If you are looking to grow pumpkins for fall decorations, typically the correct time to plant them is around the first or second week of June.
All of this will be determined by the relative days to maturity which can be found on the seed packet. Generally, most pumpkins mature from seed between 90-100 days after planting. It’s easiest to just count back and plant them to when you’re actually going to use them.
Planting them too early can result in a pumpkin that will be ready before you actually need them. Most vine crops in Tennessee, including pumpkins, are directly sown by seed into the ground rather than transplanted.
Pumpkins are a warm season crop and they need the soil temperatures to be around 60 degrees for them to germinate properly. Keep in mind that pumpkins are a vining crop and the seeds to be spaced between 3-6 feet apart. Watering pumpkins needs to be at the base of the plant as opposed to an overhead irrigation system.
Pumpkins can be plagued with many types of fungus and reducing the amount of water on the leaves will help slow this down. Some cultivars are more resistant to disease and these are always promoted over some cultivars.
I love the diversity that comes with pumpkins; we can see everything from warty ones to white ones to just about every size you could imagine. They can range in size from less than a pound to hundreds of pounds. Be sure you purchase the type of pumpkin you want for the need that you have.
Generally, most seed packets will tell the relative size on the package. Keep in mind this is all dependent on weed control, fertilizer, water and many other factors that come into play in this unpredictable Tennessee weather. A few cultivars that will be an interest are “Moonshine (white)”, “Baby Bear” and “Cargo”.
Lucas Holman is a Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County. Contact him at (615) 444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.