Gardening in pots is a practical way to make use of a small garden space or to find a home for things like pumpkins that tend to need a lot of space to sprawl out but can greatly limit your use of garden beds you place them in. Growing pumpkins in pots is easier than you think and a simple way to grow amazing pumpkins.
Choosing a Pot for your Pumpkins
The most critical part of growing pumpkins in pots is to be wise when choosing your pot. Pumpkins require a very large pot. While you may be able to get away with a 10-gallon pot for smaller pumpkin varieties like pie pumpkins, larger pumpkins would not thrive in a small pot.
For most varieties of pumpkins, you will need a larger pot of at least 20 to 25 gallons. Pumpkins make a great plant for large whisky barrel-style planters. Add in some Nasturtiums that will vine out with the pumpkin vines and give a beautiful decorative look that can fit in anywhere with plenty of sun.
What to do with the Vines when Growing Pumpkins in Pots
The biggest challenge when growing pumpkins in pots is not the pot you use but what to do with all of the large vines that the plant produces. Pumpkin vines spread out in mass and look amazing as they spell from your container of choice.
You can leave them perhaps adding binning flowers like Nasturtiums or Sweet pea to add in some blooms to the beautiful cascade of vines though you will need to move the vines to keep them out of your walkways if you go this route.
The other option you have for controlling your pumpkin vines is to train them up a trellis. This is a bit more of a challenge because pumpkin vines do not naturally like to climb. For pumpkins, your best bet is to use a frame trellis or a Teepee style trellis.
This will give your pumpkin plants more room to spread while allowing them to work their way up from separate locations in the pot.
With regards to vines it is also important to prevent pumpkin rot on the vine.
How to Grow Pumpkins in Pots
Growing pumpkins in pots is easier to do than many people realize. Because of the size that pumpkins tend to grow to, most people do not realize that you can grow pumpkins in pots. Start with the largest pot you have available to you for use.
Any food-safe container will work from a large blue barrel drum cut in half to commercially produced resin decorative planters. Place your planter in a sunny place where you plan to grow your pumpkins. After you fill it with a mix of soil and compost you will discover it is likely much too heavy to move.
It is wise to place it before you begin. Drainage is vital for growing pumpkins. They tend to rot if they are left to soak. This is why they are grown in mounds that put the pumpkin plant up out of the main soil that may get soggy. In your pot, you should place screens over the drainage holes.
For more drainage, you can place a couple of layers of rocks over this screen.
Fill your container with a mix of well-draining soil substitutes like peat moss and compost. This will give you a heavy dose of nutrition without having your soil too compact and slow draining. Knowing what pumpkin fertilizer is required is very important for the production of quality pumpkins.
Build the soil up into a mound-like you would in the garden, inside of your pot sot that your seeds are planted above the lip of your pot. Poke a hole 1 inch into your mound and add 3-4 pumpkin seeds. This will ensure that you get a couple of quality sprouts.
After the first set of true leaves form, thin to just the two strongest plants. Keep your pumpkins watered but avoid making the soil soggy and wet by overwatering. After a heavy rain check that the soil is beginning to dry out and doesn’t pool at the bottom of your mound.
Mulching your potted pumpkins will help to protect them from the summer heat without having to soap them to get water to the hungry vines. Train your vines up the trellises by tying them on using thin loose fabric ties. After a while, your vines will work their way up on their own. If allowing the vines to cascade down your pots make sure to move the vines to where you want them to go.
Keep them out of walkways where they will be crushed. Once your pumpkins form you will want to give them some support if on a trellis. To do this you can wrap them in nylon fabric loose enough to give them plenty of room to grow larger. If allowing your pumpkins to vine out freely you will want to provide some support such as a basket or trivet under your pumpkins on the ground. This will prevent them from rotting when water gets trapped under them.