Understanding the growth cycle of pumpkins can help you plan ahead for the fall season. Halloween comes but once a year and you want your pumpkins to mature in time to be harvested for the holiday that put pumpkins on the map. Here you will learn about the growth cycle of pumpkins so that you will get the best results in time for Halloween.
The best time to plant your seeds in indoor containers is the end of April to the beginning of May. Several days later, plant additional seeds to be sure that some will germinate. Figure that in two to three weeks the first leaves will appear. A few days later you can transplant the new plants to your garden.
For the first two weeks it is important to cover the plants at night to protect them from cold or frost. As the plants mature starting about two weeks later, check frequently for bugs and eliminate them with sprays. About seven to eight weeks after planting pollination time begins. About three weeks after that use a high phosphate fertilizer to insure the plants are getting proper nutrition. If the plants are in direct sunlight, you must build shade cover.
It is very important to water frequently and deeply. Pumpkins thrive on lots of water and fertilizer. As you get into the high heat and humidity of mid to late summer, the fungus becomes your main enemy. Use fungicides to combat this.
Pumpkins are extremely fast growing plants and by mid summer the pumpkin, depending on the species, can be over 100 pounds. By early August the bright yellow skin will harden and ribs will start to form. By mid August the skin will begin to darken and turn orange. As the weather cools in September, the growth will slow and by the beginning of October the pumpkin will be fully mature and ready for harvesting.
Just in time, you will have a patch of healthy pumpkins for cooking, carving and decorating.