The largest pumpkin to date weighed more than 1,800 kilograms. The smallest specimen is hardly larger than a coin. There are also plenty of delicious pumpkin recipes to discover. In addition, pumpkins are easy to grow, undemanding and easy to care for. Although the pumpkin was one of the most important crops and food plants in its South and Central American homeland for thousands of years, it led a shadowy existence in Europe for a long time. This situation has changed rapidly in recent years. Anyone who wants to cultivate the remarkable plant with the striking fruits in their own garden is undoubtedly in line with the trend.


As a plant that needs warmth, the pumpkin can only be planted in the bed from mid-May. Even if late frosts are no longer to be feared after the Ice Saints, the soil conditions can still be too wet and cold for direct sowing. For this reason, it is advisable to start growing winter pumpkins indoors from mid-April. The faster-growing summer squash can be sown in beds until June.

  • Soak the pumpkin seeds in room-warm water for 24 hours.
  • Each seed is planted in a 6cm pot of potting soil.
  • Put the pumpkin seeds in the ground, point down.
  • The seed must be firmly attached but still visible.
  • Moisten seeds and substrate well using a water sprayer.
  • The use of willow water promotes germination and rooting.
  • Cover pots with a transparent lid or cling film.
  • Place in a bright place at 20° to 22° Celsius.
  • It takes an average of 1 week to germinate.
  • The pots are placed cooler at 18° Celsius.
  • Remove foil or lid.
  • Moisten evenly, but do not soak.

When 6 to 8 true pairs of leaves appear, it is time to harden off the young squash plants in a sheltered spot in the garden for about 1 week. They are then strong enough to be planted in their final location.


The pumpkin is a sun worshiper and gets an appropriate location outdoors.

  • Full sun to half shade.
  • Humous, fresh and nutritious potting soil.
  • Incorporate mature compost and some sand into the soil.
  • The ideal pH is between 6.5 and 7.
  • Loosen the bed well with the rake.
  • Spreading mulch film accelerates growth.
  • Maintain a planting distance of at least 1 meter.
  • Plant climbing pumpkins about 2 meters apart.
  • If necessary, set up climbing aids in the small garden.

Since the habit of the pumpkin varies to a greater or lesser extent depending on the variety, it is advisable to ask exactly what distance between the plants is optimal before planting.


If cultivation and planting have been successful, the pumpkin hardly needs any care:

  • Water only if dry.
  • Weed regularly for the first few weeks.
  • One-time basic fertilization with blue grain.
  • Fertilize with a potassium-rich preparation after 6 weeks.
  • Alternatively, fertilize with plenty of compost.
  • Too much nitrogenous fertilizer stunts flower and fruit growth.
  • Pruning after flowering is not mandatory.
Experts recommend fertilizing with horse manure at the beginning. Although this is not very rich in nutrients, it provides warmth and this is exactly what the pumpkin plant needs in order to be able to grow well.

Depending on the variety planted, the large and small pumpkins develop until autumn. Since there is a risk of rotting due to the direct contact with the potting soil, experienced gardeners place a piece of Styrofoam or a similarly waterproof base under the magnificent pieces. If the goal of cultivation is to grow a single, particularly large pumpkin per plant, the experienced hobby gardener grabs the secateurs after the flowering. Except for one withering flower, all shoots are shortened so that only two leaves remain. If this pruning measure is not carried out, the plant distributes its energy and numerous small fruits thrive.

Popular pumpkin varieties

In view of the wide range of wonderful pumpkin varieties, the hobby gardener is spoiled for choice. Therefore, some popular varieties are presented below to help you make a quick decision:

Varieties of squash


  • Weight up to 2kg
  • slightly nutty taste
  • orange shell
  • long lasting with intact stem
  • Maturation time around 100 days

Turkish Honey Squash ‘Istanbul’

  • Weight 8kg to 12kg
  • ribbed, gray-blue shell
  • Flesh in dark orange
  • Maturation time 110 to 120 days

Monarch F1

  • Weight 5kg to 6kg
  • light grey-blue skin
  • aromatic taste
  • very dark flesh
  • Maturation time 100 to 110 days

Marvinna F1 – Musk Squash

  • Weight up to 3 kg
  • well-proportioned growth habit
  • first class squash
  • beautiful decorative effect
  • Maturation time up to 115 days

Musk gourds

  • in different subspecies
  • many decorative colors
  • tasty pulp
  • slightly scented with musk
  • Maturation time from 95 to 120 days

Butternut Squash Violina

  • Weight 2 to 4 kg
  • contains few nuclei
  • peanut shaped
  • needs a lot of sun
  • Maturation time 120 to 130 days

Pilgrim F1 – Butternut Squash

  • very productive
  • Weight 1.5kg to 2kg
  • ideal size for the private kitchen
  • Maturation time 95 days

Shadow Moon F1

  • Weight about 7 kg
  • pink skin with speckles
  • for consumption and decoration
  • Maturation time 100 to 110 days

Spaghetti Squash

  • enjoys great popularity
  • cylindrical fruit shape
  • Weight between 1.5 and 3 kg
  • light yellow, fibrous flesh
  • Maturation time about 100 days

Halloween Pumpkin Varieties

  • Mini-Pumpkins
  • different subspecies
  • Diameter up to 10 cm
  • also in two-tone orange-black
  • Maturity 90 day

Mittlerer Pumpkin Autumn Gold F1

  • award-winning variety
  • golden shell
  • ideal for carving
  • Weight about 5 kg
  • Maturity 90 days

Large Pumpkin 20k Gold F1

  • Weight 10kg
  • evenly ribbed
  • extremely resistant variety
  • Maturation time 110 days

Orange Smoothie F1

  • smooth shell for painting
  • Weight: 3 to 4 kg
  • also suitable for consumption
  • Maturation time about 95 days

Jack O’Lantern

  • Weight: 5 to 6 kg
  • the classic lantern pumpkin
  • can also be eaten
  • rich yellow shell
  • Maturation time up to 110 days

Ornamental Pumpkin Varieties

Turk’s Turban – Aladdin’s Pumpkin

  • popular ornamental gourd in various sizes
  • flat shape with thick bulges in the middle
  • tasty pulp
  • Maturity 105 days

Bottle Gourds

  • diverse sub-varieties
  • up to 6 mm thick shell
  • can be worked like wood
  • Gooseneck fruits
  • Maturation time 100 to 120 day

Casperita F1 PMT

  • white mini pumpkin
  • Weight 200 to 400g
  • durable
  • Maturity 90 days

Hubba Bubba F1

  • Weight 1kg to 2kg
  • bright red skin
  • compact shaped fruit
  • Maturation time 95 days

Bungkan 021

  • weight up to 1 kg
  • nicely ribbed
  • rich dark green changes to deep ochre
  • Maturation time approx. 100 days

Pattison – Flying saucer

  • Diameter 10cm to 25cm
  • in different colors
  • flat shape with a wavy edge
  • aromatic pulp
  • Maturation time 95 days

Greys & Crowns

Hungarian Blue

  • blue-gray flat-topped pumpkin
  • Weight 4kg to 9kg
  • decorative and delicious at the same time
  • Maturation time 110 days

Brians Grey F1

  • Classic from Australia
  • grey, slightly ribbed fruit
  • Weight 6kg
  • Maturation time 110 days

F1 tailoring

  • the small, gray gourds from Asia
  • Diameter up to 20 cm
  • Weight 1.5kg to 2kg
  • Maturation time 95 to 100 days

Flat White Boer van Niekerk

  • strongly flattened shape
  • white shell
  • Flesh very sweet
  • Weight 10kg to 15kg
  • Maturation time 110 to 120 days

Giant Pumpkin Varieties

Riesenkürbis Atlantic Giant

  • Weight about 250 kg
  • has what it takes to become a record pumpkin
  • bright orange skin
  • delicious pulp
  • Ripening time 120 days

Giant Pumpkin Red Hundredweight

  • lives up to its name
  • rich red, decorative shell
  • delicate pulp
  • Maturation time 110 to 120 days

Giant Pumpkin Yellow Hundredweight

  • very light shell
  • yellow, mild flesh
  • well suited for jam and compote
  • lasts only a few weeks
  • Maturation time 120 days

Giant Bottle Gourds

  • exotic bottle shape of the fruit
  • particularly lush climbing
  • very hard shell
  • not suitable for consuming
  • Maturation time 120 to 200 days depending on the variety

In principle, more than 90% of all pumpkin varieties are edible. Only a few real ornamental gourds have no place in the kitchen because eating them upsets the stomach. A strict differentiation between ornamental and edible gourds can therefore hardly be made.

Grow a giant pumpkin

If the industrious gardener gets the ambition to grow an extra large pumpkin, some additional care work is required, because nothing can be left to chance. The recommended process of cultivation, planting and care is followed until the flowering of the squash plant is near the end. Then it’s time to select the one flower that will produce the record result. The expert hobby gardener takes some time for this process, because not every flower is suitable:

  • The flower is located at least 1.5 meters from the planting site.
  • The position of the flower ensures that the fruit stalk does not break off.
  • It is a female, closed flower.

All flowers that are not eligible are cut off, except for one reserve flower. A female flower can be recognized by the fact that it already bears the fruit of the pumpkin. Until it opens, it is encased in an insect screen to prevent uncontrolled pollination. As soon as the flower opens, the experienced gardener breaks off an open, male flower and removes the petals. The female flower is stripped of its protective covering against insects. Then both flowers are rubbed together so that pollination takes place. The insect repellent is then used for another 2 to 3 days. As soon as the mini pumpkin starts to grow, this is the signal that pollination has been successful. The reserve flower can then also be removed.

The water and nutrient requirements are understandably higher than with conventional rearing. However, an overdose must not occur, because in this case the goal of growing a record pumpkin is a long way off. In order to direct the energy of the plant into the pumpkin, the tendrils, which can be up to 5 meters long, are shortened to 3 meters. When the pumpkin has reached a diameter of 30 cm, it is high time to put it on a polystyrene block so that it does not rot. If you are really ambitious in this phase, you can cover the horticultural masterpiece with a foil or glass construction, because a heavy downpour or hailstorm would now have fatal consequences. With good care and a little bit of luck, a magnificent giant pumpkin weighing several hundred kilograms will thrive until autumn.

The pumpkin is another example of what Mother Nature and home gardeners can achieve together. It’s amazing to see what can come out of a tiny pumpkin seed. The result can be huge, extremely decorative, a culinary delight or all attributes at the same time. The annual pumpkin plant is amazingly easy to grow and care for, as long as it gets enough sun and warmth. Therefore, the pumpkin plant is a prime candidate for introducing children to home gardening.

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