How to Grow Pumpkins in Containers: Small Space Gardening

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If you live in a small space and want to grow pumpkins, this article is for you! We are going to share some clever ideas to help you grow pumpkins in containers. Even if you have limited space, you can grow your own pumpkins for fall decorating or pie-making. It doesn’t take a lot of soil or space, but your pumpkin plants will have specific requirements when grown in pots.

Note: If your goal is to grow a giant pumpkin or very large pumpkins, growing in a container isn’t your best bet. You will want to leave the smaller pie pumpkins for your container garden and grow your larger ones in the ground.

Fresh grown pumpkins (small and large) against a dark moody background.

Container Gardening – It Works!

Container gardening is a great option when you do not have the space to plant a traditional garden. You can grow so many vegetables and fruit in containers from carrots, onions, kale, pole beans, all the way to blueberries.

It’s a great way to have fresh organic produce on hand. And you would be surprised at how much produce you can grow in containers. You could have your own mini farmers market right outside your patio door.

Don’t forget to roast those pumpkin seeds too. They are a nutritional powerhouse and add all kinds of crunchy texture to soups, muffins, pies, etc.

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What size pot do you need to grow pumpkins?

The recommended pot size for a pumpkin is around 18 inches wide and at least 18 inches deep. This size pot will give the plant room to grow and produce pumpkins in time for Fall festivities!

What type of potting soil do you need to grow healthy pumpkin vines?

The best potting soil to grow pumpkins in containers has to have some organic material and extra nutrients.

You can use a quality bagged potting mix explicitly designed for containers or make your own from compost, peat moss, coir fiber (coconut husk), sand, perlite, and vermiculite.

How often do you need to water?

The frequency of watering depends on the weather and how dry your soil is getting. Aim for a once-daily or every other day schedule, depending on the amount of rainfall you’re receiving.

If it’s warm outside, plants will need more water than they would in cooler months when their growth slows down.

During swelteringly hot summer days, it’s a good idea to check your pumpkin containers in the morning and the evening to ensure they are not completely dried out.

A small container grown pumpkin ripening on a vine.

What about fertilizers?

Choose organic fertilizer, like fish emulsion or worm castings, for the best results.

Pumpkins are very heavy feeders and require a lot of nutrients to grow.

If you choose not to use organic fertilizer, add a high-nitrogen commercial fertilizer such as nitrogen-phosphate, 14:14:14 every two weeks.

Skipping fertilizers for pumpkins in containers is a no-go – pumpkins will quickly drain all the available nutrients from the potting soil. They will struggle to grow and set without additional minerals and nutrients added back into the ground.

What type of pumpkins should I grow in containers?

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Stick to small pumpkin types labelled “pie” or ” bush.”

Specific varieties of pumpkins that do well in containers are :

You can also try growing this recommended bush type pumpkin in containers :

  • Baby Bear (bush variety, same as the “Baby Boo” bush variety from seed companies such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds )

We also have a full post dedicated to the other plants you should and should not plant with your pumpkin vines.

Small pie type pumpkin isolated against a white background.

How to start pumpkin plants indoors from seed:

  • Plant seeds indoors up to 4 weeks before the last frost date for your zone.
  • Use 4-inch pots filled with potting soil for your seeds. The pumpkin seedlings will quickly out grow any pot smaller than 4 inches.
  • Sow pumpkins seed on the surface of potting soil and cover with an inch or two of topsoil mix that contains peat moss for drainage. Keep it moist but not wet to prevent rot from occurring.
  • Place container(s) under fluorescent lights with at least 10 hours of lighting daily. You can also place the pumpkin pots in a south-facing window where they will get more light.
  • Pumpkins do best in a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees F, so make sure to keep the containers warm when they’re inside your home or greenhouse.
  • Fertilize with an organic fertilizer every two weeks after plants emerge from sowing and again before flowering begins.
  • Move outdoors two weeks after the last frost date in your zone.
A healthy bright green pumpkin seedling ready to be planted.

How to plant pumpkin in containers:

  • Use a potting mix that is light and contains vermiculite, perlite, or peat moss
  • Pot the pumpkin in a container with drainage holes at its base. If the spot isn’t there already, add it yourself because water needs to drain from the inside of your container when you water it. A huge pot can benefit from a few loose stones added to the bottom to help with drainage.
  • Place your pumpkin seedling in the pot at the level it currently is in the seed tray.
  • Plant one seedling per 1.5 square feet of space. If your container is 18 inches in diameter, plant one pumpkin vine.
  • It is challenging to stake pumpkin vines in containers, so let them run up fences along walkways or coil them around the bottom of the container.

Advantages to planting pumpkins in containers :

  • You can grow them in smaller spaces.
  • They will need less maintenance than plants in traditional gardens. No weeding and pest managent is easier when working with containers.

Disadvantages of planting pumpkins in containers:

  • Pots will dry out much faster than traditional gardening beds.
  • The soil will deplete minerals and nutrients faster than traditional gardening beds. Therefore, fertilization becomes even more critical in containers.
  • Lower yields.
  • Harvesting pumpkins can also become difficult because you have much less room for the vines.

A medium sized pumpkin ripening on the ground.

Harvesting Pumpkins

When pumpkins are ripe, they will turn a deep orange color. (though some pumpkins are yellow, white, or green).

Harvest the pumpkin when it is fully mature but before it becomes overripe. It should be stored at room temperature for about two weeks to cure properly for storage.

Pumpkins can also be left on the vine until after the first light frost or harvested green and allowed to cure. Pumpkins cured on the vine tend to be sweeter!

How to store pumpkins

Store pumpkins in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation. Be sure that the temperature is not below 50 degrees or above 75 degrees Fahrenheit because this can lead to rot and mould growth on the skin.

You can also cook the pumpkins and freeze the cooked flesh in freezer bags for use in soups, stews, muffins, pies, etc.

WARNING: !!! Do not water bath canning pumpkin puree. Water bathing pumpkin puree does not work; the heat cannot penetrate through the density of the pumpkin, leaving harmful bacteria to grow and flourish.

A harvest of container grown small pumpkins.

Growing Pumpkins in Containers is a Piece of Cake – Or More Accurately – Pie!

 Growing pumpkins in containers are not as difficult as you might think. The most important thing to do is choose the right pumpkin variety for container growing and then follow these tips on how to grow pumpkins in containers from seedlings or purchased plants.

We hope this blog post has been helpful! Now go out into your container garden and get those seeds planted!

Looking for other gardening posts? Check out our recent article about growing cinderella pumpkins or our popular post about controlling weeds!

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