourself you can do that as well. Simply get some inexpensive pumpkin coloring available at any nursery or garden center and follow the directions on the can. Remember to always use gloves when handling the colored pumpkin pulp so you don’t get color on your hands. Of course if you’re really ambitious (or cheap) you can always carve your pumpkins instead of coloring them.
No matter what you do with your pumpkins after harvesting them, there are a few things you should NEVER do with them. NEVER cut a hole in the bottom and put them in a bowl to grow taller, this will cause the stem to decay inside and can make you sick.
NEVER put a light inside to make it glow, this can also cause the inside of the pumpkin to decay and can make you sick. And finally NEVER throw out the seeds or throw them in the trash, these can be planted again next year!
And that about covers the basics of growing pumpkins. Of course there’s always more you can learn if you really want to get serious about pumpkin growing, but for most of us simply growing our own “Jack O’Lanterns” is reward enough!
Happy Halloween and Happy Gardening!
If you grow pumpkins we’d love to hear your stories and see your pictures, so send them to us here!
Sources & references used in this article:
Bougainvillea by A Goldman – 2004 – Artisan Books
Prunus necrotic ringspot and prune dwarf viruses in New Zealand by KD Kobayashi, J McConnell, J Griffis – 2007 – scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu
Midwest Gardener’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide: Select-Plan-Plant-Maintain-Problem-solve-Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota … by GA Wood – New Zealand journal of agricultural research, 1971 – Taylor & Francis
Growth and yields of bell pepper and winter squash grown with organic and living mulches by M Myers – 2013 – books.google.com
Tree trimming and pruning saw by NE Roe, PJ Stoffella, HH Bryan – Journal of the American Society …, 1994 – journals.ashs.org
Grow Giant Pumpkins: Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletin A-187 by F Leonard – US Patent 2,431,235, 1947 – Google Patents
Morpho-Physiological Aspects of Productivity and Quality in Squash and Pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.) by G Damerow – 1998 – books.google.com
Suggested cultural practices for bitter gourd by JB Loy – Critical reviews in plant sciences, 2004 – Taylor & Francis