Pumpkin flowers falling off

lecorbeau(7b)July 7, 2005

My pumpkin plant looks great with lots of nice flowers, but each time the flower finishes blooming, it falls off and the stem (that held just the flower) shrivels up. Is this insect damage - I can't find any - or something like a nutrient deficiency, or something else? Can it be remedied?



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squeeze(z8 BC)

are you aware that there are seperate male and female flowers? the male flowers have just a stem below the blossom, whereas the females have a small lump that looks a bit like a mini fruit - if it's the males that are falling off, it's normal - if it's the females, they're not being pollinated and doing some hand pollinating may fix ya up - male flowers will last a few days, the females usually just a day or two open, and are best pollinated the morning they first reach fully open

I'm finding that there's more male flowers on some things this year, and sometimes when the females are just opening, there's NO males out! frustrating some years


    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 9:52AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day carolinakate,

could be an abundance of male flowers, you don't say if what is left behind to shrivel is what looks like a very small pumpkin fruit (female flower), or just a straight thin stem (male flower)? if so it is then a pollinationa problems, could be due to lack of male flowers when the female flower opens or lack of pollinators.

i generally plant at least 2 vines so that i can tip the balance in favour of having male and female flowers ready at the same time, no gurantees of course. then i do hand pollinating best done as early as possible in the day but generally no later than around 8 am, i do all mine not long after dawn.

this subject has been discussed many times here and on the vegetable garden forum try a search for pumpkin pollination i'm sure you will get all the info' you need.


mail len

lens garden page

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 4:49PM
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Bill, no, I had no idea there were separate male and female flowers! This pumpkin just popped up in my compost, so I transplanted it to see what it would do. (Will my cucumbers, zucchini, cantaloupe, honeydews and watermelons have separate flowers also? I didn't do any research on these. I just planted them!)
Len, the shriveled up stem is perfectly straight, so they must be the males falling off.
As a matter of fact, when I went out this morning, I noticed for the first time, a fruit forming! Now I have just come in from checking the flowers. Of over 50 flowers, I only see two female flowers!
Well, two pumpkins from an unexpected volunteer is nothing to complain about.
Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 5:30PM
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They all have M/F flowers on them. You need some bees in there to pollinate them otherwise you will busy with your Q-tips doing it yourself.
Plant some Bee attracting plants around to assist. I plant cilantro and let it go to flower/seed (coriander) the bees love that stuff and then they also visit the flowers on the squash etc.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 9:10PM
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kjggames(z9/10, sunset16)

My two cents,

It looks to me like everything is doing what it should. Actually, the mulch pile may have been a great place to leave the pumpkin in the first place. Heavy in organic matter, and tending to keep warmer than the surrounding area, the mulch pile could very well have grown you a "Super Pumpkin". Unless, of course you have great soil and tempurature during growing season.

If you want your pumpkins to grow a whole bunch of fruit, just leave the vines be. If, however, you want big fruit, you'll want to keep the fruit thinned out. The plant will do it first, as you see what you thought would be a pumpkin turn a funny color and fall off. This too, is normal. However, once this volunteer thinning occurs, keep one or two fruits per plant that are as close to the center of the plant as possible, and eliminate the rest.

Have fun,

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 3:38PM
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Thanks for the tips, Termater and Ken.
Ken, I moved it from the compost pile so I could turn the pile. But where I put it is basically the same stuff as my compost, I just don't turn it there.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 9:00PM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

ok, now that your pumpkin is growing, keep your eyes on the stem where the main part of the plant is coming from. if you notice any soft part and yellowish "frass" like sawdust, you will have what I got. Squash vine borers. google the name and prepare yourself for a shock! if you see a single reddish egg on the stem, remove and smash! if you see the wasp like moth keep your eyes for the rest. apparently the first sign of damage is the long runners' leaves will wilt pretty strongly in the sun. if it is happening start looking for the holes and rotting frass. apparently they lay eggs in early june, and again in early august. so look out for them. nothing like walking out to inspect your lovely happily growing pumpkin plant, only to find yellow wilting dead plant overnight. I was very disheartened.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 9:27AM
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John, so far I've seen no sign of the borers. Something did happen to one of the pubmpkins, though. It turned yellow and shriveled up. These are Japanese pumpkins which, when mature, are dark green (still orange on the inside) and not as big as the orange-skinned variety, so I doubt if they ever turn yellow normally.
Still have the other pumpkin growing and I just found another female flower with a bee in it, so my get another one yet.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 9:44AM
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Carolinakate, very simply your pumpkins are not getting pollinated for some reason. It could be because all the blossoms are males, or all the blossoms are females, but there is no pollination happening. Look closely at the stem end of the blossoms to see if there is a bulbous growth behind the blossoms, the ovary and a female blossom, or no bulbous growth, a male blossom.
If you still have no pumpkins you will need to take a male blossom, pick it, strip off the petals and waggle that in the female blossom making sure the stamens (the pollen carriers in the male blossom) contact the pistals (the part of the flower that will carry the pollen to the overy in the female blossom). You can also get a paint brush to transfer the pollen.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 7:20AM
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Hello, I was wondering if anyone out there knows why female flowers don't open to be pollinated? I've had several female flowers turn yellow and fall off. I was so fed up that one morning I cut a small slit through the female flower very carefully and took a Q-tip and inserted it in myself with the pollen. then carefully closed it back up. Am I crazy or what? Maybe this will work!!!!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:03AM
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Thanks to all I found my answer.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 3:27PM
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scottychaos(Western NY)

Does anyone know what would cause the female fruits and flower buds to turn yellow, shrivel and die long BEFORE the flower even gets close to opening?

The flowers never open..they dont even get close.
they turn yellow and die when the little bulbous pumpkin and flower bud are quite small..

male flowers are normal..tons of them opening.

So far, this has happened on every female pumpkin flower on my vines this year..the vines are otherwise very robust and vigorous..its almost August, and no developing pumpkins yet! :(


    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 1:53PM
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I'm glad I opened this post. I never knew either there are male and female flowers. Actually, this year I grew a pumpkin out of my compost bin. What a surprise! I guess a seed from last years pumpkins was germinated. I eventually had to move the compost bin to allow the pumpkin to grow. From the plant, I grew one pumpkin which I just cut off. Unfortunately, some critter and bug looks like they started to tear the skin in a few spots, so I feared the pumpkin would rot if I left it there. Never would I have guess in the beginning of spring that I would have a nice size pumpkin in July!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 3:38PM
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Hi All! I've read this thread and another one as well as several articles on how to self-polinate your pumpkins. However in the three mornings I have gone out to look for female flowers I have yet to find one that I can for sure peg as a) being female and b) as open. They all look like male flowers, even the ones close to the vine. I have one pumpkin growing well and two that started but died when they got to be about 2 inches. So I know there has to be female flowers. I went out to try to self-polinate them but now after reading this thread I think I just cut open an underipe male flower that hadn't developed a long stem.

I have four vines growing, two each of Jack-O-Lanterns and two of the white Lumiere variety. The Jack's are growing like weeds the white are barely moving but are producing flowers, no fruit as of yet.

Has anyone else here who lives in the bay area had a problems this year with fruiting? Or is it just too early for us? I really want about 5 pumpkins so I'm happy to try anything to get this accomplished.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Byzantine, thanks for the tip! I will have to try it out, especially on my tomato plants.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 11:24AM
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I've had the same problem with my pumpkins. The female flowers grow, turn yellow, and then drop off before they ever open.

If anyone has ideas on this I'd love to hear them. Again, this isn't a pollination problem: the flowers fall off before they ever open.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 2:10AM
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Now that we have noticed 2 female flowers most of the males have stopped blooming. we took the pollen from a male and stored it in a baggie. Is it ok to slit open the female and sprinkle in the pollen? What happens to the female if it isnt pollenated? Will the fruit survive?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:54PM
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I have another problem. I hope to resolve. After the female stems get pollinated and the flower falls off. The pumpkin seams to grow up to two inches and then they fall off the vine...
This has happened about 20 times already.. Why does the pumpkin keep falling off and not continue to grow???


    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 12:35PM
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I have problem. I hope to resolve. After the female stems get pollinated and the flower falls off. The pumpkin seams to grow up to two inches and then they fall off the vine...
This has happened about 20 times already.. Why does the pumpkin keep falling off and not continue to grow???


    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 12:38PM
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Rudy that is because of lack of pollination.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 7:00AM
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Wow-- 6 years after the original post and thanks to ya'll I just learned a ton! I've been freaking OUT that all my flowers falling off-- so here in the late evening light I just went out for a closer look and VOILA! YES!!! I have female flowers too! OK, Q-tip, here I come.

NOW, to these Bore Vine F'ers. I have those horrid red eggs, and the little yellow and black beetles all over. Do I have to Squish them all, or is there some effective not-too-toxic pesticide that I can use? Does pesticide only kill the live adult, or will it kill the eggs too. Many thanks, and happy pumpkin-ing to all:o)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 8:46PM
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Squash Vine Borers, Squash Bugs, Cucumber Beetles all require numerous steps to control starting with cultural practices, including Floating Row Covers, through the judiciuos use of pesticides. Since many of the cultural practices needed to be started last fall you may well be at the "I need a pesticide" stage now.
Neem Oil products seem to be about the best means of control, although squishing the eggs between your fingers can be very satisfying. However, due care in use of every pesticide is necessary since they will also kill off any beneficial insects you may have that could help control your problem.
The link attached may be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Squash pests

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:45AM
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I have lots of pumpkins on the vine that shrivel and die before growing to the size of a small radish. What can I do to promote continued growth to maturation?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 9:23AM
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To Scottychaos, did you ever get this issue resolved? Figure out what was happening? I'm having the same issue now. I get plenty of females, but they shrivel up long before getting near to opening for an attempt at hand pollination. Did you ever get fruit that year? I know this was a long time ago...

This post was edited by Pd0xGard_ on Mon, Jun 30, 14 at 18:25

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:22PM
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I am having the same trouble with my pumpkin vines.
This is so Frustrating... cant find much on line about this issue.

The female flowers are "IMMATURE" and FALLING OFF! NOTHING to do With NOT GETTING FERTILIZED. They do ***NOT** get very big.... some are as big as a pencil lead, shrivel and turn yellow and fall right off.
Some Actually get big Enough for the blossom to form and OPEN. But just after opening - the blossom falls off followed a day or 3 later by the rest of the immature fruit.

it Has to be either something with the soil or They aren't getting the right nutrients, I "Assume".
Male pumpkin flowers A Plenty.
Female flowers FAIL to Either FORM or DROP OFF Immediately after opening/pollinating.

So Please, Do NOT post that they are not getting pollinated and for me to pollinate them.
(Please "read" Post before replying )
Again :
The Female Blossoms, DO NOT reach MATURITY, to get Pollinated in the First place !

I seem to remember my grandfather mixing his own granular fertilizer. He used to put a hand full in the planting hole, cover with another hand full of dirt then plant.
So I just went out and made his fertilizer mix....
a general all purpose granular
vegetable fertilizer (5lb bag)
To that I added :
1 1/2 pounds Blood meal
and 2 pounds Bone meal.

I used a hand cultivator and about 2' from the main stem, scratched about 2/3 of a cup of this, into the soil around the plants. Did this 2 weeks ago.
watered in well.
Still having problems with "Immature Blossom drop".

Should I wait 2 weeks and apply again? or should I apply again asap??

Also my husband moderately waters them and all our garden plants (just until the ground is wet) every morning.

"What"?? am I/we doing wrong???

I might also add I'm in my late 40's and used to have a wonderful garden when I lived with my parents.
I had a pony when I was 12 and used the horse manure in the garden and every where else. I had the BEST Plants !
I had the Biggest pumpkins, tomatoes (red, yellow and orange. From beef stakes to cherries) Corn, ( planted the peas and beans with the corn) cukes, peppers ( liked the colored ones..... red, purple, orange and yellow.) had a few eggplants ( purple and white) I had the LG pumpkins as well as Lumina ( GR8 Pie Pumpkin as well as gr8 raw ! and baby boo and Lakota Squash, from Burpee)
And flowers.... blanket flower, daises, Glads, roses, garden peonies, nasturtiums, four-o'clocks, Jacobs ladder goats beards, tulips, pinks, stocks. And I took care of the old family lilacs and my mother had every color spider lily any one could think of. Everything was beautiful!

Haven't had a garden in the last 15 years. :-( My husband and I just purchased his late parents home. Not much property.... planting around the driveway and old cement basement ruins. The soil isn't the greatest... it doesn't tend to drain well and the grass is struggling here and there.

Perhaps we should wait til next year, after we've had a chance to go to the local stables and get a few pickup fulls of horse manure spread out in the yard for the winter??? and try again next year???

The tomatoes we put in aren't doing too terribly bad... and we have a few baby peppers right now. I do have one 8" pumpkin on one of the vines..... only one.

I am beside my self as to what the IMMATURE Blossom drop could be from.
Anyone know what could be the matter?
maybe I need some wood ashes?
apply the fertilizer again??
And thanks for looking.
Have a wonderful day.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Been in contact with a Horticulture Specialist at Burpee. Will let you know what they determine from my picts.

waiting for them to get back to me...

later all.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:19AM
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