Why do some pumpkins die?

socksJune 5, 2013

I notice on the pumpkin vines that not all pumpkins which start to develop keep on growing. Some just wither and fall off after growing to a size a little smaller than a golf ball. Is this to be expected from pumpkin plants?

I'm just wondering why some pumpkins start and fail an others grow to size.

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This is 100% normal. It is because the plant can't support them all for a variety of possible reasons, and even in the best possible conditions probably can't. Once the main vine gets going there is typically a pumpkin every 3rd or 4th leaf until one sets then the rest fail to mature or abort until the plant grows larger.

Think of it this way producing fruit and seeds requires a lot of energy so when one sets the plant typically doesn't have enough remaining energy to make more pumpkins. So the females drop off, but then the plant gets bigger and has more leaves (more leaves, more energy), so then it produces a second pumpkin and this continues until frost or disease kills the plant.

Things like fertilizer, encouraging the vine to send down secondary roots (by "burying" the vine with a little soil), and good pest and disease prevention all help the plant have more energy to produce more fruit. As long as you are getting some pumpkins it isn't really a concern.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Thanks, this makes sense! I wondered because when the zucchini produce fruit, I don't see any dying off and was wondering why the pumpkin did.

Right, I'm not looking for a bumper crop of pumpkins. It's just for fun and if I get a few, I'm happy I'm growing Cinderella and have a biggie already (it's very yellow). Also growing a volunteer from last year which has a good sized one too, green. Interesting color difference. No chance of burying stems. The plants are growing down an alley and a walkway--no room in the actual garden.

Thanks again for the reply.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 3:54PM
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