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How Many Pumpkins Per Plant to Get the Best Yield + Growing Tips!

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How many pumpkins per plant can you expect to grow? And how can you ensure the best pumpkin yield? We’re about to answer both questions so you can enjoy the best pumpkin harvest possible.

Various factors affect the overall number of pumpkins you can grow on a single plant, and we are here to explore them. In 10 minutes, you’ll know more about optimizing the yield of pumpkin plants than most of our gardening and homesteading colleagues.

Sound good?

Then let’s jump in!

How Many Pumpkins Can We Expect Per Plant?

perfect looking pumpkin growing on the vine with bright green leaves
Pumpkins naturally produce around anywhere from two to six pumpkins per plant. Some larger pumpkin cultivars grow fewer fruits because the pumpkins require more resources and nutrients. Smaller pumpkin cultivars can handle more fruits. Bees also impact how many pumpkins exist per plant! Big time! A lack of pollinators is a massive variable that many winter squash variety gardeners overlook. Fewer bees will result in few pumpkin fruits. If bees are outright absent, you may find zero pumpkins per plant. (That’s why we’re always ranting against overusing pesticides and herbicides. We believe they kill bees – and diminish crop yields – especially for small micro-farmers and homesteaders.)

Like cantaloupes, cucumbers, gourds, squash, and watermelons, pumpkins are part of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. These odd but wonderful vining plants are super fun to grow. And they aren’t just Halloween decorations. They’re also nutritious and delicious when mashed, roasted, or thrown in a soup. Plus, pumpkin seeds make excellent, healthy snack foods!

According to Penn State, pumpkin plants can be perennial or annual. And they grow optimally in moist, warm environments. Each plant’s appearance, shape, and size can vary significantly.

Some mini pumpkins are round and small, weighing less than 3 pounds. Others are large and ribbed, with some varieties producing fruits that weigh hundreds of pounds.

But How Many Pumpkins Per Plant Are Common?

neat pumpkin plant illustration showcasing the pumpkin plant parts
How many pumpkins per plant? Well – if you want insanely gigantic pumpkins, it might be best to grow only one pumpkin per plant! Here’s why. We found one of the best pumpkin-growing hacks for pumpkins of a massive size on the University of Illinois Extension website. They suggested removing the first few female flowers the pumpkin plant develops. That way, the plant focuses on growing a lengthy vegetative structure before fruiting. Then – allow female flowers and only one baby pumpkin to form. Doing so empowers the entire plant to focus on growing the most impressive pumpkin you’ll see all year. (You could also use a similar strategy to cultivate two or three pumpkins per vine. But the idea is to limit the number of pumpkins per vine to grow heavier pumpkins. Mad pumpkin science!)

As a vague rule of thumb, you can expect between 2 and 6 pumpkins from a single plant. However, the pumpkin yield gets impacted (significantly) by the variety of pumpkins you’re growing. And environmental conditions also come into play.

For example, if you’re growing a small variety of pumpkins, like a Jack B or a Munchkin, you might expect up to a dozen fruits off one plant. Comparatively, if you are growing larger pumpkin varieties, like a Monster Smash, for instance, or even the tremendously popular Cinderella pumpkin variety, your plants may only produce 2 or 3 fruits.

Let’s dig deeper.

How Can We Increase Our Pumpkin Yield?

IMPORTANT NOTE: How many pumpkins per plant you can grow isn’t always the most vital consideration. Do you want to maximize your pumpkin per plant ratio? Maybe you don’t want to expand the yield of a particular vine.

Maybe, instead, you want to control the production of the vine to grow ENORMOUS pumpkins. We’re saying that neither massive pumpkins nor more pumpkins are always better. It’s up to you. They’re your pumpkins – grow them as you see fit!

The good news is that pumpkins are surprisingly easy to grow. The average pumpkin plant grows prolifically and quickly and does best when it has adequate nutrients throughout the season to keep it healthy. If you want to maximize your fruits per plant on a single pumpkin vine or multiple vines, implement the following helpful info and tips.

Both small and large-sized pumpkins like warm soil, and pumpkins are winter fruits. So you’ll want to wait until the ground has heated up, after winter, before planting. Depending on the variety, pumpkins take up to about 120 days to complete their life cycles. Some take less time. And some take more. Many gardeners like to plant their pumpkins in late May or early June and then plan for an early October harvest.

4 Easy Tips for Increasing Pumpkin Yields

Our team has tons of experience growing pumpkins worldwide! From Australia to the Southern US and the snowiest parts of New England. From tiny cultivars – to massive! So, we’re also sharing our humble list of helpful tips to help boost your pumpkin harvest.

Give some of these pumpkin-growing hacks a try. We bet they will serve you – and your pumpkin harvest well!

1. Use the Best High-Nitrogen Pumpkin Fertilizer

big round orange pumpkins and vines growing on bright green grass
Your garden’s organic matter and soil conditions can provide better pumpkin fruit size, an improved harvest, and more suitable plant conditions. And while most pumpkin growing issues (that we see) stem from a lack of pollinators, fertilizers can also help overall plant conditions and vine growth – whether you’re trying to grow regular pumpkins – or the heaviest pumpkin! But remember to test your soil first! Only apply fertilizers following a soil test. The soil test is vital because it reveals your soil’s current grade – and any potential nutrient deficiencies. (According to the Ohio University Extension – jumbo pumpkin plants require approximately two pounds of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet.)

Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer until you see flowers in your crop of pumpkins. Then, switch up to a high phosphorus feed. And finally, when the actual pumpkins begin developing, switch to a high-potassium fertilizer. Do this optimally, and you might grow some of the heaviest pumpkins in North America! (It will take lots of practice. But many new pumpkin farmers get addicted to seeing how massive their pumpkins can get!)

2. Give Your Pumpkins Plenty of Water

bright yellow pumpkin flower blooming in the backyard garden
Pumpkins are heavy feeders. And drinkers! Whether you have three pumpkins per plant or ten – they still need lots of water. Pumpkins are also plants of shallow cultivation – so we advise watering them more frequently during the hot weather, doubly so if you’re growing giant varieties. Clemson Coop Garden Center’s website says to keep the top six inches of soil moist. (We find this usually equates to watering the plants one to two inches per week. Slightly more if the weather is insanely hot.) You don’t want overly wet conditions. However, during the hot summer months, pumpkins enjoy moist soil.

Although they tolerate direct sunlight quite well, pumpkins are very thirsty fruits! Give them plenty of water, and if possible, not tap water. You can get a reverse osmosis (RO) water purifier capable of filtering over 100 gallons daily for less than a couple of hundred bucks.

If you have a large field of pumpkins, consider investing in a drip irrigation system with soaker hoses for delivering water 24 hours a day to your precious plants. Extended dry periods are not desirable!

(We’ve seen many pumpkins dry and die due to dehydration. Give them plenty of water and ensure the soil stays moist.)

3. Invite More Squash Bees and Friendly Pollinators! 

bee with boatloads of pollen visiting a yellow squash flower in the garden
How many pumpkins per plant? Well – if you don’t have enough bees and pollinators, you won’t have any pumpkins per plant. You’ll have zero pumpkins per plant. Period! That’s because pumpkins usually require bees for complete pollination. Bees help to carry male pollen into the female blossom. If you notice a lack of pumpkin fruit, deformed pumpkins, or tiny pumpkins, we bet you a steak dinner that a lack of pollinators is to blame. Visit the University of Minnesota’s Actions to Help Bees for tips on summoning swarms of bees to your garden. And make no mistake! Your garden needs bees for a bountiful harvest. And more mature pumpkin fruit!

Pumpkin vines develop both female flowers and male flowers and require insect pollination. Sure. Maybe the wind will blow some pollen and pollinate some plants, but insects, like bees, work much better. In the worst-case scenario, you could hand-pollinate pumpkin plants, but who wants to do that? Maybe it’s time for you to build that apiary like you’ve been thinking about for years!

Read More!

4. Plant Fewer Pumpkins Per Vine

ripe orange pumpkin resting under the late afternoon sun
Our gardening and homesteading friends always ask us how many pumpkins per plant. Our answer is always the same! If you want jumbo pumpkins, limit the pumpkins per plant to fewer than four. That way – you allow your pumpkin vine to focus on developing those few pumpkins. But if you want normal-sized pumpkins, then let your pumpkin plants grow as many pumpkins as they can naturally. (The University of Florida Extension Lawn and Garden blog advises having two fruits per pumpkin vine if you desire jumbo-sized pumpkins. After the two pumpkins form, you can safely remove subsequent pumpkins as they develop. The idea is to cultivate fewer pumpkins per vine if you want enormous specimens.)

If you’re growing a pumpkin patch for Halloween decorations instead of growing it for food, you’ll want the heaviest fruits possible. To get this, you want to remove most of the pumpkins from the vine before they burst into a growth stage.

Limit the number of pumpkins to one or maybe two per vine. That way – you allow the plant to direct all available nutrients and resources for its fruit’s maximum growth. Fewer pumpkins per vine are perfect for cultivating heavy-hitting cultivars like Atlantic Giant Pumpkins!

More Pumpkin Growing Tips

Growing pumpkins is a ton of fun – no matter how many pumpkins grow per vine.

We can also make the process easier for new pumpkin gardeners. Here’s how.

We want to share some of our best pumpkin-growing tips. Let’s start by looking at the type of soil in which most varieties of pumpkins grow best.

Sound fun?

Then let’s get dirty!

epic pumpkin growing on the vine in a pumpkin patch
We love growing pumpkins! We love growing them every season. And we celebrate the Jack-O’ lantern trade like nobody’s business! And while there may be a market for pumpkins during Halloween and the holidays, these lovely winter squashes serve homesteaders far more than as a spooky decor item. They’re also one of the most underrated food crops! Don’t believe us? Then here’s a list of 21 delicious pumpkin recipes all homesteaders should know. Recipes include pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie oatmeal, whole wheat pumpkin muffins, magic pumpkin pie, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, and tons more!

Which Types of Soil Are Best for Growing Pumpkins?

The best soil for growing pumpkins will have excellent water infiltration and holding capacities. Penn State says that the soil pH should be between 5.8 to 6.6. And it should be minimally compacted. The soil also needs to be allowed to warm up after winter, so avoid the urge to plant too early.

For best pumpkin growing, average daily temps should flux between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. And temperatures less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit can cause slowed growth or damage to these large but tender fruits. And by the way, frost is a definite no-no for pumpkins. All varieties of pumpkins love and need warmth and their personal space!

The Importance of Proper Row Spacing

bountiful fall pumpkin patch harvest on a dark and cloudy fall afternoon
Plant spacing is critical for your developing pumpkins. Many gardeners swear they have the best formula for feet between plants and the feet between rows. But we keep things simpler. Most vining varieties we’ve grown reach at least eight to ten feet long. We’ve also seen pumpkin vines get much longer than ten feet. (Then they reach the adjacent garden bed – which can get messy!) So if you have a tiny garden, we advise skipping vining pumpkins and instead growing bush pumpkins. Smaller bush varieties demand much less space – but should still enjoy five feet of garden space. (Also, check your specific pumpkin cultivar. Some are surprisingly large – and some tiny.)

Pumpkins typically sow in rows or mounds, and pumpkin vines often grow 20 feet or more long. Even miniature varieties need plenty of room to grow. However and wherever you plant your pumpkins, they need plenty of space. If you’re planting in rows, leave around 10 feet of space between the rows. It’s always better to give the plants too much room than have them choke one another out with too little room, right?

If you plant in mounds, which is my preferred method, then space your hills out so that each has about 70 – 80 square feet per plant of growing room, free from the other mounds around it. Lots of space is good! I make my growing mounds about 4 feet in diameter and about 2 feet high. I put six seeds in each pumpkin mound. And then wait to see which plants emerge most promisingly. Then, I cull the weakest and cater to the 2 or 3 I leave to grow.

Regardless of where you plant or whether you plant in rows or mounds, ensure that your plants have the proper spacing to thrive without competing too much with one another for limited nutrients and water. You’ll also probably want space to walk around and inspect your pumpkin plants without stepping on their developing vines. Ouch!

Our Best Pumpkin Growing Secret

Our secret is that pumpkins are surprisingly easy to grow. As long as you follow a few rules!

Pumpkins are plants. And when the seed is good, the resulting plant has a great chance of success as long as its basic needs get met. So, ensure that you begin with quality seed. And then provide plenty of sunlight, water, nutrition, insects for pollinating the pumpkin flowers, and care. Regardless of the type of pumpkin you sow, allow your plants the opportunity to exercise their genetic potential by giving them the accommodating environment they need to thrive.

And remember, how many pumpkins per plant isn’t the key consideration, at least not in my opinion. It’s more important to enjoy the meditative and beneficial gardening experience. And love every mature pumpkin produced. Miniature pumpkin varieties, midsize pumpkin varieties, and larger-sized pumpkins are ALL LOVELY!

Don’t Forget About Pumpkin Plant Pests!

red squash bug eggs on the back of a pumpkin or zucchini plant leaf

Beware of these red eggs throughout your plant’s life stages – no matter how many pumpkins per plant you grow. These eggs are from a squash bug. Squash bugs are a damaging insect pest and the sworn enemy of all pumpkin, cucumber, and squash vines!

Watch closely around the underside of leaves for small red eggs. Squash bugs suck the leaves dry – so you may notice crinkled leaves or extra leaf litter. And if you see red eggs, manually destroy them! Chucking the red eggs in a water bottle with tap water mixed with a dash of natural detergent works.

massive squash bug infestation devouring and infecting a zucchini plant

If you leave red eggs on your pumpkin plants unchecked, here’s what you get. An unrelenting squash bug infestation! The infestation quickly grows out of control – and you’ll likely lose your entire pumpkin, squash, or zucchini crop. Inevitable damage to blossoms occurs until the plant eventually dries, rots, and dies.

(Squash bugs are the worst! Not even cucumber beetles have given us this much trouble. That’s why we scan our pumpkin plants daily for pest eggs, squash bugs, or other common pests.)

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed reading our best tips for choosing how many pumpkins per plant to grow in your garden.

We tried to make things easy!

  • We usually keep the number of pumpkins per vine to a minimum if we want jumbo-sized pumpkins.
  • But if we’re growing a smaller cultivar – we might grow as many pumpkins as the vine will handle!

Thanks for reading. Now, plant pumpkins. And enjoy your divine pumpkin harvest!

(And if you have more questions about how many pumpkins per plant or about growing backyard pumpkins? Feel free to ask!)

Thanks again.

Have a good day!

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