How to grow... Pumpkin

Rocket Growing Guides


Great for growing with children, pumpkins are unbelievably well behaved and require minimal effort. You pop them in the ground and they just get on and do their thing, ready for you to harvest in the autumn. They do need a fair bit of space though.

  • Growing Advice
  • Common Problems
  • Chef's Corner

Full sun & fertile soil

Full sun and plenty of nutrients are important. Pumpkins are hungry plants so make sure you dig in plenty of organic fertiliser when you plant them.

Best in raised beds/traditional plot

Pumpkins need a lot of space, so are best grown in a raised bed or traditional veg patch, or designated pumpkin patch if you have space for one!

How far apart?

Try to leave 2 metres between plants – they will sprawl. If you don’t have space, leave 1 metre and prune your plant once you have some fruits forming to keep it a bit more compact.

Don't plant out too early

Plant them outside only when the risk of frost has fully passed and the weather has warmed up. This is usually in May. Until then, keep them in pots under cover.

Watering & Feeding

Water thoroughly when you first plant them and keep them well watered while they establish their roots. Water daily during dry spells and apply a liquid feed fortnightly once fruits start to form.

To grow bigger pumpkins...

Once you have 3 pumpkins growing well on the plant, you can pinch off others as they appear – this will concentrate the plants energy into developing 3 big pumpkins instead of several smaller ones.

When to harvest

Harvest in October before the first frosts – the stalk of the pumpkin should have started to dry up and turn brown/yellow, and the skin should have hardened enough that you can’t pierce it with your thumbnail. Cut off with a sharp knife leaving the stalk stump on the pumpkin.

Powdery Mildew

This fungal white coating on leaves is nothing to be worried about and is very common in all pumpkins and squashes. During the early part of the season, leaves should come through nice and green, and towards the end of the season you start to see powdery mildew creep in. If you do have it earlier in the season, remove affected foliage and keep plants well watered to strengthen them.

Slugs & Snails

Slugs and snails aren’t too fond of pumpkins, but they will have a nibble on younger plants so it is wise to keep them well protected.

Nutrient deficiency/Lack of water

Any yellow or brown patches forming on the leaves can usually be attributed to a lack of nutrients. Make sure your courgette plants are getting enough water so that they can draw up the nutrients that they need – the soil should be consistently moist – and use a liquid feed fortnightly once fruits start forming.

Storage Tips

Pumpkins will normally last for several weeks once harvested.

Ways to cook

Pumpkin pie and pumpkin soups are just delicious, and very warming in the autumn.