Pumpkin Growth Stages

Pumpkins have many different stages of growth from planting the seed to harvesting and storing the pumpkins.

In this article I’ve listed the 7 pumpkin growth stages along with some handy tips to assist you to grow a successful crop of pumpkins in your home garden.

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pumpkin growth stages


Stage 1 – Planting the seeds

Pumpkin seeds are flat, oval shaped and pale in color.

I like to save a few seeds from my favorite pumpkin varieties to plant but you can also purchase some interesting pumpkin seeds to plant in your garden.

Jack Be Little is a popular small pumpkin variety that is ideal for growing vertically on a trellis or Jack O’Lantern pumpkins are ideal for carving.

Pumpkin seeds can be planted directly in the garden about two weeks after the last frost of the season.

You can also start your pumpkin seeds indoors if you have a short growing season.

Plant the seeds in a seed starting tray at the beginning of spring and place the tray on a heating mat if the temperature is still cool.

pumpkin seeds

Stage 2 – Germination

Pumpkin seeds usually take about 8 to 10 days to germinate but it may take longer if the soil is cold.

The seedling emerges from the soil with the seed shell attached to the tip of the leaves.

The first two leaves to appear are oval shaped leaves known as seed leaves or cotyledons.

About a week later the first true leaves will appear.

pumpkin seedling

Stage 3 – Growth of the vine

Pumpkin vines spread out from the base of the plant and can grow 6 inches (15 cm) each day if they receive plenty of sun and water.

The length of the vine can reach 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 metres) depending on the variety.

Ensure that the soil is evenly moist but try to keep the leaves dry when you’re watering to avoid fungal infections.

During hot weather you may need to water your pumpkin plants every day or two.

pumpkin leaves

Stage 4 – Flower development

Pumpkin flowers will start to bloom 8 to 10 weeks after planting.

The flowers are large and bright yellow in color with a long stamen in the middle.

The male flowers appear first followed by the female flowers about 10 days later.

At this stage you can start feeding your plants with a liquid plant food every 2 weeks for an abundant crop.

pumpkin flowers

Stage 5 – Pollination

Male pumpkin flowers produce pollen and nectar which is highly sought after by bees.

After visiting the male flowers, the bees move on to the female flowers where some of the pollen is transferred and pollination is completed.

If there aren’t many bees in your area you can hand pollinate the flowers using a small paintbrush to transfer some of the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.

After the pollination is completed the plant will begin to produce fruit.

Stage 6 – Fruit development

As the female flowers close you’ll notice small round green fruits at the base of the flower.

Over the next few weeks, these small baby pumpkins will rapidly increase in size.

If you’re growing pumpkins on a trellis you’ll need to create a hammock by using an old t-shirt or pantyhose to help support the weight of the pumpkin as it grows.

It normally takes between 45 to 55 days for the pumpkin to grow to full size after pollination is complete. [1]

pumpkin plant

Stage 7 – Harvesting

Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the vine starts to turn brown and withered.

You can also tell when pumpkins are ripe by tapping on the outside of the pumpkin.

If you hear a hollow sound your pumpkins are ready to harvest.

Cut the vine with a sharp knife, leaving at least 3 inches (about 7 cm) of the stem attached to each pumpkin.


After the pumpkins are harvested they need to be left outdoors in a sunny spot to cure for about two weeks.

Curing hardens the skin of the pumpkins and improves their shelf life.

If there is rain or frost predicted you’ll need to move the pumpkins to a covered area to finish curing.


Pumpkins will last for six months or longer if they’re stored correctly.

Place the pumpkins in a cool, dark room in a single layer so that air can circulate between them.

Check the pumpkins every week and discard any that show signs of mold.

So there are the different stages of pumpkin growth that you can expect to see in your garden.

Watching the pumpkin life cycle is interesting and it’s highly satisfying to grow your own pumpkins.


Have you tried growing pumpkins in your vegetable garden? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Shannon

    Hello and thank you for all the wonderful tips! We accidentally became pumpkin growers when a pumpkin was left out last year and the seeds grew from that. Now I’m very excited to have a whole pumpkin patch and ready to do multiple varieties next year. My question for you is, I live in zone 6b and because I’m not fully sure when the seeds were actually beginning, I can’t quite count back days. I have some that are growing very large and are still green, but some are smaller and already turning orange and somewhat small… and it’s just August! Should I still just look for the brown vine as my sign it’s ready to harvest and follow the same steps for getting it cured for October? We are only planning to use these for autumn decorations, Halloween and let the kids have fun picking pumpkins in their own local pumpkin patch. Thank you!!

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Shannon, congratulations on your accidental pumpkin patch! Yes I’d wait for the vine to turn brown before harvesting your pumpkins.

      1. Kellyaha

        Hi guys, we are having a pumpkin party today So you all are welcome to Seth johnson school

  2. Louise Edwards

    I have a bunch of flowers and I have green balls at the bottom but I don’t see any growth in them. I’ve been getting flowers for about 3 weeks now. The vines are nice and green and the leaves too. So when will I see more action. Thank you

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Louise, the male flowers appear first and then you should start getting some female flowers. Now is a good time to give the plants a feed of liquid fertilizer to help them along.

  3. Lisa

    What type of fertilizer do you recommend (available at walmart, etc) also any thoughts on preventing bugs…? Thanks so much!

  4. Amanda

    I planted round courgettes and pumpkins but now I’m confused when to harvest.
    How can I be sure if it’s a pumpkin or a round courgette?

  5. Yogesh Gupta

    I was born and raised in India. Pumpkin, potatoes, and onions are the main staples in India. The variety in India is called Kaddu, it is flatter than American Pumpkin and more dense meat. I live in zone 6. I planted the seeds, they germinated. The flowers open at dawn for about 4 hours. Plenty of male flowers and few female flowers. I see the bees as well as bumble bees drawn to male and female flowers. Unfortunately, all the female flowers turn brown and fall off within 3 days after pollination. Help!

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Yogesh, pumpkin flowers can fall off too early if the temperature gets really hot. Are you experiencing high temperatures there at the moment?

  6. Loranzy

    Hello, i decided to try and grow pumpkins this year and it’s looking really good except the “male flowers” are blooming and then they shrivel up after a few days, I’m guessing from the high temperatures we’re starting to get here in central Texas. How can I help solve this issue?

  7. Nancy

    Loranzy, male and female flowers don’t last long at all. High heat probably doesn’t help, and they’ll need a lot of water in that heat.

  8. Nancy

    That’s how I got started growing pumpkins – accidentally. It’s so much fun to see those flowers and then the pumpkin babies.

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